Disclaimer: I own none of this.
Notes: Belated Christmas fic for Alana Quinn! I'm not sure it's ffnable, but I'm kind of fond of it for wacky numerical reasons, and wanted to share it here anyway! Each section contains 255 words, because of a coincidence, which turned into an experiment.
Any and all feedback is very much appreciated! Thanks guys, Happy New Year! xxx
Practice made perfect. It was one of the fundamental rules of a shinobi's excellence, and Obito planned on becoming a most excellent shinobi.
There were many techniques Obito wasn't perfect at using, as the Uchiha Clan so liked to point out, but it wasn't like he didn't try.
Obito's biggest problem was concentration. There was so much that bored him about learning the wires, so much that just wasn't worth his time. After all, a knot was a knot when the trap wasn't knot-based. To get the Uchiha wires down well, Obito needed to set up a situation where he was put in the same kind of mental rush as if he were in a life or death situation. It was no good knowing the theory if he couldn't put his skills into practise after all, and Obito was certain that his new technique would be awesome. If he could just get it right.
He surveyed his handiwork with a rare diligence, carefully judging the distance and placement of each fragile string of wire.
Maito Gai was running laps around the clearing, guarding it from intruders. Sensei and Rin were with Kakashi at the meeting place, probably bickering about how late he was – and he was especially late today. It was the easiest way to rile Kakashi up, anyway, and the angrier the boy was, the more chance Obito would have to execute his move.
Obito gathered his courage, made one last check on the delicate map of wires, and left to meet his team.
"He's late, Sensei." Kakashi drawled, oh-so-casually, as the Yellow Flash inspected their C-Rank Mission Brief. Ah, the joys of pruning. What he wouldn't give for another break in the front line.
"Thank you, Kakashi. It had slipped my notice." He shot a level look at his student, eyes daring and amused. "Time seems to fly when I'm surrounded by the dulcet tones of your cherubic voices."
"He's always late." Kakashi spoke as if he hadn't heard his sensei, and the Yellow Flash wondered how anyone could be so single minded in the face of a Tuesday Morning C-Rank. "And you let him get away with it."
"And you're questioning my methods." Their Sensei sighed and resisted the urge to beat his head against a rock. "How about I let you get away with that, and we call it even? Hmm?"
Kakashi quietened, then, and Rin sighed a little as she practised gathering chakra in different parts of her body. A scrabbling sound alerted them to Obito's presence, and the boy tore round the corner, babbling some nonsense about crazed green animals threatening his socks.
"You're late." Kakashi drawled. Cool and arrogant and designed to annoy. Their teacher had to commend him on knowing his team-mate so well, as Obito's face mottled brilliantly with anger.
"Kakashi," Obito returned; voice firm and adult. The Yellow Flash watched in awe as his most childish student straightened, pulling his hands from his pockets and squaring up professionally. "You're an aresehole."
And Obito kicked him. Hard. Right in the shin.
Kakashi bit his lip as his shin exploded with sudden force, hopping back a little to escape the brunt of Obito's childish assault. He narrowed dark eyes as Obito ran off again, glancing at their teacher in a silent question.
The Yellow Flash huffed a little, and it was all Kakashi needed as encouragement to give chase.
That little runt was so going down, Kakashi thought, following his nose through several training fields before catching sight of bright blue jacket and a too-familiar stride. He sped along Obito's path, grinning to himself at the panicked look he received when the Uchiha finally spotted him. He could almost smell the look of panic on Obito's face, weaving through the grove of trees he was led into without a second thought.
He lost a little pace when confronted by Maito Gai, but skilfully managed to escape the green boy's notice; ducking around a large branch and creeping off towards a half-hidden clearing. Distracted by the other boy's mutterings and many, ridiculous laps, Kakashi didn't quite see the strings of chakra wire until he tripped one, finally noticing Obito's triumphant stance in the centre of the clearing.
"Shit." Kakashi said, glad that his Sensei wasn't there to punish him for saying such rude words.
As an inescapable multitude of wire snapped itself around Kakashi's form, he said that word once more. There was a somewhat surprised look on Obito's face as Kakashi slumped helplessly upon the floor, and, as Obito ran off, again, Kakashi said something much worse.
When Sensei had led her to the clearing, Rin was more than a little surprised to see Kakashi wriggling carefully on the ground, working his hands from where they were tightly bound to his sides by countless strands of razor sharp chakra wire.
"Kakashi-kun?" she gasped, hands flying to her face to hide her concern. Kakashi hated concern.
Her Sensei grinned brightly as he watched Kakashi fume silently in his wire cocoon. "Are you trying to become a butterfly?"
Kakashi didn't seem amused, and Rin watched her teacher study his actions with a strange sort of fondness she'd probably never understand.
"I'm a bit tied up, Sensei. I'd appreciate a hand?" At his almost-request, Rin moved to cut Kakashi free, but a hand on her shoulder stopped her. The Yellow Flash tossed a single shuriken to the floor, letting it plop into the muddy soil several metres away from Kakashi's head.
"I hope you realise you're on a time limit as from now?" He bit his lip to stifle his amusement as he led Rin away from their bound team-mate. "It's good practise for you."
"Practise for what?" Kakashi practically squealed. Rin glanced worriedly between her team-mate and her teacher. She'd never heard that sort of noise come from Kakashi before.
"Now, now," the blonde gave a conspiratorial grin. "You're not going to let a Gennin beat you, right?"
The look in Kakashi's eyes answered that question brilliantly. Especially since by 'Gennin' their teacher meant 'Obito.'
