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 Pokémon…

Pocket Monsters, more widely known as "Pokémon", are diverse creatures that come in all sorts of colors, shapes, sizes, and types. They have strange and amazing powers, and can even achieve new forms. When captured by humans, they become loyal servants. Most people command them to battle, but there are many, many other things to do with a pokémon.

For example…


1 – Earn a Secret Reward

Jiraiya was steamed. His pokémon journey wasn't turning out at all like he'd dreamed that it would. He only had three pokémon—a mudkip and a pair of poliwags—to his name, and he'd somehow fallen into traveling with a violent, flat-chested tomboy, and a creepy, pale science nerd who almost looked like a girl with his long, dark hair. The nerd looked down on him as an idiotic oaf and the tomboy only seemed happy after she'd beaten him up for appreciating pretty girls.

And today had been an especially bad day. Tomboy Tsunade had utterly stomped his team with her smug little treeko and poisonous girly nidoran while nerdy Orochimaru stood by and smirked wider with every hit his pokémon took. Smarting from his loss, he'd come to the nearest Pokémon Center to heal his minions and stew.

As soon as his creatures were returned to him, he slunk over to the bank of computers and leaned his shoulder against the wall. While he stood there, being a grump, an adult wandered over to where he was standing and took up a position just a few feet away. He was a shady sort of guy dressed in a trench coat with sunglasses and a fedora, and he had a large bag with him that he set by his feet.

Jiraiya barely glanced at him before deciding to ignore him.

"Stupid girl," he fumed to himself. "I'd love to give her a taste of her own poison!"

"Oh?" the mysterious creep said, edging closer. "You have anything else to say, kid?"

"Hey, mister, was sort of grass are you smoking?" the white-haired boy snapped. "I wasn't talking to you!"

"Ah!" The man in the coat smiled broadly and suddenly Jiraiya felt uneasy. "Those special words tell me that you're someone in the know! You're a pokémon trainer, right?"

Jiraiya frowned, but gave a cautious nod. What the hell…?

"Since you're 'in the know' I can pull a few strings for you!" the weirdo in the trench coat declared and turned around to dig through his bag.

"…What?" the boy mumbled. Is he some crazy that's off his meds?

"Here you go," the man said, spinning around to shove a pale blue pokémon egg decorated with jagged purples lines into Jiraiya's hands. "A wooper egg! Take good care of it."

"What—hey wait!" Jiraiya sputtered, bobbling the egg and almost dropping it.

But the shady guy in the trench coat had gathered up his bag and vanished.

"…What the heck was that all about?" the boy wondered, clutching the egg to his chest so that it wouldn't get smashed on the floor.

"You don't know?"

The white-haired boy snapped his head up and to the left to find a much less shady adult eying him curiously. He had spiky brown hair, a pointy goatee, and the beginnings of crow's feet around his eyes. A purple aipom sat on his right shoulder and its long tail curled around the back of his neck so that the hand on the end waved at Jiraiya from his left shoulder.

"Uh, no…" the boy shrugged.

"A popular spy show is hosting a promotion in this city," strange man number two informed him. "If you find the hidden contact and work special code words into conversation in front of him, he'll give you a special prize." He raised an eyebrow at Jiraiya's blank expression. "…You really didn't know that?"

"Nope."

The second stranger laughed and actually reached out to ruffle Jiraiya's hair.

"Well," he chuckled. "Take good care of that egg. It's not often that a trainer as young as you manages to get a hold of one. I hope to see you again sometime."

And then he, too, was gone.

Jiraiya carefully tucked the egg under one arm and used his freed hand to try and fix his ruffled hair.

Who the heck was he? And what did he mean by that?


2 – Teach Responsibility

Uzumaki Kenjiro really didn't know what to do with his daughter. His wife had known…but she wasn't around anymore to help him. So, without thinking on it all that much, he simply treated her the same way that he treated his four sons.

Therefore, when she turned seven years old, he gave her the same sort of special birthday present that he had given each of her older brothers.

After her birthday dinner (take-out from her choice of restaurant, with store-bought cupcakes for dessert) and after her brothers had given her their presents (mostly candy), he led her into his den—a small room which was his private domain. The sugary cupcakes and the excitement of her birthday had her bouncing on the balls of her feet. He stared down at her for a minute, a corner of his mind marveling at how the only thing that looked girly about her was the sloppily-applied barrettes that kept her short red hair out of her eyes, before picking up a cardboard box from his desk.

