Chapter 3: The Promise of a C-Rank.
"I FUCKING HATE D-RANKS!"
Kakashi winced at the sheer volume produced by his young blonde haired student. He leant to the side to avoid the broom that said student had just thrown at him, catching it by the handle as it passed by "Whining won't make it end any sooner" he reminded the blonde, never taking his eyes off of his book as he tossed the broom back.
Naruto flipped him off before resuming with his rather aggressive style of cleaning.
His other two students were less vocal in their complaints but they were none too happy either, dark looks shot his way by Sasuke, and confusion combined with frustration expressed themselves on Sakura's usually far more controlled face.
Admittedly it had been almost a week of cleaning and painting, some babysitting, occasional grocery shopping, the odd spot of gardening, a bit of lost pet finding, tiny amount of laundry, and other such miscellaneous tasks, and what little patience his team might have had at the start, Sakura being the primary source of it, had almost worn out.
Kakashi was having fun though, and really that was all that mattered.
He had been considering taking them on a C-Rank for some time, all of two days in fact, they were good enough. Admittedly their teamwork wasn't exactly up to snuff, though he had seen worse, but individually they were each skilled enough. Kakashi thought it unlikely they would fail a C-Rank, barring external interference, even if he wasn't there.
He sighed internally, musing on the pros and cons. On the one hand they wouldn't bother him about how terrible the missions were for at least ten minutes, on the other hand… well he wasn't sure indulging them was a good idea.
Still, it had been a while. Actually it had only been a week, but it felt like longer. It felt like it had been a really long time since he had left them tied up to the posts in the training ground, and a slightly less long time since they had introduced themselves to each other for the first time.
"We haven't really introduced ourselves have we? I guess I'll start" he had said, leading the hungry, worn out trio towards their first mission, well towards getting their first mission "My names Kakashi Hatake, I was born on September the fifteenth, and I'm twenty six years old. I like… things… and I dislike… I probably shouldn't do that. Ugh" they were his team now, so he guessed they deserved more of an intro than he usually would.
'And this is why you do the intro's before they're your team Kakashi, not after' he sighed to himself and his own lack of forethought.
"I like many things, far too many to list, though great literature is one of them, as you can no doubt tell" his book had not once been lowered since he let them free of their bounds about ten minutes ago "My favourite food is salt-broiled saury and miso soup with eggplant."
Talk of food made the trio of Genin's stomachs rumble and Kakashi reminded himself to buy them lunch, he had left them to starve all evening and night and was giving them no time for breakfast. Of course this would be after they completed the longest, most strenuous D-Rank mission available of course.
"I dislike those who don't look after their teammates, people who dislike dogs, and anyone who thinks reading erotic literature in public is indecent" he thought for a second, but no that was about all he disliked, in people at least "And my dream…" he glanced back at them to show them the importance of his next statement "My dream is to train a wonderful team that will become strong proud pillars supporting the village I live in and love" this statement earned him odd and confused looks as well as some embarrassment. The embarrassment had been what he was aiming for "My hobbies include reading, and I do some amateur writing as well, but… you don't need to know about that" in fact no one needed to know about that, nor about his attempts to get it published under an anonymous name, which did beg the question of why he mentioned it at all "I also enjoy spending time with my close friends and colleagues and drinking in a responsible manner with them" which was of course why he was late today, because he was 'responsibly' drinking the night before.
He had intended on retrieving them much earlier and putting them all back in their own beds with nary a word of explanation while it was still night. Instead he woke at around half eight with a pounding headache and so his genin's were left tied up and forgotten until nine-ish.
But no one needed to know about that either.
"Short, dark and moody, you're next" Kakashi said, not bothering to look back.
Sasuke scowled at him, but spoke all the same "My name is Sasuke Uchiha, I was born on July twenty third. I'm twelve years old" he said, following his sensei's example "My favourite food is omusubi with okaka and tomatoes. My hobbies are training, and I also enjoy taking walks… alone."
Kakashi chuckled a bit at that.
"I dislike too many things to list. My dream…" his face contorted into a scowl and he looked at the ground "My dream is to restore my clan, and cleanse their name."
"That's nice" Kakashi responded, in a tone that strongly suggested that he didn't care whether it was or wasn't. In truth he was not only thinking it over carefully but studying the other twos reactions, Naruto stared at Sasuke for a while, then shrugged, Sakura stared at the ground instead, her brow furrowed in thought.
'It's to be expected I guess, but a little worry all the same' Kakashi's eye narrowed for a mere moment 'I mean who likes okaka… hehe…' he shook his own head, then let his thoughts become more serious 'If he means redeem his clan by becoming a good ninja of Konoha whose deeds wipe away the shame of the Uchiha, great, perfect, everyone's happy. On the other hand, if he means cleanse their name by killing anyone who would dare say its dirty… less good.'
"Sakura Haruno, born March twenty eight, twelve years old" she began concisely, following the same pattern as Kakashi and Sasuke "I like reading and enjoy solving all manner of puzzles. My favourite food is syrup coated anko dumplings, but I also like umeboshi and anmitsu."
