(RE): Introduction I
(Note: This is a new version of the "first chapter")
Some words were stronger than jutsu, Kiba had learned early in his genin career. Eight words had (ruined) changed his life.
"Team Seven: Inuzuka Kiba, Uzumaki Kizuna, Uchiha Sasuke."
Those eight words sealed his fate – he was now part of the most dysfunctional team of their year (and probably the last ten years too). Worse than the new Ino-Shika-Cho-and-smoking-old-guy, worse than Hyuuga-Bug-Guy-Haruno-their-hot-teacher.
Observe. That morning was a perfect example. In one corner, Uchiha Sasuke – rookie of the year, "genius", heartthrob, and all-round jerk. No doubt it was a great honor to be in the same cell as the great Uchiha Sasuke, but damnit, the guy was an ass-hat, first class. Worse than Aburame Shino, even. Shino was just silent. Uchiha smirked. Not counting insults, he had said all of ten words to his teammates in the two weeks they'd been Team 7.
Even now, Uchiha stood to one side, leaning against a tree with his arms crossed, his face blank.
In the other corner, Uzumaki Kizuna – loudmouth, brash, worst kunoichi ever. Also, she hit very hard. Also, obsessive. Even now, she was cranking out push-ups at an impressive rate, considering she'd been at it for an hour.
Yes, they had been waiting pointlessly for over an hour, which brought Kiba to the last and greatest weirdo of their team – Hatake Kakashi. Jounin, genius, living legend, pervert. Always late. Sadist.
It was barely light, and mist lingered over the river under their red "meeting" bridge. And Kakashi-sensei wouldn't show up until it around noon, most likely.
"That's it!" Kiba declared, jumping off the bridge's railing. On his head, Akamaru stirred but quickly went back to sleep. "I'm going to the mission office. We don't need him to get a lousy D-rank, and even that'll be better than sitting around here."
Finishing a push-up, Uzumaki jumped deftly to her feet and dusted off her hands. "Sure! Stupid scarecrow can't blame us for wanting to be useful to the village, right?" she said brightly, adding at a mutter, "A little extra money won't hurt, either."
As they started to walk away, Uchiha spoke up irritably. "Oi. We were ordered to wait here."
Kiba shared a look with Uzumaki. They both shrugged and glanced back at their teammate. "Well then, you can stay here," Kiba suggested.
"Bye-bye!" Kizuna called back, waving over her shoulder.
"Dog-breath! Loser!" Uchiha bit out, instantly catching their attention. Kiba twitched, but before he could retaliate, Kizuna had already pulled out a handful of shuriken and taken aim at Uchiha. It was all he could do to grab her wrist to stop her from actually throwing them.
Not that Kiba liked Uchiha, but he felt duty-bound to keep his teammates from killing each other. "Hey, hey. Don't go straight to live weapons. Just punch him or something," he suggested.
Kizuna huffed. "I'll show him I'm not a loser with the super ninja tool skills Tenten-nee taught me!" she declared. Pouting, she muttered, "Everyone helped me so much. I won't let him make fun of their hard work."
"I'm pretty sure he'd insulting you as a student, not them as teachers," Kiba pointed out. "And you don't seem mad for our Academy teachers."
"They were useless jerks anyway… Except maybe Iruka-sensei," Kizuna complained. "You always skipped out too."
Uchiha snorted mockingly.
"Up yours, bastard!" Kiba and Kizuna chorused.
It took them another half an hour and several arguments, but they did make it to the mission office.
"Team 7, reporting for duty!" Kiba proclaimed (rather overdramatically). Uchiha shot him a glare, probably wondering who had made him leader. Well, it was Kiba's idea…
Uzumaki pumped her fist into the air and called out, "Give us your toughest mission! Let's go!"
The good shinobi of the mission room were long since used to both new genin teams in general and Team 7 in particular, so they completely ignored the commotion.
"D rank," one said. "Help a caravan unload and deliver their goods to the buyers." The chuunin leveled Kiba, who had stepped forward to take the mission scroll, with a serious stare. "These traders bring important business to Konoha, so don't break anything."
