No I don't own Naruto, or any other character I depict in this story. Plus, I'm dirt poor and really not worth the trouble of suing. Just to be clear about that.
This is something I decided to do for fun, if nothing else. My other stories have gotten so bogged down, that I needed to produce a little crack to clear the air. None of the chapters, unless explicitly stated, will be linked so please treat them all as one shots. I know that I will.
This project is just to fulfill my desire to attempt a crossover. While I like crossovers, I'll be the first to admit the vast majority do not make any sense. So I will take that lack of logic, and make the craziest things I can with it! You all want a Super Naruto? Well, let's see what happens when he begins to gain the skills and powers of alternate Anime?
To begin with, a Ranma x Naruto crossover!
Chapter One: The Wild Fox Cometh!
Little Naruto was only nine years old when his life changed forever. Hungry for attention, he made it a habit of springing pranks on the citizens of Konoha. While the civilian population were more satisfying targets, given their treatment of him, the ninja made for more challenging prey. So whenever he felt particularly inspired, the blonde would plan out the most difficult and complicated pranks targeted towards known ninja locations, like training grounds or bars. However, one mistimed flour bomb would result in a discovery that would rock the Land of Fire, and then the world, to its foundations.
You see, when his flour trap malfunctioned, five ninja were caught in the crossfire instead of one. However, instead of wasting time laughing at the victim, this group instead decided to track the perpetrator down. None of the ninja were very strong, but Naruto was barely an Academy Student at the time. So hearing a lot of angry shouts with not a lot of time on his hands caused the kid to duck into the last place he planned on going. Uzumaki Naruto ducked into the Konoha Library for refuge.
Now most would think that this lack of interest was simply due to a hatred of studying. However, most of it came from various Librarians kicking him out whenever other patrons started causing trouble with him around. Luckily, it was a slow day, so the Librarian on duty was busy reorganizing some of their older and more obscure items. However, since most of the volumes were considered oddities of no particular value, she had simply stacked them on an out of the way table in the back before leaving for a quick snack. It was this stack of books that Naruto used as a hiding place, even taking one to blend in better.
After hearing the angry shouts fade into the distance, Naruto realized that someone was approaching his location. Panicking, the blonde child made his way out of the Library before running to his apartment the book still in hand. When the Librarian realized that one of the volumes was missing, she mostly shrugged it off. The book in question was a reprint of a minor biography from the distant past, considered by most to be fiction. Many of the described techniques were clearly pure fantasy and no one sane would ever attempt to use them. In addition, the lessons on warfare were so basic that they would not fake out a Genin! No, the loss of that one story was no great loss, and the Library could honestly use the space.
However, Naruto did not know any of this. Once he returned to his apartment, he realized that the book was still in his hand and almost freaked. If the villagers thought he was becoming a thief, then they would try to get him thrown in prison. Still, among all other things the orphan was a survivor. He would have to take a few days before pulling any more pranks, so maybe lying low and reading a bit would keep him occupied. Of course, with a title like "Adventures of the Wild Horse: The Incredible Truth" it was probably some sort of adventure novel. Those tended to be simple enough for him to read, and might even give him ideas for a new technique. Oh if only he knew.
Before I begin, let me just say I don't want to write this. My life has been one long road of screw ups and insanity, and I don't really want a bunch of strangers reading about it. But like a lot of you I've got bills to pay and a family to feed. While I earn a lot from running the Dojo, I never realized just how much it cost to feed me until all my children inherited my appetite. As it is, I'm lucky to get away with just this book. My manager wanted to set this up as a manga series, and that would have just been too weird. Anyways, this is the life of Saotome Ranma, for better or worse, and I can only hope that you have more fun reading about this is than I had living it.
Oh, and to be clear, this is all real. I know that some of what I am about to write might seem bizarre or like a drug trip gone wrong, but I swear on my honor that every word is what I believe to be truth. There are days I don't know if I should laugh or cry about that, but what are you going to do? I know that most of you will not believe me, and that is probably a sign of your sanity. Still, I hope that you can keep an open mind. Even if you don't believe me, at least you'll be entertained by one hell of a lie.
Firstly, I want you to understand my dream and its price. I grew up wanting to be the strongest martial artist in the world. I began this dream before I could walk and accomplished it, more or less, by my early twenties. It was not a path of joy or laughter, but sweat, tears and sacrifice. Still, while I missed out on a lot of things growing up, and feel like I got screwed when it came to my parents, I have to say that it was the life I was suited for. But it was a solitary road, and there were few who could walk it with me. To be strong is often to be alone. After all, I had friends who, once they understood just how powerful I had become, could not wait to knock me down out of fear. It was not fun to discover.
I might ramble a bit, and I might not make much sense in places, but looking back on my life, there was little I would have changed. I have seen things that most men could only dream of, and in the end I'm a better person for it. Still, despite the weirdness that cursed most of my life, I will admit to finding love to be the oddest. I had so many possible paths to explore, yet I ended up with the last girl I could have thought of. Still, I became the best as I wanted to do, so it was all worth it in the end. At least, I hope it was.
Reading the untidy scrawl in the opening dedication, Naruto felt his eyes widen with each passing sentence. This Ranma guy sounded like him, wanting to be the best and prove his strength to everyone. But at the same time, a lot of what he described caught the young child by surprise. What sorts of sacrifices would a martial artist need to make? Everyone knew that, next to ninja techniques, all the martial arts did was train your body in substandard Taijutsu! The only ones who really practiced it were court guards and mercenaries, and any Genin could take out a dozen of those punks in no time!
However, for Ranma to be the best probably meant that he had some super secret techniques! Naruto might prefer Ninjutsu to all other forms of combat, but that did not mean that Taijutsu wasn't fun too. Since he didn't have a clan or any special abilities, maybe he could adapt some of these training techniques to make himself stronger! After all, if he was going to be Hokage, every little bit would help! Interest renewed, Naruto began to read with gusto.