'Sweet tooth huh?' Kakashi glanced at the tower, and slowed down a notch. He'd rather they get this down beforehand, rather than after or during a mission.
"My hobbies are training, and reading, and I also enjoy challenges" she frowned "I uh…" there was some… embarrassment in what she said next, maybe that was too strong a word, hesitancy perhaps, either way it was there "I don't, have a dream… a-as of right now."
"That's fine, you don't need to have your future planned out right now, or ever really. Anyway, blondie-bear, you're last, get to it."
Naruto tossed the bells he had been playing with the entire time up into the air, catching them as they came down, making them produce a light tinkling sound.
'I don't think I'm gonna get those back' Kakashi mused.
"Naruto. I was born on October tenth…"
Kakashi almost sighed 'No last name, huh?' he couldn't blame the kid but, seeing someone, not ashamed but, annoyed to wear his own sensei's last name. It saddened him.
"And do you really need me to tell you I'm also twelve? I like orange, the colour not the fruit, I like the fruit too… it's orange. Yeah, I like oranges, and orange juice, orange juice is pretty good… um…" he seemed to have lost the plot of the introduction he was supposed to be giving, and that was confirmed when he said "Where was I? Um, I guess I like training too, if that's even a like. I don't like people who call me by my last name, or when people compare me to my father."
It didn't make Kakashi feel much better, but seeing him tell them straight, confessing such a thing, that was… maybe even progress, with any luck. And would hopefully prevent a few issues in the group.
"As for hobbies, um… does training count?" he shrugged "Oh, but my dream is…" he dashed in front of them all, bright grin on his face, pointing towards them "to have a harem!"
Sasuke twitched, a mix of confusion and annoyance clear on his face, unsure as to whether Naruto was just taking the piss or being serious.
Sakura frowned, bewildered, but also finding his 'dream' somewhat distasteful.
And Kakashi… Kakashi just… stood there, he was honestly kinda dumbfounded.
"Well… I um…" what the hell did you say to that "It's… err, it's important to have dreams… I guess" he shook his head "Anyway we-wait, wait, wait!" he turned all his attention on Naruto, even lowering his book "How exactly are we defining harem here?"
"How?" Naruto frowned "Err… three or more girls? Wait, no, three or more romantic interests, yeah."
Kakashi nodded 'No discrimination based on gender, interesting' "You interested in them, or them in you?" he asked.
"Them in me, obviously. Otherwise it'd just be me perving on three or more people, and I already do that. Like the lady with the big boobies we just walked past" so Naruto had noticed those too "And that one girl from the weapons show who bent over so low you could totally see her..."
"Well now that we've cleared that up let's talk…"
"Oh!" Naruto suddenly clicked his fingers "I forgot something. My favourite sex position is reverse cowgirl, very important information about me. Sorry, you were saying?"
Kakashi stared at the blonde 'Are you going to do this often?' he asked internally 'I can't even tell if he's being serious or not. Or rather I think he is being, but it's so out there I think he might not be… urgh, whatever.'
"Anyway, introductions are done" Kakashi said happily "I guess I should say something about them… um… they were good? Yeah, good, good introductions, you're um, you're all, you know… unique… and… and stuff… yeah" he nodded to himself. Good words of… encouragement? Or something like it… maybe "Anyway, missions, we'll go get our first missions as Team 7 right now, peeps, you're about to enter the dangerous world of being a ninja, so get ready, tighten your belts, empty your bowels, not right now in a moment and in a bathroom, and be prepared for anything, cause everything is already prepared for you" that… sounded slightly cooler in this head, but who cared really "So… let's go do that… yeah."
He had had his revenge on them… for whatever they did, well honestly he was just tormenting them for his own amusement, but still, it was fun watching them take on the mission titled "Cleaning up Konoha" which involved walking down every, keyword here every, major street, picking up litter, changing bins, disposing of dog shit, and so on.
That was fun.
"Tell you guys what" Kakashi said to the trio "We'll do some training later on, once we're finished here, and if you three manage to complete the task I set you in the time limit, then we can go on a higher ranked mission. One that'll take us out of the village."
The three of them glanced at each other, and turned back to him with one grin, one smirk, and one mostly expressionless look save for the determination burning in her eyes.
Kakashi smiled to himself, they were so easy to play.
"So, what is the task?" Sakura was the first to speak when they arrived at the training grounds that afternoon.
Kakashi didn't say a word for a moment, gesturing for them to stand by the training posts. They took their typical positions, Naruto in the centre, Sasuke on the right, Sakura on the left. He watched amused at their subconscious actions for a moment. Whether or not it was even subconscious actions was up for debate, it could be quite conscious, but he doubted it.
"So? The task?" Naruto asked interrupting his mental meanderings.
Kakashi smiled at them "It's pretty simple really" he told them, making each one of certain that it really wasn't "All you've got to do…" he spoke slowly, in a paced manner, to make it is long and as annoying as possible "…is land one hit on me" and ended the sentence quite abrupt ling with a complete lack of drama.
