It really surprised me to learn that kissing is considered an art. Or rather, there's an art to kissing. I used to regard that claim with suspicion, since I read all about it after I first kissed and played around with my clone. The books actually had a lot of interesting instruction about it, and some really arcane medical and chakra techniques to go with it. I'd only gotten a single one to work - as usual, performing properly required chakra control, chakra control, chakra control, and you guessed it - more chakra control. I had a full thousand clones practicing that every night, with another five hundred working on the memory sharing and editing variations on the shadow clone jutsu. A simple matter of efficiency, as more control made learning much easier, or just possible, while the memory thing would make learning everything faster.

Anyway, the one trick I did learn convinced me utterly and completely - one of the arts of seduction is the kiss, the Kiss of Surrender. It's a really basic trick and easy to defend against if you're aware of it or are just about any sort of chakra sensor, but it's hellishly effective. It makes you swoon. It made me swoon, feel weak in the knees, and eager and hungry for more.

It made Sakura boil over, turn from a shy little embarrassed girl into a man-eating, demanding and highly aggressive woman. Running her hands all over me, moaning into my mouth, eyes closed as she tried to ram herself into or maybe through me. She didn't even react when I accidentally tore her dress, and shoved her tongue into my mouth when I ripped it apart deliberately. It shouldn't have surprised me, it really shouldn't have, but she hadn't bothered with a bra. Skin against hot skin, pebbly nipples dug into my flesh as we kissed again and again as I traced abstract patterns on her soft, smooth back - slightly annoyed at how bony she was.

She'd just started grinding her crotch against mine when a dispelling watch-clone passed on the memory of an ANBU operative approaching, very specifically coming over to fetch me. I cursed my idiocy in choosing to make that point through clothes on this day of all days. Of course the Hokage would summon me! At just this exact time, naturally.

There was simply no other choice. When we stopped kissing to breathe, I caught Sakura's chin before she attacked me again. "I'm so sorry, but the Hokage sent an ANBU to summon me. It's not something I can delay long enough," the shocked look on her face had me biting my inner cheek, rather hard, to avoid laughing at her - even I knew that was the absolute wrong thing to do.

"Don't worry though, they'll take good care of you," I looked behind her and switched with a clone in the room, quickly running off to change clothes to a quiet dark blue outfit that I didn't think had any connection to the Yondaime. I'd left her with five nude female clones, with instructions to help her take a nice warm bath… and enjoy themselves. I grit my teeth with white-hot anger, as receiving the memories of the experience just wasn't entirely the same. "Grrrr…" I growled and only just managed to stop myself from putting a fist through the wall. Calming exercise, calming meditation, how did that go again?

"Hey, old man. For cockblocking me today, I'm never ever going to tell you the solution to paperwork," were the first words that came out of my mouth when I entered his office. The cat-masked ANBU who'd escorted me, a svelte figure of a woman I knew was Yugao Uzuki, spluttered and coughed. Old man Sarutobi? He actually fell off his chair. And no, I didn't laugh, I was still really, really angry. I didn't realize how pissed I was until I saw the arcs of lightning flashing around my wrists and clenched fists and noticed the wind sending documents flying around - with the window closed. The sight calmed me down instantly. It was a highly visible sign of my improvement, a display of such a close connection to my primary elemental affinities, and a simultaneous one of opposed elements at that, as wind was superior to lightning - for a moment, I was actually impressed with myself.

"Ha ha, never mind that. Anyway, what did you want that couldn't wait for me to come up for my missions tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow's your day off," he remarked in a very even tone.

"So what? That just means I don't have to waste my time with Useless. I have permission to take as many D-ranks as I want, the money's come in really useful. See this?" I grabbed the sleeve of my new shirt in proud display. "I actually managed to buy clothes! Isn't that amazing? Now if I could only remember where I bought them. I sent like fifty clones to buy stuff I could wear that, you know, would make me look like a real ninja, huh? I think only three of them weren't tossed out of the shops I tried. Kami, if only I could remember which three shops those were. Hey, old man, any chance you could help me figure that out?" I asked him plaintively. The name of the game was damage control. Being the idiot was much safer. Showing off got you watched and penciled into numerous bingo books. While having a large price on one's head was a point of pride with some shinobi, I didn't much care for the idea. Inevitable, probably, but there was absolutely no reason to hasten that day.

