Joy Ride

By: firefly

Note: Another product of my over-active imagination, written spontaneously at 9:33 PM on a Monday night.

Joy Ride

"He's two hours late!" Sakura ranted, pacing furiously between Sasuke and Naruto. "Why would he tell us to meet him at seven if he was planning to show up at nine?

"You know Kakashi-sensei," Naruto mumbled, nursing a bump on his head bestowed by none other than Sakura. "He's always late."

"You know what?" Sakura said, ignoring Naruto and turning towards Sasuke. "I'm starting to think that he hears nothing we say. How many times do we have to tell him that his excuses make no sense? Like 'I got lost on the road of life'…"

"Or 'I saw a cute girl and danced for her!'" Naruto added.

Sakura's scowl deepened. "Or 'I had to help an old lady cross the street'."

"And 'I had to run into a burning building to save Iruka-sensei's new-born triplets'," Naruto offered with a wry grin. "Iruka-sensei isn't even married!"

Sakura gave Naruto a peculiar look, deciding that he would be better off not knowing that one could have kids without getting married.

"What about 'I was in line for the new volume of Come Come Paradise?'" Sasuke muttered under his breath, remembering how they had spent three hours waiting for their sensei in the rain.

"Tsk. Kakashi-sensei has to learn that his crackpot excuses won't work," Sakura said with a huff, crossing her arms. "Is that something to tell three Genins anyway? That you were late because you were buying porn?"

"I prefer adult material, Sakura," said someone cheerfully.

Spontaneously, Naruto and Sakura both whipped around with their arms outstretched, forehead veins bulging and eyes flaming.

"YOU'RE LATE!"

"Ah," Kakashi said with a sheepish smile, his visible eye arching into a happy curve. "Sorry, I was"—

"—chasing after stray dogs?" Naruto interrupted with sarcasm.

"—sleeping in?" Sasuke mumbled to himself.

"—saving Gai-sensei's wife from man-eating crocodiles?" Sakura said between gritted teeth.

Kakashi looked slightly surprised.

"Gai's married?"

"NO!" Naruto and Sakura yelled simultaneously, nearly blowing the copy-nin's hitai-ate off. "It's just something we thought you'd say!"

"Why would I make up something silly like that?" he asked in a bemused way, completely oblivious to the vibes of death his students were radiating. "Well, actually, I was picking up some last minute details for our mission."

"Oh!" Naruto forgot his rage in an instant. "What are we doing? Taking out some evil warlord?"

"Not quite," Kakashi answered, reaching into his pouch. "But it's equally dangerous…an A-class mission."

Sakura looked dumbfounded, Sasuke interested, and Naruto ecstatic.

Something jangled noisily as Kakashi found what he was looking for, raising a ring of keys before their faces. "We're going to pick up and deliver a new piece of technology imported from the west."

"What kind of technology?" Sakura asked curiously, as Naruto swiped haplessly at Kakashi's outstretched hand.

"A new method of transportation," he said, putting the keys back in the pouch. "Supposedly it's going to be revolutionary, from what I've heard. I think they call it an automobile."

"But how is this going to be dangerous?" Sakura asked, looking skeptical. "We're just delivering it, right?"

Kakashi just chuckled in a "you are such an inquisitive little brat" and affectionate sort of way, choosing not to answer and instead motioning for them to follow him. They trudged after him and into the forest, stumbling over rocks and branches on a path that was yet to be made.

"Why…" Naruto panted, stumbling over a rock. "Why the hell are we going this way?"

"They chose to hide it in a top-secret location," Kakashi's voice drifted back through the thicket. "They don't want snoopers to find it."

Sakura let out a sharp cry of disgust when she accidentally stepped in something a deer had left behind.

"Ahahaha! Sakura stepped in—GACK!" Naruto yelped in pain when a branch snapped back and smacked him in the face.

"Naruto, dobe, that's my collar!"

"Eh?"

"You're dropping all the pine cones down my shirt, you idiot."

"Who the hell designed that stupid huge collar?" Naruto retorted, earning a kick in the shin from Sakura's soiled sandal.

Sasuke looked extremely offended for some reason, as if he had been the one responsible for the signature Uchiha collars. Stupid Naruto, he thought inwardly. Every clan has some kind of distinct design on their clothing.

Hyuugas had a tendency to wear soft beige vests.

Inuzukas always wore some kind of stinking fur from some dead dog of theirs.