"Kushina," he said. "You've turned seven today, and I think that's a good age to learn some real responsibility."

He flipped open the top flaps of the box and removed a hard-shelled pokémon from inside. Its back was brown and dome-like with tiny black primitive eyes that only detected light and dark. The creature's underbelly was shadowy with a pair of more advanced glowing eyes peering outward. Its legs looked like four yellow claws—better for scuttling along the bottom of the ocean than crawling over land.

His daughter's blue-gray eyes grew very wide and her jaw dropped at the sight of the monster…and Kenjiro had the sudden fear that he'd made a mistake.

Perhaps this pokémon wasn't girl-appropriate. Little girls feared creepy monsters, and bugs, and crabs. Maybe he should've acquired something cutesy for her, like a horsea or a psyduck instead of visiting the secret hidden cave and grabbing the first thing he'd found, like he had for his sons—

"Eeee!" she shrieked, not in fear but in delight. "A kabuto! Thank you Daddy!"

She reached for the crustacean-like creature, but he moved it out of her reach.

"I won't give this to you until you accept the conditions," he said sternly.

"Rules?" Kushina repeated, her chubby face crinkled in confusion.

"You must be responsible and take care of this kabuto. You must feed it and wash it and clean up after it and teach it manners. I won't do any of that for you. If you neglect it, I will take it away from you. If you take good care of it, it will be yours forever. Do you understand?"

"I understand, Daddy!" she nodded vigorously. "I promise I'll take good care of it!"

"Alright then," he replied and allowed her to take the kabuto from his hands. She looked almost comical holding an animal that was almost half her size, but he didn't smile just yet as he had a little bit more information to impart. "Now you won't officially own it until you get your license, so—"

"Yay! I gotta kabuto!" Kushina cried and staggered out of the den, partly hindered by the hard-bodied pokémon. "I'm gonna call you Slasher!"

"…Don't nickname it yet," Kenjiro sighed to the empty room.


3 – Pest Control

Minato glanced around warily as he picked his way around one of the many trails that cut through the infamous Forest of Death. Even though it was morning and the sun had risen, parts of the forest were so dense and dark it was possible to encounter dark- and ghost-type pokémon, which were usually nocturnal, or limited to living in caves. And then there were the diurnal pokémon, grass- and bug-types, to worry about, too.

His companion, however, was far less cautious as she stomped along behind him. Kushina the tomboy still hadn't tired of following him around and bothering him. Being a water pokémon devotee there really wasn't much in the forest to interest her, so she made a pest of herself.

"Are we close to this Moss Rock that you want to see so bad yet?" Kushina sighed, for the twentieth time in five minutes.

"The more you ask, the longer it's going to take," Minato grumbled back. "You didn't have to follow me in here. You could've gone someplace else."

"I don't want to go someplace else, I want to see what's so cool about this rock that you have to go see it," she shot back.

"Well—"

A small swarm of ledyba buzzed over the trail, one almost hitting Minato in the head as it flew past, interrupting his sentence. The blond boy stood perfectly still until he was sure that they were all gone. Then he was able to relax and keep walking.

"Hey." Kushina poked his shoulder. "You're not afraid of bugs, are you?"

"No," he huffed, flinching away from more pokes. "I'm not afraid of them, I just don't like them."

"Oh really?" she snorted dubiously. "I think you're scared of 'em! I bet you scream like a girl when one touches you!"

"Would you knock it off!" he snapped, turning around to face her and walk backwards. "I'm not afraid of bug pokémon! I—"

His heel caught on a tree root or stone in the path. He stumbled backwards and sideways, crashing into some thick bushes. Branches poked him and leaves blinded him and as he flailed—

Spider webs!

Sticky, tickly spider silk caught on his clothes and brushed against his skin. Raw panic jolted through his body and Minato managed to hurl himself free of the bushes. He clawed at the webs, desperate to remove the creepy material. And then…he saw the spinarak clinging to his leg.

"Aiieee!"

"What?" Kushina crashed through the bushes after him. "What's wrong?" She burst into view, trailing more nasty webs after her, and stared. "…Are you serious?"

"Get it off!" he squeaked hoarsely. He sat frozen, staring at it…as it stared right back at him. The spider-like pokémon crept a little bit further up his leg and he flinched. "Please get it off!"

