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Chapter Thirteen : Not Lost, Just Completely Forgotten
Good ninja didn't shake or tremble. They were trained out of it, because ninja didn't show emotion.
But if Kakashi's hands could still remember how to shake, they probably would be, so he forced himself to walk slowly as he left the Torture and Interrogation Division's building, slouching and no more hurried than his usual pace.
If the jarring effect of fighting members of his very dead team didn't put him on edge, the findings after the prisoners had escaped most certainly did.
"Tomato"'s interrogation transcript had been insane rantings after the name "Tomato Habanero" had been mentioned, so likely, that had been some kind of code between her and "Ayudai".
Still the worst pun I've ever heard. The joke hadn't been funny the first time Kakashi had heard it, and it was even less funny now, Where did that man learn that Minato-sensei had ever mentioned that story?
It was details like that that had made Kakashi's day progressively more unnerving, because aside from a few discrepancies, these people were identical to the ones they were impersonating.
Sure, Rin had never had that much knowledge in sealing, and Kushina and Minato were a few years younger then they would have been if they'd never died, but aside from that, they matched right down to the DNA.
And even more disturbing was "Ayudai"'s vague allusion to Orochimaru. Kakashi narrowed his eye a fraction, Could Orochimaru...have cloned them? Sent their clones to destroy Konoha?
Kakashi shook the troubling thought from his head and took stock of his location.
Why did I walk to the Academy? It seemed rather strange, since Kakashi couldn't think of a reason why he'd absentmindedly wander to there of all places.
As he turned to walk away, Kakashi had the looming sense that he forgetting something important. I wonder what it was?
Sakura watched as Naruto wedged an eraser above the doorframe. I can't decide if this is a stroke of brilliance, or if the Naruto of this world is an idiot.
With a shrug, she returned to picking the lock on Iruka-sensei's desk drawer. Clearly, if he'd left them alone in the room, they were meant to make use of their surroundings. Information was a powerful tool, and Sakura still wasn't entirely convinced that there wasn't a test. Plus, it doesn't even look like he's trapped the drawer. Essentially, it was begging them to take a look.
With a satisfying click, the file drawer popped open. After ruffling through the folders, Sakura spotted one on team assignments.
Taking careful note of where the papers had been Sakura pulled out the sheet on Team Seven.
"Naruto, Sasuke." She called absently, "You should come take a look at this too."
The information was sparse, but at the very least it gave a rough layout of why their team had been assigned together, and who their sensei would be.
"Huh, Sakura, what are you doing? Where did all those papers come from?" Naruto asked as walked over.
I should remember that this world's Naruto lacks situational awareness.
"She's been picking the lock on the drawer for the past five minutes Naruto, how could you not have noticed?" Sasuke made his approach with narrowed eyes, "Anyway, what did you find?"
Sakura turned the paper towards Sasuke, "We were placed together as a team based on balance. To a large degree, Sasuke, you're essentially meant to compensate for my physical weakness and Naruto's..." Sakura trailed off for a moment, "looser educational foundation," she flicked her eyes over to Naruto, "Naruto is meant to even out my smaller chakra reserves, while I make up the team's diplomatic resource."
Naruto looked like she'd lost him somewhere. That's basic mission report format. Her teammates lack of standard knowledge was going from concerning to downright scary. Sasuke didn't seem to be having any trouble following however, which was reassuring. Must just be Naruto.
"What does it say about our sensei?" Sasuke asked in a casual tone, though his expression belied his interest.
"His name is Kakashi Hatake." Sakura paused. The name sounded familiar from somewhere. "Naruto, grab me a history textbook, please." Sakura pointed towards the shelf, "The one that covers recent history is the one we need." Sasuke shot her a skeptical look as she continued. "Obviously he's a jonin, but aside from his name, his rank and a photograph it doesn't have any other information on him."
"This one?" Naruto asked as he handed it to her.
Sakura nodded and flipped through the book. The seal she'd used to scan the textbook had long since faded, but she remembered seeing...
"Ah, here it is." Sakura turned the textbook to face her teammates, "Sakumo Hatake. Hatake is an uncommon family name in Konoha, and since their appearances are so similar, I'm assuming they're related."
Sasuke gave her an unimpressed look, "So what does that tell us?"
"The Hatake family has a history of contracting with nin-dogs." Sakura made a waving motion with her hand in annoyance, "So if he was required unexpectedly for a mission, he could have easily informed us he wouldn't arrive with a summoning animal."
