A/N: Hi guys! This is going to be a quick-and-dirty archiving of a fic that's been over on Spacebattles for a while now. There've been a few requests and frankly, I'm super flattered that anyone cared enough to bring it up. This needs some minor formatting, but otherwise, I'm getting this whole thing live FAST.
If FAST is not fast enough for you OR if you want to read my more recent works over on AO3, then details can be found on my author page.
Chapter 1: Shhhhh
I walked down the road with my team.
This was a surprisingly difficult task. If I walked too close to Naruto, he would take it as a sign of aggression and attack. If I walked too close to Sakura, she would take it as a sign of affection and attack. Kakashi could kill me in a single blow, so I didn't want to be too close to him, either.
I hung back with the client, which was fairly pleasant. His face bright red, Tazuna spent his time muttering incessantly and glaring at every tree we passed. The man reminded me of my father, back before his drinking problem started.
"Bunch of idiot kids playing at ninja," the bridge builder grumbled.
While Tazuna's disappointment over receiving an untested genin team was reasonable, any one of us could have killed him in an instant. I'd already prepared several plans to do so, just in case.
"Hn," I said.
Suddenly, two enemy ninja sprung from the trees. Splinters filled the air.
Sakura jumped in front of the bridge builder, intending to use herself as a human shield. She was apparently unaware that the ninja could cut through her.
Naruto chose the strategy of standing very still and hoping they could not see him. I saved his life, then reluctantly turned to do the same for Sakura. With all the real work done, Kakashi finally returned to the battle, dispatching the second ninja before I got around to it.
The others were shocked that our sensei had survived the first attack. That seemed strange to me…but I guess they'd never seen anyone cut to pieces before.
Kakashi said, "Sakura, good job protecting the client by using yourself as a human shield. Sasuke, good job protecting Sakura by using yourself as a human shield. Naruto, good job not flailing around for once. Not the best timing, but I'm glad you're working on it."
Naruto immediately began flailing around, face flushed with shame. He needed some sort of confidence boost, a reminder that we cared about his wellbeing.
I gave him a wide smile. "You alright, scaredy cat?"
…I should talk less.
"SASUKE!" Naruto charged towards me, only for Kakashi to casually grab the back of his shirt.
"You probably shouldn't move around too much. The enemy's claws were covered in poison. The more you move, the more it spreads," he said.
Naruto immediately froze up, eyes darting about wildly.
Kakashi turned towards the client. "Tazuna."
"Y-yes?" The bridge builder said, hiding behind Sakura.
"These ninja were trying to attack you. You didn't say that ninja were after you."
The client laughed nervously. "Heh, heh, well, they are."
"You probably should have mentioned that earlier," Kakashi said.
Sakura asked, "But why?"
Kakashi's forehead crinkled. "Because then we could have been better prepared. Also, we could have charged more."
"No, I mean, what has the bridge builder done to get ninja sent him?" she clarified.
Our sensei nodded. "Oh, yeah. I'd like to know that, too."
The bridge builder sighed. "A super dangerous man is after my life. His name is Gatou."
"Gatou?" Sakura gasped.
"Who's that?" Naruto asked through gritted teeth, watching our conversation out of the corner of his eye.
"He owns Gatou Shipping Company," Sakura said. "He's one of the wealthiest men in the world."
"Yes," the bridge builder said darkly, "but he also sells drugs and other illegal items, using ninjas and gang members to take over businesses and countries…"
The Land of Wave, an island isolated from the mainland, had fallen under Gatou's control. Their only hope to escape their lives of poverty and fear was the construction of a great bridge. Knowing that Gatou would send his men to kill anyone who threatened his empire, our client hired a team of highly underqualified children to protect him.
"This mission is way more interesting than I thought it would be," Kakashi said.
"And way more dangerous! We can't handle this yet," Sakura said.
"If you don't help me, I'll die," the client said. "My grandson will be crying, 'Wah! Wah! Where's my grandpa?' and my daughter will die alone and destitute. And everyone will say, 'This is all because of those horrible Konoha ninja.'"
