Title: Dreaming of Sunshine
Summary: Life as a ninja. It starts with confusion and terror and doesn't get any better from there. OC Self-insert.
AN: Thanks to Frolic, Pepperdoken and MathIsMagic for all the neat discussions about DOS and Naruto.
This chapter took a long time and a lot of false starts to write, scenes that fell flat, subplots I can't introduce yet (or at all) and for personal reasons I've lost a lot of my interest in this arc so am trying to wrap it up satisfactorily.
Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
In the end, when we gave Tsunade our report on the police reinstatement, it was very low key. We all knew the report was kind of a formality and not particularly urgent and I'd kind of thought we'd just hand over the report and that would be it. Instead, Tsunade arranged a private dining room at a restaurant and we had a business dinner.
Fancy. There were privacy seals humming in the walls and the servers knocked and waited before entering the room. It wasn't like we were going to be discussing anything classified but it was confidential information.
"Okay," she said, setting the report on one side of her plate and glancing through it. "Sell me on it."
I looked at Sasuke. Sasuke looked at me and shrugged.
"Okay," I said, and started in on The Spiel. It wasn't like I hadn't given it a million times to convince people to help us.
Tsunade wasn't a passive listener, asking probing questions and clearly having some idea where we were going with everything – either from keeping up to date on what we'd been doing or simply because it was the obvious outcome – but we did surprise her in some places.
The long drawn out 'huh' when we brought up the departmental budget – or lack thereof – was definitely one.
"Obviously it wasn't really a sustainable setup," I said, voice casual and attention more focused on picking through the food I'd been served. The beef slices looked a little too red and still bleeding for my tastes, so I passed them off to Sasuke. No thank you. The eggplant dish was good though.
"I know the Senju used to be heavily involved in funding the hospital," Tsunade said thoughtfully, eyes narrowed into the distance like she was digging through her memory. "But it was village funded by… at least by the Second War."
That was an interesting factoid. Because the initial founding of Konoha and creation of all these systems and services had probably been wild. No excuse for it remaining that way for so long though – not when Tsunade had just confirmed that other things had been treated sensibly.
"We drafted a probable budget," I went on, "but you probably want someone who… knows department budgets to redo that."
"Oh, yes," Tsunade said, with the tone of someone about to face many arguments, "I'm sure I will get plenty of opinions on the topic."
Better her than us, really.
She was also surprised by our suggestion of where police recruits could be found.
"I had heard you were clashing with the Genin Corps," she said, guardedly, "so I had assumed you were recruiting from there."
"That's a different issue," Sasuke said dryly.
I resisted the urge to elbow him in the side. "It wouldn't be bad to recruit from the Genin Corps," I said. "But then they'd be short staffed. Same as if you took ninja from any active duty posting. So we were looking for alternatives."
Tsunade nodded and the conversation paused while she actually read though that page thoroughly. "And do you have any suggestion for who would lead this team?"
Not particularly, because it wasn't like I knew that many people who specialised in running departments. Ibiki, but he was clearly very settled and happy in the posting he had. And it would be a bad look to go from TnI to Police.
"Tsume Inuzuka?" Sasuke suggested.
I nodded. "She runs the Sensory Squad, has plenty of leadership experience, and is well respected." And would probably understand the challenges that kunoichi-with-kids would experience. "She's probably already super busy, though."
Tsunade went 'hmm' in a way that was neither approving or disapproving. Which was fine, we didn't want to actually be responsible for selecting people for the police. From there it seemed like an alarmingly small step to being… responsible… for the police.
We were well finished eating by the time she'd run out of questions to ask us about it. The waiters had brought her some sake to drink, but both Sasuke and I stuck to tea.
"Alright," she said finally, levelling us both with a serious look. "Where does this 'separate issue' come into it?"
There was a hint of warning, a 'this better not explode in my face' edge.
I shifted uneasily but it wasn't like we'd done anything wrong. "Well," I said. "Along with looking for people to recruit, we started looking at how to train them, because obviously police work is going to be substantially different from, say, active duty or admin duty. So we went to the experts for advice. And – well, the Genin Corps guy wouldn't help us but the other people we asked really came through."
"Above and beyond?" Tsunade asked, relaxing a little now that she could see where this was going.
"Very," Sasuke said.
I did elbow him that time. "The project ended up getting a little too big to just append to ours," I said. "And I wouldn't have wanted to take credit for all their work, so I suggested we present it separately. So, uh, if we could arrange a time to do that?"