Akimichis had an affinity for poncho-style shirts.

And Uchihas had abnormally large collars on their shirts, for reasons beyond anyone's understanding.

"Eww, Naruto," Sakura's voice suddenly sounded high-pitched and nasal. "Don't you wash your clothes?"

"It's not my fault," Naruto said defensively. "You got deer crap on my pants."

"Okay guys, we're here," Kakashi said finally.

They stumbled out of the thicket, emerging into a clearing enclosed by high, barb-wired fences. The eerie silence was broken by the insane barking of a dog that resembled a small grizzly bear, and there was a startled yell when it leapt from nowhere and knocked Sasuke to the ground.

"OHMYGOD! Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura screeched, lunging away from the giant dog.

"Ow!" Naruto let out a yelp when the dog's tail thwacked him in the face.

"Relax," Kakashi said calmly, smiling in amusement as the dog licked furiously at Sasuke's horrified face.

"Get it off me!" he yelled, his voice muffled by 130 pounds of dog. "It's crushing my lungs!"

"Come, Mojo," Kakashi said, whistling to the dog. Mojo's ears perked up, and he climbed off of Sasuke, bounding over to Kakashi.

"He's pretty useless as a guard dog," Kakashi said with a sheepish smile, as Sasuke got to his feet, wiping the drool off his face in disgust. "But he's too cute to get rid of."

"Cute?" Naruto echoed incredulously. "It's like a fricken hairy Godzilla!"

"You watch too many movies," Kakashi said good-naturedly, shooing the dog away. "Let's get to it."

The three followed Kakashi warily, standing a fair distance away from a bunker type doorway Kakashi stopped in front of. Pulling a small remote from his back pocket, Kakashi pointed it at the door and pushed the button.

The door rose with a groan, and they squinted into the dusty darkness to see a large, covered object in the back.

Ducking his head, Kakashi went in and grabbed a hold of the black covering, pulling it off in a flourish.

"Wow!" Naruto gasped, when the gleaming, green exterior of the car was exposed. Sakura and Sasuke stepped a little closer, looking intrigued by the headlights and windshield of the car.

"Well, mission commenced. Everyone get in," Kakashi interrupted their ogling, opening the door to the driver's side and getting in.

"Wait, this thing is going to move us around?" Naruto asked ecstatically, running into the garage and running a hand over the shiny metal exterior. "That's awesome!"

Kakashi grinned from under his mask, opening the passenger side door and patting the seat invitingly. "Come on, Sasuke, I don't bite."

Sasuke shot him a dirty look and grudgingly slid into the passenger side, unable to stop himself from examining every aspect of the interior. Disappointed at being separated from Sasuke, Sakura took a seat next to Naruto in the back, craning her neck to examine all the little buttons at the front.

The car itself was a lime-green Volkswagen, as known to us, and smelled of that wonderful new-car smell they experienced for the first time.

Naruto bounced excitedly in the back seat, making "oohs" and "aahs" as he fiddled with the seatbelts and ashtrays.

"Let's see," Kakashi said to himself, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. Upon unfolding the paper, Sasuke's face twitched when he saw that the instructions were in English.

"Oh, oops," he heard the Jounin laugh, a sense of dread filling him. "I guess they made a mistake. Oh well, let's go with the flow and see what happens."

He pulled out the keys, choosing a distinct, black handled one that he stuck in the ignition. Glancing at the instructions, he followed the diagram and turned the key.

Sasuke grabbed onto the dashboard for dear life when the engine started up with a roar, as Kakashi accidentally kept pressure on the key. Sakura let out a short shriek and Naruto a disgruntled "ouch" as she yelled in his ear.

"What was that?" Sasuke demanded, still holding onto the dashboard as the car vibrated.

"Hmm? Oh, I just turned it on," Kakashi answered absently, glancing at the instructions. "Okay, looks like we have to strap ourselves down."

Sasuke nervously reached for the seatbelt, putting it on as Kakashi looked at the instructions upside-down. Sakura glanced at the paper and put hers on as well, sighing in dismay when Naruto accidentally got his wrapped around his throat.

Once they were all secured to their seats, Kakashi reached for the rearview mirror, adjusting it until he felt satisfied that he had moved it enough. He had no idea what it was for.

"What does that button do?" Naruto suddenly questioned, straining against his seatbelt to push a button.

All seven eyes widened simultaneously when two streams of liquid shot onto the windshield, and a pair of black stick-things wiped it away.