Tazuna's plight really resonated with me. I, too, had lost a grandfather. And a father. And every member of my extended family, which included all of my neighbors.
"But Naruto needs a hospital," Sakura whined.
"It's okay," Naruto gasped, his jacket drenched in blood. "I cut the poison out."
"See? He's fine," Kakashi said, then leaned forward to peer at Naruto's wound. "…You should probably stop cutting, though. If you lose any more blood, you'll die."
Naruto began panicking, sending even more blood gushing from his body. Kakashi just turned around and continued down the road. Naruto didn't die, so I guess he was joking or something.
"I think an enemy ninja's hiding out there," Naruto said, squinting into the forest.
The birds weren't singing, typical of areas where ninja have recently traveled. Perhaps Naruto had noticed the silence, as well.
"Is he here?"—the blond threw a barrage of kunai into the underbrush—"Or here? No, no, he's probably over here."
Or maybe my teammate was just an idiot.
"Naruto, stop scaring Tazuna," Sakura said.
The client took another swig of sake. "Speak for yourself."
Naruto threw one last kunai, causing a squelch and a squeal. Kakashi reached into the bushes, pulling up a dazed, white rabbit by the ears.
"All of that over a stupid rabbit?" Tazuna grumbled.
I said, "Looks like Naruto caught dinner."
Sakura released a spike of killing intent, then laughed in an obviously fake manner. She always does that. "Oh, Sasuke-kun, you're just teasing, right?"
It's perfectly normal for a ninja to hunt small game while on a mission, and a good meal should never be passed up for something as trivial as a creature's "cuteness." This was just one of many reasons why Sakura would never be a good ninja.
But my mother always said that if you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all.
I regarded her dully. "Hn."
Sakura seemed to take this as agreement.
Naruto, in contrast, really gets me. "Shut up, Sasuke!"
Kakashi, again, effortlessly prevented Naruto from tackling me. I'm not sure why Naruto didn't just make a clone and send that to attack. It wasn't a chakra thing. I've seen him make at least thirty-two of them. He just doesn't think tactically. I guess that's just one of the many reasons he would never be a good ninja.
Kakashi peered at the pathetic creature held in his other hand. "This is a snow rabbit. They're only white during the winter, which allows them to hide among the snow. But it's summer. Unless…"
The jounin grabbed the bridge builder by the front of his shirt. "Tazuna, how long have we been walking?"
I shared a worried look with my teammates. Sakura spoke up. "Um, Sensei -"
A giant sword shot from the canopy. It wasn't moving particularly quickly, though. None of us dragged Tazuna out of the way, and he still managed to duck. In retrospect, one of us probably should have helped him.
Then again, I'm pretty sure looking after the client was Sakura's job.
A deep chuckle floated down to us as we rose to our feet with varying levels of grace. A heavily-muscled ninja leered at us from atop a tree branch. Bandages covered his crossed arms, common among taijutu users, and similar bandages hid half his face. This presumably wasn't an attempt to obscure his identity. He had too many other identifying features and carried himself with too much swagger for a man in hiding.
Kakashi cocked his head at him. "Hm. I know you. You're, uhhhh…Starts with an S. Maybe a Z? Zaku, Zamir, Zabaletta -"
"Momochi Zabuza. The Demon of the Mist," he growled.
"I knew it started with a Z!"
Zabuza said, "And you are Sharingan Kakashi."
That was an odd nickname for a non-Uchiha. It was pretty common for an Uchiha, though. Like my father, Sharingan Fugaku, or my mother, Sharingan Mikoto, or the baker, Sharingan Saki.
"That's me," Kakashi said, casually shifting his headband so that it covered the other eye. I had assumed that Kakashi had lost an eye in combat, but there was a normal eye hidden underneath. Except…
"The Sharingan," I whispered.
"Sharingan," Zabuza said.
"Sharingan," Sakura said.
"Sharingan," Kakashi agreed.
"What the heck is a sharingan?!" Naruto yelled.
I said, "It's a dojutsu that allows its users to read and defeat genjutsu, taijutsu, and ninjutsu. They can copy any technique, predicting an opponent's movement before it even occurs. But that's not all. The sharingan can do pretty much anything."
