DISCLAIMER: I don't own Naruto or Ranma ½, unfortunately.
RANT: Well, folks, this is basically a bunch of little stories and plots that go through my head on a daily basis. I don't know if I will turn these into stories, or just leave them here. Regardless, should any of you readers want to take the idea and run with it, go ahead. Just leave a review about it, or PM so I can go read your work. If you want to read other compilations in a similar format, check out dogbertcarroll's Fragments and its continuations, Chilord's Fragmented Ideas, Greylle's A Fistful of Omake, or Rorschach's Blot's Odd Ideas and What If.
Why in the Name of all the Kami Would the Shinigami…
A few Days After the Kyuubi Attack
"So… do you think Minato-sensei did something wrong when making the seal? It makes sense, he was probably rushed, right?"
"No," replied the white-haired man. "Minato didn't make the seal himself, he summoned the Shinigami with the Shiki Fuuin (Death Reaper Seal) and the Shinigami made the seal. It must have been something resulting from whatever the hell the Shinigami did. What do you think, Sensei?
"I'm no expert in fuuinjutsu like you are. However, I have to agree. Though why in the name of all the kami the Shinigami would grant a jinchuuriki the ability to shift genders with the application of water at different temperatures I have no idea."
A Few Weeks Later
"You know, we should probably put a genjutsu-type seal on her so no matter what gender she actually is, everyone other than those in the know think she is a boy."
"Yeah, that would probably be safer for her. Not to mention funny as hell when he/she gets older."
Four and a Half Years Later
Naruko Uzumaki was a mischievous lass with crimson hair and violet eyes, and the cutest set of whisker marks on her cheeks, except for when she was a he with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. While male, he went by Naruto. Recently, however, the orphanage where she lived had kicked her out and onto the street, and thus stopped feeding her what meager remnants had been left from the previous days meals. In the three nights since she had been kicked out, she had been having the strangest dreams: dreams of hunting and catching wild game (as well as how to properly prepare and cook said game), dreams of various edible herbs and plants (as well as which ones were poisonous or useful for healing), as well as dreams of building various shelters in the wilderness. After three nights of sleeping in an alleyway under a cardboard box, and three days of scrounging through trashcans for food, she decided that she should try out some of what she learned in the dreams.
So, after sneaking into an empty house – the civilian who lived there worked at a grocery store, and was away at work, and was someone who had kicked her out of said grocery store – she went and took a shower to get clean. Emerging male, he wandered through the house and filched some things he somehow knew he would need. He found a sleeping bag, a box of matches, and a pocketknife, and then left after putting all the things in a knapsack he had found in a closet. Making his way through the village, he ignored the glares and indistinguishable murmurs of resentment from the populace.
He worked his way towards the more forested portion of Konoha, and within one of the many forest growing within and surrounding the village, and set up camp. He didn't get it right away, of course, but eventually he made a halfway decent shelter and started a fire with his matches that actually stayed lit (after three tries) and he decided to roast some fish he'd caught in a nearby stream, using an add trap he remembered from those dreams. By the time evening fell, Naruto had eaten more than he ever had before, and was satiated. He had made sure not to eat too much, though. That evening, he slept, and began to dream. He saw the a child around his age getting trained by a rather rotund bald man with glasses, and in his inexperienced eye, the kid was good.
The next day, he decided to emulate the things he'd seen. He continued doing so for days afterwards, until another dream came with another lesson. This pattern continued for two years, with none the wiser of his training or the knowledge of him getting kicked out of the orphanage. He had been seen wandering around everyday, and was then disparaged and verbally abused by the civilian population, which usually resulted in him avenging himself in a small way by using the restroom or shower of those who glowered at him the most. Then he made his way to different areas to train in the things he'd learned in his dreams.
It wasn't just the layering of a foundation in martial arts and survival that he'd learned from his dreams, either. He learned to read and write from his dreams, and he could proudly say that his writing was far neater than others of his age he had spotted while spying through the civilian classroom's windows. He'd learned how to braid his/her long hair with a thorny vine into a dragon tail and not get his fingers sliced up. He'd been sneaking into the homes of the people who despised him most, specifically those that had children of his age, and learning from the older textbooks that the children had left in their home.
