"Do you have eyes on the target?"

"Hai, sensei," Sasuke reported, sharingan blazing, "He's on Training Field 8." With a quick glance to make sure no one else was watching, Sasuke did a quick "pull" to bring Tora closer to him.

Sakura arrived on the scene moments later, and her eyes immediately locked onto the cat. Naruto arrived soon after, and when Sasuke looked back after glancing in Naruto's direction for only a moment he found that the cat had somehow gotten himself tangled up in some underbrush that he distinctly didn't recall being there a moment ago—he would know, he'd had his sharingan activated at the time.

Definitely something odd about that...

"Sensei," Sakura started, carefully detangling the cat from the underbrush, "the target is secure."

"Yosh, return to base."


Hmm…

Shouldn't they be getting tired of this by now?

Kakashi swore last time he remembers his genin being particularly intolerant of D-rank missions. And yet he hasn't heard a single word of complaint. Isn't it about time for the C-rank-turned-A-rank-mission in Wave?

What should he do?

If he doesn't say anything his genin will continue happily doing easy (totally safe, newly-minted genin-appropriate) D-rank missions.

But if he does say something then he'll be taking three baby genin on an extremely dangerous mission they aren't guaranteed to survive (they barely managed last time).

But if he doesn't say anything then some other little genin with a much less capable sensei and no forewarning are going to go on that mission and undoubtedly get themselves killed.

But if he does say something then at least they won't be going in totally blind like last time. This time, he'll be prepared.

Sigh. That settles it.

He'll have to ask the Hokage for a C-rank.


Being a genin is great. No difficult life-threatening missions, just mind-numbing chores. Painting fences, weeding gardens, finding lost pets. Naruto doesn't know why he was in such a rush last time, this is great.

He's not gonna say a word of complaint; he's happy to just enjoy this while it lasts. Although

Kakashi-sensei's been giving him weird looks for a while now. He can't fathom why—he's fixed his wardrobe, after all. Maybe it's the tattoos…

But why would sensei find that strange? It's not like he knew him before this.

Maybe sensei doesn't approve of tattoos? Hmm


Wow…it's taking Naruto a long time to break.

Last time she could've sworn he cracked and started asking for C-rank missions way earlier on. These D-ranks are relaxing, but she's getting a little impatient.

The Wave Mission will be a perfect excuse for a sudden change in her behavior—she's getting really tired of the whole "fangirl" schtick and pretending to be inept.

If she has to call him "Sasuke-kun" oNE MORE TIME—


Mission parameters:

One. Don't act suspicious. Blend in. Don't show off any abilities you shouldn't have.

Two. Underperform enough that they underestimate you, but don't over do it to the point that they become suspicious.

Three. Act vulnerable. Lost. Allow Danzō to come to you.

Four. Disembowel Danzō. Make it bloody. Make him suffer.

Five. Drop Danzō's bloody corpse in a highly populated area. Make sure his crimes and theft are visible. Show them all what he's been hiding.

Wait, no—

Amendment: drop body in an area only populated by shinobi. Do not scar any civilians.

Wait, second amendment: drop body in an area only populated by adult shinobi. Do not scar any shinobi children either.

Okay, okay—that seems good. Oh, and—

Six. Don't get caught.

And finally, the most important: Seven. Clear Nii-san's name.

That'll probably be the hardest part. Wiping the floor with Danzō will be a piece of cake at his skill level; the only issue will be getting to him when he's not surrounded by his Root lackeys. The paranoid bastard brings them with him everywhere, even to his house.

Not that Sasuke would know that. It's not like he's been following him around for weeks and staking out his house. Sasuke's not a literal stalker, nope

Plausible deniability, fuckers.

YOU CAN'T PROVE ANYTHING


"Ne, Hokage-sama…don't you think it's time for these brats to get a C-rank mission?"

"What," said Naruto.

"What," said Sasuke.

"What," said the Hokage.

"WHAT," said Iruka.

"Finally," whispered Sakura.

"Maa…it's just, they've been doing D-ranks for a while now and they've been having absolutely no trouble…"

Oops, thought the three technically-genin.

"Hmm…" The Hokage chewed on his pipe thoughtfully whilst dramatically tapping his chin.

"Hokage-sama, you can't seriously be considering this!" Naruto noted Iruka-sensei looked like he was about to pop a blood vessel.

"Kakashi-kun," the Hokage asked, "do you honestly feel your genin team is ready for something like this?" Sarutobi knew Kakashi. After the tragedy of his last genin team there was no way he would risk them like this if he didn't truly feel they were ready.

"Hai, Hokage-sama." Kakashi was unwavering.

Sarutobi sighed. "Alright then. In that case, I believe we have the perfect mission for you and your team—"


And after that, it went much like it did the last time—

Just kidding.


Tazuna the Drunk stumbled into the room, a bottle hanging from his hand and him reeking of cheap liquor.

He immediately insulted all those in the vicinity, calling Sasuke an "angsty punk," Naruto a "tatted hoodlum," Sakura a "silly little girl," and Kakashi a "suspicious, masked stoner."

All four members of Team 7 were about five seconds from saying "fuck it," but they nobly endured.

This bitch better be grateful, how dARE—


Naruto had taken to wearing long sleeves when going out after everyone kept staring at him all the time, and not in the way he was used to. Now he only wears shorter sleeves when training with his team, who have already become used to it. That's probably why Iruka-sensei didn't comment on his…more recent modifications. Improvements, he would say.

However, since they were going to be going on an out-of-village mission where the only people he was going to encounter who knew him were already used to his tattooed seals (and since Tazuna the Rude had already labeled him a "tatted hoodlum") he didn't bother with the long sleeves—they would probably get in the way and hinder him when fighting anyway since he was no longer used to fighting in long sleeves, both in this new timeline and the last.

He did end up tying a jacket around his waist anyway just in case—

Islands are chilly.

Lots of wind.

Brr.

Although, the Kyūbi's chakra usually keeps him pretty warm—


Sasuke and Sakura took to packing extra weapons since they both remembered how this mission went last time, and were determined to never again be a burden to their teammates. (Last time, both of them had had to resort to using their own bodies as a shield—never again.)

Meanwhile Kakashi made sure to pack extra soldier pills. (When you're at war you don't have time to sit out battles because you're in a weeklong coma—Kakashi had learned his lesson; he was never going to burden his allies by recklessly passing out from chakra exhaustion ever again.)


The morning of the mission all of Team 7 met up at the gates; not one of them was late.

Naruto's arms were bare revealing whorling spirals and messy kanji, a warm jacket tied securely around his waist. Over the mesh, he had added a sleeveless navy top to ward off any creepy staring.

Sakura's hair was once again tied back and her hitai-ate was correctly protecting her forehead. She had added bandages to her shins and forearms as a temporary measure of additional protection.

Sasuke's hair was swept to the side to cover one eye, and he had—in a fit of defiance—tied his hitai-ate so that the metal plate was out-of-sight covering the back of his neck.

Kakashi…looked exactly the same.


Tazuna the Annoying was just as annoying as they remembered him to be.


C-rank (turned A-rank) Mission: Protect the Bridge-Builder starts now.