Icha Icha Team-7: Simple as simple goes

Disclaimer: Naruto was created and is owned by Masashi Kishimoto

"The mission is quite simple"

Tsunade didn't even bother to stifle a yawn, "Reconnaissance...the usual. I just need you to gather as much information as you can."

She handed the mission scroll to the willowy elite.

"Nothing you can't handle"

With a cursory wave, Tsunade permitted her silver-haired subordinate to leave .

"Oh and by the way, take your former team 7 with you. Now that everyone is back, this mission could help get your group reacqainted, so to speak."

Reacquainted-eh, Kakashi sighed as he closed the heavy door behind him.

It did sound simple. He was hoping against all hope that it was.

From an unseen distance, Kakashi watched his three former students awkwardly gather on the small wooden bridge. If it had been five years since they had last assembled in their meeting place, it seemed more like ten. Far from the feisty genins they had once been, they now appeared like a haggard bunch of teenagers, much too young to have been exposed to the harshness of life. Even the blond, blue eyed and usually boisterous Naruto was silent.

The mission is quite simple

The silver-haired jounin let out a disappointed sigh. He had to laugh at Tsunade's methods. Her intelligence was indeed legendary, but her insensitivity was gaining equal status. A mission, was not a way to get reacquainted, especially when it involved Sasuke, Naruto and Sakura. Too much had happened. He couldn't help, however, be amused watching the tense trio. When they all got back to the village emotions were high, and even the most stoic in the village would have choked on tears to see those three together. It was a climactic moment worthy to be immortalized on a silver screen. But after the curtains fall and the end credits roll up, what does come next? Easing into normality, he surmised, was the most difficult part.

Perhaps for now, the best way to return to what was "normal", was to go about everything as if nothing had changed.

Kakashi reached into his sack and pulled out an orange paperback with a skimpily clad woman running away from a bare-chested man on the cover.

"Normal" also meant that he would join the little gathering once his cue arrived--the sun high above indicating it was close to noon. Based on the shadows within his line of vision, he was early. He thus relaxed onto the branch he was perched on and started leafing through his well-worn Icha Icha, waiting for the hours go by.

This is unbearable.

Sakura thought as she fiddled, for the nth time, with her boot strap to seem pre-occupied. She glanced surreptitiously at her two teammates. Sasuke was leaning back on the bridge's railing as was his habit a long, long time ago. Naruto, on the other hand, was sitting on the opposite railing, his slumped back turned to them. He was dead silent and motionless. If Sakura had been pissed for Kakashi-sensei's tardiness in the past, this time she would have no qualms hurling a shuriken at him upon his arrival.

"Naruto, what do you think is Kakashi-sensei's excuse this time?" Sakura started hoping to break the ice.

The blond-haired Shinobi simply shrugged his shoulders, without looking back.

Thanks a lot.

Sakura felt the impulse to just shove Naruto off the bridge, but thought the better of it. She then turned to Sasuke. Had she been her thirteen year old self she would have been yakking away just to get the brooding Uchiha's attention. But things were different now. She was different now. And although she still held that same tender affection for Sasuke, she wasn't sure it was enough to tickle her insides into doing somersaults or, at least, breathe life into her long dormant inner Sakura.

"Sasuke, how are you adjusting so far?"

Another shrug.

That was it.

"Look you two. I've just about had it." the pink-haired konoichi spoke sternly as she folded her arms. Both men gave her uneasy sideward glances, "Its been four hours, and I'm sure your saliva is getting as stale as mine."

Still, neither spoke.

"We've all been together for almost a month. I don't get how you could eat ramen together, walk the streets of Konoha together, even go shopping together, and then give each other the freakin' cold treatment just because we've been assigned on a mission. What makes this so damn different?!"

Sakura knew the big difference. But she couldn't stand being in the middle of a cold war, threading in calm but dangerous waters. She would rather have them, as they were before, bickering and at each others necks.

Without warning there was a glint of metal, and a break in the still air. Sasuke, not a single strand of hair misplaced, was at the other side of the bridge behind a half-turned Naruto. Trapped between his and Naruto's, fingers was a silver senbon, its sharp tip pointed towards the blond-haired shinobi.

"Yo." came the familiar lazy drawl.

The three flashed piercing glances at the silver-haired shinobi perched on the beam overhead.

"Oy, Kakashi. What was that about?" the cool voice of the the Uchiha was bitingly steady

"The senbon. Was that from you?" Sakura gaped incredelously "What's the big idea? If they had reacted a millisecond late, that could've actually hit Naruto...not that it would have done anything serious, but..."

"So you would've prefered that I'd used kunai?" Rather than the automatic violent retorts he was accustomed to, the elite received scalding glares from his young teammates. Something hadn't changed alright. He had yet to incite laughter (or at least a snort) with his jokes and, supposedly humorous remarks. Dismayed, he continued.

"I trust my students' skills, more than I trust anyone else's in the village. But I see now that I can trust your group's dynamic as well. I may have been worrying about nothing after all."

Perplexed, the three stared at Kakashi, waiting for him to expound. Sensing the futility of their expectant silence Naruto finally grunted.

"Kakashi-sensei, ain't you forgetting something?"

"Ah yes, my apologies for being late. You see, there was an old lady who..."

"needed directions,and you just couldn't refuse." Sakura quipped, rolling her eyes.

"then a black cat crossed your path, so you had to change your route" added Sasuke

"and you eventually got lost on the road of life." grumbled Naruto

A speechless Kakashi simply crinkled his visible eye apologetically in response to three raised eyebrows, Burying his precious novel deep into his sack, he cleared his throat and landed in front of the trio. Before he could begin,he was interrupted by a familiar pale-faced jounin striding towards the bridge.

"Sai. Where you off too?" Sakura waved to the ANBU

"Hello." Sai's face was, as usual, disturbingly pleasant "I extend my warmest greetings to the all of you--Kakashi-senpai,Sakura, Naruto...Sasuke-kun. It is indeed a lovely d..."

"Sai. We get it." chorused Naruto and Sakura, impatiently

"Tsunade-sama has appointed me to join your group."

From his peripheral vision Kakashi caught the raven-haired Uchiha coldly eyeing his pale-faced look-a-like, a sneer forming in the corner of his lips.

Kakashi groaned as he felt a growing discomfort at the pit of his stomach.

The Godaime sure knew how to make things interesting.

A/N: This is going somewhere I'm sure...(I hope). Anyway, thanks for reading.