After having a far more stable diet over the past few years, he had reached a height of about 115 cm as a boy and 110 cm as a girl. He had a few sets of threadbare clothing he'd scrounged from dumpsters behind retail shops. He'd wear them only after they were thoroughly cleaned in someone else's washing machine. His hair was in both forms was down to his shoulders and he was especially fond of taking care of it, brushing it daily in both forms to make sure it still looked nice.
On the fine day that Naruko met the first people who were nice to her in the whole village, it was raining and in the winter time; and as such, she wasn't able to find as much food as usual. She was desperately hungry, as she had found that she had to eat a lot more than most people for some reason, and the scarcity of food at the moment was doing her no good. She was shocked when an older man limped up to her and started talking to her. "Hello young man," he started. She never really understood why people always thought she was a boy when she was a girl, but apparently even as a guy she looked pitiful enough for the old guy to notice her. "Hello young man. You look cold and hungry. Do you want some ramen?"
Teuchi Ichiraku was a retired ninja who had fought in the second shinobi war making his way up to chunin before he settled down after a career-ending injury and took up his aunt's restaurant and family business of ramen-making. He'd gotten married to a ninja in the Cryptanalysis Department and while she kept on with her career he set about putting his aunt's old food stand back into business. He'd become famous throughout Konoha with ninjas looking for a good meal with discreet service. Why, the Fourth Hokage and his girlfriend used to come to his stall for almost every date! After his daughter was born, and was old enough to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, he was quietly relieved that she wanted to apprentice to him in the ramen shop rather than become a ninja. That didn't mean he let his baby girl be defenseless, though, she was trained to high genin level in taijutsu and knife-work, both of which he'd specialized in as a ninja. Though he might not be up to date with all the information of the current Konoha's Military, even he recognized the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. However, he also knew the difference between the metaphorical kunai and scroll. Not only that, but getting a good look at the kid – who seemed rather scrawny and wearing soaked and ragged clothes – he saw that he was the spitting image of the Fourth, only with straighter and longer hair. He put two and two together and decided to go over and talk to the kid.
He made his way toward the kid and with a, "Hello young man. You look cold and hungry. Would you like some ramen?" changed life for a kid who'd never known love. The kid looked at him suspiciously, as if wary that it was some kind of trick. He sighed internally, knowing what kind of life the kid must have had so far.
"I don't have any money. I won't be able to pay you."
"How about you do some dishes for the rest of the day as payment for the meal? Sound good to you?"
The kid looked at him for a while, before nodding and awkwardly climbing the stool that sat in front of the stall's counter. He sat at the counter looking hungrily at the broth that Teuchi was making. He then asked the kid, "So, what are your parents doing letting you out in this sort of weather." He knew the kid didn't have any parents, who didn't know, but it was an easy way to start the conversation with his young customer.
"I don't have any parents."
"The orphanage lets you run around in the rain dressed like that?"
The boy snorted. "The orphanage kicked me out two years ago, I've been living out in the woods since then." There was barely a moment's hesitation in the chopping of the vegetables for the ramen that Teuchi had decided the kid sorely needed, as this was big news. Really, really big news. He couldn't believe that nobody knew of this, after all, wasn't there supposed to be an ANBU squad watching the kid at all times. For nobody to know at all must constitute treason in the ranks of the village's elite, as those guards must be deliberately lying to the Hokage; otherwise, this situation would have never occurred.
"What's your name, kid?"
It took a while for the ramen to finish, but when it did, he served it up in the bowl, and said, "One miso ramen, extra fresh vegetables and egg, coming right up."