Little did the young student know that Saotome Ranma was more than any mere Martial Artist. At the time the book was published, Ranma was acknowledged as the strongest unarmed fighter on the planet, able to destroy tanks with a mere punch. However, between his desire for privacy and rumors about his personal life, Ranma had faded into obscurity a mere decade after this accomplishment. Despite several lucrative, long term contracts with the government to train Special Forces he always was willing to work extra hard to support his family. However, after a settlement that banned him from public tournaments for life, an autobiography was the only choice left.
As Naruto read page after page of the unbelievable story, a part of him thought it should have been labeled as fiction. This guy fought demons, gods, and every challenger who came his way before he was twenty? Even the Yondaime was not that strong! Yet, something in the story called to him like nothing else in his young life. Ranma had been forced to work without break or acknowledgement for most of his existence. Naruto had observed enough families to know that the parents were somewhat abusive, seeking to live through his accomplishments and efforts instead of their own. This was a rare moment that he was thankful for his lack of family. Some of the children in the Academy got pushed like this and a couple had nervous breakdowns as a result.
Nevertheless, Naruto was a ninja-to-be. While some of the honor code seemed a little too nice for the lifestyle, most of Saotome's upbringing dealt with the idea of survival of the fittest. Naruto knew that only the strongest could thrive, but there were some interesting parallels between their lifestyles. Both had needed to steal to live more than once, had others look down upon them and their goals, and only kept going through their dreams. It was at that moment that Naruto decided to honor Ranma's legacy and use these skills to be the best he could be!
Admittedly, Ranma did not describe the meat and bones of his techniques in any detail. The book was covered in warnings about not attempting anything listed without supervision of a master. However, that did not mean that some of the ideas could not be adapted for use. Hadn't he created the Sexy Technique through sheer willpower and practice? Surely the guidelines listed here would be enough to ensure that nothing major would go wrong. Everything seemed to go alright for Saotome-sensei, even with all the trouble. Hell, he even managed to get his own fan girls, and gave a bunch of tips with dealing with them! Soon, the class would be interested in him and Sasuke would go suck a toad!
Determination filling his every pore, Naruto designed a basic training schedule based upon the beginnings of the book. The running and calisthenics seemed straightforward enough, including pushups, sit-ups, and weight lifting. After all, when the book was originally sold it had been intended to generate interest in practicing martial arts. Some of the jumping techniques seemed out there, but Saotome-sensei's school was based in the air. Between his determination and Ranma's simple explanations, the training was soon approaching the level of a second year Genin. Of course, when Naruto tried to use the special techniques, things got a little trickier.
To increase your running speed, you need a real element of danger. When I was first starting out, my Pop's had me carry him on my back with weights, coated with steaks while chased by wild wolves. Nothing forces you to push yourself farther than the threat of animals trying to kill you. Animals are better than people because a person thinks too much. Wild animals often try to box you in, lack morals to second guess their decision to harm you, and can track you obsessively. You never want to piss one off in the wild, but they can be useful training tools.
Thinking that such awesome running skills would be great for a ninja, Naruto had been forced to adapt the exercise a bit. Between the Inuzuka and various ANBU patrols, Konoha was devoid of most dangerous wildlife. Running from a pack of wolves sounded effective, but Naruto did not want to get too far away and doubted he could fight off a wolf pack anyways. According to Saotome-sensei, he had first tried this technique at ten, after nearly four years of training. He had to make sure such things were taken into account or he might get a serious injury. How could the blonde become Hokage if he died too early?
So instead, Naruto had begun to look around for local substitutes for the wolf pack. Getting chased by the Inuzuka clan dogs might work, but they were too smart to attack unless he did something major. If there was one thing he knew, pissing off the Inuzuka was a very bad idea. Almost giving up in despair, he had lucked out after hearing a couple of Genin complaining after their latest mission. Based upon the description, their latest target would be perfect for training, and was often around the village. All it took to prepare was a little spying and a special kind of bait.
Hearing that Tora, pet of the Daimyo's wife, had escaped once again, Naruto took a special paste of catnip and fish products and applied it to his skin. Running through the foliage, he prepared for the training of a lifetime! Thus was Naruto the first Academy Student to catch Tora before a Genin team could be assigned. The Hokage scolded him about rolling around in the trash, gave him a bit of pay for the effort and sent him on the way. Nursing a few slashes, the young blonde managed to bond with his new Sensei in a most unexpected way. From that day forward, Naruto would have a major hatred of cats, and swore his first pet would be a giant dog.
Balance is one of the most important things that a martial artist can learn. Once you understand yourself and your center properly, it will take an act of god to destabilize your stance. Before you work on this, I HIGHLY recommend that you work on learning how to fall. Being able to minimize an injury is vital, because some of the advanced balance training involves significant height. By the time you master falling; three story drops won't even warrant a bandage. One of the most effective methods involves using sidewalk ledges, piles of stones, and the tops of fences. Just start off slow, or things can get messy.
Bouncing in excitement, Naruto headed to the edge of the village as quickly as possible. He had Taijutsu training today, and despite the best efforts of the instructor there were no problems with his form at all! Saotome-sensei had described any number of tricks to help you deal with the boring repetition of forms, most notably studying what others were doing while integrating those same skills into your own style. It not only improved your understanding of the techniques when seeing how different body types used them, but helped you read enemies movements. Once Naruto had realized that the Taijutsu instructor was making holes in his stance on purpose, he had used this technique to not only occupy his mind but improve his skills.
As a result, nearly every guy in class had fallen to his new combat skills! The only one to avoid an outright defeat was Sasuke, but their spar had been closer than ever before! Other than annoyed looks and laughter, his classmates had instead been mildly impressed. It was a sign of his improvement, and made all the effort worthwhile! That Uchiha had better watch out, or there would be a new top student in the class!
