A/N: Thanks to all my reviewers. I've had the first part of this chapter written for ages, but it was only today that the inspiration for the second part hit me. Hope you all enjoy.
Kakashi had thought he was safe from having to visit the hot springs with any of the women's train. Rin had discretely told the ladies at the beginning that he had disfiguring scars on his body which he refused to either show or mention. Scars he was prepared to jutsu into existence at a moments notice if he needed to. Sachiko-sama and her sister had looked at him with pity after that but not insisted he ever take off his under garments. Rin guarded the train while in the hot spring and he waited in the outer rooms that were for families to sit in and socialize.
Over a week later, Sachiko-sama paused as he went to take his usual place. "Hatako-chan, I feel bad leaving you out here all the time. Why don't you come in with us? You can wear a light yukata. No one will mind."
Years of ninja training prevented the panic from showing on Kakashi's face. "I'm all right, Sachiko-sama. I'm not really feeling well."
Her face brightened. "Oh, but this spring is famous for healing your ills. There could be nothing healthier. You're coming in." It was a direct order. There was nothing he could do. She told one of the servants to get a yukata for him then headed inside. He stood there, feeling lightheaded as he both blushed and paled at the thought of what he was about to do. He was about to live Jiraiya-sama's… no, every man's wet dream. And he was more terrified then he would ever be facing an S-rank nin. He had the sinking feeling that his mission report was going to be as infamous as Masakatsu's "I accidentally glued myself to a giant squirrel" report.
The servant handed him the yukata and he bravely approached the doorway. It had a colorful cloth hanging in front of it that said "women" in kanji. Slipping inside, he first noted how much warmer it was. He could taste the moisture in the air. Taking a deep breath, he lifted his eyes from where they were fixed on the floor.
Gah. An old lady who didn't look a day over one hundred stood boldly in front of him, drying herself off with a tiny towel. He quickly looked away to a sea of bare flesh and curves. Paradise. Now if only he were a bit older… He shook his head to clear away the uncharacteristic thought. He really spent too much time around Jiraiya and Sensei. So what if he was surrounded by naked women, most of them young and beautiful? He had a mission to complete.
"Stop drooling," said Rin, appearing at his shoulder. She guided him to a corner, ignoring his glare. There were baskets on shelves along the walls where you placed your clothes and belongings while bathing. He noticed her henge, but didn't realize what it was for until she slammed him up against the wall. Her illusion held and no one in the room noticed.
"Rin?" he asked in a low voice.
"You're going to see me naked here too, you know," she said, "Or did you forget that?"
His eyes widened. He had forgotten.
"If you ever…" she threatened, and it was interesting that she could blush and still look menacing.
"I'm not Obito," he said. Or Jiraiya, he added silently. "The mission is what's important."
Was it his imagination, or did she almost roll her eyes there? Either way, she became the collected ninja he respected. "I'm going to cast your henge, scars and all, since I assume you're not as familiar with female anatomy." Her face clearly said that if he was, he better not mention it. He nodded, and waited the minute it took her to visualize and cast the henge. Kakashi was impressed she cast it under his clothes, and relieved she hadn't realized she could have made him strip. He changed into the yukata. A scar was visible on his skin right where the sleeve ended. He admired Rin's attention to detail.
After that, she dropped the other henge, making the changing room seem unnaturally loud. He placed his clothes in a basket, keeping his eyes straight ahead. Sachiko–sama danced over to him, telling him for the third time how excited they were he was joining them. He was beginning to suspect she had a hot spring fetish.
He allowed her to drag him out into the main part. There were even more women out there on the wet rocks. Some were splashing water on themselves from buckets. Others lounged, partially submerged in the water. Thick clouds of steam drifted up and around, but served to hide nothing. Part of him wanted to be polite and not look, but he had to in order to guard these women effectively. He just hoped they bought the idea that his blush was from embarrassment and the heat.
All three of them used the buckets to scoop up some water. There were small stools to the side with soap nearby where you could sit and wash off. Kakashi did so, keeping his head down after the first glance at Sachiko-sama revealed soapy curves, and… and… His toes were very interesting, weren't they? Once they washed off (Rin was the only one to wash her hair), they headed for the main pool.
Misaki-sama was waiting. She and a friend had claimed a sheltered grotto near the hotter part of the pool. Water trickled in a burning white waterfall down one side of the rock. Unused to the heat, both Kakashi and Rin perched on high rocks, sitting in only a few inches of water.