"So...you mean he's not even in Konoha?" Naruto squinted his eyes and scratched his head.
"It's possible." Sakura murmured. This is usually where Ami and Isuru step in with an answer.
"But why would they have us wait here?" Sasuke's face took on a frustrated glower.
"Hey!" Naruto shouted, "Maybe it's that test you were talking about Sakura!"
Sakura cringed, I hope that's not the world difference that gives me away, of all things. "Some older student told me about it, but you told me yourself Naruto," Sakura held her hands up defensively and plastered on a smile, "there's no such thing! They must have just been teasing me!"
Sasuke gave her a disapproving glance, "You trusted Naruto of all people?"
Sakura lowered her hands, and let her voice take on a frustrated edge, "Well you clearly weren't concerned about any test. You just walked away! What else was I supposed to think?"
Sasuke looked surprised, though Sakura didn't know why, "I-I...You never told me anything about it." Judging from Sasuke's defensive posture, she'd irritated him.
I'm causing dysfunction on the team. Sakura realized she needed to take a step back. Their team was already divided with Sasuke's and Naruto's mutual dislike, and she couldn't afford to add to it.
Sakura took a deep breath, "You're right, Sasuke. I should have told you what I'd heard as well, but you would have heard me, if you hadn't left three seconds after I started talking." Sakura glanced back at the papers, "We're real ninja now, right? So what do real ninja do when they're waiting at the gate, and one of their team members isn't showing up?"
"Ugh..." Naruto squinted in what Sakura was coming to recognize as his face of concentration. "Maybe..."
"Go to the mission report center." Sasuke interjected.
"Yah, but the only problem is that then we run into trouble if our sensei does show up, and not all of us are here." Sakura flicked her gaze up in concentration, "Does anyone have a summoning contract?"
Sasuke and Naruto shot her weird looks, "We're genin, how would we have summoning contracts?" Sasuke sounded irritated again.
How was my question offensive? "Old and powerful ninja families sometimes have children sign summoning contracts at a young age to ensure that the contract stays within the family." Sakura shrugged, "It was just a thought."
"Hmmm," she turned to see Naruto looking surprisingly thoughtful, "Would shadow clones work?"
Sakura took a moment to process the question, "Well, yes. But we don't ha-"
Naruto's face lit up, "Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
Sakura assumed that Naruto had been trying to make one copy, but he ended up five. The way they stomped on the ground gave away just how solid they were.
She blinked in surprise, "Yes, that will do nicely. Better than a summon even." Well...he seems dense, but if the Kushina Uzumaki here had enough faith in him to teach him a jonin level technique, then he must be pretty reliable.
Sasuke looked rather surprised that Naruto could make Shadow Clones, so Sakura figured she wasn't expected to know that he could do that either.
"Just tell the people at the mission assignment desk that we're waiting for Kakashi Hatake, and if we shouldn't expect him today, if they could tell him that we'll be waiting outside the Academy tomorrow."
Five Naruto clones bounded outside shouting that, "We'll do it! Believe it!"
Sakura turned to her teammates, "Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any to bring up that we should probably figure out what everyone can do."
Sasuke looked like he wanted to argue, but then thought better of it. "Fine."
"Sure. I'll start, I can eat ten bowls of ramen in ten minutes!" Naruto more or less jumped in excitement.
Sakura gave him her blankest stare.
"Idiot. She meant our ninja skills." Sasuke looked frustrated.
"Though, that's good to know too I guess." Sakura replaced the file in Iruka's desk and made for the door, "We might as well wait outside, that way we can maybe get in some warm-up sparring or something." Sakura opened the door and felt something thunk on her head, "What?" Oh, the eraser. I fell for that...that's a little embarrasing. She scooted it to the side with her foot and strolled towards the outside.
Rin watched Minato's shadow clone Hiraishin away. "Please, let me know once he's dispelled."
Minato gave her a reassuring smile, "Of course I will. It'll be fine Rin."
"Yah, I mean, they're your students right?" Kushina began as they started walking towards Akashingō, "So they must be pretty good."
"You're right. I should have more faith in them." Rin sighed.
"Just think about what they're good at." Minato pointed out, "That always helped me."