The Uzumaki burst out laughing.

"Would you stop laughing and help me—uwah!"

It had reached his knee now and didn't seem opposed to creeping even higher.

Spider! his brain gibbered. Spider, spider, spider, spider—it's going to bite me and drink my blood!

Still cackling, the tomboy grabbed the green spider, plucked it from his pant leg, and stuck it on a nearby tree trunk.

"Namikaze," she snickered as she starting picking off more bits of cobweb from his clothes, "you're such a girl! I knew bugs would make you scream."

"It's not bugs," he protested weakly. "It's s-spiders, okay?"

"Heh, well maybe you should get a bird pokémon?" she suggested with a smirk. "There are plenty of pidgey and starly around…"

"I'm aiming to get a bird pokémon that isn't a normal-type," Minato muttered.

"Maybe you shouldn't be so picky," the girl suggested.

A different clump of bushes rustled and a large black bird with an impressive crest of feathers hopped into the small clearing, perhaps curious about the source of the earlier scream.

"Maybe," Minato retorted, staggering to his feet, still trembling from the traumatic spider exposure, "you should be quiet while I catch this murkrow…"


4 – Make a Rescue

Thunder rumbled overhead and the sky was nearly black as Minato picked his way along the steep sea cliffs in a mood even worse than the building weather. The young teenager was heedless of the rising wind and the waves crashing against the base of the sheer drop that he was skirting. All that was on his mind was his latest humiliation, courtesy of one Uzumaki Kushina.

They'd been in a little fishing village to restock on supplies early in the afternoon. While he'd been shopping for medicines, he'd encountered a very pretty local girl. She had long wavy blonde hair and bright hazel eyes and she'd seemed rather interested in him. Minato found himself thoroughly interested in her for some reason and sought to impress her with a few stories of his exploits.

But then his tomboy had found him, inserted herself into his private conversation, and she proceeded to tell the village girl all of his embarrassing moments. In ten minutes she was laughing at the Uzumaki's tales and his ears were burning. He had hurriedly made his purchases and fled from the store, his ego badly bruised.

Stupid girl! he fumed as rain began to patter down all around him. Maybe if I head home to Jiraiya-oji-san's she'll see what a perv he is, think that I'll be one too, and leave. Yeah, that—

A blinding flash of lightning with a simultaneous crash of thunder startled him. His shoes slipped on the rain-slicked ground when he stumbled. And gravity yanked him a good twenty feet down into the roiling sea bellow.

The water was cold and dark. The pounding waves slammed him against the cliffs and made it hard to tell which way was up. The rocks he was bashed against were rough, but they had no good handholds—his fingers got torn up every time he tried to hold on.

He reached for one of his pokéballs, but he'd left them all back at camp. He was all alone and helpless. No one knew where he was or that he'd fallen into the stormy sea.

Salt water burned his nose and throat. His waterlogged clothes and shoes weighed him down. And multiple collisions with the cliffs face and other rocks left him bruised and probably concussed—

A spectacular impact left him seeing stars and sinking into the inky water. He couldn't move his arms or legs. He couldn't breathe.

I'm drowning, he thought in a daze as he kept sinking. Just like Dad did… Will I meet him down there?

His burning lungs gave out and icy water rushed down his throat.

I'm dying.

The last thing he saw as his vision black out was a charging gyarados with her jaws opened wide…

—A shock burned through him and his body convulsed with heaves as he vomited seawater. He coughed and wheezed and spots swam in front of his eyes as he struggled to push himself up from the ground. His head throbbed and spun with confusion.

How did I get out of the water?

…Am I dead?

A pair of arms wrapped around his middle and squeezed tight.

"Wh-what…?" he croaked around chattering teeth.

"Don't you ever do something stupid like that again!" Kushina snapped in his ear.

"Okay," he wheezed, sagging backwards into her chest.

"I mean it!" she said, her voice quavering as she buried her face into the back of his shoulder.

Minato blinked sluggishly and dimly noticed the presence of all her pokémon huddled around them, especially her looming gyarados and the chinchou resting near his feet.

"I get it," he mumbled.

She saved my life and now I think that she's crying.

I must be dead.