Kakashi could feel his skin itching from the minerals in the water, but what was worse was that the peach-colored yukata he'd been given was entirely see through. His scars were covered but he could see their shadows from up close. With a sigh, he slipped into the water, finding it more bearable now that he was used to it.
"Isn't it relaxing, Ha-chan?" asked Misaki-sama. "I haven't met a woman who doesn't feel better after a visit to a hot spring."
"Or a man," joked Sachiko-sama. "Usually because they've been peeping." She gestured over at the bamboo wall that separated the women's side from the men's. Everyone laughed, though Kakashi's was a bit belated. He really wasn't used to hot springs and the water was making him feel light-headed. It was a sensation he couldn't afford, so with a glance down at his nearly transparent yukata, he pulled himself onto one of the rocks so his feet were still in the water. The other women were discussing childbirth in such frank terms he wished they'd go back to discussing clothing or men.
Several minutes later, his gaze drifted towards the cold pool – an ice cold pool that was often used before or after entering some of the hotter pools and the sweat room. There was a shadow reflected in the pool, as if someone was leaning over the edge of the roof. Kakashi was up and over there in seconds, using chakra to keep his footing on the slippery stones. He pulled out one of the shuriken he had secreted at the small of his back and tossed it up to the roof where their watcher would be.
"Gaaah!" There was a sound of tumbling and a roof tile slipping loose. Kakashi was about to jump up there when Rin's hand closed warningly on his wrist.
"A man! On the roof!" she wailed, then leant in to whisper in his ear, "Sensei is on the other side. He'll take care of it."
Kakashi nodded. He would have been happy to break his cover, but protocol said he shouldn't if there were other options. Sensei would be fine.
"He's probably chasing him naked across the rooftops," Rin said with a grin. Kakashi blanched at the unexpected image, but couldn't help a malicious smirk which he quickly hid. At least someone else was getting their share of embarrassment on this mission.
"Hatako-chan, you moved so fast! How did you see the man from all the way over there?" asked Misaki-sama. She was holding her small, pink hand towel over her hips and breasts, though it didn't hide much.
Sachiko-sama was behind her, frowning up at the rooftop, no towel in sight. "What did you throw at him?" she asked.
Kakashi thought fast. "I just… felt his eyes on me."
"Oh, women's intuition," said Rin knowingly. It took all of Kakashi's willpower not to look at her askance.
"Yes," he said. "So I ran over and threw a rock at her. I didn't know what else to do."
"You should have called for help like Rin-chan," said Misaki-sama, "but that was very brave of you."
Kakashi bowed. "Thank you."
"What did he look like?" asked Sachiko-sama. She was still staring up at the roof as if expecting a glimpse.
"He had red hair," said Kakashi truthfully. He wondered if it was one of the guests, a stranger, or maybe the thief who was following them.
"Long, red hair?" asked Sachiko-sama. Her voice sounded strange, and Misaki-sama was looking at her sister with a frown on her face.
"Yes," said Kakashi.
"Oh well, I'm sure the inn will take care of it," said Sachiko-sama. "Let's get back to the pool." They were herded back to their alcove where everyone discussed their worst experience with peeping toms. Kakashi's eyes widened as he listened to what women had to put up with.
Ten minutes later, he was still on alert, but it took him by surprise when Misaki-sama came to float in front of him, her long hair spreading out in a wave behind her. She peered up at him, and he blushed and panicked, wondering if Rin's henge had failed. Suddenly, she broke into a smile. "Ah, Ha-chan! Your hair has gone fluffy in the heat. It's so cute!" She stood up to pet him on the head and he stared resolutely over her shoulder trying not to look at her chest, or break her hand off. The only person he let pat him on the head was Sensei.
She settled down again, and took his hand. Her other hand reached out to lightly trace the scar that showed where his sleeve ended. "You will be a beautiful woman, Hatako-chan," she said, her tone serious and steady. "Don't ever let these stop you."
"I won't," he said after a long moment, hoping it was the right thing to say.
"Good," she said. "Remind me to give you some cream for those rough hands of yours tonight." She turned away to address the others before he could even nod his assent. Like any ninja, his hands were covered in calluses from all the weapons he handled. "Everyone, let's move to the sweat room!"
Several of the women stood up, and Kakashi tipped over, startled by the change in scenery. They all rushed over to help him, baring more of their bodies. Even Rin was entirely un-self-conscious. It was going to be a long evening.