Even more important than his victory though, was that the lesson on falling had gone without any trouble. He had been working with the descriptions of training as much as he dared, using the sidewalk, roof ledges, and tree branches. However now he was ready to try a wire fence of serious height! Luckily, in one of his daily runs he had found an isolated training ground that seemed perfect for his needs. Taking a running leap, Naruto managed to get to the top of the fence in one try. Unfortunately, Ranma had neglected to mention that he avoided barbed wire fences out of sheer common sense. Slicing up his legs, Naruto fell head first into Training Ground Forty Four also known as the Forest of Death.
After patching himself up, the young blonde found himself in a world of monsters and death traps. Instead of being freaked out though, he saw the ultimate training opportunity. Since he tried his balance practice on a Friday, the whole weekend stretched before him for survival training. Unfortunately for him, Anko had decided that this was an excellent weekend to practice her own maneuvers and noticed the young blonde. Smirking, the Snake Kunoichi decided to have some fun with the brat and lost track of time. By the end of the confrontation, she had quite a bit of respect for the rug rat and the Hokage had Naruto on Suicide Watch for nearly a month.
Never ignore information, because everything and anything can be useful. When I was growing up, I ignored school or barely studied. The Martial Arts were my life, and I saw no reason to change that. As a result of my ignorance, people unable to throw a punch managed to control and manipulate me like a puppet. After facing members of fighting schools from all over the world, I was forced to grow up and expand my horizons. You see, I was able to beat them up, but the finer elements of our conflicts always resulted in a loss. They managed to use and abuse this weakness to their profit, and it was with great satisfaction that I gained the tools to finally and utterly defeat them.
Oh, most stuff besides fighting bores me to tears, until I started to look for the reasons to learn it. Many of my teachers were not interested in more than explaining their subjects, as opposed to how they could be used. But when you think about it, every subject can be applied to getting stronger. It can be different from person to person, but you need to really think about what school can do for you, not to you. It can be a pain, but studying sure as hell beats doing soft core porn to make ends meet.
Naruto was quick to agree with Saotome-sensei. Most of the lessons in the Academy were boring to the point of tears. However, he knew that as a Hokage, he would need to understand every part of the village and its ninja forces. The problem had always been focusing on the constant drone that was his lecture series. If he got confused,his questions would either be ignored or belittled to the amusement of the classroom. Attempts at tutoring either left him waiting for an appointment that was never honored, or an instructor who would provide him false information and claim innocence later. The only one who might explain things was the Third Hokage, and he was usually too busy to meet with him over school work. So something else would have to be attempted.
That was when his crush came in handy. Haruno Sakura, the one girl in the Academy he liked was top of the class in terms of book smarts. He knew she was obsessed with their classmate Uchiha Sasuke, but that did not mean he was willing to give up! The blonde knew that she would never agree to help him outside of class, but there was always another way to get information. Besides it would make her look good, and no girl avoided a chance to shine in the public eye!
Waiting until his next history class, Naruto launched his brilliant plan. "Hey, Sakura-chan! Sensei can't be right, can he? I mean, you're the smartest person I know, so what's the real answer?" Watching the class and Sensei focus on his crush, Naruto smirked. Sakura could not possibly hate him anymore than she did already, and this way he would at least work to his advantage. After all, if he thought of this operation as a prank, then it really one of his milder ones.
As expected, when put on the spot by the class clown, Sakura had been quick to defend the teacher, giving names and dates of specific engagements. Not to be outdone by her rival, Ino had questioned the validity of the facts, trying to find some flaw in the statement. That led to a screaming match slash debate for the rest of the lecture, despite the Sensei's best efforts. Much to his surprise, the class grades for that particular lecture were nearly twenty percent higher than average, including the class dead last. While the instructor did not think the Kyuubi brat was smart enough to initiate something like that on purpose, that did not stop him from adapting the debate technique. After all, even if Uzumaki was passing the others were still doing better so it all evened out in the end.
Meditation can be both the most powerful and frustrating technique in any discipline. Everyone seems to have a different way of approaching it, from ritual chants to favored katas. The important thing is to center your mind, body and spirit into one purpose or goal. When focused in such a manner, there is very little you cannot do. The problem is that, since everybody is different, everybody has a different perfect method for accomplishing this. That does not mean that the effort is not worth it.
There are all these urban legends of mothers lifting cars off their children or other panic inspired moments of power. All that really means is they managed to focus every aspect of their beings into victory. In theory, anyone can do this in moments of great stress and danger. But in practice a martial artist can cultivate and develop these skills to the point of instinctive usage. Such unity is the sign of a gifted fighter as opposed to a merely skilled one. In the end, it is totally worth the effort and will only help you develop as a martial artist and a person.
Just a word of warning though; when you manage to accomplish this unity, be prepared for some disorientation. I first managed it properly at twenty five, and the sight was more than I bargained for. Be aware that you can slip into your subconscious, and it is rarely what you expect. Just remember that in the end it is your mind, and you are in complete control. Any monsters, fury or otherwise, are under your command. Although, if you see anything really bad, I highly recommend therapy; it did wonders for me.
Frowning, Naruto got to his feet, nearly drenched in water. After reading about the awesome stuff Saotome-sensei talked about using meditation, the blonde knew he had to get in on some of that! So, looking over the different methods to accomplish this, he managed to approach the discipline with the same determination as his quest to become Hokage. Thus it was no surprise that it only took him two weeks to reach his mindscape. However, being confronted with a giant sewer was not on the agenda.
Looking around, a part of him was depressed by the worn and decrepit look of his mind. According to some of the examples Saotome-sensei produced, he was a lot more emo than he realized. But remembering the declaration that this was his mind, and he was in control, the child knew what he had to do. After all, with so much water, he just needed some flowers to make things nicer! Thinking about his own amateur gardening techniques, Naruto imagined a bright orange flower that gave off sunlight and joy and the scent of a spring breeze. Before he knew what was happening, said flower was soon turned the walls of the sewer into a jungle corridor.