"How many people are involved in it?" Tsunade asked, taking a drink.
"Six," I responded. "Including me and Sasuke."
It didn't sound like a big group but, comparatively… that was two three-man-squads. It'd take a big mission to get that many ninja sent out together so it probably was kinda impressive to get that many people working together on training plans.
Tsunade swirled her drink thoughtfully. "I'll get my secretary to schedule something and send out meeting notices," she said. "Who's involved?"
She was completely unsurprised by Ebisu and Iruka, raised an eyebrow at Anko and completely failed to react to Akado's name – though I had no doubt she would absolutely look up his service record before the meeting occurred.
Still, that was a relief all around.
"Oh, and?" Tsunade said, once we had finished up and stood to leave. "Congratulations on your promotion."
That meeting took place about a week later – the earliest Tsunade had been able to schedule us in by the sounds of things. I'd been given the meeting notice in my tower in tray the morning after my promotion, when I'd been running around trying to make that official.
There had been – of course – promotional paperwork to be filled out. I still technically had a 'specialisation' in Sensing and was attached to the Sensory Squad, but I no longer had my rank under the sensory squad.
Which mattered very little in practical terms but quite a bit in paperwork terms - either that or people had been taking the chance to run me around, but I figured they really had better things to be doing.
Ebisu was early – of course – and well prepared with handy visual aids – of course – and even Anko seemed less informal than normal. This was, after all, a meeting with Tsunade.
Akado had set up his little station but was quiet and stiff as a board – if he'd been overwhelmed by a scroll from me arranging a meeting, apparently one straight from the Hokage's Office had given him a heart attack, no matter how much warning he'd had.
Tsunade swept in precisely on time and sat down at the head of the table, which had been Clearly And Obviously left for her. "Alright," she said, glancing around. "What am I looking at?"
Everyone looked at me.
I made handing off gestures towards Ebisu, who adjusted his glasses nervously. "Well," he said. "We have identified several ways in which the current training system in Konoha can be improved. Not that there are problems! But obviously it can be better."
"The Academy system hasn't been updated since the last time the graduation age was changed," Iruka said, a little less inclined to prevaricate. "And that was just to limit early graduations. With the changes Shikako and Sasuke wanted to introduce, it seemed a good time to look at a complete overhaul."
Tsunade nodded. "And what changes are those?" she asked. "Take it from the top."
After that slightly stilted start, things went far better. Once they got back into the swing of things, the clear and blinding enthusiasm aspect carried them along.
Tsunade didn't appear particularly displeased by any of it, which was something. No guarantee anything would happen or happen as this project suggested but it was promising.
"I don't know how many of these suggestions are feasible to implement," she said, finally, when everything had been explained to death. "Now or in future. But the fact that there are so many suggestions – so many good suggestions – tells me it's something I need to seriously consider." She tapped her nails against the desk. "As far as being an application for promotion…"
"Hokage-sama," Ebisu said seriously, adjusting his glasses. "While I would be honoured to be considered, that isn't-"
She held up a hand to interrupt him. "This is exactly the kind of thinking that I want in my Jounin," she said. "On that basis, I would agree whole heartedly. However, given the current situation… While combat prowess isn't the be all and end all of rank, I don't want to make larger targets of people than they can handle."
"Oh, I can make sure he's up to scratch," Anko said, with a grin that was probably not at all reassuring when you were on the receiving end of it.
Tsunade considered them for a moment, then nodded. "I'll be monitoring your progress," she said with a clear kind of underlying I expect you won't let me down. "Therefore, I hereby promote you to the rank of Jounin. I'm going to temporarily grant you the title of … Education Reform Overseer, and part of your new duties will be the implantation of some of these suggestions after further review."
I politely applauded. Ebisu looked a little gobsmacked but, you know, in a pleased way.
Tsunade's gaze swept along the table. "Manabu Akado. Given the recommendation of four Jounin and one Special Jounin, I'm more than willing to grant you the promotion to the rank of Chunin and attach you to the Education Reform Committee."
"Thank you, Hokage-sama!" Akado squeaked, looking just a little like he might pass out.
Beside him, Iruka-sensei glanced around the table with a kind of dawning look of horror, apparently realising that Tsunade's count didn't quite match up.
"Tsunade-sama," he stammered. "I like teaching at the Academy."
"And we don't have enough decent teachers that I'm in any hurry to remove you from it," she answered smoothly. "But you didn't think you could draw attention to a problem like this and just walk away, did you?"