That evening, Kakashi heard a series of thumps on the roof above his and Rin's room. They sounded like they were heading towards Misaki-sama and her sister's rooms. Within seconds, he had woken Rin and tied the inn's brightly patterned yukata around him. They headed out the corridor, running silently on the wooden boards. The moonlight was bright. It shone through the windows in the thin walls that separated the corridor from the inner garden.
There was no sign of anyone outside Misaki-sama's room, but Sachiko-sama's had light shinning through the paper doors. Kakashi used hand signals to tell Rin to join him on the roof. Up there, things were a bit crowded. Sensei and Obito were crouched on the outer edge of the roof, both of them hanging over the side so they could see inside the room below. Kakashi tapped Sensei on the shoulder, knowing the other man must have sensed them ages before, and asked with a look what was going on. Sensei gestured for them to look as well.
Sachiko-sama's room had large, sliding windows which could be opened to let in the cool, evening air. They also allowed all four ninja to have an excellent view of the inside of the room.
Sachiko-sama was on the lap of the red-haired man he had glimpsed peeping at the bath. They kissed for quite a long time – Kakashi went through the ninja rules twice before they stopped.
"Oh, Taiji. Why don't we run away?" asked Sachiko-sama, her tone joking.
Taiji pretended to think for a minute. "Perhaps your elderly husband is the reason?"
Sachiko-sama pouted. "Fine, but you could have come sooner."
"There are ninja guarding this train! I only escaped because someone threw a bucket at him for being a pervert." Obito muffled a snicker.
"Or maybe it's just because you spied on the baths." Sachiko-sama smacked him lightly on the arm.
"I'm here now, my love," said Taiji. "Let's not waste our time in conversation." They kissed and began to pull off their robes. Kakashi felt Sensei pull him up from the edge, and frowned at the other man. It wasn't like Kakashi was going to watch that. They all retired to the opposite corner of the roof, trusting on the sounds below to block out their whispered conversation.
"Well, that explains the poor camping skills of our follower. He's a lover, not a tracker, or fighter, or just about anything," said Sensei, looking self-satisfied.
"Did you really get hit with a bucket, Sensei?" asked Rin. Kakashi was always impressed by how she could make herself sound so innocent.
"Ah," said Sensei, his blush visible in the moonlight. "I really should have henged some clothes on before I entered that part of the inn." Rin had to put her hand over Obito's mouth to muffle his laughing.
A few days later, the mission ended. Tojo-sama called the ninja to him to formally thank them. Kakashi and Rin went back to their quarters afterwards to change into their original yukata, since Misaki-sama and Sachiko-sama had insisted on them wearing one more new yukata before they left. While they were changing, Misaki-sama entered the room, and Kakashi used Rin as a distraction to finish his changing before turning to face her.
For all his ninja reflexes, Kakashi had no idea how Misaki-sama was standing demurely in front of him one minute, then hugging him tightly the next.
"Thank you," she said in his ear. "You and Rin-chan did an excellent job guarding us and ignoring my sister's visitor."
He stiffened and pulled away; surprised she knew their real purpose. Her husband was clueless. She grinned at him while he looked down at the ground. "I have some presents for you two." She gestured to a servant who fetched two square packages wrapped in cloth. Kakashi took his, noting how light it was. "Your favorite yukata."
Kakashi peeked under the cloth wrapping wondering what Misaki-sama's idea of his 'favorite' was. It was dark blue, and some shifting of the cloth revealed it was one he had worn the second day of the mission. White, stylized waves chased the bottom of the yukata while growing flocks of birds flew across the chest, back and sleeves. Kakashi wouldn't have said it was his favorite, but it had defiantly been the most tolerable of all the designs they had thrown at him.
"Thank you, Misaki-sama," he said in a chorus with Rin.
"It's the least I could do," she said. "Wear those and you'll have cute boyfriends in no time." She shared a grin with Rin, while Kakashi did his best not to wince. "And here's one now."
Kakashi turned to see Sensei and Obito in casual clothes. Obito's were even sloppier than usual; he must have overslept. "Rin, uh, chan," said Obito, clearly happy to see one of his teammates. He ignored Kakashi.
Misaki-sama patted Kakashi on the shoulder. "Don't worry," she stage whispered, "you can do better."
Rin choked. Obito looked confused. Sensei became very interested in the ceiling, and Kakashi pushed down his knee-jerk horror to nod solemnly in agreement. He was probably going to spend the rest of his career trying to live down this mission, but the look of dawning anger on Obito's face almost made it worth it.
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