Walking down the path while spreading the new growth, Naruto was struck by a feeling of terror. Remembering Saotome-sensei's descriptions of devil cats and evil cooking monsters within his own mind, the child forced himself to keep going to face his fear. In the end, defeating it would only make him a stronger ninja and ensure he got the Hokage spot. However, never in his wildest dreams did he expect to see a giant fox there!
The beast was sleeping, with nine tails curled around its monstrous form. Even a goof like Uzumaki could recognize the Kyuubi when he saw it. But why the heck was he scared of a demon fox? He had been a baby during the attack and only knew the creature from stories. Besides, the thing was in a cage, and thus was no threat to him. Still, it was better to be safe than sorry.
Naruto was no psychologist, but even he knew that having a giant demon as your greatest fear was not a good sign. Still, firmly remembering that his was his mind, Naruto took what steps he could to prevent the creature from waking and attacking its cage. First, he imagined a set of large earplugs appearing in the Kyuubi's head. Next, he made a practical wall of chains to bind the bars of the prison even further. Finally, remembering that there was still a lot of water lying around, the child had a series of vines and trees begin to grow around the base of the cage, lowering the water level significantly and acting as yet another line of defense. Exhausted from his efforts, Naruto broke his trance with a major headache before passing out.
Upon waking, he noticed the differences immediately. Firstly, his chakra control was a lot better and much more focused. Secondly, content that his greatest fear was sealed away, Naruto threw himself into things with even more enthusiasm, the mental strain of fear and doubt banished for the moment. Finally, he began to distance himself from the Hokage, who shot down his idea of therapy after hearing about the experience. After all, Saotome-sensei had yet to steer him wrong, and not acting on his advice had to be a bad idea. Wary of being manipulated in some fashion, the Academy Student stopped going to the Hokage for help unless absolutely necessary. If there was one thing he had learned, no one withholding information for his own good could be trusted. Otherwise he would know who his parents were by now!
Thus was Naruto ready to begin his life as one of the strongest of Ninja legends. However, there was one small issue that he did not quite understand. Saotome Ranma, isolated and tactless as he was, had managed to attract the attention of numerous beautiful women by the age of sixteen. His strength, charisma, and bad boy image had drawn potential suitors like flies to honey. At the same time, in his quest for greatness, numerous rivals sprang up seeking to prove themselves. Now that the Uzumaki child was adopting some of the same habits, certain things were inevitable. After all, Fate and Karma hated a vacuum.
Peeking around a tree, Hyuga Hinata was doing one of her favorite hobbies otherwise known as 'Stalk-Naruto-kun-no-jutsu'. Her hero and inspiration had really been working hard lately, and she had been among the first to notice. While not the head of the class, his accomplishments in Taijutsu and improved Academic knowledge had pushed him closer to the middle of the rankings. Feeling his confidence growing with every victory, the shy girl could not help but feel that same emotion infusing her by proxy. Although she knew it was forward of her, Hinata took pride in Naruto's growth and only wished that she could help him as much as his bright disposition helped her.
Still, as the unofficial mistress of all things blond and ramen loving, the Hyuga Heiress was a little confused where these skills were coming from. Naruto had always been determined, but lately his abilities were rising to meet his drive. Although she was happy for such growth, which demonstrated to the people of Konoha that her crush did have what it took to become Hokage, she also did not want to be left behind. After all, if Naruto got too far ahead of her, what could the shy child have to offer a future Hokage? However, her persistence had paid off this day as she observed Naruto reading a training manual. Curiosity peaked; Hinata shyly activated her Byakugan to read alongside her crush. Looking over the contents the young girl was entranced by the story of romance, struggle and growth, interspaced with interesting training techniques. Although some of this sounded out there, it was easy to see that when Naruto-kun grew as strong as Saotome-sensei, nothing would get in his way. She just wanted to help follow him on such an impressive path.
At that point, a particular passage caught Hinata's eye.
Of all the women I've met in my life, the one who impressed me the most as a fighter was Shampoo. Of course, I'm just butchering the pronunciation of her name now, but that's probably how I will always remember her. She could knock down walls with a touch, knock out enemies and cook within minutes of one another and always was willing to smile. While we had our disagreements, I can honestly state that Shampoo was to me a perfect symbol of what a female martial artist could be.
Deactivating her technique, Hinata began to walk away deep in thought. Clearly, Saotome-sensei had strong feelings for this Shampoo, and greatly admired her. In all honesty, she sounded a bit like Tsunade-sama. If Naruto was learning from that manual, maybe emulating his new role-model's significant other might make things easier? While she tried to emulate her old minder Kurenai-sensei most of the time, maybe being a little more aggressive would get Naruto-kun to notice her! Head nodding with determination, Hinata headed home to begin working on her new attitude. Unfortunately for her, she had stopped reading at the wrong point.
On the other hand, Shampoo could also be rather needy, self-centered, and unwilling to compromise. We became good friends later on, but as a couple we probably would never have worked out. In my experience, complimentary personalities work better than identical ones in a relationship, if only to minimize friction. If Shampoo and I tried to work as a couple, we would just end up competing with one another instead of working with one another. I still have a very special place in my heart for the girl, but in all honesty I thank my lucky stars we never ended up together.
Checking over her scrolls for the evening, Sakura sighed. Ever since Naruto had asked her to challenge Sensei's lecture, the pinked haired girl had found herself the undisputed head of ninja academics in the class. While the attention was nice, she had to work twice as hard as before to stay ahead. Everyone had discovered that debating about the facts in the history book was a lot more fun than simply memorizing dates and names. Thus the young genius found herself with a lot more competition than she had initially expected. No one wanted to go back to the boring lectures of before. So suddenly, everyone was studying, if only to have the knowledge to maintain the debates.