"Cool! Wait, lemme try it again…"

"Leave it, Naruto!"

"I guess that's for when it rains," Kakashi said, sounding impressed. Sasuke stared at the various buttons, and felt his fingers twitch. He couldn't help but push the red one near the slotted surface of the heater/AC.

"Ooohh…" Sakura gasped when the headlights began flashing in red colours.

Sasuke brought his face close to the air slots, just as Kakashi turned a dial. A gust of air blew into his face, and he moved back again, shooting an annoyed look at the grinning Jounin.

"How about that one?" Sakura asked timidly, pointing to another switch.

Kakashi flicked it on, and they all exchanged glances of awe as jazz music blared out from the radio.

"This is the coolest thing I've ever seen," Naruto said exuberantly, and for once Sasuke and Sakura had to agree.

"Okay now, let's get this baby out of here," Kakashi said to himself, setting the instructions on the dashboard. Sasuke watched uneasily as he fumbled with some sort of stick thing, jerking it down until it pointed to R on a display.

Kakashi shifted, brought his foot to the gas pedal, and pushed down.

"Holy shit!" Sakura cursed uncharacteristically when the car jolted backwards into the garage, impacting soundly against the concrete wall.

"Oops," Kakashi said, sounding completely unaffected as Sasuke stared at him in horror.

"Do it again!" Naruto cheered, only to get smacked upside the head.

Kakashi shifted the gear until it moved to D, and for some reason twisted in the seat, putting an arm around the headrest and staring out the rearview window.

"Whoa!" Naruto and Sakura were glued to their seats when the car suddenly shot forward, with Kakashi still looking out the back window.

"TURN AROUND!" Sakura screamed, and Kakashi turned to see that the car was heading straight for a tree. Sasuke swore and grabbed onto his seatbelt when Kakashi turned the wheel suddenly, and the car changed directions violently, the tires screeching.

"Slow down!" Sakura cried from the back, amidst Naruto's hysterical laughter.

"I'm afraid I don't know how," the copy-nin answered happily from the front, plunging the car into a winding path leading downhill and out of the forest.

"Check the instructions!"

Sasuke reached for the paper, only to have it violently sucked outside when Naruto rolled down his window.

"You idiot!"

"What?"

"GACK!" Sasuke was thrown against the door when the car swerved violently to the left, with Kakashi steering the wheel as if he were conducting an orchestra.

"This is awesome!" Naruto said in awe, sticking his head out the window and watching the scenery fly past. They had emerged onto a clear, dirt road, leading along the outskirts of Konoha's forest, and Kakashi drove in a relatively straight path, letting them relax.

"I think I take a right here," Kakashi said out loud, and then swerved violently to the left until the car had done a 180 and went right. Sasuke's face had turned slightly green, and Sakura clutched at the seats, afraid she'd fly out the window along with the instructions.

"Where are we taking this baby anyway?" Naruto shouted from outside, squinting happily into the rushing wind.

"To a bunker a few miles from here," Kakashi answered, experimentally swerving the car right and left on the path. "Maybe fifteen minutes away."

"Think of all that can happen because of this one invention," Sakura commented in awe, watching the scenery flash by in an instant. "This will change everything."

There was a moment of silence, and they each contemplated what Sakura had said.

Naruto squinted happily into the wind, thinking that if he had his own car, he could complete even more missions and get closer to becoming Hokage.

Kakashi tapped his fingers idly against the steering wheel, wondering how much easier it'd be to drive to the bookstore when the next volume of Come Come Paradise was released.

Sakura wore a dazed smile as she contemplated impressing Sasuke with a car of her own.

And Sasuke stared hopefully out the window, knowing that if he had a car, the first thing he'd do was run Itachi over with it.

"Can we listen to the radio, Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura asked after a while, and Sasuke turned it on, not trusting his sensei to take his hands off the wheel.

Loud, bellowing vocals of an opera singer filled the car as Kakashi turned the wheel sharply, bouncing the car onto a dirt road. Sasuke banged his head against the window, swearing loudly and earning a reproving look from Kakashi.

"Nobody likes a potty-mouth, Sasuke."

Sasuke opened his mouth to retort, but Sakura's irritated voice interrupted him.

"Sensei, can you please warn us before you do that again?"

"Sure, Sakura," he answered distractedly, nearing a crossroads. "I think we take a right here…"

"Naruto, can you keep your foot on your side?" Sakura complained. "It's touching me!"

