A Naruto / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon crossover story
by Elsa Bibat
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto, Studio Pierrot, TV Tokyo, Shonen Jump, ShoPro Entertainment, and Cartoon Network. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. This is used without permission.
Chapter 2: Of Cats and Ramen
Ichiraku's Ramen was not special in any way, except for the patronage of a certain blond-haired demonic vessel. The ramen that Ichiraku served was in no way superior to any other, being one out of dozens of noodle eateries in Konohagakure. It pulled in a decent number of customers and was almost always in the black, a condition that most restaurants enjoyed in a Hidden Village, considering that a sizable portion of its population needed large amounts of physical energy. Soldier pills may have been efficient, but most ninjas preferred a tastier solution to their needs for nourishment, especially when at home.
Ichiraku's may have lost a customer when Uzumaki Naruto left for his training trip, but his friends and acquaintances made up for the loss. The remaining members of Konoha's Rookie Twelve, as they were starting to be called, had made Ichiraku's Ramen and Nikurei's Yakitori and Hibachi their official hangouts, mostly because of the large portions they served to their clientele.
A fact that Akemichi Chouji, who was currently slurping down his second helping, appreciated.
Yamanaka Ino arched a delicate eyebrow as she spared her stouter teammate a look. The Akemichi clan's heir had recovered from his ordeal a year ago and had put on weight with the special clan diet he had undergone. It seemed that after the mission, Chouji's father and Asuma had put their heads together to give Chouji a training regimen that was more appropriate to his temperament. Some ancient fighting style from the olden times called Sumo-something in the clan scrolls. Ino couldn't figure it out, except that it involved heavy meals and wrestling. It did make Chouji a deadlier hand-to-hand fighter, proven by their last mission. Her teammate's handslap had caved in the Sound-nin's chest like a melon. The blonde genin didn't want to think about how much damage he would do when he attained his full growth.
Sighing, she returned to poking her ramen in impatience. Shikamaru was late. The young chuunin had recently returned from an independent mission with a chuunin-level team yesterday. She had managed to wrangle an assurance from him that he'd be here for a little get-together. Chuunin he might be, but he was still attached to his old team, though he would be occasionally pulled out for missions that his team wasn't qualified for, or when he would be put in a squadleader position.
"Troublesome boy." She snorted in a definitely unladylike manner.
Chouji, having obviously heard, snorted and coughed. Clearing his air pipe of the accidental obstruction, the heavy-set genin grinned at his teammate.
"That was good, Ino! Sounded just like him, voice and all!"
Ino grimaced. She hadn't intended to mimic Shikamaru, but her supplementary training with Hiyama-sensei was kicking in. A few months ago, Asuma-sensei had the bright idea of sending her to the retired actress for acting lessons to sharpen her infiltration skills. The Smokepot, as she had come to call her laidback jonin trainer, reasoned that coupled with her Level Three Shintenshin she'd be the perfect spy/undercover operative. He had then managed to rope in the most cantankerous old thespian in the Hidden village to teach her the fine art of acting.
Hiyama Tsuyama was a cranky perfectionist that, in her younger years, had somehow managed to survive a crippling injury as a genin that ended her life as a ninja and become one of the Fire Country's most beloved actresses of stage and screen. She had retired to her beloved Konohagakure after three decades of touring and filming. Ino suspected she did it more to escape her legion of fans than any form of sentimentality, Hidden Villages being the most policed areas of any country. As it was, the elder woman had somehow gotten into her head that the young Yamanaka would be a fitting successor to her title of the 'Phoenix of the Stage', seeing a natural talent that, in Ino's opinion, only the old bat could see.
All this meant for Ino was being worked to the bone on how 'to become the character' and 'putting on the mask'. Lessons on mimicking voice patterns and crying on command were mixed with hidden weapons training and aura manipulation, two things which had made her suspect that Hiyama-sensei hadn't totally retired from being in the service of her village even after her injury. After months of tutelage, the blonde genin had become a natural mimic, able to simulate completely a person, in voice and character, after several minutes of observation. The irritating thing was that she now did it so unconsciously that it was frightening.
Her last argument with Sakura had ended up a seeming mirror-match, with her mimicking each and every one of her pink-haired friend's affectations, even her voice, only with a more violent bent to them. It had ended with the young medic-nin looking somehow horrified, which snapped the Yamanaka heir out of her acting trance. She had embarrassingly apologized and made up with her friend, passing it off as a reflex bought on her by training.
Sighing, she decided to follow Chouji's example and bury her sorrows in ramen, the noodles being the only accessible substitute for alcohol.
Ino's face brightened, though she hid it before turning around. She laughed at the sight that greeted her.