Still, she had to admit it was nice to be the best at something. When she was younger, no one wanted to be friends with the girl who knew so much. They had thought her intelligence was weird, and did not want to play with her. Even at the best of times, Sakura was a simple wallflower who stayed out of the limelight. Then Ino had found her, befriended her, and brought her into the center stage. However, now she had the drive and determination to stay there by herself without anyone's help. That did not help the loneliness sometimes.
Looking out the window, Sakura thought over her crush on Uchiha Sasuke. When she had first seen the Academy Heartthrob, the little girl had been struck by how handsome and cool he looked, a sentiment that was shared by most of the girls in class. At some point, going to class had simply become another chance to be around her true love, and less about her abilities as a Kunoichi. She had even begun to distance herself from Ino, hoping to become strong enough not to rely upon anyone else. That way, Sasuke-kun would have no choice but to fall for her!
However, lately that drive to gain the Uchiha's heart had begun to wane. It had first started when Naruto had forced her to be the center of attention. Defending herself and her answers in front of everybody had been mortifying, but she had managed. As time went on, she began to focus more on her studies, enjoying the attention that her natural brilliance had produced. Sure that she had the inside track to Sasuke's love, Sakura had turned to comment only to be snubbed. Suddenly, it felt like all her efforts had turned to ash.
As the debates continued, Sakura began to realize that Sasuke never participated. She knew he knew the material, holding onto his number one spot in the class, but at the same time he refused to help others do any better. Everybody seemed to be getting stronger, but Sasuke never seemed impressed. Instead, he acted threatened. The Academy student had lost track of the number of times she caught him attacking the training grounds after class, frustrated that someone had nearly shown him up. Before, she thought such dedication was a sign of how strong the focus of her crush was. Now, as his training got progressively more violent, she began to get a little scared of his anger.
While Sakura was the first of her family to become a ninja, it did not mean that other Haruno's were not involved with the lifestyle. Several of her relatives had married into ninja families, and carried out their responsibilities just like any other villager. Although the majority were happy in their relationships, there had been times when it had not gone so well. It often resulted in some sort of violence and the intervention of the Konoha military police. Watching a boy who was so young release so much anger made Sakura wonder what the future Mrs. Uchiha would actually have to put up with, and the results left her feeling cold.
Besides, now that her intelligence was being recognized daily, the young girl had all the confidence she could ever need. For the first time in a long time, Sakura's self worth was not defined by how much attention Sasuke was paying her, and she found herself liking that. Perhaps she should rethink this whole rivalry thing with Ino? If Sasuke was really turning into a big jerk, then there had to be better things to fight about than being his one true love. Besides, she missed her best friend,
Putting away her homework, Sakura began to prepare for bed, deep in thought. While she was edging away from Sasuke as a potential boyfriend, that did not mean she wanted to end up all alone. Her best bet for a relationship was probably another one of her classmates, but most of them were kind of pathetic. Heck, she might just get stuck with Naruto! Blinking, she smirked a bit. Well, he was cute in a way, and getting a lot stronger. In fact, if he kept going like he had so far, the blonde might even beat Sasuke for the top slot of the year. Her mom probably would not like him, but she was due a little rebellion every now and then. After helping her out of her shell, the least she could do was one little date.
Smashing his fists into a fresh training post, Uchiha Sasuke growled in frustration. For the last few weeks, the dead last of the class had been growing by leaps and bounds. While his position as the top student was in no way threatened, as time progressed it was getting harder and harder to keep. He needed to prove himself and that stupid, orange-wearing goofball was getting in the way! That could NOT be allowed to continue!
He had only one goal in life that meant anything, and that was the death of his brother. Uchiha Itachi was a genius among geniuses, and the only way to kill him was to surpass him. Being the head of the class gave him access to extra training and special techniques not available to the general Academy population. But no matter how hard he worked or far he seemed to go, that stupid blonde was catching up faster than he could manage. At this rate, he could lose his standing and any chance of defeating his brother. That could not be allowed!
As an Uchiha, he was above stalking the brat to discover how he had gained such power. But it was becoming clearer that he would need to defeat Naruto completely and utterly before going on to crush Itachi. That meant he had to seek out power that would defeat the idiot and move on to bigger and better things! But with the Academy being useless, that only left one thing to do. He was going to have to use the secret library of the Uchiha clan.
With the power of the Sharingan, the Uchiha had been taking the ninjutsu of foreign clans for generations. However, not every ninja of the clan could unlock the fabled doujutsu, and despite the associated stigma, every drop of clan blood was precious. So, in an attempt to preserve the lives of the weaker members, the Uchiha elders established a ninjutsu library to instruct those without the Sharingan. No other clan could boast such a collection, and despite the efforts of some of the Council Members, those secrets remained within the clan to this day.
Normally, Sasuke would never think to turning to the library. Despite its amazing contents, it was still seen as a crutch for those with weaker blood. After all, as a true Uchiha, he would soon awaken his Sharingan. With the power of his eyes, learning ninjutsu would be as simple as breathing. Being forced to use scrolls to learn clan secrets was seen as a personal shame, and only the most cowardly sought out its secrets. In fact, many Uchiha ninja retired to the life of a civilian rather than remain in the core without a Sharingan.
However, Sasuke was desperate and knew there was no better recourse. He would learn every ninjutsu he could for now, and simply pray that the experience did not cause him trouble down the road. Once he activated his Sharingan, then the jutsu of the world would be his! In the meantime, it seemed like there was no other course but simple hard work. Sometimes life was simply so unfair. Grumbling, Sasuke started for home after making a new vow. This aggravation had better be worth it, or he would use Naruto to get the Mangekyo Sharingan! Believe it!