5 – Trigger Evolution

Kushina squeaked in panic and fumbled for her pokédex when her eevee started to glow. She flipped open the device, pointed it towards the transforming monster, and frantically jammed a red button. An invisible burst of energy left the machine and interrupted the metamorphosis just as the monster's fluffy tail was starting to thin and split. With the evolution canceled, Uzu-chan's form returned to normal and the glow vanished.

"Phew!" she sighed, the sudden tension draining from her body. "That's it; we're going to hunt geodudes until we find an everstone!"

Her eevee wilted and looked rather sulky. It was the fourth time she'd started to spontaneously evolve, the third time she'd almost become an espeon. Kushina had thought she'd have more time to get a water stone, but it was painfully clear now that she should've used the first stone she'd found on her eevee instead of her staryu.

"What's wrong with an espeon?" Rin asked.

"Or an umbreon?" Obito added.

"Nothing," Kushina replied, eyeing the trio of young trainers with a hint of annoyance. "But it would ruin my theme! To fit into my theme, and to live up to her name, Uzu-chan will become a vaporeon."

"You're no gym leader," Kakashi said. "Specializing so narrowly is unnecessary and foolish. An electric-type or a grass-type can wipe you out easily."

"My lanturn has volt absorb, I have a whiscash, and all of my mons have at least one grass-killing move," Kushina retorted. "I know my weaknesses and they are well defended!"

Kakashi didn't look impressed, but then again she never seemed to impress the brat.

"I don't think there are any wild geodudes around here," Minato said as he studied his own pokédex.

Kushina grimaced and tucked some loose red hair behind one ear. They had just entered the Land of Grass, a territory that—as its name indicated—was almost entirely grassland, broken up by a dozen rivers and small forests. There were absolutely no mountains or caves or badlands—the natural habitat of geodudes and other rock-type monsters—for miles in any direction.

"Then I'll buy an everstone," the tomboy decided. "They're cheaper and more common than evolution stones." It would be cooler if I could get one for free, though… And my wallet would like it better, too.

"Don't worry about it," Minato said, put away his pokédex, and started digging through his backpack.

"I am too going to worry about it!" Kushina glowered. "I can't just keep canceling her evolution because I don't have the right item. It's making her depressed!"

Uzu-chan let out a melodramatic sigh and slumped to the dirt path, playing up her glum mood for her audience.

"Your birthday is in two weeks," Minato replied as he dug an unwrapped box out of his pack.

"…What does that have to do with anything?" the red-haired girl demanded.

"I just figured that I'd give you your present early," he shrugged, offering her the small box and not looking directly at her.

"Oookay," she frowned and snatched the package from him.

She lifted the lid of the cardboard box, guessing that she would find a gray bland everstone. Instead she was greeted by the sight of a chunk of blue crystalline rock. It shimmered with the faintest light and looked like it had dozens of tiny bubbles trapped inside of it.

Kushina gaped at the water stone before squealing with glee. She snatched the evolution stone out of the box before flinging her arms around Minato's neck and pressing a quick but enthusiastic kiss to his mouth. And then she abandoned him to use her early birthday present on her little eevee.

For a good ten seconds, the stone didn't seem to do anything and Kushina worried that she needed to press the magical mineral to a specific part of her monster's body. But then it kicked in and again Uzu-chan started to glow. The eevee grew in size and altered in form. When the glow vanished, the fluffy brown creature was replaced by a blue sleek one adorned with fin-like ears, a fin cranial crest, a neck frill, and flukes at the end of its tail.

"Yes!" she cheered and knelt down to throw her arms around the freshly evolved vaporeon. "Problem solved!"

When Minato failed to say anything, she glanced up at him curiously. He was staring off into space with a dazed look in his eyes and a faint blush. Through the loose curtain of her shoulder-length hair she spied their three tag-along trainers. Obito had a sly little grin on his face, Rin had her hands over her mouth in shock or excitement, and Kakashi looked a little disturbed.

What the…shit, I kissed him.

Feeling her face start to burn, she punched Minato's foot.

"Quit spacing out, Sunshine!"

Tsunade must never hear about this…


6 – Make a Trade

Even with the scarf wrapped around the lower part of his face, Kakashi was choked by the sterile smell of the hospital. He self-consciously brushed against the gauze pad taped over his left eye before slinking into the dimly lit hospital room. Rin was already inside and asleep, stretched over a couple of uncomfortable plastic chairs. The silver-haired boy watched the girl sleep for a minute before shuffling over to the bed and its occupant.