"Huh?" was Naruto's intelligent response. Sasuke was staring intently, probably debating the pros and cons of attacking right now. Sakura was thinking it over, trying to figure out the game.
But he hadn't told them the game yet, only its victory condition.
"One hit?" Sasuke asked "That's it."
"Yup" Kakashi responded cheerfully "It doesn't even have to be a solid hit. A glancing blow, a scape, a cut, even a blocked punch are all fine, and will all be counted. You just have to hit me."
"What are we waiting for then?" Naruto said with a grin, though whether he was grinning out of happiness at the thought of hitting his sensei, or just being glad for a challenge, Kakashi had… a pretty good idea. It was both.
"Hold up there, blondie bear" he raised his hand in the stop sign, then spread out his four fingers and thumb "You guy have five minutes to come up with a plan and I have five minutes to hide. Oh, don't worry" he said seeing their looks "I won't hide too well. A smart, resourceful group of genin who can think outside the box will find me… eventually" he could practically hear each of them sigh, though only Naruto did so out loud, as well as mutter "Fucking Cyclops" but that was beside the point "The test will last one hour, that hour will begin the moment the five minutes prep time are up. We clear" he looked at each of them in turn and received three nods in confirmation "Okay then" he gave them a wave "Start" and vanished in a puff of smoke.
To the credit of each of them, the three genin waited patiently until the five minutes allocated with them where up, and used that time well, quietly discussing, adjusting and rehashing their plan. Well, it was mainly just two of them planning, and the other one throwing in explosive ideas, literally.
Naruto already knew his task, and was also happy in the knowledge that it was the first one that needed to be performed, and was perhaps the most important of them all.
Sakura nodded the instant the time was over, Naruto formed a seal "Shadow Clone Jutsu" and promptly formed at least three dozen shadow clones. They raced off into the woods in different directions, intent on scanning the entire area for Kakashi.
There was no way that with this many eyes they wouldn't find him… eventually.
"He's not here" Naruto said fifteen minutes later, arms crossed across his chest, glaring angrily at the surrounding woodland.
"You're just not looking hard enough" Sasuke said heatedly.
"I've looked fucking everywhere!"
"Then look again" Sasuke shot back.
Sakura frowned, on the one hand it was entirely possible that Naruto had missed Kakashi, he wasn't the best at detection and tracking, failing more than a few of the academy tests regarding it, though whether that was a lack of effort or a lack of skill was up for debate. But she didn't think he had missed their sensei, Naruto wanted this just as much, if not more, than both she and Sasuke.
"If you think you can do a better job of it Sasuke then go look your fucking self…" Naruto's angry ramblings towards Sasuke were ignored by her while she pondered the situation.
While Sakura would have no trouble believing one Naruto could've missed their sensei, the sheer number of them out there should've seen something, and their sensei had said that he wouldn't hide 'too well', so him not finding anything was… impossible.
"…my clones have searched every nook and cranny of this fucking place and haven't found shit."
But in that case… where was their sensei?
"But if you think you can do better, Mr Perfect, then go fucking do it!"
Sakura blinked, revelation hitting her.
"Go on, where the fuck is he you Rookie of the Year bitch" Naruto and Sasuke were eye to eye, and very soon would likely be fist to face.
It was then that Sakura, barely noticing her teammate's altercation, spoke "Outside the box."
The both of them turned their head to Sakura as she said that, their fight forgotten though their poses remained the same, Sakura wasn't looking at either of them though, but looking at the ground, staring intently.
"What?" Naruto asked, still confused and still pissed off, mainly because he had failed in his task, only partially because Sasuke was calling him out on that.
"He's outside the box" she said again, looking up at her teammates now "He said it, 'A smart, resourceful group of genin who can think outside the box will find me… eventually' it was a hint" still seeing no comprehension, which was understandable, she told them what she had figured out "He's not in the training ground."
"What?!" now confusion and pissed off-edness where joined by incredulity in Naruto's voice and expression "Bu that's… that not fair!" and followed by a rather childish complaint.
"We're ninja" she reminded him "Anything's fair game. And…" Sakura's forehead creased in a barely noticeable frown, she should've noticed it sooner "…he never said he was going to hide in the training grounds, he never said we should search the training grounds for him, he never limited us to the training ground" she sighed, almost unnoticeably, at her own stupidity "We did that."
Sasuke, faster on the up take than Naruto, growled "There's a whole village where he could've hidden though, he could be in a bathhouse, or a bar or a bookstore. We just went from a needle in a haystack to a needle in a barn, and we can't search the whole village, not in the time we have left."
"We couldn't search whole training grounds either" she reminded him.
"Oh… right" well, now Sasuke felt stupid. Sasuke glanced at Naruto "Can you do it?"
"Huh?" thankfully Nartuo was stupider.
"Your shadow clones" Sakura told him patiently "Same strategy as before, only this time the whole village is the search area."