Eyebrow twitching, Neji walked behind Hinata-sama caring countless bags and purchases. Hearing the snickering from nearby civilians and their Chunin escort, the mortified Branch House member tried once again to shift the bags to hide the contents. For some ungodly reason the clan heiress had decided that it was a great day to replace her underwear, and the red bags were quite distinctive. Bad enough he had to act as a pack horse, but being thought of as a pervert was simply too much! Thanks to the Byakugan, he was accused of that enough as it was!
Over the course of the last six months, his once shy and hesitant cousin had evolved into some sort of Amazon. Everything from Hinata's clothing to attitude had done a complete one-eighty, leaving him with a much more aggressive girl to deal with. While she was in no way cruel or impolite, the result was enough to drive him insane. Ten year olds should not invest in leather clothing and whips, even in ninja villages! Especially the proud heiress of the mighty Hyuga Clan!
It had started so gradually that no one had recognized the signs. In fact, Hinata's initial actions had only brought surprised praise and admiration. She had stopped holding back in spars, defeating anyone with sudden brutality. There was no hesitation or mercy during training, culminating in the complete defeat of Hanabi, her younger sister. Hinata had not managed a win in that pairing for nearly three years, yet now there was no problem. As her personal protector, Neji had not participated in the battles, but even he could see that the formerly shy girl had become a potentially worthy opponent, Main Branch House or no.
But then victory was never enough for the girl. She began training long into the night, studying everything and anything concerning the Hyuga Secrets she could find. Chakra control, taijutsu, ninjutsu and genjutsu became her sole reason for breathing. Neji himself had found her passed out in the training halls, practice equipment constantly destroyed from her efforts. As much hatred as he held for the family Neji knew dedication when he saw it. The only other person he had ever seen with that level of drive was the dead last of his Academy class.
Then, maybe three months later, Hinata began changing her outward appearance as well. Instead of wearing loose clothing and chopping her hair off, the shy girl began to switch to tighter and tighter ensembles. Before anyone knew what had happened, the Heiress was alternating between spandex, leather and ninja mesh. Neji had even heard some of the elders talking of possession and mind altering ninjutsu. However, rather than show weakness by contacting the Yamanaka for help, everyone decided to ignore the problem. That was the final mistake.
That was when Hinata apparently asked her normal minder Kurenai-san to introduce one of her oldest friends. Thus Hyuga Hinata was allowed to ask advice from Mitarashi Anko and things went completely out of control. The girl began to practice with makeup, clothing malfunctions and a nice shiny bullwhip. What had once been a quiet, passive, and insecure preteen had morphed into some sort of wildcat in training. Such behavior was a disgrace upon the entire clan!
By this point, the clan elders and Hiashi-sama had apparently reached their limits. They met with the unruly girl and demanded that she watch her behavior. She was to be the face of the clan, and such wonton displays were a sign of disrespect. Instead of stuttering out apologies, Hinata calmly walked over to a wall and threw a punch. To everyone's shock and horror, the tempered surface of wood and plaster was practically atomized. In the dead silence that followed, Hinata had apparently asked if that was strong enough for the clan, or did she need to demonstrate her abilities in a more personal fashion. Looking at the ten year old girl who had used a technique thought lost since the Sannin Tsunade, the elders had left her to her own devices.
That left Neji stuck as the personal protector of a rebellious girl, and Hinata was surprisingly quick to take advantage of this. The young Genius was forced to act as personal pack mule, training dummy, and confidante to his cousin, who he had spent much of his young life hating. Yet, despite the occasional moments of embarrassment, he had to admit his cousin was not so bad. After nearly three months of this behavior, Neji was forced to drop his hatred, if for no other reason than frustration. He might be focused, but given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he could no longer hold Hinata as the representative of all his problems. Honestly, this rather pissed him off.
Luckily, being her newest confidante meant that he was in a key position to discover the catalyst of this change in the younger Hyuga. Apparently, she was trying to build up her confidence to emulate some character in a book she read. According to Hinata, this Shampoo person was the one true love of the main figure in the story that one of her classmates was trying to act like. It was for him that his kind and shy cousin had turned into an assertive and resolute Kunoichi. It was because of his influence that Hinata was now sure to become the next head of the Hyuga Clan. It was also his fault that Neji was stuck carrying female underwear down a busy Konoha street for all to see. Yes, for all of this, Uzumaki Naruto was going to pay!
Thus, for the next two years Naruto's life played out in a significantly different fashion than it would have otherwise. With his drive and skills, the former dead last of the Academy began to rise through the ranks. Before anyone could realize what was happening, the blonde had managed to climb to the second ranking within the class. Luckily, the number of instructors had been limited to two, and Iruka-sensei was always fair when dealing with the Kyuubi Brat. Despite some subtle attempts by the senior instructor Mizuki, Naruto still managed to thrive and succeed.
Sakura did end up trying to date Naruto, and found to her surprise that he was a lot of fun. Despite pressure from her family, the young Kunoichi became one of his first friends. Despite his crush, Naruto remembered Ranma-sensei's lessons on women well. Instead of keeping Sakura-chan as his girl friend, he focused on developing their friendship, and enjoyed the experience. Although Sakura lost some friends among the Uchiha groupies, she really could not bring herself to care.
Soon, others began to gravitate towards them, and the clever blonde found himself practically awash in allies. Ino was happy because he kept Sakura away from Sasuke and liked plants. Shikamaru and Chouji got dragged in as chaperones to protect Ino's innocence, and found that they liked his easy going nature. Kiba joined in because he thought Naruto was funny, but respected his strength. Plus, he was having a bit of trouble in class, and Sakura was always up to the odd tutoring session. All in all, the former outcast could not be happier.
That is not to say that everything was perfect. For example, ever since Hinata's transformation, she always seemed to try to insert herself into the group. Sakura did not like it, because she was beginning to really like Naruto and did not want a new rivalry. Naruto was not thrilled since, because of her recent growth, Hinata had begun to come across as arrogant and pushy. Luckily, Hinata never managed it due to the fact that all her new confidence went out the window once Naruto actually spoke three words to her. Despite her massive strides, when it came to her favorite blonde she was as hopeless as ever.
