Naruto was about to head to the Academy when he ran into the guy, almost literally. He wore a Chinese outfit, and had all the markings of a natural fighter. He also looked bored as hell at the moment.
"Hey kid, where you off to in such a hurry?" he asked.
Naruto hooked a thumb behind him, and the guy's sight followed to find nearly ten ANBU, twenty chunin and a lone jounin trying to catch him after a recent prank.
By the rules the Hokage had laid down years ago after dealing with his mother, Kushina, if Naruto reached the relative safety of his classroom then he was home free and the shinobi couldn't get back at him.
He got caught, well, he needed to work on his escape again.
Unfortunately for those chasing him, Naruto had long since worked out a large series of short cuts to the Academy since it was one of the few places the mobs avoided. Which meant they had to work for their capture.
Once explained of that while running towards said building, the man laughed hard.
"I like you brat! Tell ya what, how about I give you the best damn tool to prank people with ever invented?"
"Hell yeah! I'm bored out of my damn mind in this ninja village! Just be careful who you splash with this stuff, okay?"
The man handed over a large box full of powders. From what Naruto could read, the label said something about 'Powdered Curse Forms'.
"Remember, only one packet at a time. The effects are instant. If you need to find me I'll be around that Forest of Death, also known as Area 44."
"No problem kid. Word of advice? Try not to get hit with one of these when wet."
Naruto's first victim was Sasuke Uchiha. Ever since last year when his brother killed off his clan, the boy had become a royal pain in the ass. After reading the instructions carefully, Naruto poured the first packet he pulled out without looking at the label into a water balloon then filled it up.
He had learned early on Sasuke never took water balloons seriously, and since it was so hot he wouldn't think to dodge. A few times the boy actually thanked him for cooling him off.
Naruto grinned. Somehow he had a feeling this would amuse him for years.
He walked up behind Sasuke and slammed the balloon on the boy.
"Dobe..." he growled, not meaning it at all.
It wasn't until Iruka did a double take on the way to the classroom that Sasuke realized something was very, very wrong.
"While I approve the practice, you should take off the henge before class. The girls might get the wrong idea and you might end up with more fan boys."
"Henge? What henge?" he asked.
Iruka, after over a year of dealing with Naruto, handed him a mirror. It took Sasuke a good minute to realize what was wrong. He reached for his bits, and his eyes widened comically.
"I am going to kill him slowly! DOBE GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE AND UNDO WHATEVER YOU DID TO ME!"
Naruto was on the roof, and suddenly so was the stranger.
"Oh that is priceless! You hit the Uchiha brat with the powdered form of the Spring of Drowned Girl?" he cackled.
"Those powders I gave you? They're from my second home. Get them in water and douse someone with it, and they get a curse that can only be undone with hot water...until they get hit by cold again. There is like a hundred packets in that box I gave you, and one of them is the Spring of Drowned Girl."
"So the teme is going to be stuck as a girl?" said Naruto, a foxy grin growing on his face.
"Until he gets hit with hot water," said the man grinning evilly.
Naruto couldn't take any more, and about died laughing. The man was snickering too.
Once he calmed down enough, he finally asked "What's your name mister?"
"Me? I'm Ranma Saotome, of the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts. I learned how to kick ass before chakra became popular."
"SO COOL! Teach me, please!"
"Maybe in a couple of years kid. First you have to learn the basics. How about we meet during your days off?"
"You got a deal mister!"
"DOBE! GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE AND UNDO THIS!"
"Lesson one: escaping from pranking victims after you've given them a curse that is humiliating. Begin!" cackled Ranma.
Naruto was far ahead of him on that front, running like hell to avoid the fireballs Sasuke was shooting at him. He knew the idiot could recover inhumanly fast, which meant the boy was target practice unless otherwise stated.
Unfortunately for the blond, the teachers weren't about to discourage that sort of thinking, and with the amount of paperwork he generated on a bad week, the Hokage was easily able to overlook the fact that one of Naruto's peers would like nothing better than to fry him with a half powered fire jutsu. The sad fact was that Sasuke did less damage than the mobs. If they hadn't killed the kid yet, then the last Uchiha sure as hell wasn't going to be able to.
Besides, Naruto did deserve that reaction with the pranks he played.
By the time Sasuke caught Naruto, after exhausting nearly all his chakra, Naruto had already hit Ichiraku's for some hot water. It was cool enough by now that Sasuke could be hit with it and not get scalded.
