Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of its creator, Kishimoto Masashi, and various companies that publish it. We all know I'm not making any money out of this; just playing with the characters for a while.
A/N: I decided to use the name "Uzumaki Kayaku" for Yondaime because I'm not clever enough to get away without a name. Kayaku -- just like Arashi before it -- is the latest fandom speculation and I must say I quite like it. As for Uzumaki, well I'm convinced he and Naruto are father and son. If you don't agree with that, I'm sorry. Try to ignore it, I think I only mention it once.
Kayaku suddenly opened his eyes and sat up, ready to swear that he'd just heard an explosion. His mind still clouded up with sleep, he collapsed back on his pillow and lay flat on his bed, throwing both arms over his face to shield away the unwanted sunlight. But once his brain registered the screams outside, the young jounin felt awake in a spilt second. The protective instincts he had developed as a shinobi kicked in and he jumped out of bed and went straight to the window. His voice died in his throat as he laid eyes on the scene.
A giant frog stood in the street, looking rather uncomfortably squashed between the two rows of buildings.
He sensed a presence to his right and rolled his eyes when he discovered his sensei sitting on the roof beside him. He'd started doing it way too often these days.
"Jiraiya-sensei, do you really need the frog?"
The older man smirked. "He helps make an entrance. And between you and me, although they might not admit it right away, the ladies love it!" he added with a wide grin, waving casually at a few female passers-by.
Kayaku sighed. "Sensei…"
Jiraiya snapped back to his serious self almost instantly and stared at him. "The Third wants to see you."
"Do you see anybody else standing here? Of course, you! He sent me to tell you."
"When is he expecting me?"
"As soon as you can get there, I imagine. Have a shower, get dressed and I'll see you in his office!" he shouted before jumping back on the frog's head.
It took one massive leap and disappeared behind the buildings, after which Kayaku heard more people screaming. He really couldn't understand why his sensei relied on it so often, when he thought the summoning technique was only to be used when in need of immediate help.
Twenty minutes later, he was walking down the corridor towards the Hokage's office when he saw Jiraiya waiting by the door, leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest.
"So, what's this all—"
"The Third was called away barely five minutes ago; you were too slow," Jiraiya interrupted. "He asked me to explain everything to you, so come on, let's go and have breakfast somewhere."
Kayaku didn't move and looked at his sensei incredulously. This was starting to feel like a bad joke and he wasn't in the mood for it. But he followed him eventually, thinking that he might be able to get free breakfast from it if nothing else. He told himself repeatedly to be patient, but after they'd sat down in the restaurant—having walked all the way in complete silence—he'd had enough.
"Are you actually going to tell me what this is all about, Sensei?"
"I thought I'd taught you not to be impatient."
"You have. But you've never woken me up like that before, telling me the Third wants to see me, and then dragging me to a restaurant instead without much of an explanation at all!"
"Am I being sent on another mission? I've just come back from six days abroad; I thought I'd have at least one day off."
"It's not exactly a mission."
They were interrupted when a young waitress brought their breakfasts. She giggled and blushed profusely when Jiraiya winked at her. Kayaku rolled his eyes and propped his chin on his hand. He should have been used to it after all these years, but he still found it annoying, especially when he was waiting for answers.
"Do you think you might tell me any time soon, Sensei?" he grunted when Jiraiya looked as though he was about to start eating.
"All right…" the older man sighed. He put his chopsticks down and looked at Kayaku intently. "Have you heard of Hatake Kakashi?"
The young man's eyes narrowed and he cocked his head to the side ever so slightly as he searched through his mind.
"Hatake…Kakashi?" He paused for a second. "Oh, err…he's White Fang's only son, isn't he? His mother died a few years ago and I seem to remember hearing that he was a rather gifted little boy."
"You could say that," said Jiraiya, looking amused.
"So, what's that got to do with me?"
"He graduated from the academy yesterday."
Kayaku was taken aback and fell silent for a few seconds. "I…must have had him confused with somebody else then; I thought he was much younger than that."
"He's five years old."
The older man did his best not to laugh at the look on his student's bewildered face.