Another problem was Uchiha Sasuke's constant attacks on and off the sparring mat. The Number One Rookie of the year always made a point of rubbing Naruto's losses in his face. Over the years, he would randomly use various jutsu's whenever he thought he could get away with it. While Mizuki often looked the other way, other students began to notice the viciousness of his selections and gave the unstable kid some space. Even his civilian fan girls began to distance themselves from their previous crush, most of them unfamiliar with how destructive and brutal the average jutsu could be in real life. Naruto never let the defeats get him down, and tried to learn as much as possible from each confrontation.
Finally, there was the mysterious Aburame Shino. Always the quiet outsider, he had taken to making dry commentary upon the conflict between Uzumaki and Uchiha at the oddest of times. Many of his classmates were shocked that the bug boy could sneak up on them at will. Insulted with their dismissal, the young Aburame honed his survival skills by sneaking within striking distance of the principles whenever he chose to make an observation. While many of the class found themselves agreeing with his points, several dropped from the program for fear of his abilities. Both Naruto and Sasuke found him as annoying as hell though.
Despite the standard difficulties, Naruto continued to develop into a promising ninja. Before he knew it, the graduation exam was upon them. After spending weeks reviewing with Sakura-chan and sparing with his friends, the blonde had no fear for his future. Soon, everyone would get their headband and begin their adventures. It was going to be a blast!
Smiling at the instructors, Naruto fought to keep the fear off his face. The written test was a lot harder than he thought it should be, but thanks to all that studying he felt confident in his chances. The Taijutsu and Accuracy demonstrations went fine, and he knew there was no way for the instructors to mark off for his performance there. All that was left was the ninjutsu lesson, and the one skill he always had trouble with. The Clone Technique was simple, but it required a minimum of chakra that he just could not master. If not for Saotome-sensei's advice about turning a weakness into strength, things might have been hopeless!
Puffing his chest out in pride, the blonde made his grin as cocky as possible. "Hey Iruka-sensei! Is there any extra credit for doing extra Clones? I don't think that two more of me is anywhere near enough to demonstrate my awesomeness!" Seeing the annoyed twitch over his favorite teacher's eyebrow, Naruto knew his mission was accomplished. Iruka-sensei always got a little distracted when pissed off like this.
Cracking his knuckles, the Chunin cleared his throat. "Alright Naruto, if you think you can handle it, I'll add one forth of a point to your written test for each extra clone you manage to make. How does that sound?" Clearly, given his history with the technique in class, Iruka-sensei must have thought he was going to try for five or six extra clones. The expression on his face when two hundred appeared out of thin air in perfect working order was priceless. Despite the sour look in Mizuki-sensei's eye, that was the day that Uzumaki Naruto became a ninja of Konoha.
Rubbing his forehead in irritation, the Sandaime looked over the class rankings with a frown. Although Naruto had distanced himself as of late, the elder ninja made a point of checking the young boy's progress. In an amazing show of ability, the previously failing child had become the second highest ranked student within his graduating class. Even without Iruka's last minute additions, he would easily be in the top ten. Truly, it was an accomplishment to be proud of.
Unfortunately, it did cause some problems in balancing the Genin Teams. While there were mandates in place to ensure the best possible outcome, only three teams from this class were expected to pass. The others had some ability, but lacked the drive needed for the ninja lifestyle. It was a shame, but Konoha would be stronger in the end. Still, Naruto deserved to have a fair chance at success, so placing him with a winning team was an absolute necessity. That was how the politics of the selections would be particularly difficult this year.
Traditionally, the strongest, weakest, and top Kunoichi would be placed in one team. Since the opening of the ninja Academy nearly sixty years ago, there had never been a single Kunoichi in the top spot so no conflict had ever arisen due to this formula. In this class, that would make Uchiha Sasuke, Hyuga Hinata, and Nara Shikamaru the new Team Seven. However, due to their vicious rivalry, an Uchiha and a Hyuga would never be placed upon the same Genin Team. In addition, the Nara, Yamanaka, and Akimichi clans wished to recreate the infamous Ino-Shika-Chou squad from their youth. All the clan heads were now Jonin with significant positions of importance. Coupled with the fact that Kurenai wanted Hinata as a student while Kakashi had to mentor the last loyal Uchiha, such a team construction would be a mess.
Kurenai's request for a tracking squad was also impressive, but the idea had its own problems. According to the evaluations submitted by the instructors, both Kiba and Hinata would be in direct conflict for most of their training. The young Hyuga was not the sort to start trouble, but Kiba was encouraged to establish his dominance as strongly as possible. Against a fellow boy, his behavior would probably bring a sense of rivalry. But against a strong Kunoichi, he would try to show off his strength, undermining the team dynamic. Shino would probably play the peace maker to minimize stress upon the group, but he should not be forced to wield together a team that was broken in the first place.
In addition, most of these students would probably make horrible teammates to Naruto. Hinata had some sort of emotional breakdown whenever forced in close quarters with the blonde. Shino apparently found his antics disruptive and illogical, limiting his interaction as much as possible. Sasuke had almost killed Naruto using jutsu that most Chunin should not know, let alone a simple Academy Student. In fact, only Kiba and Shikamaru had any chance of working with him regularly, and neither was a ideal fit.
That left Ino, Sakura, and Chouji as other prospective team members. All had reportedly worked well with Naruto in the past, and demonstrated the needed flexibility to make strong teams. However, given the power and ego of the other Genin, each would have to be spread out amongst the teams to maintain the best possible balance. In addition, their personal skills did not quite fit the purpose of any specific team set. Sakura was the second best Kunoichi in Academics with high Genjutsu potential. Ino was showing the early signs of being an excellent information gatherer and seductress. Chouji was a fairly good student of Taijutsu, with special clan techniques that would turn him into a heavy hitter later on. Any one would make a strong team, but two would destabilize the other teams horribly.