Oh boy I hoped that was possible, because it sure was what I intended to do.
"I grant you the title of Special Jounin, in teaching, and expect your continuing input," she finished smoothly.
"Yes, Tsunade-sama," he said weakly. "Of course."
So all in all, I figured that was pretty successful.
It wasn't until later that I found out from Ebisu what the Education Reform Committee was up to.
"It's cross departmental," he told me. "We have people from the hospital, the Genin Corps… it's very promising."
"Oh yeah?" I asked. "The Genin Corps are listening now?"
His smile was definitely smug. "Yuuhi-sensei did, of course, raise some concerns in the initial meeting," he said. "But Tsunade-sama was most clear. I believe her exact words were 'you misunderstand, Yuuhi. You aren't 'taking suggestions into advisement'. He outranks you – you'll do as you're told or I'll replace you with someone who will'."
I may or may not have cackled. No one would ever know.
Having been promoted, Tsunade no longer had real excuse to keep Sasuke and I both close to her chest. But she did low ball us some easy missions to start with.
"A courier mission to the west outposts?" Sasuke repeated.
"Correct," Tsunade said, unimpressed with his unimpressed-ness. "Thanks to our new storage scrolls, you'll be transporting a large amount of supplies, and therefore will be a tempting target. But, theoretically, it should be a reasonably safe outing."
I nodded. "Of course, Tsunade-sama," I said because it didn't really matter how boring the mission was.
And it did end up being pretty boring. We got the lists, sourced the materials from the supply depts, packed the scrolls and headed out. It was an easy run to the River border and we didn't encounter any enemy ninja and/or invasions from other continents. Easy peasy.
The outpost commander took their portion of the supplies and then sent us onwards to the smaller way stations on our route. Which was where we encountered our first surprise.
Team Gai was stationed there. Minus Gai-sensei who was probably somewhere a little more visible and important, but it was nice to see them. They'd been in and out of Konoha a few times that I was aware of, but I hadn't had much time to catch up with them.
"Neji is in charge," Tenten confided. "I mean, it's only a tiny way station, but that's something, right?"
"Absolutely," I agreed. "Congratulations." I was pretty sure Neji wasn't far off a promotion of his own, and being in charge here made it seem like an even safer bet.
Neji nodded back, almost gravely. "Congratulations yourselves."
"Yeah, they finally let us out of paperwork hell," Sasuke said. "Got anything interesting happening around here?"
"It's been quiet," Neji said, shaking his head. "Thankfully so." His foreboding look said he would prefer it if it remained that way.
Well, not every mission could be interesting. And it wasn't like we didn't have ANBU to keep us on our toes. I'd thought that, maybe, once we were promoted our ANBU missions would dry up, but
Red team had been busy – at first Tsunade had seemed to think that our only skill was Big Natural Disasters, but there's only so much map changing that can happen and country rearrangement was kind of a touchy subject.
Anyway, we turned out to be pretty good at subtle too, if by subtle you meant 'no one would have ever guessed'. We faked assassinations, pretended to be ghosts -
("That's not going to work," Towa had said, crossing his arms when I'd suggested it. "No one believes in ghosts."
Hawk-taicho had remained silent.
"Taicho," Komachi had asked cautiously. "Do you believe in ghosts?"
"I've seen ghosts," Hawk-taicho said, sounding betrayed that he'd had to make those words in that order with his real actual mouth and sound crazy, when both he and I knew it was true.)
- caused inconvenient mission collisions for other nations until they all gave up and went home in disgust, occasionally stole or altered some evidence and, to counterbalance, occasionally broke into places to leave other new evidence behind.
You know, normal fun things.
So I was a little surprised when Cat-taicho requested me for a mission with his team. Well – he'd requested and Tsunade had assigned me, so it wasn't like I had a choice or anything, but Hawk-taicho didn't seem impressed when he was presented with those orders.
"We need a specialist," Cat-taicho said, patiently. "I will bring her back in one piece."
"You better," Hawk-taicho grumbled.
"I am perfectly capable of bringing myself back in one piece," I said primly, and followed Cat-taicho to the briefing room.
There was another ninja there, one with an old Crow mask who definitely had enough seniority to be a captain himself. And Kisuke. Who was a ghost.
That was an intimidating team up.
Well, don't I feel out classed.
But the joke never made it to my mouth because on the wall was a map of the Land of Rice Fields with four marked pins.
Hidden Sound bases.
Yes. I know it's short. Yes, it's this or nothing. Thanks.