"Dobe...what the hell did you do to me?" asked Sasuke, eyebrow twitching.
"Um...I actually have no idea. The guy who gave me the powders said that it was something that can only be reversed by hot water. Oh, and it comes back with cold," Naruto admitted. He was not about to reveal he had cursed Sasuke unless he absolutely had to. He didn't have a death wish after all.
"Hand over the water, and no one gets hurt," growled Sasuke. Naruto handed him the container. Once he poured it over his head, he could feel the difference. His bits were back.
"If you tell anyone, particularly that idiot Kiba, you are a dead man. Clear?"
"Crystal," said Naruto.
Sasuke quickly learned Naruto had not been joking about the fact that it came back with cold water after he went home to cool off in the pond built near the Uchiha complex.
Eyebrows twitching, he contemplated how he was going to get Naruto back for this. Eventually he settled on the tried, but true method.
He would ask the man at Ichiraku's to help him trick Naruto into eating ramen only to learn it wasn't. Old Teuchi was a firm believer in revenge pranks, even if it meant pulling one on his best customer.
Hiruzen Sarutobi was many things, but an idiot was not one of them. The second he saw the name on the lease, he swore so impressively that the ANBU guarding him were taking notes.
Saotome Ranma, an incarnation of chaos and the worst enemy of anyone who had to deal with him, was living in Konoha. To make matters worse, he seemed to have taken a shine to Naruto, the most annoying prankster since his mother was alive.
Judging by the reports he got from the ANBU following the boy, he had already hit the last Uchiha. Though even they had no idea what Naruto had done to him to earn that many fireballs shot at him.
So Sarutobi did the one sane thing. He called Ranma in and prepared to deliver his ultimatum. He could handle this man...hopefully. He did after all have several questionably sane shinobi on payroll, like Anko Mitarashi or Might Gai.
He would not kill Ranma on sight, like half the countries he visited. At least not unless the boy proved to be a bigger menace than Jiraiya.
"Saotome Ranma. Do you know why I have called you here?"
"Not particularly. I have yet to actually do anything. And this is my first time in the Land of Fire."
"I know. However I have a proposal for you."
"I'm listening, but if I hear anything about marriage I'm gone."
Ranma was notorious for many things. But chief among them was the headache and paperwork that followed him...along with an odd tendency to acquire fiancée that he didn't want or need.
"You and I both know your reputation. Fortunately for you, I am used to deal with people who insist on adding to my load of paperwork. Therefor I would like to offer an ultimatum to you."
"Let's hear it Grandpa," said Ranma flippantly.
"If you sense at any time that something chaotic is about to happen around you, visit another village. Preferably Iwa if you can manage it."
"You don't mind me living here?"
"We're a shinobi village for Kami's sake. If we couldn't handle your unique brand of insanity we would quit the game. However I would prefer to keep the paperwork from dealing with you to a minimum if possible. So, how would you like to join the shinobi forces long enough to make someone else's life miserable?"
"Don't send me on any seduction or assassination missions. I can live with guarding people and stealing."
"Done. So do we have a deal?"
"Hell yes! You're the only leader who's at least given me a chance!" said Ranma.
"Coincidentally...do you have any idea why the Uchiha boy was chasing Naruto earlier?"
"Duck butt chasing the blond kid? You sure you want to know?"
"I gave blondie a small box full of the Jusenkyo Powders. He hit duck butt with the one from the Spring of Drowned Girl apparently," said Ranma with straight face.
"He what? ARE YOU INSANE?! Why in the name of Kami would you hand something like that to Naruto of all people?!" said the Hokage in horror.
"For shits and giggles, obviously. You may not believe this, but it can get pretty damn boring in a ninja village unless you liven things up a bit."
The Hokage started banging his head against the desk. This was going to be hell on earth for a few years, he could just tell.
Five years after Ranma first entered Konoha and ran into Naruto...
"GET BACK HERE AND TAKE YOUR BEATING LIKE A MAN!"
"You mean what you aren't anymore?" yelled the other cackling evilly.
"ONE OF THESE DAYS I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE FOR THAT YOU ASSHOLE!" shouted the first.
The second one, which quickly revealed to be Naruto, was howling. Sasuke had never fully forgiven him when, after running into an amused Ranma, he learned the full scope of what Naruto had done to him as a prank. Finding out he was stuck as a half-man, half-pseudo female had not been pleasant.
Learning that Naruto could curse anyone with a simple water balloon, however, opened an entire avenue of ways to get his revenge on his brother.