"That's about right," Kakashi said. "But, sometimes, it can do even more."
Sakura asked, "More?"
"Yeah, some people's Sharingans can do unique things, things that no one else has ever seen before and that don't even seem possible."
"That sounds like cheating," Naruto said.
"It is," Kakashi said.
Naruto continued, "Wait. Is that how sensei beat us up one-handed?"
Kakashi smiled wider. At least, I assume he was smiling. I still couldn't see half his face. "No, that's because you're all awful."
"A pity. I was hoping for a challenge," Zabuza said. "I'll just kill the old man, then."
The enemy nin leapt towards us, but jumped away as Kakashi intercepted him.
He stood still for a moment, chuckling again. "Maybe I'll get a real fight, after all."
We waited politely as Zabuza prepared his first jutsu, then disappeared amid a flood of mist. His voice drifted past us. "8 points. Liver, lungs, spine, clavicle vein, neck vein, brain -"
"FOOT!" Naruto shouted.
Zabuza attacked, a fairly typical response to Naruto talking. "It's over."
The Mist ninja was wrong about that. Kakashi fought him back and held a kunai to his throat. "Sorry, but I don't let my comrades die. Except that one time."
A second Zabuza sliced Kakashi in half, the captured one dissolving into water. But Kakashi was a water clone, too, and they ended up in the exact same position.
"It's over," Kakashi said.
He was wrong, too.
Apparently, both of them were—yet again—clones. Naruto said, "Is everyone a clone?!"
"Why don't we stab you and make sure?" Sakura hissed.
"Pay attention to the enemy, moron," I said.
Zabuza had trapped Kakashi in a water prison atop the lake. "Now, to kill the little kids."
"Alright, team, it's time for Operation: Be Worse than Trash," Kakashi announced.
"Does that mean that we run a…"
Naruto was cut off as Zabuza viciously kicked him. We all watched for a minute while Zabuza beat him up so badly that Naruto's headband fell off. The blond spent the next few minutes curled up in the dirt, staring at his hand. Zabuza shifted his sword around uncomfortably, noticeably debating whether killing someone so pathetic would reflect badly on him.
Eventually, Naruto attempted a suicide charge, only narrowly avoiding a horrible death. I was impressed by his tenacity, but then it turned out that he was just trying to steal his headband back, which struck me as petty and unprofessional.
Naruto grinned at me, acknowledging that Sakura would be entirely useless in this situation. "Sasuke, I have a plan."
Zabuza laughed. "Still playing ninja? You know, when I was your age, I'd already started killing kids. I'm really good at it."
Sakura's eyes widened. "W-what?"
"In the Hidden Mist village, we had an unusual graduation exam. In order to become a ninja, you had to kill another student."
Sakura gasped. Tazuna gaped. I shrugged.
Naruto said, "Hah! That's nothing. I had to kill a teacher."
Wait, was that why Mizuki-sensei wasn't at graduation? And no one had seen him around for months? And we weren't allowed to talk about him, or even think about him, because there never was a Mizuki-sensei?
I brushed the thought aside. Now was not the time for treason.
Zabuza ignored Naruto, the only way to remain sane after prolonged exposure to the blond annoyance. "But, ten years ago, they were forced to change—"
Kakashi poked at his watery prison. "I'm not surprised. It seems like a very inefficient system."
"—when a young boy, who wasn't even a ninja, killed every student. That boy was me."
"I saw that coming waaaaaay back." Naruto attacked the water clone with a dozen freshly-summoned shadow clones.
About five seconds later, when all of them had been destroyed, Naruto said, "Sasuke!" and threw himself at me.
To be more precise, he threw himself while henged into a shuriken. This caught me completely off guard because I hadn't realized his "plan" until I caught him. I staggered slightly under the weight, seamlessly withdrawing my identical shuriken in the same motion. I then threw Naruto and the shuriken at Zabuza. My aim wasn't perfect, not shocking considering the circumstances, but I've always been pretty good at throwing unusually-shaped objects.
It's kunai that give me trouble.