Naruko took the first bite, and fell in love. It was delicious, something completely different from any of the crap at the orphanage or the tasty campfire food he made by himself. It was a symphony of flavors, and it warmed her up inside and out. She was no longer shivering harshly and a smile lit up her face. She also got the strangest sensation of déjà vu: it felt as if she'd just been glomped and hugged enthusiastically, and the sense - which she could name as such but had never encountered herself – made her feel all warm and fuzzy and loved. From that point on, she decided that ramen was the greatest food ever, and doing dishes was totally worth this feeling.
She savored the ramen slowly, as she wanted to feel the phantom hug for as long as possible. "You still hungry, Naruto," the old guy, who had earlier introduced himself as Teuchi Ichiraku, asked. This guy was officially the greatest man in the village. At her nod, he smiled and asked if she'd like to try a shrimp ramen. At her enthusiastic nod, he started on making it. Halfway through the bowl of shrimp ramen, a nine or ten year old girl sashayed her way in and made a joke which Naruko didn't really understand, but made Old Man Ichiraku laugh. He introduced her to his daughter – "His apprentice," or so the girl insisted – and let his daughter make the third bowl for Naruko under his gentle guidance.
"Now Naruto, Ayame, I am running out of some beef and bones for stock, so I have to go pick some up from Tezuka Butcher's off of Sakura Lane. It'll be a while; so don't worry about me if I am not back right away. " At there agreements, he headed off.
In reality, he made his way through the downpour to the Hokage Tower. He limped his way inside and stood in front of the Hokage's Secretary. At her slightly bore "Hello sir, can I help you?" he made a request for a meeting with the Hokage and casually slipped a passcode given to all ninja that retired before the Third Great Ninja War. The passcode basically let the person know that the retired nin in question has news of a threat to Konoha's security. The woman's eyes widened slightly, betraying only for a moment her surprise, and gave a nod before replying, "I'll let the Hokage know you wish to speak to him, he should be able to see you soon."
Five minutes later – apparently the Hokage had to get a nagging and insistant group of Civilian Councilors kicked out of his office before he could come up speak with the village leader – Teuchi arrived in the Hokage's office.
"Teuchi Ichiraku, you gave a very serious passcode. What is it that we have to report?"
"Treason at the highest of levels, most likely in ANBU?"
"How would you know this? No one in ANBU would have said anything to anyone, especially if treachery was involved. Your accusation is very serious, after all. I will need proof." The old Hokage's normally jovial face had gone stern, his eyes bleeding from amusement to a serious gravity that reminded Teuchi of his time fighting alongside the man in the Second War.
"I have found Uzumaki Naruto alone in the chilling rain, cold and hungry and wearing threadbare clothes, and invited him to my ramen stall." His face gained a bit of levity for a moment as he continued, "He has the same love of ramen as his mother did. I daresay that my shop will be getting a lot of custom once he gets money." He became serious again as he continued on, "It turns out that he was kicked out of the orphanage two years ago."
"What! My ANBU are supposed to be observing him. I have reports here on my desk that state he is in good health, if slightly cruel and unstable."
"Exactly. You've been lied to. You trusted them, and you have been betrayed. The kid seemed smart enough, pretty polite, and seems pretty stable to me. Anyway, I think you need to have all of them interrogated by both Ibiki and the Yamanaka. If they are betraying you in things like this, they could be betraying Konoha in general. You need to crack down on this, Hokage-sama."
For a moment, Hiruzen Sarutobi looked so old, as if all of his near-century of life had caught up with him, and pressed down upon him with the weight of the world. Then, a contained rage showed on his face as he nodded. He then flexed his chakra in a pattern that informed the ANBU outside – Maito Gai, whom he knew for a fact was no traitor – to put the whole village in lockdown. The village would be getting a smackdown; as soon as he met Uzumaki Naruto and verified the proof of what Teuchi said for himself, of course.
He made his way to the Ichiraku Ramen Shop, and found for himself that everything that Teuchi had said was true. In Naruto, Hiruzen found a smart boy living on his own, surviving regardless of the hatred and vitriol sent towards him, and coming out, in spite of it all, a good boy (and girl.)