"I'm afraid I can't help you there," he sounded genuinely regretful. Probably wasn't eager to see that horrid orange garment again. "Who is Useless?" he inquired, a frown making him look even more wrinkled than usual.

"Oh, Kakashi of course. Who else could it be?" I cocked my head in a gesture of utter bewilderment. Yugao, still standing beside me, twitched visibly.

"Kakashi Hatake? Your sensei? Useless?" he seemed confused, and only grew more confused when I started laughing hysterically and repeating the word 'sensei'. I gave it a minute before drawing in a shuddering breath.

"Oh, that was funny, my sensei. Ha. Yeah, he's utterly useless. Stands around reading his porn while we do D-ranks. As for sensei, don't be ridiculous. He hasn't taught us anything and I doubt he ever will. Doesn't have any respect for rookie-genin, I suppose, always makes us wait three hours in the training field before a mission. Except for something he called a team building exercise which was more of a waste of time than these silly missions. Pretty pathetic. Hey, is there any chance I could go back to the academy? It's actually less boring than what he has us doing, and I might actually learn something there."

"It's just the first week," he tried to reassure me while visibly struggling to conquer his mirth. "It's natural that he tries to get you working together properly before offering any serious training. That's one of Konoha's biggest advantages in the field, teamwork," he nodded gravely, seemingly lost in memories for a moment.

"So if two months pass and he still hasn't taught me anything, could I get out of team seven?" I outright begged.

He blinked for a moment in surprise, then nodded, "Very well, I'll allow that."

"Great! Well, I'll see you again sometimes, Old Man. Kami, those babies were brutal. I bet enemy ninja are way easier to defeat! You should have seen it, Sakura was all ga-ga over how cute the little munchkins were, then bang! One of them pissed right on her face! I laughed so hard, she almost killed me. Then there was the vomit, and the poop, and…" I coughed to avoid laughing at his expression. "Never mind, I don't think you want to hear about that. Good night!" I ran off, flickering back home as soon as I was out of sight. I couldn't believe that worked. I was just so amazing.

And so were my clones.

I swear, my eyes almost popped out of their sockets when I entered my bedroom. Sakura was tied up on my bed, literally tied to the bedposts in the silk-wrapped wire used for mesh clothing, completely naked, snoring softly in her sleep.

We were just so amazing.

"Hey," my nude Naruko clone whispered. "We turned her inside out, gave her a very hot bath, then fed her properly. We explained that we couldn't really be with such a bony girl, it just wasn't attractive. The whole planned rigamarole of hard-training kunoichi and eating a lot, we reluctantly accepted when she begged us for help. Then we celebrated our compact, she's eager to move in. After we wake her up properly tomorrow, she'll be happy to realize she's already moved in," Naruko, as I now thought of her, giggled, her breasts moving in an absolutely hypnotizing manner with each gentle sound of merriment. "Oooh, someone's happy to see me!" she rolled off the bed, knelt before me and… boy did I love my life. Thank you shadow clones. Rest in peace, you backstabbing bastard Mizuki. Oh yeah!

I woke up at five in the morning, as usual. I rarely needed more than three or four hours' sleep to banish any accumulated fatigue, and I needed to work really hard to get tired. This last week, I'd worked harder than ever, both physically and with chakra. I was gonna be so strong!

It wasn't my regular bed, that one was taken up by Sakura. She really was too bony to comfortably sleep with like that. The pair of clones that kept me company were probably more affectionate, too - or at least, much better at it.