Zabuza caught my shuriken and gloated for a moment before noticing that Naruto was about to slice him in half. I'd actually been aiming for the man's arm, but that worked, too.
Zabuza dodged that one, as well, while still maintaining the water prison. He only broke the jutsu when Naruto ended the henge and threw a barrage of kunai at his back.
Kakashi stood, casually adjusting his headband. "Huh. I guess it's time to take things seriously."
He then proceeded to thrash the other man using the immense power of the Sharingan. He dodged every blow, anticipated every movement, and even performed an S-rank jutsu that he'd never seen before. I watched him, eagerly taking in the battle. Yes. This was what I needed to defeat that man. This power…
Naruto washed on shore atop a raft of clones as Kakashi pinned Zabuza to a tree with his kunai.
"That, that isn't possible," Zabuza said. "You defeated me so easily…Can you see the future?"
"Yeah. You die," Kakashi said.
The Mist ninja was then pierced in the neck by several needles.
"…I saw that coming."
A hunter nin landed beside his corpse. "Thank you. I've been hunting him for some time."
Yet again, Naruto demonstrated his bizarre lack of knowledge about his profession and the world at large. As the moron grabbed and shouted at the foreign ninja, Kakashi leaned forward, peering into the eyes of the hunter's mask. "Naruto, let him go."
"Why'd we let him go?" Naruto grumbled as the hunter nin leapt away with the corpse.
"We can't pick a fight with Mist during some stupid C-rank mission, Naruto," Sakura said.
"It's at least an A-rank by now," I pointed out.
"…I don't have to pay for that, do I?" the bridge builder asked.
"That can wait until after the mission," Kakashi said, leaning down to rifle through Zabuza's pockets.
"Didn't the hunter nin take Zabuza's body?" I asked.
"He'll be pretty upset when it turns into a log, later," Kakashi said. "It may be a hunter nin's job to protect their village's secrets, but we want those secrets. We earned them."
The jounin spread out a storage seal, nipping his thumb and sealing the corpse inside. "…And into the scroll he goes!"
"But how is the body still here? You didn't do a replacement jutsu," Sakura said.
"Right. That's a village secret…I'll tell you later." Kakashi then collapsed.
"Sensei!" Naruto and Sakura cried.
I tightened my lips, then wondered if I was being too dramatic. He was probably fine.
"I'm probably fine," Kakashi grunted. "Just chakra exhaustion. The Sharingan takes a lot of chakra. Also, I never train. Don't be like me, kids."
"We weren't planning on it, sensei," Sakura assured him.
"Good, that's good," Kakashi murmured as he drifted off to sleep.
With our commander indisposed, it fell to me to maintain order. "Naruto, you carry him."
"Wah?! Why do I have to do it?"
I raised an eyebrow. "There are more of you."
"Why don't we put him in a storage scroll or something?"
Sakura hit Naruto on the back of the head with Zabuza's storage scroll. "Because that would kill him, you idiot!"
It turns out that the bridge builder didn't warn his daughter that a team of ninja would be setting up camp in her home. She was pretty upset when we started a fire in the living room and only slightly less upset when we put the snow rabbit onto a spit.
"You're all gonna die!" the bridge builder's grandson yelled from the staircase, but none of us took the threat too seriously.
"Sorry about him," Tsunami said. "He's been going through some things, lately. After his father passed…"
I, too, knew what it was like to lose a father at a young age and then screech death threats at strangers. I gave Tsunami a nod of understanding. "Hn."
Naruto poked at the cooking rabbit with a stick. "So, what do we do now?"
"In the morning, we'll accompany Tazuna to the construction site. For now, I'm going to tell you the secret of the Sharingan," Kakashi said, lurching to a sitting position.
"Sensei, you're awake!" Sakura said.
"Of course. I never wasn't awake."
I'm pretty sure he was lying about that. "The secret of the Sharingan?"
"Everybody knows it," Kakashi said. "Well, not everybody, but everybody who's ever been on a team with a Sharingan user. So at least thirty people. There were more, but then most of them were murdered."
My eye twitched. One day, that man would pay. My face hard, I urged Kakashi to go on with a grim "Hn."