Obito looked like a mummy. He was swathed in bandages and was full of tubes. His left arm was in a bulky cast and his left leg ended abruptly under the knee. The only part of him that was uncovered was the right side of his face, which was discolored by bruises.

Kakashi hovered at the dark-haired boy's bedside for several minutes. Obito looked to be asleep and Kakashi didn't feel that he should disturb him. But before he could look away, Obito cracked open his right eye and looked up at him.

"Hey, come to see the cripple?" the Uchiha wheezed softly.

The Hatake boy shifted uncomfortably, but found nothing to say.

"…Well, I figured out what I'm going to give you for passing your gym leader competency test," Obito continued and weakly moved his right arm out from under the sheets.

"You don't have to give me anything," Kakashi protested.

"Shut up," Obito mumbled and groped around on the nightstand by his bed. "Yes I do. Now here…take it."

Kakashi stared at the pokéball clutched in Obito's trembling, bandaged hand.

"One of your pokémon?" The silver-haired boy shook his head. "I can't take that."

"Take it!" Obito insisted, his visible eye hard. "I've made up my mind."

"But—"

"I said take it!" Obito repeated, and then started to cough and wheeze when he aggravated his broken ribs.

"…Fine," Kakashi swallowed and snatched the pokéball from Obito's hand. "I'll trade you for it."

"Whatever," Obito gasped and pushed the little button that would give him a dose of morphine.

Kakashi hurried out of the room and out of the hospital. Looking at Obito he couldn't help but remember the steep hillside and the stampede of tauros. He couldn't forget how Obito have shoved him clear of the thundering hooves and massive bodies, only to get trampled himself.

It should be me in that hospital bed, not him.

Weighed down by guilt and feeling deeply indebted, it didn't feel right to take one of Obito's hard-won monsters. He didn't even feel that he should be trading with his wounded peer. But if it made Obito happy…

I'll give him Ash, Kakashi decided when he reached the trading machine inside of the Pokémon Center. He got so wound up when I caught that houndour.

Once the trade was complete, Kakashi cracked open the pokéball that Obito had pushed on him. With a burst of light, a pinkish blob appeared, looking like an enormous wad of used chewing gum. The ditto tilted its "head" up and blinked at the silver-haired boy.

"…Hi, Copycat."


7 – Clear the Mind

Minato sat on a grassy knoll and stared up at the sky. It wasn't overcast, but the sky was full of fluffy clouds to the point that it was hard to see the blue in-between. A flock of starly arced high overhead and he sighed deeply.

I wish I could just fly away like that sometimes…

Guilt, despair, and stress pressed down heavily on his shoulders.

Even though he and Kushina hadn't been traveling with Rin, Obito, and Kakashi anymore, and although they'd helped the kids in their time of dire need, he still felt somehow responsible for their injuries. Kakashi was now permanently blinded in one eye, Obito was crippled for life, and Rin had watched the whole mess helpless to stop it or make anything better. The three kids had lost their innocence; Obito might even have lost his career.

Then, not long after he'd delivered the kids to the hospital, he'd come across the Land of Fire's champion. Sarutobi Hiruzen had been incognito, but he was sure of the man's true identity. He'd challenged the man to a friendly match…and lost rather badly. It was hard to swallow seeing just how much farther he and his minions had to go before he could reach his goal.

And then there was his constant traveling companion, Uzumaki Kushina. Some days everything was fine and normal. But other days he found himself staring at her inappropriately, tripping over his own tongue when he tried to talk to her, and just plain feeling weird when she was around. The bad days seemed to be occurring more and more often and he worried that it would manage to ruin their odd friendship.

If only I could fly—

A sudden thought struck him and he sat up straight.

"Wait a minute…I can!"

He hopped to his feet and released his dragonite.

"Hey, Ryuu," Minato grinned crookedly. "Do you want to go flying with me?"

His winged dragon cried with excitement and nearly bowled Minato over with his tail.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'," the blond trainer chuckled.

After several minutes he worked out a way to use some camping ropes to tie himself securely to the dragon and they were ready for take-off. The sharp acceleration of Ryuu's launch into the air made Minato glad that he'd thought to tie himself on, and he made a mental note to look into some kind of harness in the future. Then they were airborne and it was fantastic.