Why kill him when you can completely ruin him as a shinobi and a man? Sasuke was still debating on whether to go with the cute bunny or the girl form he was now stuck with.
Ranma, however, was both a blessing and a curse. He was the only one to show Sasuke the tricks to dealing with his cursed form...and the entire reason why Sasuke was now stuck turning into a girl every time he went swimming.
This lead to Sasuke becoming very, very good at Henge so he could get swim suits that actually fit. And to earning a frequent customer card at the local hot springs.
Much to his horror, Sasuke also learned he was an early bloomer, which lead to some rather awkward situations outside class.
At least Iruka knew what his girl form looked like so he could cover for him...even if Naruto did hit him by accident with his own curse. Sasuke once asked Iruka why he never tried to prank Naruto back for it...and cackled along with the teacher when he heard the reply.
"Why bother pranking him when all I have to do is tell your fans about the fact he cursed you into looking like a girl who's prettier than any of them? And hit puberty before them?"
Sure, the embarrassment of his curse would suck if it got out, but the look on Naruto's face when his fan girl horde attacked him in a rage filled mob would be entirely worth it. Even if it was humiliating to get hit on by nearly EVERY boy in his own class barring Naruto.
It still didn't stop Naruto from nearly dying due to lack of oxygen every fricken time he saw it happen. On the plus side, Sasuke was far more stable after the humiliation of turning into a girl every time he was hit by cold water than he would have been had Ranma not showed up.
Every good shinobi of any real power has to have a quirk. It was an unspoken rule to the shinobi sect. If they were completely normal (cough Sakura before Shippuden cough) then they barely ranked cannon fodder. If they were borderline insane, then that meant you had to watch your ass.
Let it be known that Ranma, due to his unique status as a pseudo-shinobi of Konoha, was immediately listed as S-rank in power before he ever displayed his abilities. The fact he kept having to deal with marriage proposals and the fact he could turn into a girl due to an old curse merely meant he was one of the strongest people alive.
When offered the position of Hokage, Ranma laughed so hard he nearly wet himself while making several obscure warding gestures to the amusement of the ANBU present and the disappointment of the old man behind the desk.
Sarutobi still got his revenge for the massive amounts of paperwork caused by Ranma's mere presence though. Ranma learned rather quickly to draw anything that would cause more than ten sheets of paperwork outside the village...or the Hokage would make him file a report detailing everything down to the last attack in triplicate.
Luckily that meant Ranma was automatically except from ever catching Tora, despite the fact several shinobi attempted to trick him into it solely so he could kill the damn cat. Those poor idiots had to pay for the damages Ranma caused and fill out the paperwork for it.
Now, back to the chase.
Naruto cackled, holding his video recorder for dear life. He was documenting the incidents that Sasuke got whenever one of the boys professed their undying love of him. It never got old.
Sadly, Ranma refused to give Sasuke his own box of cursed powder and Naruto had the best damn hiding place Sasuke had ever seen...as evidenced by the fact he had yet to locate the box the blond had.
Today was the day of the graduation exam. Naruto had failed for one reason only.
Ranma had declared the boy unfit to be ninja until he could at least keep up with him in a spar. To put this in terms the sane of mind could understand, Ranma considered a full on Taijutsu battle with Gai (with the highest gate he could open safely) a decent work out.
Needless to say most of the jounin in Konoha would never dare spar with Ranma after word of that got out.
However, today was the day Naruto would actually take the exam. Mostly because in the spirit of actually graduating the boy before he became a complete menace under the gender-confused S-rank disaster maniac's tutelage, Sarutobi showed Naruto the Shadow Clone, which he took to like an Uchiha to a fire jutsu.
And for the first time since he met him, Naruto managed to get Ranma to take him seriously enough not to yawn while fighting. As such, he cleared the boy to take the exam.
Frankly Naruto couldn't wait to make Kiba shut up about him being an idiot. Sasuke had at least toned it down the day Naruto pointed out Itachi would be a hell of a lot easier to kill once cursed to become something as demeaning as a bunny. Or Kami-forbid, turned into a replacement for Tora after they killed the cat.
They had a run-in with the feline. It would pay for the attack on them if they had anything to say about it, mission be damned.
The day he pointed that out, Sasuke paused in his attempts to kill Naruto for the curse to actually think for a moment...and creating an unholy alliance with the blond solely so he could curse his brother and make his life a living hell. He could kill Naruto after that.