After keying the ramen-making family into the seal – hopefully the former ninja's daughter could teach little Naruko about being a girl more when she was older – he got Naruto an apartment building. Originally, he wanted to get just an apartment, but after comprehending the sheer rage and vitriol directed towards the gender-shifting child, he realized that the doing so would never work, as the civilian landlords would never give the child the service that would be needed.
He ended up arranging for Naruto to get an apartment building of five stories, with a little garden area on the roof, along with a greenhouse and a small training area. Should the kid ever make friends or get business savvy enough to rent the rooms out when he/she was older, that could be done with the floors she wasn't using. Only the top floor and the roof were to be used by Naruto at the moment.
Later that night, the Yamanaka clan had interrogated all of the ANBU agents. This had revealed terrible things, from conspiracy and treachery, to spies and a small cult amongst his shinobi. There were two conspiracies, both of which involved treachery in one form or another.
It seemed that the civilian council had taken control of much of the village's chunin and a few ANBU, via influence, bribery, or blackmail. As a result, the ninja academy was producing nothing but weaklings and fangirls, with the supposed geniuses passed so fast they learned only enough to grant them a slightly less painful death out in the field, or had their lack of hard work to along with genius beaten into them by foreign nin. Several of the chunin in the academy were pressured into discouraging up and coming young non-clan-affiliated shinobi, with the exception of those closely related to the members of the Council. They also had orders to destroy the "Demon Brat's" career by any means necessary should the "thing" ever get into the Academy. In fact, the only Chunin-sensei not betraying the village was a young man, recently promoted, and named Iruka Umino. Amongst the ANBU who worked for the civilian council were the ones who arranged for Naruto to get kicked out of the orphanage and removed any way for the Hokage to out about it.
Another, far more dangerous conspiracy was his former friend Danzo, who had been creating his own army and going on unsanctioned missions to further his own goals for his view of Konoha's perfect future. He had brainwashed many, and was kidnapping children from orphanages and clans to create his army of emotionless drones. He'd also picked up some of the civilian children who had been dismissed by the teachers in the academy who were on the Council's payroll. He had over sixty agents in ANBU, and over two hundred in the village itself, in various positions, not to mention various lackeys doing gods-know-what in other countries. Luckily for the village, he had captured the his traitorous former friend himself alongside young Kakashi and Gai that evening, taking down five of his ROOT guards in the process. Danzo was executed after an interrogation by Yamanaka Inoichi himself (which the man had informed him would take years of therapy for Inoichi to look at orphans without throwing up at all that could have been done to them by the man) and was found to have taken the illegal Mokuton gene treatment Orochimaru had developed. That had been a death sentence in and of itself, and then they found out he was still supplying the Snake with test subjects and intelligence. He also seemed to be fanning the flames of hatred in the Uchiha for the village, and increasing the village's mistrust of the Uchiha. It seemed he was planning for them to attempt a coup which he could use to kill them all off and take their Sharingan.
The spies were from Iwa and Orochimaru, and they were interrogated and executed. The cult, however, was centered on a very disturbing religion venerating the Fourth Hokage and revolving around the complete destruction of the Kyuubi, in its mortal form as well as demon form. As such, they were devoted to the death or destruction of one Uzumaki Naruto. Many of the spies for Orochimaru had been recruited by the leader of the cult to defect as they believed that Konoha was obviously too weak or corrupt, all because they were doing nothing to or about the "demon brat."
It was times like these that made Hiruzen Sarutobi feel so old.
He had eventually told the Hokage about the dreams, a few weeks before his eighth birthday, about the life that, it seemed, he had lived before. The dreams had started teaching him things about taijutsu and its variants that nobody in Konoha had ever dreamed was possible. In fact, the old man had looked as if he had not quite believed him, at least until he manifested his ki. It seemed that ki was similar to chakra, but different enough in fact that it was essentially a brand new reservoir of power. And before this, it seemed that no one – absolutely nobody – knew how to use such his or her energies in any such manner.