Honestly, it was quite the difficult situation. However, after meeting with the Jonin Sensei's, Iruka, and reviewing the reports once again, Sarutobi thought he had a handle on the problem. Several people would probably be pissed, but in the end the teams would insure a strong generation of Konoha ninja. Admittedly they were not exactly ideal matches, but he felt enough was enough. Between Mizuki's attempted defection and the constant strain of the Hokage's position, he was getting too old for this shit.
Looking out at the sea of eager young faces, Iruka-sensei allowed a moment of nostalgia. This had been an exceptional class, and even if most did not pass their Jonin-sensei's qualification exam he had no doubt of future successes. Looking at his favorite student, the scarred Chunin felt a grin forming. Naruto had gotten off to a rough start in the Academy, but something big had changed him for the better. Going from the bottom of the class to second place was quite an achievement, and he had every right to be proud. He could only hope the fun loving prankster continued his path of improvement. If he kept this rate of growth up, Naruto might very well be Hokage someday.
Clearing his throat, Iruka pinned each Genin hopeful with a firm gaze. "Today, you begin your path down the road of the ninja. No longer will I be the teacher and you the student. While the lowest level of ninja ability, all of us are comrades of the Leaf. Remember that, and strive to protect our village from any who would dare threaten it!" Seeing the smiles and cocky grins, the Chunin almost felt bad for them. Many would be forced to relinquish those headbands before the week was out. "I will now read the team placements. Your team will become those ninja that you train and grow with the most. At this time, a Jonin will take over your training until at least your first Chunin Exam, helping you progress and grow. Now pay attention, because I only want to say this once."
Reading down the list of teams, Iruka suppressed a sigh. Many of these candidates had the skills, but currently lacked the drive to be ninja. Honestly, the betting pool on teams one through six passing was so pathetic that Tsunade of the Sannin would not touch them with a ten foot pole. However, the last three had excellent chances of success. "Alright, Team Seven will be Haruno Sakura, Inuzuka Kiba, and Uchiha Sasuke! Team Eight will be Aburame Shino, Akimichi Chouji, and Hyuga Hinata! Team nine is still in circulation from last year, so Team Ten will be Nara Shikamaru, Uzumaki Naruto and Yamanaka Ino! Report back here after lunch to meet with your Jonin Sensei s, and good luck to you all!"
Grumbling, Ino gathered her supplies for the bath. After hearing that Team Seven had gotten a C-ranked mission to Wave country, Naruto had begged Asuma-sensei to request one as well. As a result, Team Ten had been forced to escort a caravan to a nearby village about a day away. Not only had the whole trip been boring as hell, but the leader of the caravan apparently had a problem with the way she dressed! She was proud of her body damn it, and no stupid prude would be allowed to give her fashion advice!
By the time everything had been unloaded and prepared for market, it was far too late to head back. Asuma had rented a small suite of rooms from one of the local inns, and recommended that they all rest up. Unfortunately, that blue eyed idiot had loudly complained about being hungry, and dragged his teammates to a local Ramen stand. She had been forced to eat, covered in sweat and dust from the trail while feeling miserable. That idiot had even forced her to eat a large bowl, claiming that she was too skinny! What did that jerk know about a proper diet anyways? Everyone knew he lived off the noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Of course Shikamaru was no help, agreeing with Naruto just to shut him up. Ino did feel better after some food, but damn it she felt like a slob! It was bad enough that the annoying blonde forced them all to train day in and out. There were days she just wanted to stick him with a kunai to make an off switch! Why did Sakura have to get Sasuke-kun as a teammate instead of her? Now both friends were stuck with the guy the other one liked! Fate was just too cruel at times.
Her head filled with images of true love and potential romance, the young Yamanaka forgot that the baths attached to her room were shared with her teammates. Ready for a hot soak, she banged the door open just as Naruto got out of the water. Shikamaru had decided to wait for the morning to bathe and Asuma had gone quickly before finding his own dinner. Shocked by sight of her teammate Ino lost a hold of her towel, showing way more skin than intended. Both blondes found themselves riveted in place for three seconds before Ino calmly closed the door.
Ino had seen her first naked boy outside of a medical text, besides the odd bath with Shikamaru as an infant. She had seen every single bit of Naruto's muscled form, which would only develop with age. Even the shirtless pictures of Sasuke training had not been so impressive. Closing her eyes, the Kunoichi made a solemn vow. She and Sakura were rivals again because she wanted a piece of that and was sure as hell going to get it!
Sneaking into his room, Naruto could not help but feel a sense of impending doom. He knew he should have checked with everybody before taking his bath, but it seemed safe enough. If only he had remembered to let the girl know he was grabbing a bath, none of this would have happened. While he liked the view, this situation was one that even the great Saotome-sensei had never managed to solve! He was screwed!
Now as I finish this book, I hope that you've enjoyed the tale. While it kind of sucked in places, my life had been filled with more adventure and excitement than I had any right to. Having finished I now leave you, my patient reader, with the last lesson I ever learned. To put it simply, the guy is always wrong. It does not matter what the situation or circumstance, you are wrong. If you encounter such a situation, pay your medical insurance, take a trip, and wait for everything to cool down. Otherwise, prepare for the pain. Reflect on this, and you will save yourself all sorts of trouble in the future.
Thinking about his Sensei's final lesson, Naruto wondered if he could request a leave of absence for a while.
Well, that was satisfying!
Again, I wish emphasize this is not meant to be a main story. I am simply using this file to blow off some steam, and to further develop as a writer. I can only hope that you can enjoy this as much as my other works. My goal is to try to stretch my ideas as much as possible.
Big thanks to my beta tallymark. I can only hope that she will soon be lured into working on Escape from the Hokage s Hat. ;)