"Right… but um… what if he's not in the village?" Naruto asked "I mean, if we follow on what you said about 'outside the box' then… he could've left the village, left the Land of Fire even."
"Yeah… I know, but I'm hoping he hasn't, otherwise, as you said, it's not fair."
"I guess" Naruto shrugged.
"Can you make enough?" she asked.
Naruto shrugged a second time "Maybe… but first" he cupped his hands around his mouth, Sakura quickly shielded her ears "LISTEN UP BITCHES" Naruto shouted to his clones still scouring the training grounds "BASTARD SENSEI IS OUTSIDE OF THE TRAINING GROUNDS, HEAD THE VILLAGE AND FIND THE SILVER HAIRED FUCK, KILL ON SIGHT! NOW GET TO IT!"
Sasuke, who had been a bit late in covering his ears, was wincing from the noise level. If there was one thing Naruto could do well, and there were several, it was shout really, really loudly.
"Alright" Naruto said cheerfully "Let's get this party started. Multiple Shadow Clone Jutsu!" they were engulfed in the smoke of the jutsu, and it took several seconds for it to pass, leaving them surrounded by Naruto's, almost as far as the eye could see "You know the drill" Naruto told them, barely finishing his sentence before they were storming towards the village with battle cries and swearing.
"We should head out too" Sakura said, checking her sandals where still on tight "We need to be close enough to engage him before he can escape."
"Yeah" Sasuke agreed, taking a moment more than his teammate to be astounded by the sheer number of clones Naruto could summon. There had been at least a hundred there, maybe more, adding that to the current pool Naruto had of around forty… well they just might have enough eyes to find him in time. The trick would be, as Sakura said, being close enough to pursue.
Naruto wiped some sweat from brow, blew some hair from his sticky forehead, and grinned at his teammates "What are we waiting for?" he sounded out of breath, which was a feat as Naruto rarely seemed to tire, he'd be tired and grouchy in attitude, but physical activity didn't strain him too much. However, it seemed that creating that many clones had strained even Naruto.
Sakura refastened the knot on the forehead protector covering her brow "Let's go."
"So why exactly are you here Kakashi?" Kurenai Yuhi, a jonin of Konoha, asked, sitting on a roof sign while her genin painted the store front. Sat against the back of the sign, his book in hand, was Kakashi.
"Me? Well, this just seemed like a good place to sit."
The dark haired woman sighed "That's not what I meant."
Kurenai struggled not to roll her eyes and sigh yet again, she had ample respect for her senior Jonin, but even so… he was infuriating to deal with at times "What I mean is, why are you sat here where my genin are, instead of where your genin are?"
"Oh, my genin should be here soon. As for what I'm doing here…" he considered that question a moment, slightly unsure as to what the true answer was "I guess I just didn't want to sit somewhere on my lonely lonesome and wait for them. So decided to spend time with my good friend and colleague Kurenai instead."
Kurenai did sigh again, knowing Kakashi that was either a completely bullshit lie, or the honest truth, and she had no idea which it actually was.
"How's your training going?" she asked after a moment, deciding not to simply sit in silence with her fellow Jonin, and genuinely curious as to how he was doing.
"Looking for tips?" he teased.
"If I was after tips I would ask someone with experience at teaching genin" she rebutted coldly.
"So you are after tips" Kakashi concluded "Well, if you must know, it's… err… it's going… um… well, pretty shit."
Two more sighs were added to the list, one for his first comment, and another for his last "What have you done?"
"I've not done anything" he told her "By which I mean I have done things just not… you know what I mean!" he sighed himself "Trainings going fine, teamwork training fine, them getting along fine, missions fine. But… but I don't feel like I've made any progress with them."
Kurenai was actually startled that he was sharing this with her, they weren't exactly the closest of colleagues, maybe he was genuinely worried, or maybe he thought his team needed a woman's touch, or maybe he just wanted a younger, amateurish even, perspective on the matter.
"It has only been a week" she reminded him.
"I suppose" Kakashi mused.
"If it makes you feel any better" she said slowly "I don't feel like I've made any progress either" she leaned her chin on her palms, staring down at her team "Kiba's brash and arrogant, and it doesn't seem to matter how many times I knock him down it doesn't seem to stick, humility never seems to set in. Shino's reserved, he barely talks, isn't too keen on stating his opinion and seems fine with remaining distant from his team. And Hinata…" Kurenai put on a brave face, not that it really helped, and outright said it "Hinata is a Hyuga."
"That is rough" Kakashi agreed "A brash bastard, a reserved bastard, and a Hyuga bastard. You know that sounds like my team, a brash bastard, a reserved bastard and an Uchiha bastard. Almost the same thing."
She laughed softly "I get the feeling there are bigger problems than arrogance on your brash bastards end, and there are definitely bigger issues than superiority on the Uchiha bastards."
Kakashi's eye narrowed "So you think the reserved one is the least difficult? Or the one that requires the least attention."
"Yes, right now at least."
Kakashi chuckled "And that's exactly the problem, you think that, therefore you don't give as much attention to them as the other two, and therefore they become more reserved, more closed off, more separate from the team, to the point where, when you feel you have the time to deal with them, it's already too late."