"Whooo!" he yelled as Ryuu circled higher and higher.

The wind roaring in his ears made his heart pound. The view shrinking and spreading out down below was amazing. And the higher he went the lighter he felt. All of his troubles and worries were completely overwhelmed by the awe and joy he experienced as his dragon carried him aloft.

"This is great!" Minato shouted over the rushing wind. I wonder if we could go high enough to touch the clouds.

Ryuu started another climbing spiral—

"Krii-ooh!"

Minato stiffened and craned his neck, seeking for the source of the mighty cry. That call… I've heard it before, haven't I?

"Hey Ryuu do you see—?"

"Krii-ooh!"

An avian shape burst out of the white cotton of one of the nearby clouds with a smoky haze trailing from its feathered wings. It was mostly red-orange with golden tail feathers and green-tinged pinions. And considering how far away it had to be, the bird was enormous.

"Hey…it's that bird from my first day," he mumbled to himself. "The one that brought the rainbows…"

It soared low underneath the bellies of the clouds, crying out every now and then. Minato had Ryuu follow it at a safe distance so that they could admire it for a while longer. But then the bird abruptly turned and came screaming in towards them. In barely a minute it was mere yards away and circling around the teen and his dragon.

The bird was even bigger than he'd thought that it was. The thing was nearly twice the size of his dragon. And he had no idea what it was capable of. So as Ryuu hovered in the air, he waved at it.

"Hello! Nice day, isn't it?"

It circled him one last time before it steeply banked away and climbed back up into the cloud-choked sky.

"Krii-ooh!"

"Wow…" Minato said as the giant bird vanished from sight. "…I think that's enough for today. Take us down please, Ryuu."

As his dragonite glided downwards, he picked at the ropes that formed his makeshift harness and sighed.

I definitely need to find something better than this; these ropes itch!


8 – Break the Ice

Naruto picked his way down a steep mountain trail making sure not to slip. He'd had more than enough of falling for a good while. And he hoped to never end up in a hospital ever again.

He really should be preparing to challenge the Myouboku Town gym, but his mind was still stuck on recent revelations. So he was trying to un-stick his mind by exploring the mountains. Maybe he'd get lucky and stumble over a bagon or something.

Shadow crept along in his footsteps. It had been almost a week since he'd learned of his eevee's evolution and he was still thrown whenever he looked and saw an umbreon instead of the brown fluff ball he was used to. And every time he was reminded that he'd missed witnessing one of his first monster's transformation.

Stupid mountains… Stupid ghosts… Stupid Dad…

Some loose stones shifted under his feet and Naruto started to slide. He yelped and frantically windmilled his arms to keep his balance and somehow managed not to fall on his butt. When his undignified slide stopped, he found himself on relatively flat ground…and no longer the only human in the area.

A girl dressed in a traditional yukata was seated on a nearby boulder, watching him. She had sleek black hair, smooth ivory skin, and pretty features. Near her feet rested a basket filled with plants and a well-groomed glaceon.

Naruto gulped nervously. "Um…"

The pretty girl stared silently at him before something caught her eye.

"…You have an umbreon?"

"Oh, uh…yeah!" Naruto nodded, fidgeting with the brace on his wrist. "Yeah, Shadow just evolved not too long ago."

Awkwardness overcome, they proceeded to have a nice little conversation. Her glaceon's name was Yukito, she was originally from the Land of Water, and she was picking herbs for some ancient folk medicines. She was impressed at his collection of badges and offered him tips on where to find berry bushes in the area so that he could prepare for his upcoming gym challenge.

"Well, I need to get going," the pretty girl said, gathering up her basket. "My master is waiting for me. Good luck on your challenge."

"Thanks," Naruto grinned and waved at her and her glaceon. "My name's Naruto by the way."

"And my name is Haku," she replied and started heading down a different path with her glaceon towards some mountain shack where she was staying with her "master" or whatever. "Also, I'm a boy."

Naruto's jaw dropped.

What, seriously?


9 – Face a Fear

Minato strolled through the busy streets of Senju City, fighting the urge to pick at the bandage on his cheek. He had to call Kushina back, but he was in no hurry to explain his injuries to her. So he procrastinated the inevitable.