Boys, Rin thought, rolling her eyes. They were hopeless.
Obito watched Kakashi slump in the clearing before taking off at high speed.
Shinobi Rule 47, Obito thought, just knowing that that hedgehog-headed bastard would only throw it back in his face if he didn't acknowledge the damn rule. A good shinobi should always ensure that the target is properly immobilised before leaving the scene of battle.
He'd defeated Kakashi by anyone's standards, and while Obito was proud and more than a little giddy at the fact (Uchiha Obito had just so totally defeated Hatake Kakashi, how awesome was he?), no-one in the Yellow Flash's team ever stayed down for long. Kakashi was the prodigy, after all, and while Obito despised the way the rest of the shinobi world fawned over the arrogant, rule abiding, stick-lodged-so-far-up-his-retentive-arse-he-could-barely-bend-over bastard, he wasn't fool enough to deny that there was some level of reasoning in their praise.
Kakashi was damn good, a Chuunin already, but that didn't mean Obito was useless. And Not Being Useless meant Obito knew all too well that sticking around an enraged Kakashi was a Very Bad Idea Indeed.
"Obito-kun!" exclaimed Gai, appearing from nowhere and pointing his big enthusiastic thumb in Obito's face. "I have lured my Eternal Rival into your Trap! Should we not go and Proclaim Our Victory?"
Obito gave Gai an incredulous look, fighting the urge to correct the boy's idiocy in a loud and violent fashion. Kakashi didn't have rivals - Obito knew that better than anyone - for the same reason he didn't have friends. The rules didn't allow for them.
The Yellow Flash sat outside the clearing, close enough to notice when Kakashi finally escaped, but far enough away that he and Rin were not caught up in his students' bickering.
It shouldn't have been comforting, but it was; the way his two students, even in a world of war-torn terror, could find the time to have something as commonplace as petty rivalry. Those boys needed a human relationship that wasn't going to wreck them both, and the Yellow Flash could see how they'd found friendship in each other. Even if they hadn't yet.
"Sensei?" asked Rin, idly practising with a kunai. "Why do you let them fight like that?"
The Yellow Flash considered his answer carefully, considered all the ways their bickering reminded him of Team Jiraiya, back in his Gennin and Chuunin days. In the clearing, Kakashi had taken sixteen minutes to free himself from the Uchiha Wire Cocoon. That had to be some kind of record.
"When I was a kid, my team-mates and I were very much like the Kakashi and Obito are now. We all had to work very hard to improve, but in very different ways. The three of us competed against each other, and in the end, it helped."
"But they never learn!" Rin burst out, carefully maintaining her stance as she struggled to get even a tiny glimpse of the inner workings of the pre-pubescent boy.
"It's like my Sensei always said;" the Yellow Flash whispered conspiratorially. "Divide and Conquer. It's the only way to rule."
Kakashi wriggled out of the main body of wire, hacking the clinging threads to absolute pieces once his hands were free to find his Sensei's shuriken. Sixteen minutes may seem like a record to some, but Kakashi didn't like underestimating people, and in his mind, a sixteen minute head start was simply sixteen minutes too much.
He did have to hand it to Obito, the wiring was good. It was excellent, in fact, and the genius in Kakashi was itching to get his hands on whatever scrolls had taught his team-mate how to balance that kind of intricacy. For Obito of all people to not only set up such a trap, but also correctly predict Kakashi's reactions to various types of distraction and provocation, well, maybe he wasn't so totally pathetic after all.
It was a shame he was such a coward, because he almost made a good ninja.
Kakashi grinned to himself as he spotted Obito's tracks – sloppily hidden, but at least he hadn't wasted time on something Kakashi would see through – and started to hunt his team-mate down. By the time he'd found Obito, twenty seven minutes since he'd kicked Kakashi in the shins, he was sitting unsuspectingly on a bench by the training grounds. By then, Obito had almost lost his paranoia.
By thirty two minutes Obito only scanned the area once every sixty seconds. It was almost as relaxed as a Chuunin got, but Obito wasn't a Chuunin yet. Kakashi waited another four minutes, just to be sure.
And then he pounced.
Obito's surprised scream had Rin racing towards the edge of the training fields, images of enemy nin and sharp object flashing dizzyingly behind her eyelids.
Of all the things she expected to see, she hadn't expected Obito and Kakashi to be wrestling quite so playfully – they were unarmed, at least, and where those two were involved, unarmed was as playful as they often got. In retrospect, Rin thought it should've been obvious.
It took Kakashi four variations of headlock before he found one Obito couldn't break out of, but Kakashi was nothing if not dutiful, and no matter how many growth spurts Obito had, the smaller boy still had years of experience over him.
"Off! Off! Get the hell off you freak!" Obito scrabbled for footing and breath, and Rin watched the grin play on Sensei's face.
"Turn about's fair play, Cry Baby," Kakashi slid his foot back, adjusting his balance minutely, and Rin knew that Obito had lost the match.
"C'mon, let go!" Obito hacked pathetically for show, and Rin grinned at them both. At least they weren't bickering. "You win, I give!"
Kakashi dropped his stance before Rin could even blink, and Obito rubbed his neck bitterly. Their Sensei grinned brilliantly, leading them off towards their morning mission, and Rin found herself more than a little lost against the sudden camaraderie.
"It was a nice trick, those wires," Kakashi said, thoughtfully.
"Yeah, well," Obito replied, cheerful now that no gloved hands were trying to asphyxiate him. "Practice makes perfect."
Rin thought she understood perfectly.