Yamato found it hard to work his way into team seven after they'd been part of such grand adventures. He figured it would have been easier with team ten, or any of the other rookies who hadn't had such identity-building experiences to go through.
Yet, the only free-response team undertaken (and even then to cater to the Uchiha) found itself first without a teammate and then temporarily without a sensei.
Yamato had to worm his way into an authority position without offending either ninja, both apprenticed to Sannin and completely capable of teaming against him to undermine his position. And there was Sai who was suspect and maybe even passing along information. It was precarious.
But it was also made easier by Sai's presence. With the socially awkward and suspicious young boy in place (a ninja who looked so much like Sasuke from the roster fact sheets it was almost like a sickening joke played on the remainder of the team by the council) Yamato wasn't the initial target for their misgivings. This gave him time to get in their good graces without such tension between him and them creating professional problems.
Yamato still hadn't expected to get so attached.
Certainly he'd read their rosters and predicted change, been suspicious over Sai and the council's motivations; but he still hadn't paid attention to those little side notes Kakashi had, he thought jokingly, added (it would have been just like his captain to add things like that).
Naruto was apparently the number one surprising ninja, and Sakura had monster strength and frightening bipolar tendencies.
Seriously, he had thought, they were only genin. They couldn't have such distinct reputations yet.
He had merely predicted change based on the fact that it was unheard of for free-response teams to incur so many changes in such short a time--they were built on an understanding of the teammates, a knowledge and capability to predict your partner. Instead team seven had Sasuke the traitor—Yamato the strange anbu turned sensei—and then Sai the questionable ROOT operative filling in.
Gods what a mess.
It was so strange for Naruto to experience Sai—a boy who claimed not to hate him, but to feel nothing towards him at all. He'd never had that before, had he? His first reaction to Sai's fake smiles and awkward jokes was to assume he was just like every other person who had to be in his presence but was never truly happy being there.
Sai must hate him—why else those fake smiles and those dead eyes?
Yamato had predicted change, but he hadn't predicted a change in himself.
But Naruto was like that. He was so determined and strong that you were drawn into those eyes that saw the best in you.
Tenzou—Yamato had changed because he had looked close enough to see something in the blond and empathize him. While he'd been carefully developing his authority and position in the team he'd had the time to study the boy. And Naruto was frighteningly similar to him--they both carried this strange power that wasn't theirs but seemed to dominate who they were. And as Yamato watched the boy, amused and exhileratingly expectant, he found the boy was not like him as well.
Naruto was demonized. Yamato had been enhanced.
He guessed Naruto was just one extreme on a team of them. But as much as Sasuke was a genius and Sakura was brilliant Naruto was something else entirely.
While the blond genin could understand his enemies and use those eyes of his to reach out—it seemed that he refused to acknowledge his own power and drive beyond his goals, to see exactly what he was.
It didn't help that everything Naruto was became defined by the presence of the Kyuubi.
Iruka knew Naruto repressed the kyuubi's power but their mutual awareness defined the beginning of their relationship. Naruto's teammates were ignorant and therefore safe, but still abrasive to him as they were raised to be or expecting him to fail as his monstrous chakra demanded in delicate work. The civilians were ignorant and unfriendly and the shinobi confused and conflicted. Even Jiraiya had trained him to use the Kyuubi's power instead of his own vast amounts of blue chakra—as if his power was inconsequential compared to the important fox's might.
No matter what Naruto was he was still defined by his burden—a power that was not his own.
Yamato could see this hurt Naruto even when he wasn't using Kyuubi's power. That was why he had talked to him, tried to get him to see himself through eyes cleared of the Kyuubi.
Naruto was powerful, and it wasn't the Kyuubi that made him so. It was his eyes and how completely opposite he was to everything that made the Kyuubi. Naruto turned enemies into allies, made people understand themselves, fought for beliefs and morals rather than greed and lust.
Yamato sighed as he observed Sai try to smile genuinely. Naruto snickered and slapped him on the arm—a strange brotherhood birthed between the two because Naruto was himself and Sai had been changed like the rest of those who had met the blond whirlpool before.
Yes, Kyuubi's power was nothing compared to the force that was Naruto. And the boy would soon discover that he didn't need to be defined by something that really had no significance.
Even with a fractured team he'd made something of the mission. Sai was more of a person now than he'd probably ever been in ROOT, and Yamato found his usual calm affability turned into an affection for the team that hadn't endured ANBU training with him.
Yamato just might have a bit more amusement in the coming years, if Naruto's power was coming to the fore like this.
The man grinned and laughed; laughed harder when the random burst made his young team give him startled looks.
This would be fun.
Yes yes I was gone a long time on this account. Sorry. I work and I go to school—and ninjas tried to kidnap me to join the interrogation squad. XD Also, login just crapped out on me for the past week. So there.
Thank you for reviews…I had a long rant about inspiration and dumb reviews demanding updates but I'll cut it short. I do like reviews but please say something other than "This is good, update!" or "Are you ever going to update?" I'm sorry if I find this abrupt and rude. It makes me not want to update just to spite you—but I'm not that mean.
That said; I have no responsibility to continue this, as it is a series of complete one shots. Please play nice.