"Anyway, you know how the Sharingan is the most powerful of all bloodlines? It provides immense clarity of perception, allowing users to read lips from incredible distances, mimic others' movements, and determine the tactics of enemy combatants before they even twitch. It shows you the very nature of another's chakra so that you can steal their most brilliant techniques. It shackles demons to its users' will…"
We were all leaning forward by this point, eyes wide. The rabbit had started to burn, but none of us noticed until long afterwards. The Sharingan could inspire awe and fear in even the greatest ninja. This was my birthright.
"Well," Kakashi said, "it turns out that the Sharingan doesn't do any of those things."
The Sharingan doesn't do any of those…any of those…any…
"WHAT?!" I calmly inquired.
"Yeah, I was pretty disappointed, too," Kakashi said.
This was impossible. It didn't make any sense. IT DIDN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.
"Then what does it do?" Sakura asked. She was able to retain a level head because her plans to kill her evil older brother had not just been shredded by a thousand kunai.
Kakashi thought about it for a minute. "It's pretty good at genjutsu."
"I don't even know any genjutsu!" I said.
"Really? What are they teaching you kids in the Academy nowadays…or ever? I only attended for a year."
"Mostly history. Some math," Sakura said.
He snorted. "I never needed any of that."
"I knew it," Naruto muttered.
I said, "Not a single genjutsu…"
"Using the Sharingan is pretty easy. If you make eye contact with someone, then you can control everything they perceive until your chakra runs out. Unless they kai. Then it's useless."
Naruto spoke with the weight of wisdom. "That's dumb."
Kakashi shook his head. "Genjutsu can be the most powerful thing in the world if no one knows you use it. The important thing is keeping your opponent so busy that they never even consider that they're being tricked. If anyone learns that you use it, though, you're ruined. That's why the Sharingan's true ability is one of Konoha's most guarded secrets."
I looked at the other side of the room, where the client was cradling a bottle of sake and glaring at us. Kakashi followed my gaze. "Huh, didn't notice him over there, but that's fine. Tazuna is drunk. Drunkards can know."
I shook my head, eyes stinging. "Why would they lie to clan members? I always thought that all that stuff was true."
Our sensei ruffled my hair, eyes in a crescent that indicated a sympathetic smile. "Kids aren't great at keeping secrets. Besides, the Sharingan usually activates when you learn the true power of lies. Oftentimes, merely explaining the conspiracy surrounding the dojutsu is enough…Which reminds me, congratulations on getting your Sharingan, Sasuke."
I blinked. "What?"
"You got your Sharingan," Kakashi said.
"But I don't feel any different!"
"Not at all?"
I took a moment to examine the room. I couldn't read the label on the bridge builder's sake. I couldn't predict Naruto's sudden arm stretch until he was well into the motion. I glanced out the window, towards the sunny if shriveled garden, and "Gah!"
"It's really sensitive to light. You'll get used to it. At least, I assume you will. I never did." Kakashi adjusted his headband.
I said, "If your Sharingan bothers you, why don't you just turn it off?"
"I would, but I'm not sure if I can turn it back on again."
Sakura, who had spent the last few minutes chewing on her lip, asked, "Sensei, if genjutsu has to be a secret to work, then what about Kurenai—the Genjutsu Mistress of Konoha?"
Kakashi raised his visible eyebrow. "Kurenai doesn't do genjutsu. She uses the mokuton."
Sakura said, "But…"
Naruto said. "Can I—"
Kakashi raised a finger to his lips. "Shh."
We tried to change the subject several more times, but Kakashi kept shushing us. He only stopped when the client's grandson ran in shouting and he had to follow him out of the room to shush him.
A/N: I know that Spacebattles had some concerns about bashing after the initial chapter, so...please keep in mind that this is a comedy about middle schoolers with knives. Even in canon, they're immature and pretty mean to each other until some good old-fashioned bonding via near-death experiences. It's a balancing act to portray that early brattiness through another bratty preteen's eyes. If you're on the fence at the moment, then I recommend that you give this fic a couple of chapters to find its wings. It gets pretty wild.