Rin couldn't keep a small smile from creeping onto her face, "Sakura's a natural at chakra control, and she can memorize information fast. Ami's driven and determined. She's lucky her teammates are so easygoing, they let her be as bossy as she wants." Rin gave a little laugh, "Though she's never been able to boss Isuru into concentrating." She paused, "Have I mentioned him?"
Kushina shook her head, "Not that I can remember."
"He's my third student. I think he's still safe back in our world." It gave Rin some comfort to brag about her students, maybe because it reminded her they were good. "Kushina, you said in your world your not the Fifth Hokage, have you taken on any genin?"
The question had seemed innocent enough, so Rin was surprised when Minato and Kushina more or less doubled over in laughter.
"Well, Rin. I've got..." Kushina started ticking away on her fingers, "twenty teams I'm teaching now." Rin felt her jaw drop, "Four of my old teams were completely promoted to chunin, so I'm not teaching them anymore."
"What in the?!" Rin felt her eyes go wide, "Kushina, twenty teams is sixty genin, why...how are you teaching that many?!"
"I'm the only qualified ninja left." Kushina shrugged, "The chunnin help tutor between missions, and disabled ninja cover theory work."
Rin let Kushina's information sink in. "Left from what?" she asked as gently as she could.
"Oh, of course you don't know what I'm talking about." Kushina gave a strained laugh.
Minato gave an uncomfortable smile, "We're so used to everyone having been there when...everything happened." He let his face grow solemn, "I don't want to say too much, but even if you're from another world, you are a ninja of the Hidden Leaf."
"What are you both talking about?" Rin asked.
Minato took a deep breath, "In our world, I'm not technically the Fourth Hokage of Konoha."
Rin blinked in surprise. He's not?
Minato's shrug indicated he was trying very hard to be nonchalant, "Technically, I'm the Fifth."
Rin almost stopped walking, "Then, who was the Fourth?"
"Orochimaru." Kushina growled, "I don't know about your world, but in ours, Orochimaru was made the Fourth Hokage." Kushina glared at her own recollection, "He decimated the village with years of his 'experiments'. We don't consider him to be an actual Hokage."
Rin was never more glad that her Fifth Hokage had added checks on the power of the Hokage's position. "That's...beyond words." She whispered. It did explain to some degree the behavior of this Minato and Kushina, however.
As the implications started to sink in Rin realized that likely, if the situation in their Konoha was bad enough that they only had one jonin capable of teaching, then they had more to fear about than just getting home.
"I'm sorry, I've been taking so much time with my own concerns, when the two of you were afraid for your entire village."
Minato gave her a reassuring smile, "All we can focus on right now is getting back. We can't do anything for our village here."
"You've got to focus on your students safety and getting home. So no need to apologize."
Rin gave a small smile of thanks. The best thing I can do now is focus on the here and now.
The rest of the walk to Akashingō was quiet, but the atmosphere seemed to lighten almost immediately when the bustling town came into view.
"Oh!" Minato stopped walking for a moment, "Clone just dispelled. Sakura's doing fine, but she was worried about you. Your note was not particularly reassuring on that front."
Rin sighed in relief, "What she with Ami? Or was she alone?"
"Alone, so I'm guessing Ami is still more the Ami of this world than the Ami of yours."
Rin nodded, "I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing." She looked off towards Akashingō, "Before we enter the town, we need a plan."
Kushina tilted her head, "I thought the plan was getting money."
"You mean a long term plan?" Minato asked.
Rin nodded, "I mean, what are we doing after this? How much money will we need?"
Kushina glanced up in thought, "Well, I guess I just figured that after this, we could lie low someplace and work on a seal to take us home. At least one of us would have to be familiar with it, and it couldn't have a ninja village. But, it still has to close enough to Konoha that we could help Sakura and Ami."
"Did you have someplace in mind?" Minato asked.
Kushina nodded, "Where Whirlpool used to be. I know the area and the customs of that country, it borders Fire Country, and it's fairly close to here." Kushina shrugged, "Just a thought."
"A good one." Rin murmured, "When you say 'lie low', I assume you mean avoid using chakra for almost anything but the seal?"
Kushina made an affirmative sound, "Using anymore chakra than that would made it easy for the Leaf to find us, assuming they're still looking."
"Sounds like a good long term plan. In the short term however," Minato grimaced, "how are we going to get cash quick?"
Author's Note: Took me longer than expected to update, but here it is! If it hadn't been for your wonderful reviews, I might never have gotten chapter thirteen written, so thank you all so much!
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