"I can't, Sakura! My seatbelt is too tight," he whined, and she leaned forward, undoing her seatbelt and rolling her eyes.

"Naruto, you are so—"

"Warning," Kakashi said nonchalantly, then violently jerked the wheel to the right. Sakura flew forward, falling into Naruto's lap, her elbow hitting him solidly between the legs.

"S-Sorry," Sakura said weakly, noticing his face purpling horrendously, cheeks bulging to contain his wail of agony. She blushed slightly when she glanced into the rearview mirror, seeing Kakashi's eye winking at her.

"How cute is that, Sasuke?" he commented airily, earning a horrified look from Sakura. "Naruto and Sakura are getting along like a married couple."

Sasuke turned his head to see Naruto's knuckles turning white on his knees, his grip painfully tight as his face acquired a deeper hue of purple.

"What happened to you, dobe?" Sasuke asked, somewhat concerned by Naruto's choked-bloated-fish appearance.

"Nothing," Sakura insisted, laughing cheerily and waving her hand dismissively. "He's just—just happy to be here, that's all!"

"And I'm the scarecrow without a brain," Kakashi said playfully from his seat. "Naruto might have to adopt in the future."

He turned around in his seat, patting his demon-possessed student on the head. "Try to tough it out, Naruto."

"Keep your eye on the road!" Sasuke yelled, both in annoyance and fear for his life, jerking Kakashi back into his seat. "I can't die in a car accident."

"Don't worry, Sasuke," Kakashi said, acquiring a serious tone. "Once you master the Sharingan, you'll be able to see through the back of your head."

The Uchiha's eyes widened. "What? Really?"

"Nah," Kakashi said, his eye arching into a happy curve. "I'm just playing with you."

Sasuke paled slightly, wondering what could have happened if they had driven off a cliff. Then he scowled, shooting a peculiar look at the carefree Jounin, and was somewhat glad that Sakura voiced his question.

"Kakashi-sensei?" she said cautiously, looking concerned. "Are you…feeling all right?"

"Hmm? Why?"

"You've been awfully cheerful, and weird," she added in an undertone, "so far on this mission. Did something good happen?"

"Are you on drugs?" Sasuke muttered under his breath, not caring whether Kakashi heard.

"Sakura's right," a high-pitched voice said from the backseat. "And really, are you like, on crack or something?"

"Drugs are bad for you, Naruto," he said admonishingly. "Crack especially. It makes you loopy."

"That's why I'm wondering if you're on it," Naruto said in an obvious tone of voice. "Did one of the missions leave you touched in the head?"

"Naruto!" Sakura scolded, jerking him back into his seat. "That's very disrespectful to say to a Jounin, and our sensei, no less!"

It's probably true! Inner Sakura ranted, laughing hysterically. Kakashi-sensei does look high most of the time! It won't be surprising if he turns out to be a crackhead!

"I'm just feeling happy to be with you three," he responded, sounding remarkably calm all of a sudden. "Is that wrong?"

Naruto fell silent, Sakura looked away, feeling somewhat ashamed, and even Sasuke's scowl softened slightly.

"No, of course not," Sakura answered, sounding timid. "But why all of the sudden?"

Kakashi said nothing for a few seconds, and calmly silenced the bellowing opera singer. Naruto and Sakura watched their sensei in apprehension and concern, wondering what had gotten him so quiet all of the sudden.

Even Sasuke looked up when he finally spoke.

"I don't know," he finally answered, sounding contemplative. "I just woke up feeling like you three were growing up too fast. We won't have opportunities to spend time together like this in a couple of months."

They listened attentively, surprised at his sudden revelation, wondering how he had noticed changes they themselves weren't even aware of.

"Besides," he added, more light-heartedly. "You're making me feel old, and the three of you won't stay this cute forever. Aging does that to people."

Naruto grinned, genially kicking the back of the copy-nin's seat, and Sakura smiled somewhat modestly, lowering her eyes to her feet. Sasuke brought his hand against his mouth in what he hoped was a brooding look, in order to hide his small smile, his gaze on the passing trees.

"Ah, I hope I didn't make the mission awkward." Kakashi said cheerfully, breaking the silence. "It scares me when Naruto isn't fighting with Sasuke."

"But you got so sappy on us!" Naruto retorted, his grin widening. "And Sasuke's too scared to fight me!"