Kurenai frowned "What do you mean?"
"Either they'll have moved on from you, become chunin and will remain separate from their team and their village for the rest of their lives, or… they'll be dead."
She winced "I… I won't let that happen."
"Hmm" Kakashi made no comment.
"So what about your reserved one? The deal with mine is obvious, I don't see the deal with yours?"
"You might not see it, but it's there" Kakashi told her "And its not a happy deal, not at all. My reserved bastard has deep scars that's led to them shutting themselves off. It's not that they feel ostracised, or are ostracised, it's that they don't want to get attached to anyone."
"Because they're afraid of losing the person they become attached too?" she half asked, half stated.
"Something like that."
There was a moment of silence between the two, Kurenai checked on her Genin who were halfway done, one mumbling angrily, one decidedly unhappy with the situation but silent, and the last stoic, showing neither negative nor positive feelings towards the work. Kakashi flipped to the next page.
"It could be worse" she told the man behind her.
"Yeah, you could be Asuma."
Kakashi paused "He got the Ino-Shika-Cho set right?" he smiled to himself "Ha, sucks to be him."
Kurenai smiled as well "Yeah, it sure does."
Kakashi stood, and stowed his book away "Anyway, it was fun chatting with you Kurenai, we should do this more often."
"Is that a proposition, Kakashi?" she asked with a wry smile.
"Hmm, you mean a romantic one?" she didn't say a thing, merely kept smiling at him "No. Sorry Kurenai, you're nice and hot and all, but… I like a bit more danger with my sexy. Hope you understand."
Kurenai rolled her eyes, almost insulted by indication that she wasn't dangerous enough, almost because she knew fully well the extent of Kakashi's skill, and being that dangerous was dangerous in and of itself "You're cutting it rather short" she noted "Aren't afraid of getting caught?"
"By those guys? Nah" he smiled at her continuing the sentence internally 'I'm not afraid, I'm practically looking forward to it' "Anyway, gotta bounce."
He leapt away, leaping clear of the blonde haired kunai wielding boy who landed moments after he departed.
"Fuck" the boy cursed, before sticking the kunai into his chest.
Kurenai stared immobilized by shock for a single moment, before the kid disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving neither blood nor body behind.
'A simple hit would've sufficed kid, you could've given me a heart attack doing that' she complained in her head 'Still…' a genin that could make solid clones, and that could stick a kunai in his chest without a moment hesitation 'I think Kakashi might have bigger issues than he was making them out to be.'
A literal horde of blonde genins soon passed by her position, reaffirming her previous statement.
"I wonder if they realise" she mused.
"Probably not" Kakashi responded, not sat against the front of the sign.
She shook her head at him "It's a mean trick. Weren't you going to play chase with them?"
"No, we're playing hide and seek, or as I like to call it, search and destroy."
Kurenai rolled her eyes "Well, whatever the case…" she was cut off midsentence by chains. Both Kurenai and Kakashi leapt out of their range, but they wrapped themselves around the rather large shop sign.
Kakashi landed on the roof opposite the shop, Kurenai landed on the street.
Aware of her students looking at her inquisitively, wondering why she had leapt down before they were finished most likely, Kurenai merely smiled, half at them, half at the situation "Well… this could get messy."
"HEAVE BITCHES!" Naruto roared at his clones and they grabbed the chains emerging out of his wrists. Together they pulled hard until the sign began to rip from the shop roof, their combined strength eventually pulling it free, and then swinging it like a mace.
An entire shop sign, where each letter was the size of an adult human, made of hollow metal, and painted red with a black outline, stating the name of the shop in question "Hazekawa's Metal Works", was tossed across the street at the roof Kakashi was on.
"For crying out…" he heard Kakashi cry, before the jonin leapt the gap, landed on the sign as it flew over the street, then jumped off of it with enough force to send it downwards, hard.
"You know that could've killed someone" Naruto commented as his sensei landed on the rooftop he was on "Besides you, I mean."
"Don't worry, there's someone down there who's hopefully cleared the street already, and if not would have prevented it in some other way" or so he hoped, he was reasonably certain as he hadn't seen any people on the street when he leapt "Also the amount of property damage that would incur as a result of that sign hitting that roof" he pointed to the building opposite "Well I don't wanna pay it, and I'm technically responsible for your actions as your sensei so… I…" Kakashi sighed "I really shouldn't have told you that should I?"
"Nope!" Naruto said smiling like the devil himself.
"Fire Release: Great Fireball Jutsu!"
Kakashi leapt clean over the 'surprise' attack by Sasuke, which it should be noted had set fire to the building's roof, and landed in the vacated street, he could see Kurenai and her genin gathered around a bench, two of them sitting, Kurenai and one other standing, watching the spectacle.
He waved at her as Sakura emerged from a building alcove, hidden to him while he was above, in a flurry of kunai and shuriken.
Well he said hidden, hidden from sight maybe, but sight was just one of many tools in his arsenal.