"Is this some kind of joke?"
"Do I honestly look like I'm joking? If I wanted to tell you a joke, I'd have said—"
"Sensei…" Kayaku groaned.
"OK, forget it. You wouldn't have liked that one anyway…" He sighed and propped his elbow on the table. "The fact is that the boy graduated with flying colours yesterday afternoon."
"A five-year old genin…" Kayaku whispered to himself after another pause. "He's got to be the youngest one."
"He is," said Jiraiya in a matter-of-fact way, as though it really wasn't anything special at all.
"What's the Third thinking? This is insane!"
"That's not for you to decide or even comment on," Jiraiya warned.
He hadn't been scolded by his sensei that many times in all the years they'd spend together, so he felt ashamed and looked down.
"But once again, Sensei," he said at length, "what's that got to do with me?"
"When kids graduate from the academy and become genin, they are split into groups of three and a jounin instructor is assigned to each group."
"I know that. That's how I ended up with you," Kayaku replied, softening up a little.
"Hey, watch your mouth, you brat! Anyway, as you know, our military power isn't doing too good at the moment and it's a bit of a miracle that we had enough jounin this year. But then that kid comes along…"
"What do you mean? Is it really that bad? All the teams are formed and you're left with one?"
"Then send him back. He's way too young! You know how it works: most of them will have to go back anyway."
"Believe me; that kid isn't going back."
Kayaku sighed and propped his chin on his hand again. "You know, Sensei, I still have no idea why you're telling me about this."
The smirked returned to Jiraiya's face. "I'll put you out of your misery then, shall I? All right, no more beating around the bush. You are the answer to the problem."
"Uh? Me? What do you m—"
Something clicked and his eyes suddenly opened wide.
Jiraiya's smirk almost stretched from one ear to the other. "You get it now?"
"You…can't be serious…" Kayaku stammered. "Sensei, I'm too young to have my own team!"
"It's not a team, it's just one kid. Deem yourself lucky; it'll be the perfect opportunity to get used to looking after someone."
"Lucky! Looking after White Fang's son?"
Jiraiya frowned. "You're not going to decline, are you?"
Kayaku looked down, feeling he would have liked nothing better than to hide his face in his hands at that very moment, or better, disappear. "Sensei, I don't think I can do this."
"Of course you can! Even though we don't actually have a choice, you're the best one out there and that kid's really lucky, if you ask me."
"But…I can't be given such responsibility."
"Even if you're a precocious one, you're a jounin, aren't you? You knew this day would come."
"Not so soon, no. And…besides, I'm still your student!"
Jiraiya laughed and crossed his arms over his chest. "Oh come on, you know the student thing comes to an end when you become a jounin. I should have forced you to stop calling me Sensei ages ago!"
Kayaku knew that Jiraiya's words were meant to comfort him and boost his confidence, but he couldn't help feeling more anxious than before.
"Look, I understand that the idea of being in charge of that kid is daunting, to say the least, but like I said before, it's only one kid. Kayaku," he added, touching the young man's arm, "I've known you for a long time now, and I know you can do this."
Feeling something akin to panic overwhelming him, the young jounin finally hid his face in his hands for a moment, taking deep breaths in.
His words were muffled when he finally spoke. "I don't have a choice, do I?"
"And the Third thinks I can do it?"
"As do I."
"I have a feeling I'm going to hate you for this, Sensei."
"Well, it wouldn't be the first time you've say that," Jiraiya sighed. "The best are always the most hated. It is, alas, our fate…" he added in a most melodramatic tone.
Kayaku rolled his eyes. "How long have I got?"
"One week. And if you have any questions about how it goes, you know who to ask!"
"But you didn't do anything!" the young man immediately protested. "All we did was introduce ourselves. You didn't even let us show you our skills until the following day with those stupid bells!"
"That's the way it's done. Everybody goes through bell training. The little chat beforehand is just to start off the team spirit, hopefully, by letting the others know a little about you."
Kayaku blinked a few times in a row. "You never told me you went through bell training."
"Oh, I did…" the older man said with an embarrassed smile. "Anyway, eat up, I haven't got all day."