"I'd wipe the floor with you, dobe," Sasuke said coolly, ignoring it when Naruto kicked the back of his seat.

"Hey, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto leaned forward, his eyes shining with excitement. "Can I drive the car for a few minutes?"

"Are you crazy, Naruto?" Sakura demanded, yanking him back down. "You'll total it."

Naruto looked hurt. "You wouldn't say that if Sasuke wanted to drive."

Sakura was left speechless for a second, and Sasuke spoke up from the front, sounding haughty.

"That's probably because I could handle it without crashing it into a tree, dobe."

"Shut the hell up."

"What? Are you going to prove me wrong?" he said challengingly. "Dead-last?"

"That's it!" Naruto undid his seatbelt, leaning forward and hovering furiously near Kakashi's side. "Let me drive the car!"

"Naruto, I can't do that for you or Sasuke," Kakashi said reasonably, nudging Naruto back into his seat. "How would it make me look if people found out?"

"But who do you think could drive better?" Naruto demanded heatedly, glaring at the back of Sasuke's head.

"Obviously me," Sasuke said lowly.

"Whadja say?"

"You heard me, you ignoramus."

"IgnorWHAT?"

"Make them stop, Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura cried.

"Don't make me pull over," Kakashi said threateningly, nudging the break pedal and making the car jerk and swerve on the road. "Because I don't know how."

They finally fell silent, falling back into their respective seats and crossing their arms in a huff. Sakura let out a sigh of relief, blowing some pink strands out of her face and slumping back into her seat.

"I think we're almost there," Kakashi answered absently, and lowered his eyes to the smudged directions on his palm. "Go north…take a left…"

"Deer," Sasuke said suddenly.

"Now Sasuke, don't try to sweet talk me. I'm your sensei."

"No! Deer!" came the Uchiha's panicked yell.

Kakashi glanced up as Sasuke took hold of the wheel, jerking it to the left and barely avoiding the petrified deer on the path. Sasuke swore loudly, releasing the wheel and throwing his arms over his face when the car drove off the road.

"Shit!" Naruto cursed, eyes widening with horror as the car launched down a steep hill, sending up plumes of dust that coated the windshield.

"Uh-oh," Kakashi said blankly, watching branches and rocks bounce off the windshield, leaving long cracks in the glass. He tightened his grip on the wheel, trying to keep it steady so the car wouldn't roll over.

"I hate you!" Sasuke was heard shouting at their impassive sensei. "I wasn't supposed to die like this!"

"Sorry, Sasuke."

"AAAIIIIEEEEE!" Sakura shrieked when the bumpy ride ended, and suddenly they got the horrible feeling that they were airborne.

"D-D-Daaaammnn iiitttt!" Naruto yelled when the car did a nose-dive and finally made contact. There was a huge splash, and Kakashi carefully put the gear back in park, blinking at the sight of water leaking through the cracks in the windshield.

"That's interesting…"

"Oh my God, we're in the lake!" Sakura wailed, as a fish swam by her window.

The car was completely submerged from the back, and water quickly began pooling around Sakura and Naruto's ankles. Kakashi and Sasuke, meanwhile, felt themselves leaning back into their seats as the car tipped backwards into the water.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Sasuke bit out through gritted teeth, trying not to panic. "Any ideas?"

"No, not really…"

"WHAT?"

"Just joking, Sasuke. They didn't make me a Jounin for nothing you know…"

"Then what are you waiting for?"

"Okay, okay, heads up."

Sasuke's eyes widened, and he threw his head back against the headrest when Kakashi leaned against his own door, and then delivered a solid kick at Sasuke's window. The car had tipped completely onto its end, and Sasuke wasted no time in jumping out the broken window and into the water.

Sakura and Naruto were submerged up to their armpits, and Kakashi calmly grabbed Naruto by the scruff of his jacket, tossing him out the window and into the lake.

"Give me your hand, Sakura," he said, smiling reassuringly as she stared at him in terror, looking like a drowned rabbit.

"K-Kakashi-sensei!" she stammered. "I…I can't swim!"

"And they let you become a Genin? I have to talk to Iruka…"

"Kakashi-sensei!" she screeched, the water reaching her chin. "It's great that you're in a good mood, but it's not helping right now!"

"Hmm, I suppose not," he commented thoughtfully, then offered his hand again.

"Grab hold. And don't worry," he said, winking reassuringly. "I won't let you drown. How does Naruto say it…? Ah, that's my ninja way."