Kakashi ducked behind the sign, having to lie down in the dirt to avoid them all as the sign, lying flat, wasn't too tall. But they all glanced off of the metal and span wildly off course, hitting nothing save a wall, and the dirt. Thankfully not the dirt he was lying on, but some different dirt located away from where he was.
He glanced up at the fire now raging above, and sighed "Earth Style: Pillar of Mud" he flew through hand signs faster than the eye could see, and the dirt street flowed into a torrent of sopping wet mud that sprayed onto the roof, putting out the fire. It also had the added effect of catching one of his genin in the spray, the other having moved beforehand.
Funnily enough it was not, as Kakashi anticipated, Naruto who had remained, Naruto had leapt down to the street, and instead Sasuke was the one eating dirt.
That drew a smile from the Jonin.
"Well that sucks" Naruto commented glancing up at the pool of mud dripping off of the roof his teammate had been occupying "You alright there Sasuke?" he cried.
He didn't get a response, instead a muddy Sasuke came flying down from the roof, immediately engaging Kakashi.
To his credit Sasuke came close to hitting his sensei several times, but close wasn't enough and Kakashi was in his element, easily slipping around Sasuke's attacks, not even getting a drop of mud on his clothes despite Sasuke's movements sending it flying every which way. Kakashi danced more than dodged, moving with a grace and elegance that came from long decades of experience, flipping, rolling and spinning out of harms, or rather muds, way.
Kakashi leapt well out of Sasuke's reached, scaling a building in a few small jumps but was immediately forced off of his perch by several kunai from Sakura. He stepped on Naruto's attempt at a follow up, four clones, with only the boy himself surviving the stepping up and subsequent slam into the roof.
He landed back on the street, and was back on the defence as a chain of small fireballs blistered towards him. Not that he needed to be particularly defensive, it was more that he was not on the offensive but on a more don't get hit…sive.
He dodged the fireballs easily, leapt clean over Sakura who had tried to attack him from behind, then neatly pushed a fist to one side and swept the leg out from underneath Sasuke, stopping ead his new found offensive, and then leapt off of Sasuke's prone form to avoid the chains attempting to tie him up.
All in all, not very difficult, more like a peaceful Sunday afternoon really.
"You've gotten faster with those" Kakashi noted as he landed next to his blonde student.
Naruto grinned at him, before moving in to attack, and was promptly moving out from a kick to the face that sent him flying all the down the street.
Sasuke was next in line, confronting Kakashi again with taijutsu, while Sakura held back. She'd soon be tossing kunai his way he was sure, but for now he played with Sasuke, spinning around to place his back against Sasuke's. When he heard the kunai flying he pushed Sasuke, hopefully out of the way, then leapt not over but through them, racing forwards to do nothing more than poke Sakura in the forehead.
"You should be more careful" he scolded her "You almost hit Sasuke."
Sakura had frozen, and to his shame it took him a moment to realise it wasn't because of how quickly he had closed the gap.
One of the kunai that had gone flying past him, that he assumed would harmlessly hit something back there, had harmfully hit something back there.
Blood seeped into the orange fabric around the wound, located around his ribs. The knife had gone about two fifths of its length in, but thankfully no further than that. Even so having a kunai sticking out of yourself was not a pleasant experience, Kakashi knew that for a fact "Dammit" he mumbled to himself, why did training accidents have to happen at such inopportune times. And Kurenai was just over there and was going to give him an earful he knew it.
"This is why most people use the training grounds" Kurenai said in frigid tones as he quickly made his way over to where Naruto was now on his knees, holding the knife but not moving it.
"Here, let me" Kakashi told him, moving his hands and grasping the handle "And this could've just as easily happened at the training grounds Kurenai, the location doesn't matter."
"No, you being an idiot and dodging everything matters!" was her response.
"How was I supposed to know he was perfectly positioned to be hit by one of the kunai I was dodging, I was more worried about you and your genin" he slow, gently pulled it free. Ignoring as best he could Naruto's whimpers of pain.
"My genin are fine, because I know how to take care of them."
"Yeah well…" Kakashi blinked as a hand grabbed his ankle "Naruto… you o… oh" he realised it now, as the chain wrapped itself around his leg "You opportunistic little shit" Naruto looked up at him, no pain in his face, only a grin.
Sasuke and Sakura moved quickly, despite this clearly not being a plan of any kind, to take advantage of the opportunity he had made. But unfortunately for them, he was Kakashi Hatake.
He grabbed Sasuke's wrists and spun him around, sending him running towards Sakura. Sakura spun around this, but got a foot planted in her back for the effort, sending her off as well. Kakashi then stepped on Naruto's free fist before it could land on his leg.
His other two students got back up and went back in, but even with only his arms able to move, his legs dealing with and being dealt with by Naruto, he still managed to hold them off. And neither were prepared when he kicked with his chained up leg, using Naruto as a flail and knocking the both of them down, again.