This was proof enough for the old man, and he asked that while he was in the academy, he teach some of Hiruzen's jonin how to access this heretofore-unknown power source. In exchange, the Hokage promised that those jounin would give him lessons in hat they thought he would need. He agreed, and then they went out for a ramen.
In the four years he had been in the academy since then, he had taught seven jonin about ki, and been taught in return. He had taught Maito Gai, Yuugao Uzuki, Hayate Gekko, Shiranui Genma, Kakashi Hatake, Anko Mitarashi, and Inoichi Yamanaka about ki and its basic uses, as well as special techniques for individuals. All seven had been let in on the secret of Naruto's shifting gender, as well as keyed to the seal so they could see through the seal-based genjutsu. He'd also clued them in on his theory that the Shinigami had done something with the seal to show the child his/her past life so he/she could defend his/herself.
Maito Guy was ecstatic about a taijutsu-based energy, and strove very hard to learn it. He ended up incorporating it into his fighting style to further speed himself up, and after undergoing the Bakusai Tenketsu training, was considered nigh-on invulnerable. He had also given Naruto some basic training in the Gouken style of taijutsu that he practiced, as well as giving the kid a set of chakra weights, which increased their weight according to how much chakra was inserted into the seal. Naruto also showed him some tricks in midair. While training, they found out that ki's slight regenerative abilities helped counteract the usage of the Gates. Also, after finding about Rock Lee's inability to mold chakra externally, he had asked permission of both Naruto and the Hokage to teach Lee the usage of ki. Naruto had agreed, on the condition that the kid would become his sparring partner.
Hayate Gekko and Uzuki Yuugao were introduced to ki, and they enjoyed the automatic increase in speed and strength. Moreover, they had been taught the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken, the using ki trained by grabbing chestnuts from an open fire to drastically increase their speed, and used it with their already blindingly fast kenjutsu. Uzuki developed a new iaido style specifically to get the best usage out of that technique. They were pleased to find out that ki usage's healing factor was slowly but surely clearing up Hayate's lung problem. In fact, continuous usage would increase the rate of the healing, and in about a year, his disease would be gone. The two were to be married in two years. They also trained her in Kenjutsu, which she truly enjoyed. She usually used her kenjutsu skills she learned from them in her female form, as she was faster in that form.
Shinanui Genma learned Splitting Cat Hairs, a speed technique that was so fast it left afterimages – speed clones, as he called them – and the ki-folding technique of the Hidden Weapons style, where he kept additional senbon and Hiraishin Kunai in case he was unable to get to a storage scroll fast enough. He taught Naruko how to use senbon decently, as well as the basics of sealing, and her Fuuinjutsu was coming along quite well.
Inoichi Yamanaka underwent the Bakusai Tenketsu training along with Gai. He did so because while he used his family art to take over the bodies and minds of his enemies, his body was left vulnerable. Using this would make him less vulnerable to damage in his body's uninhabited state, as well as let him have access to a powerful attack that, while it would not affect anyone alive, was perfect against Doton jutsu. He also was taught Hissatsu Shiatsuken, a discipline which used ki and herbs to manipulate the memory of an opponent. After a few years of practice, he was able to do this in only six seconds. He also taught Naruko some psychology and various chakra control exercises.
Kakashi learned how to make a blade of ki, and the Kachu Tenshin Amaguraken technique. He enjoyed spend time with his sensei's child, even if the kid didn't know who he was. Regardless, he taught him some basic camping jutsu that was no longer taught at the academy since the war ended. (The instructors usually left it for the jonin-sensei to teach, these days) He also taught Naruto the Underground Projection Fish Technique.
Anko Mitarashi learned the Iron Cloth Style, as well as various aspects of Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics and Martial Arts Tea Ceremony. In return, she taught Naruto various techniques and exercises to increase flexibility and about various poisons.
All of them kept this a secret, waiting until Naruto graduated the genin exam to show how skilled he was, so as not to scare the civilians. The Hokage came up with it, and Naruto thought it was a great prank. This, unfortunately for the Hokage's ongoing battle with paperwork, got the child onto the whole pranking bandwagon.