"Would we do that?" Kiba quipped, his nervous chuckles trailing off as the chuunin's glare intensified. "I think they haven't forgotten about the 'grocery shopping for the Elders' fiasco…" he muttered to Kizuna as they filed out of the room, Uchiha striding proudly (sulkily) ahead.
Kizuna pouted. "It wasn't my fault," she grumbled. "How was I supposed to know that would happen…?"
"Hey, whatever," Kiba grinned. "Now Mom can't send me grocery shopping for a while." Since no supermarket in Konoha would let any member of Team 7 through their doors.
Outside the Hokage tower, Uchiha was waiting for them sullenly. He glared as they approached.
Kiba stared at him blankly for a moment before rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "Oh yeah, I've got the address…"
The caravan traders had stopped at an inn near one of the commercial parts of town. An inn clerk fetched one of the traders, and it quickly became obvious why they had needed to hire someone.
The man obviously had the hangover from hell, cursing his poor luck in having to be the one to deal with the shinobi. Kiba and Akamaru wrinkled their noses at the smell of vomit lingering around him.
"Alright! Let's get going! What're we doing?" Kizuna bounced energetically, making the trader grimace. He winced as they stepped out into the morning sunlight, which turned Kizuna's yellow hair and orange vest-shorts combo particularly bright.
"Ergh… r-right. We deal in rare spices from far south," the trader mumbled. "Everything is marked. Here's the list of orders…"
Digging around in his pockets, he pulled out a stained and wrinkled sheaf of papers and held it toward the genin. Kiba reached for them, but Sasuke snatched the papers away first. As the trader stumbled back inside, the two genin locked gazes in a fierce glaring contest.
"How come you get the papers? This is my mission," Kiba growled.
"It's our mission," Kizuna pointed out. "And, anyway, let him have them. We'll do the real work."
Sasuke scowled. "I can carry things just as well. But I can't trust you idiots to figure out what goes where." He smirked. "You'd need to be able to read to do that."
He received two vicious glares.
The spice traders had two carts full of barrels and crates. Sniffing, Kiba sneezed and made a face.
"Start by unloading everything and sorting according to size and color marking," Sasuke ordered.
His teammates grumbled as they set to work. "Probably for the best you're sitting it out," Kiba said mockingly as he stumbled back a step under the weight of the crate Kizuna had tossed out of the cart. "You wouldn't last ten minutes at this…"
Sasuke's disgruntled frown twitched but he didn't look up from sorting through the order list. Peeking out of the cart, Kizuna grinned. "Wouldn't want to pull a muscle," she laughed. "What would the fan club think?" With annoying ease, she tossed another crate at Kiba, who had to fight to stay on his feet. "Girls prefer a strong man, right?"
"And men prefer a demure maiden, not a gorilla," Sasuke bit out.
"Not the merchandize! No!" Kiba yelled, waving his arms wildly as Kizuna hefted another box and prepared to throw it at Uchiha in retaliation.
"Alright. First order is to 'Maha Curry'," Sasuke said, looking over the pile of crates his teammates had assembled. "They need three medium red, two large green and two small blue."
"Me 'n Kizuna'll take the two large green," Kiba volunteered, smirking a little. "You can take the small blue ones and maybe a medium red… if you're up for it."
"We'll still need two trips," Sasuke said irritably.
Kiba thought for a moment before brightening. "Not if Akamaru helps! Come on, let's do it!" As he made a hand seal, Akamaru yawned and jumped in front of him. "Human-Beast Clone!"
When the smoke dispersed, one of the two Kibas smirked. "Now we'll get it done in no time!"
Collapsing to his hands and knees, Kiba panted shakily. Nearby, Akamaru poofed back into his own shape and rolled over onto his back, utterly exhausted.
Uchiha eyed him disparagingly, but he wasn't up to wasting energy on insults. Covered in a fine layer of perspiration, Sasuke's skin was flushed red, quite noticeable against his usual pale tone. Kiba thought, rather uncharitably, that they shouldn't have given him all the lightest loads.