The stampeding horde caught his notice pretty quickly, though he was somewhat confused by the question of when the hell Naruto had created those. A group of clones, all with chains of their own, where charging at him.
But they weren't charging at him swinging their chains, their chains where attached to something, a certain metal sign that was chained up in the middle of them all.
"You're going to attack me with a battering ram?" Kakashi exclaimed "Okay, I'll admit, that has never happened before" he had been attacked with boulders, city gates, lava, entire trees, and a donkey named Ted, but not a battering ram… until now that is.
Even so he leapt clean over it, Naruto still attached to his leg via chains coming with him, and landed on the other side.
"HOLD!" a clone shouted, making them stop, the sign swung forwards on the length of their chains and then swung back.
"Ah, I see" Kakashi nodded, so they wanted him on the other side, or at least were prepared for it.
He leaned back at his knee, the swinging sign passing right over his legs, chest and head, and then flung kunai at all the clones holding it up. Only with them all popped did he move himself out from under the sign, dragging Naruto along with him at the last moment before it crashed to the ground.
"Well that was…" but he was stopped mid-sentence by a Sakura, swinging at him. He caught the fist in the flat of his palm and was about to send her flying… then he remembered "Oh…"
Sakura looked up at him "Does that count as a solid hit?" she asked.
The silver haired jonin sighed "I guess it does, huh. Wasn't actually expecting you guys to win."
"Alright" Naruto commented, the chain that had wrapped itself around Kakashi's leg disappearing as the blonde leapt up from the dirt "Nice work, Saku."
Sakura blinked "Saku?"
But Naruto was no longer paying attention, instead he was bouncing around chanting "We get a C-rank, we get a C-rank!"
Sasuke, still somewhat covered in mud, moved to stand with his pink haired teammate "Well?" he asked moodily, but also expectantly.
"Yes" Kakashi conceded "You guys win, and I'll take you on a C-rank" he caught Kurenai's eye and rolled his own. She merely scoffed, apparently now over the fact that he had gotten one of his students stabbed, though given that Naruto wasn't acting much like he had been stabbed it was understandable.
"WE GET A FUCKING C-RANK MOTHERFUCKERS! AH YEAH!"
Bopping the bouncing blonde on the head to get him to shut up, Kakashi addressed his team "As a reward for completing this training exercise, I'll take you guys on a C-rank mission, as we agreed. But first…" he looked behind him "…you guys are gonna clean this place up, I mean look at the mess you made."
A somewhat burned building, kunai, shuriken and other weapons littering the ground, the torn down sign, the mud coating half a building, admittedly that was his fault, and that was without even touching on the damage done to the dirt street itself with ruts dug from the sign, for where Naruto had gone flying, and so on.
They had made something of a mess hadn't they? And it was for this reason that the middle of the village was banned as training spot for all but the lightest of training, more than a brisk jog could land you in some sort of disciplinary action, and certainly the residential or business areas of the village were never for full on combat in a non-emergency.
Kakashi shuddered as he thought about the earful he was going to get from the Hokage later on, actually that would be preferable, as being subjected to the old man disappointed stare was far worse than any shouts.
"You're going to clean it up and clean it up good" he told them sternly, maybe if everything was put to rights his experience would be either more swift or less agonising, one or the other, either was fine "No half assing it, I don't wanna see any sign of anything having gone down here in past four months by the time you're done, got it?"
They nodded as one, Naruto giving him a mock salute, the orders not dampening their spirits at all, Naruto still looked like he could easily burst from happiness, the gleam of satisfaction still glinted in Sasuke's eyes, and Sakura looked rather close to smiling, though her expression was still mostly controlled.
He sighed "Well get to it then."
"So, this will be your first C-Rank mission."
Sasuke turned his head to find his brother stood at the door to his room, observing him with little visible emotion on his face, wearing his casual clothing with his arms crossed across his chest.
The younger Uchiha nodded and turned back to his packing, adding another spare weapons pouch to his pack. He now had three in there, and that wasn't including the one he'd be wearing.
Itachi smiled a little, that was more than enough weapon pouches for one mission, aside from supply scrolls most ninja rarely took more than a single pouch, and only then if their combat style relied heavily on the use of weaponry, and even then sealing scrolls were far more efficient while still fulfilling an almost identical purpose.
But he wouldn't correct his little brother, he'd let Sasuke make his own mistakes, the first of which would be finding the weight of his bag uncomfortable in the long period of travel a mission would often involve.
Sasuke had two spare sets of clothes, his sleeping roll, a book in case he got bored, he'd considered taking some jutsu scrolls but didn't want to risk losing them outside the village, food supplies to last him a week, and his prior mentioned weapon pouches.
He was taking too much, but not so much that it would be immediately obvious. Immediately obvious to Sasuke that is, who'd have to carry the pack.
Sasuke blinked when he felt Itachi's hand come to rest on the top of his head, his body stiffened at the contact, but his older brother merely ruffled his hair and squatted down next to him, observing both the pack and the array of items Sasuke had arranged around it, most of which Itachi guessed had been dismissed as unnecessary.