Shikamaru's scowling face would have been perfect except for two things: he was sniffling, and there was a cat wrapped around his head. The smudged dirt that the young Nara heir had on his chuunin vest were the only signs of the struggle that must have occurred when he was trying to dislodge his furry passenger.
Giggling, the blonde now understood why her dark-haired teammate was late. Cats were his natural nemesis. They brought down on the grouchy young ninja their wrath of the watery eyes and runny nose. The four-legged head attachment must have jumped him on his way, and he had been trying to get rid of it since then. For all his dislike for them, felines seemed to be attracted to him for some reason. It seemed that he had finally given up and continued on his way. "The big bad chuunin got his ass handed to him on a platter by the cute kitty, I see."
Narrowing his reddening eyes, Shikamaru snorted. At least, Ino assumed he tried to snort. His runny nose made it sound like a tomato getting squished. "Not funny, Ino. Think you can get this monstrosity off me?"
The cat must have taken offense at being described a monstrosity, since it immediately started licking at the boy's ear. The feline's fur had a well-cleaned sheen to it. Must be a house-cat to be that well taken care of, though it had no collar.
Ino arched an eyebrow as she noted a rather peculiar mark on the animal's forehead; a whitish patch of fur, strange on the night-black fur. It looked like a crescent moon. Weird.
Noting Shikamaru's already miserable face, the blonde genin took mercy on her old friend. Reaching out carefully with her hands, Ino managed to disentangle the cat from the chunin's head. Purring contentedly, the feline had seemed to decide that it had enough of torturing the spiky-haired boy.
"Hello there! What'll you have today?" Ichiraku had returned from the kitchen in the back of his small restaurant and had seen the arrival of a customer. His eyes wandered to Shikamaru's furry nemesis and, for a moment, Ino thought he looked slightly stunned. The look faded into a smile and nod. "I see you found my Aunt Hirose's cat, Makoto! She's been looking for him for ages!"
The cat turned to give the ramen cook a typical feline glance of superiority and, as if to acknowledge recognition, leaped out of Ino's hands and onto the counter with a lithe, graceful leap that a shinobi would be proud of. Giving it a light pat on the head, Ichiraku called for his daughter.
"Ayame, Shikamaru-kun found your Auntie's cat! I'll be bringing her round now, so the old biddy can have a little peace of mind. You take care of everything here. Come on, Makoto-chan!"
The cat leaped to the old man's shoulder at his gesture. Ino blinked. That was one very well-trained cat.
"See you kids around!" With that the aging ramen cook disappeared back into Ichiraku's kitchen, taking what Ino assumed as the back way out.
Smirking, the Yamanaka heir glanced at Shikamaru, who was still sniffling, with an evil grin. "Okay, Shikamaru, we'll drop in on Sakura later and see if she's cooked up any med-nin techniques for allergies."
The blonde noted the slight outward contraction of fear around the chuninís puffy eyes. The pink-haired kunoichi's reputation for… experimentation with medical chakra techniques had grown by leaps and bounds in the past few months, ever since the exploding hamster incident at the Academy. She'd heard that the students who had witnessed that fiasco were still taking counseling, and Iruka-sensei had been forced to politely ask the Hokage that Sakura always have an escort when in the vicinity of the Academy.
"Very funny, Ino."
Ichiraku Junpei waved to his daughter and closed the back door of his restaurant behind him. He carefully surveyed to see if anyone was there, a habit long ingrained in his long stay in Konohagakure. Though many might have scoffed at the old ramen proprietor's confidence in his ability to sense any eavesdropper, they were not familiar with the man's background. The Hidden Village of the Leaf had done an in-depth background check on the migrant who expected to set up business within its environs, and had come up with a clean record; one with the right amount of flaws, so that it didn't look too good to be true.
Which it was. But after the devastation of the Demon Fox, repopulation needs had laxened some of the formerly stringent immigration procedures, though it was still good enough to catch the spies from other Hidden Villages.
But Ichiraku was not from any Hidden Village.
The cat leaped from his shoulder to a conveniently placed garbage can. Ichiraku bowed and addressed it in a tone of respect. "Master Tiger."
The cat bowed its head in a humanlike manner and spoke with a distinct educated accent. "Agent Zero One. How's retirement?"
A grin broke out on Ichiraku's leathery face. "Better cooking ramen for an Imperial prince, though he doesn't know it, than dead in a ditch, Master."
The cat's lips twisted into a feline smile. "Alive is always better than dead, except if you're been totally maimed. Don't worry about your hyperactive little charge. Master Dream has him well in hand. Now… tell me about the princess."
The old agent nodded and began his report on a certain Haruno Sakura.
To be continued.
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