After a couple of hours' hard workout, I performed the by now usual routine of memory receipt and summoning up a new legion for training, skill training and spying, added five clones for Sakura training - she was going to wake up every day at seven sharp, eat well and train hard, then do the same when we got done with missions - or spend the whole day on it when we were off missions. Her breaks would be much longer than mine, of course, and the clone girls would keep her very happy and well fed. She needed to build up her strength and stamina, acquire some speed and master the basic techniques. I left a storage scroll with some of my blood for the gravity and resistance seals my clones would put on her after they woke her up. Running her ragged would not only build up her skills, but keep her from thinking too hard and help her get used to her new circumstances. The clones would also have her write a letter to her mother. Damn, I wish I could see that woman's face when she read it. Actually, I could! I popped out a clone for that specific purpose, just for the fun of it.

I had another mission for my spy clones, at that - I needed to find a really evil rich merchant to have my blood clone replace. Of course, I also need my skill clones to learn all about how mercantile endeavors worked in practice - it wouldn't do for my new business to fail. One of the plans my clones had roughly mapped out was the distribution of blood clones and my mercantile network throughout the entirety of the Elemental Lands. The first was to handle Konoha, the second the capital of Fire Country, then Grass, River, Tea, and so on - covering the countries geographically closest and gradually expanding.

Today was also the first time I had my clones actually trying to use medical chakra and master a genjutsu. My chakra control was easily low jounin level by now, which admittedly wasn't as wonderful as it seemed. I had about a hundred times the chakra of an elite jounin, let alone a novice one, which made me comparatively as able, but in practice even Sasuke might have better control. Sakura almost certainly did, as she had barely more chakra than a second year academy student. Honestly, she was a disgrace to kunoichi everywhere. Medical chakra was needed to help her advance more quickly, as hastened recovery from physical exhaustion and chakra depletion was the most basic thing a medic could do. They just never did that in practice because their chakra was too important for dealing with actual injuries, a problem I didn't have. Adding good and plentiful food to the gravity and resistance seals, and of course all the rest of the brutal training regimen she was going to survive, and she might just be able to go head to head with Sasuke in a couple of months and do a credible job of it.

A shower, a meal, and I was off to run circles around Konoha with the seals raised another notch. Pretty soon I'll be running with three of myself on my back in the face of a hurricane. Wonder of wonders, I actually met Sakura on my ninth lap, waving at her cheerfully and winking at the two clones bracketing her as I sped past them. Three hours of that done, I stopped to eat again, then went on to weight training, calisthenics, acrobatics, even a bit of juggling to see if my clones' training had stuck - and it most certainly did, keeping eight apples in the air wasn't difficult. I also realized that I needed to toughen up as well, not merely get stronger. That meant hitting boards and later stone to toughen my hands and feet, and actual sparring to get used to taking blows and fighting past them. Pain wasn't just a great motivator to improve your skill. A shinobi was pretty much guaranteed to get hurt, and if you froze just because someone put out your eye, cut off your hand or stuck a sword in your gut, you might lose your head and life. Learning to ignore the pain, toughen it out or compartmentalize it and fight on, was absolutely vital. It was just troublesome, how many vital skills a shinobi required, and it made me doubt the wisdom of my elders yet again.

Using barely trained children as genin to take on missions outside the village seemed very stupid. Losing valuable potential ninjas so early was a true loss to the village, and many times a clan. Instead, they should be trained harder for longer. I wasn't really aware of the economics of the shinobi business, but doing it that way seemed much better in the mid-to-long term, as your genin proved to capable of beating everyone else's chunin, your average jounin was close to S-rank, and your reputation for impeccable service and unbeatable shinobi grew.

Breathing hard, shirtless and a bit wet from a quick dip into a stream, I flickered over to my favorite place for a picnic, only to find Sakura there, back against a tree and a Naruko clone feeding her tidbits. Her eyes were closed, her hair matted with sweat, and she was dressed very, very differently. She actually looked sexy, not just pretty.

"Hey there, Sakura-chan, good to see you're training hard. I was just thinking that if you keep this up, in a couple of months you might be able to beat every other genin who graduated. Hell, there's a chunin exam scheduled in Konoha in about four months. Keep up a hard pace, and with your chakra control and brains you're guaranteed a promotion," I said cheerfully and joined her. Unsealing a hot tray full of food, I stopped talking and got to eating. The amounts I consumed each and every day were unsettlingly large. Anyone else trying to eat half as much would have exploded.