"I remember my first C-Rank" he said wistfully. Though it truth it held very few fond memories for him, those of his team and his sensei, and the general remembrance of happier times with his family. That mission had been the first time he'd taken a life. He was seven years old at the time.
Sasuke had paused and stared at the floor, barely acknowledging his brothers existence, never mind words, when Itachi had just decided to stop with his nostalgia and leave his brother in peace the younger Uchiha spoke "What was the mission?"
Itachi raised an eyebrow ever so slightly, just a little surprised by the inquiry "It was a reasonably simple mission, we were to guard a fish merchant as he moved his business from one town to the next. Some shady business deals quickly turned the mission complicated however, but our sensei handled the issues for the most part. We did have to combat some bandits however."
Sasuke played with the edge of some clothing he had opted not to take, but had likely considered taking as it was folded, on the floor, right next to his pack.
The elder of the two stood "Well, it's getting late, you should finish your packing soon" he took his leave.
Sasuke meanwhile considered the Uchiha emblem on the back of the top he had been fiddling with.
He clenched his fist.
He felt rather than heard the almighty 'thud' and blood covered his vision as his face met the floor nose first.
"Fuck!" he yanked himself free from whatever he had gotten caught on, and used his jacket to stem the blood pouring from his busted nose. He glared back at whatever had caught him and found… a floorboard.
A loose floorboard to be precise that had kicked up when he stepped on the end of it, causing the imbalance that caused him to fall that caused him to hit his nose that caused the currently flood of blood staining his orange jacket red.
Before he could smash the floorboard, which would just leave a big hole in the floor for him to step in and then fall over due to, thus doing little to resolve the problem, Naruto noticed something in the space below it.
It was a little dusty, though not too much, down there but what he found stunned him for a moment, leaving him speechless "Wakky-chan?!" for a second at least.
In his hands was a wakizashi, no longer than his forearm, a wakizashi he knew all too well. The hilt was wrapped in red silk, it was a bit dirty, but not too bad, and the white skin the hilt was wrapped with still shone white through the diamond like patterns left by the silk wrappings. The sheathe was made of a dark lacquered wood, appearing almost black save under close examination, though its lustre had faded in some places due to lack of care, but when he pulled the blade free of its confines it still glinted brightly and deadly and its edge was still razor sharp, as his finger could attest too.
He sucked in the bleeding appendage until it stopped, then smiled at the sword "Man I've missed you Wakky-chan, I didn't even remember where I'd put you until I stumbled onto it" literally stumbled in his case "I actually didn't even remember you really until I found you, but…" he chuckled to himself "Ah the memories, the good and the bad and the kinda disturbing, and the slightly weird, I remember them all with varying levels of fondness."
Naruto gave the sword a hug, after replacing it within its sheath, even he wasn't that stupid… most of the time.
"You're definitely coming with me Wakky-chan" he said tossing the sword with the pile of other stuff he was going to take on his first C-rank mission. It wasn't a very big pile, just a few essentials that he'd squeeze into his pack "We're gonna have lots of fun, and maybe this time you can end up covered in someone else's blood!" he smiled brightly, already rushing off to find the next items he'd need for his mission "It'd make for a nice change pace."
Sakura stared out of her window at the moon, its light was bright and strong tonight, streaming in through her uncovered windows.
Her pack was neatly packed with the bare necessities and a small number of luxuries she could live with out and wouldn't hesitate to abandon or sacrifice. There were books written on the art of preparing for missions, and packing only what you needed, taking nothing of personal value, and ensuring that any unnecessary items were not cumbersome, were practically the three basic rules.
She was packed, her clothes laid out ready for tomorrow, the weapons she would need all either in her pack or her pouch, she was all set for the mission.
But the pink haired girl was having difficulty lying down to sleep.
When she did lie down she couldn't get comfy and was tossing and turning and when she sat up her eyes were heavy and she was incredibly drowsy. It was annoying, when she tried to sleep she felt awake, when she tried to be awake she felt sleepy, so she had decided to open her curtains and look out over the village.
It was beautiful, everything either grey or black from shade or stained white by the moonlight. It was relaxing, there was no one rushing about or shouting, just a calm eerie silence and unnerving stillness.
She glanced at her bedside table, gazing at the photo barely visible due to the limited light of the moon, and the two figures in the photo.
Sakura gently touched the face of the picture "Mom… Dad… I…" but she had no idea what she wanted to say.
Oogly Boogly Shoogly Woogly.
Hey. Now I know what you're all thinking (probably not but let me fantasize anyway) "Oh my god, another chapter, and its not even been half a year yet, admittedly its not for a fic I care about, but still its something right... right?"
Leaving that aside, this chapters a little shorter than I've tried to make chapters for Flipside, I tried to keep it to ten thousand and succeeded in the first two chapters, now this one is about eight thousand, which is two thousand short but I just wrote that final scene and decided "This is where it should" and so I ended it there. The next chapter should cover a good portion if not all of the C-rank mission they've taken, when I get around to writing it.
But until then...