Sakura maintained her calmness long enough to shoot her teacher an admiring and incredulous look as she grabbed his hand.

"You're so weird, Kakashi-sensei."

"So I've heard," he said with a smile, and effortlessly pulled her into Sasuke's seat. "Now I'm sorry for doing this, but I don't have a choice."

"What?" she asked shrilly. "What are you—AAAIIIEE!"

She screamed at the top of her lungs when he flung her out the window and into the water, hopping out soon after. He resurfaced a few seconds later, calmly swimming over to where Sakura was thrashing about in the water.

"I-I c-cant believe you"—she went under for a second, coughing and spluttering furiously when she resurfaced. "How could you?"

"Just kick your feet and lean forward," he advised lazily. "We're in the water, so I might as well give you a swimming lesson."

"Sensei, you're crazy!"

"Don't be like that, Sakura. It's easy, go on and try it."

She hesitantly did as he instructed, leaning forward slightly and kicking her feet. To her amazement, she found herself staying afloat, and she increased the momentum of her kicks, looking triumphant when she moved forward.

"H-Hey, I'm not drowning!"

"Congrats. You just achieved the doggy paddle. You were always the quick learner, Sakura."

She beamed. "Thanks, Kakashi-sensei!"

"Oi! Do you need saving, Sakura!" Naruto yelled from the shore, waving frantically. "Did Kakashi-sensei make it out alive?"

"They're fine, dobe," came a sullen murmur, followed by a generous punch to Naruto's shoulder.

"Ow! You bast-!"

Kakashi leisurely swam to shore, shaking the water out of his silver hair and pulling at the fabric of his mask to let the water seep through. Sakura came out a little after, literally looking like a drowned rabbit but beaming all the same.

"I learned the doggy paddle!"

"Oh, Sakura," Naruto said in concern, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Do you need CPR? Because I"—

Sakura smacked him upside the head, and then turned to look at where their sensei was staring.

Team 7 silently watched the first and last car of Konoha sink majestically into the lake, looking like a shiny, lime-green version of the tragic Titanic. The backlights were still flashing when it became fully submerged, telltale bubbles rising to the surface.

They stood there for a moment, drenched and bedraggled, quietly putting this incident to a far corner of their minds.

"Well," Kakashi said after a while, sounding complacent. "That's the first time I failed a C-rank mission."

"You said it was an A-rank mission!" Naruto protested, as they trudged back up the steep hill.

"Only because I didn't know what I was doing. At least that way you were prepared to die."

"You have a warped sense of humour, Kakashi-sensei…" Naruto mumbled.

They reached the top of the hill, gasping for breath and miserably looking down the trodden path back to the village. Sasuke scowled through his wet bangs, flinging them back from his face and pulling a handful of seaweed out of his collar.

"How do we get back?" Sakura asked tiredly.

Kakashi wrung his shirt, patting down the wrinkled material. "The old-fashioned way; walk."

Sakura groaned, and wished for some miracle to come whisk her back to her house. A faint clopping of hooves broke the silence, and they turned around to see a large cart coming down the road.

The herder owning the cart generously picked up the pathetic little group, consisting of one miserable looking girl, two bickering boys, and some masked man who cheerfully tipped his hitai-ate to him.

"Going south?"

The herder nodded, beckoning for them to take a seat in the hay next to a bunch of goats. "Yep. I'll drop you off."

"Thanks."

Kakashi took a seat near his students, leaning back against a haystack and crossing his arms behind his head in contentment. His vision of the clear blue sky was obscured by Sakura's face leaning over him.

"Hey, Kakashi-sensei?"

"Hmm?"

"Thanks for saving me," she said with a sheepish grin, letting her façade slip in front of Sasuke. "And teaching me the doggy paddle."

Kakashi stared at her for a moment, then glanced over at where Naruto was trying to sneak a handful of hay down Sasuke's shirt, only to be kicked back into a grumpy goat, who head-butted him.

"Owww! Sasuke you asshole!"

Kakashi smiled. "You're welcome, Sakura."

She smiled back, then went over to break up Naruto and Sasuke's fight.

"Aww, man!" Naruto's wail could be heard a mile away. "I got GOAT crap on my pants now!"

Kakashi's visible eye slid closed, a whimsical smile over-taking his features as he listened to his students argue in the background.

He was going to miss the good old days…


Note: (equally whimsical) So will I.