"Pull yourselves together, guys!" Uzumaki called out, entirely too cheery. She wasn't fresh as a daisy, but that was the only consolation, since she looked ready to keep going… all day. Then again, Kiba had seen her do physical training pretty much an entire day through when Kakashi-sensei stood them up entirely.
"We've still got half to go," Uchiha pointed, catching his breath. He smirked. "Giving up already, dog-breath?"
Kiba twitched. "Hell no," he ground out.
"Well, you and Akamaru take a break," Kizuna said, with no regard for his male pride. "We'll take this next one by ourselves."
"Rest up," Sasuke seconded, still smirking. "You need it."
"Argh!" Kiba howled, indignation driving him to his feet. "It's not over!" he proclaimed, one hand searching through his pouch. Holding up a small sphere between two fingers, he boasted, "Here! Our special 'soldier pill'! With this, I can keep fighting on!"
"Alright!" Kizuna cheered, thrusting one fist into the air.
Unlike the excitable kunoichi, Sasuke only stared blankly for a moment. "We're not fighting, moron," he finally said. "And just what are you cheering for?"
Realizing something, Kizuna stopped in mid-yell. "But aren't those things rare?" she wondered. "That's no good. You should be careful with your equipment!" She nodded to herself.
"This is a matter of pride! My pride as a man is on the line!" Kiba declared. Decisively, he threw the pill into his mouth and chewed. Kizuna watched him with avid interest while Sasuke pointedly looked away. Swallowing heavily, Kiba paused dramatically.
Suddenly, he shuddered, making Kizuna jump back in surprise.
"Let's… GO!" Kiba roared, jumping toward the remaining crates as a burning aura engulfed him.
For a moment, Kizuna stared in surprise. Then, she grinned. "Alright!" she cheered, hurrying after him.
"You don't even know where we're going," Sasuke grumbled, following his two morons.
"Delivery," Sasuke announced as he and his teammates trooped to the back of an exotic foods store.
An employee greeted him politely. "Ah, the spices! That's great. We just ran out too." As Sasuke held out the order list, the man signed after his store's entry. "Just set them over there," he gestured.
Kiba jogged up first, dropping his crate a little more roughly than strictly a good idea. The store clerk bowed shallowly, like most civilians respectful even to the lowest rank of shinobi.
As Kiba shifted from foot to foor, Kizuna set her load next to his. The stack she had carried was almost taller than her, and as she stayed a little hunched, it hid her pretty much entirely.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed – Kizuna almost seemed to be hiding, which was very odd for the normally gregarious girl. 'She was chatting up the last shopkeeper,' he thought a little irritably.
"Come on!" Kiba exclaimed impatiently, grabbing Kizuna's hand and pulling her from behind the crates.
As Sasuke watched in surprise, the store clerk's polite expression shifted into a nasty frown at the sight of his teammate.
Kizuna laughed, pulling her hand away from Kiba. "You guys finish up here! I'll go ahead to the next one!" she said. Snatching the order list away from Sasuke, she danced away. "Bet I can finish before you!" she called over her shoulder.
Smirking at the challenge, Kiba hurried after her. The two of them began to race back to the traders' inn, but Sasuke held back for a moment, studying the store clerk.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
The man switched back to his polite smile as he turned to Sasuke. "No, of course not, Uchiha-san. Thank you for your hard work."
Sasuke nodded, although he wasn't in the least satisfied with this response, and followed his teammates.
'Come to think of it, Kizuna avoided going into many of the place we went to,' he realized.
" 'm dyin'…" Kiba moaned, his voice muffled by the dirt he had face-planted into.
Kizuna glanced at Sasuke. "What's wrong with him?" she wondered.
Sasuke snorted. "Side effect. Soldier pills are like caffeine. You crash afterward."
"Oh…" Kizuna drew out. "Kiba! That was stupid!" she chided. "You shouldn't do stuff that isn't worth it in the end!"
"No shit," Kiba grumbled. Sasuke just snorted again.
Glaring a little at both of them, Kizuna huffed. "I mean, if you now there's gonna be consequences that bad, you should find another way!"