I have until evening, I think…

He had no particular destination in mind so when he spotted signs pointing the way to the city's pokémon park he decided to follow them. It was a startling shift when he crossed the boundary between the city and the park. All the concrete and bricks stopped and all manner of greenery started. Just entering the small city-encircled forest made him smile a little.

Sticking to the narrower trails, Minato continued to wander. Every now and then he'd spy a trainer and their pokémon or city-dwellers enjoying a bit of nature. Then just when he was going to turn around and call back his irate girlfriend, he caught sight of one trainer in particular.

Hey, isn't that Naruto?

Intrigued, he edged closer, careful to keep out of sight so as not to distract his son from whatever he was doing.

Naruto was pacing back and forth in front of his collection of monsters. He was talking to them but Minato was a bit too far away to hear whatever he was saying. Most of the pokémon were listening intently…but not all.

The haunter that Minato had accidentally captured for Naruto was present, and it was clearly not paying attention to the boy at all. The poisonous ghost was picking at its teeth and looking around and pulling little faces at the other monsters. It went on for a good ten minutes or so before Naruto caught on.

"Spooky!" the boy snapped. "Pay attention! This is important! I'll need everyone's help to beat Tsunade when I make my gym challenge. You get me?"

The boy and the ghost stared each other down, measuring each other's strength of will. The haunter narrowed its eyes and floated right up to the boy's face, but he didn't back away or flinch. Naruto looked cool and confident, a real change from the shivering boy that could barely stand to touch his ghost.

Wow, Minato smiled. It looks like he's managed to get over his fear of ghosts—

Spooky extended her long tongue and dragged it over Naruto's face, making the boy shriek and stumble backwards into a tree trunk.

"Aiieee! It's eating me!"

Minato cringed.

Okay, maybe not yet…


10 – Win a Contest

Hinata did her best the hide the tension in her body and put her full focus on the task at hand. She was dressed in a violet formal kimono with wide flowing sleeves decorated with white flower patterns and a yellow obi belt patterned with her family crest. Simple silver clasps were clipped to the longest parts of her hair—the locks that framed her face. Should her father ever hear of this particular event she hoped that he would be pleased with her choice of attire, which was conservative and honored her ancient clan.

Following Gym Leader Kurenai's advice, Hinata had transitioned from being a generalized pokémon trainer to a pokémon coordinator that specialized in battle contests. A fusion of contest pageantry and combat, battle contests were the most complex form of pokémon contest consisting of an appeals phase and a battle tournament. And it was the only style of contest that Hinata felt that her father would approve of.

She was currently in the final round of the second phase of her third major battle contest. She had chosen to use her riolu, Oracle, while her foe had elected to use a croagunk. If she won this battle, she would take the top prize in the contest. If she took second…

Biting the inside of her cheek she narrowed her focus to the pokémon battle in progress.

So far the battle had been a close one. The croagunk was strong and agile and it had tried several times to poison her riolu. Oracle was lucky, though, and just a little bit faster than her foe. Their scores were tied, neither was close to fainting, and time was running out.

"Oracle, use force palm," she instructed, doing her best to project her voice.

"Croaky, use astonish!" her opponent called out.

The croagunk had already used astonish twice during the battle, and both times it had caused Oracle to flinch. Oracle's ability, steadfast, had activated each time and boosted her speed further. Now, as the last few seconds ticked down, the riolu had a great speed advantage. Oracle struck first and decisively with force palm and paralyzed her foe, preventing the fighting toad from doing anything meaningful before the buzzer sounded, ending the fight.

Hinata held her breath as the final scores were calculated and posted on the giant video screen. Her riolu had been graceful and fluid in delivering her attacks, but the croagunk had successfully dodged more times which could give it the edge. Scores in battle contests weren't just calculated by damage dealt; the flair with which attacks were launched and dodged attacks were also considered when scoring battle contest fights.

When the victor was announced on the screen, Hinata nearly fainted.

She had won.

The audience's cheers rang distantly in her ears as she teetered on the edge of shock. Even though this was her third victory it felt as shocking and overwhelming as her first. She barely was able to bow to her opponent and the crowd with her riolu and shake hands with the contest judges.

Only when she received her prizes did she find her way out of her daze.

She earned money, of course, and a ribbon pin bearing the crest of the contest's host city. But what really caught her attention was the bonus prize of a pokémon egg. It was white with red and blue rounded-edge triangle shapes decorating its shell.

I wonder what this will be…