"Or you should just acknowledge you're a loser," Sasuke muttered.
Kiba tried to raise his head to glare, failed and ended up moaning pathetically.
Looking away from the truly sad sight her teammate presented, Kizuna jerked her thumb toward the small stack of boxes that remained from their mission. "Let's finish up. It'll only take one person anyway. Who are those for?"
Sasuke didn't bother consulting the list. "Ichiraku Ramen," he said without inflection. Pausing, he added, "You take them."
Brightening at the mere name of her favorite establishment, Kizuna said, "Really? I didn't know they got special spices! Wow, I wonder if that means the ramen's going to be extra good now!" Glancing back at Kiba, she frowned a little. "What are you going to do? What about Kiba?"
"I'm going back to tell the clients we're done, finish up at the mission office and go back to the bridge," Sasuke said, shrugging. Honestly, he didn't really care what happened to Inuzuka.
"That's no good," Kizuna protested. "Me and Kiba got you into this, so we should deal with it. I know! How about we all go to lunch at Ichiraku's? We'll get old man Teuchi's signature, take it back to the clients and go get paid. I'll carry Kiba!"
Looking between the beaming kunoichi, the dog loser on the ground and the remaining spices, Sasuke sighed. "I'll finish the mission," he said. And that was pretty much a "yes".
They found Kakashi at Ichiraku's.
Kizuna waved cheerfully for a moment before she had to readjust her grip on Kiba as he began to slide to one side. As she jogged over to their jounin teacher, Sasuke pointed ignored him and marched to the back of the ramen shop to finish the mission properly.
"Yo," Kakashi greeted, raising one hand.
"Hi!" Kizuna called back, dropping Kiba onto a stool and settling down herself. Kiba moaned, and Kakashi's single eye lingered on him for a moment before sliding shut in a happy crescent. "We did a mission!" Kizuna explained cheerfully. "Sasuke's finishing up. This is our last stop! We'll have some lunch and then tell the clients we're done."
Listening to her, Kakashi put one hand on his chin. "Hm," he drew out thoughtfully. "That's very good… but didn't you have some other plans today?"
"We did?" Kizuna wondered, pausing thoughtfully. "I don't remember. What plans did we have, Kakashi-sensei? Were they important?"
"Oh yes, very important," Kakashi said seriously, leaning as if confiding some great secret. "Orders from a superior officer. Very important."
"Liar…" Kiba groaned from his place, face flat on the counter. "Jus' plannin' to stand us up again."
Kakashi looked mildly disapproving. "Now, now, you don't know that. Orders are orders."
"But when did we get orders?" Kizuna protested.
"Yesterday," Kakashi hinted.
"Nu-uh! Yesterday all we did was weed that garden all day. And then you said, 'See you tomorrow at seven-hundred.' But we didn't see you. So we went to get a mission."
Kakashi blinked, then sighed. 'I'm not even sure whether she'd being purposefully obtuse to get out of punishment, smartass or just too literal,' he thought. "Just eat your ramen," he finally suggested.
"Okay!" Kizuna beamed. Then, she stopped and looked around. "Where'd Sasuke go?"
'Away from you,' Kakashi thought, 'and your ramen. But mostly you. Why did I take these misfits anyway? …Oh yeah, orders.'
Kiba just moaned.
The next day, Kakashi dragged them out of their beds at four in the morning, just to be cruel.
It was another day for Team 7.
Kizuna's name: "Kizuna" means "bond". It's pronounced "kee-z-nah". The "zu" sound is sort of slurred, like Sasuke's "su", so a more phonetic spelling of her name would be "Kizna", which I'll sometimes use when people address her familiarly.
Kizuna's abilities: Hinata taught her a bit in molding chakra and expelling it from your hands, so Kizuna has better control than Naruto (but not much). Also, she's got great aim because Tenten trained with her a bit, and very impressive physical strength, because Kizuna decided to prove that a kunoichi can be just as strong as a boy and overcompensated.
Pairings: the usual set of crushes all around, but nothing serious. Absolutely nothing between members of Team Seven.