Kakashi would be the first to admit that those that felt called to the ninja career path often came with certain – eccentricities. He would even be prepared to admit that Konoha might have rather more of their fair share of – unusual – people.
He had occasionally heard people suggest that he should be counted among those ranks. He wasn't sure why.
Over the years, he had developed a sort of sixth sense for the crazies. Not the psychopaths – they were usually easy enough to spot. It was the well-meaning ones you wanted to watch out for, the ones who left trails of chaos and destruction in their wake and looked around with a bemused expression at the end.
His own former Genin team sprung immediately to mind, but he dismissed the thought as unworthy of him.
The boy who came strolling into Konoha one fine morning just before the Chuunin exams set all of Kakashi's hard earned instincts alight. He didn't look like much. He wore patched black trousers and the bottom of his shirt stuck out from under what looked like a hand knitted navy sweater. He pushed his glasses further up his nose and shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked, slouching a little. He couldn't have been more than eighteen, and Kakashi couldn't decide whether he looked like he had escaped from a library or an orphanage.
Yet, there was something… It wasn't the way he looked, or acted, or spoke, from what Kakashi could see from his comfortable seat on top of his house, but everything Kakashi had learnt over a long and illustrious shinobi career told him this kid was trouble.
He was about to stand to go and warn the Hokage, when he happened to glance down at the latest volume of the Icha Icha series, still open in his hand.
Slowly, the busty blonde slipped one strap down her shoulder, baring yet more smooth, silky skin…
Well. There was no hurry, after all. Perhaps at the end of this chapter.
Harry ached. His arms ached and his legs ached and raw scar across his chest ached and altogether this was not the holiday he had been planning. Really, what had he been thinking? Considering the last time he had been here he had gotten his arse kicked by some guy called Orochimaru, he should have expected that the other inhabitants of this hidden continent would be just as dangerous.
Harry grimaced at the memory of that unfortunate mission. Well, perhaps unfortunate wasn't quite the right word. It had been successful, after all. He, Ron and Hermione had managed to infiltrate the snake-summoner's lair, trick him into summoning Nagini, kill Nagini and high-tail it out of there. Unfortunately, Orochimaru had also summoned a lot of other snakes, including one larger than Slytherin's basilisk, and had proven to be extremely adept at both magical and physical combat.
Their retreat had been slightly more exciting than Harry preferred.
Stretching his arms above his head to try and work out some of the bruises, Harry noticed the inn the guard at the gate had recommended was just up ahead. Finally! He really needed a long, hot bath.
Hastening his steps, Harry had soon negotiated to rent a room for a week from the bored looked older woman at the front desk. Taking his key, he hurried upstairs to find his room. Standing at the beginning of the hallway, he sighed. Of course, the room numbers would be in Japanese. While Harry's spoken Japanese was fluent, if accented, his reading comprehension was rather less reliable.
He paced the length of the hallway, trying to work out which way the numbers went. Why couldn't rooms 1 to 5 be on this hallway? Those were the only numbers he knew. He peered more closely at the numbers. He needed room 14, so…
"There!" he exclaimed loudly, then winced at the volume. The room two doors from the end had a squiggle that looked to Harry to be a four as part of the number. Harry figured he'd take his chances on that being it.
He was heading towards the door when one of the doors he was passing and someone stormed out, knocking him into the wall. Harry soon found himself pinned to a wall by a fierce looking boy of about sixteen. Harry stared at him, wide-eyed. Were all ninjas this quick to pick a fight?
"Um, excuse me?" Harry said. "What the hell are you doing?"
The boy sneered. "A foreigner, huh?"
Harry was a little bit annoyed that his accent was that bad, but he could hardly blame the boy for that. "Yes, actually," he said politely. "I just arrived today."
"That's no excuse," the boy said, tightening his grip on Harry's throat. Harry was beginning to wonder if he should do something about that. The kid wasn't a threat, really, but it went against the grain to let someone who only came up to his shoulder push him around. "You'd better learn the rules real quick, if you don't want your travels cut real short." The boy laughed unpleasantly, as if he thought that was a witty threat. "We don't like to be disturbed, get it? If you're going to stay here, you'd better stay out of our way and be as quiet as a mouse."
Harry bit back a sigh. "Look," he said tiredly. "I don't know who you are and I don't really care. I've had a long day, and-" he was interrupted by the boy punching him hard in the stomach.
The boy yelped, and released him, shaking his hand out. Harry rolled his eyes. The boy had hit the iron-hard physical and magical shield Harry kept a few millimetres above his skin at all times, bound by runes cut into his skin. The boy was clearly regretting it. The shield was the most advanced anti-assassination shield in existence, and considering Harry had had at least one, and up to as many as five, assassination attempts made on him every week for the last four years, he really needed it. It wouldn't stand up to a battle, but it would block the first few attacks, and give Harry time to put up a stronger shield.
In honesty, the boy did recover admirably, pulling out one of those nasty throwing knives ninjas seemed so fond of. Harry could understand why. They hurt like buggery, as he had discovered in Orochimaru's lair.
"I'm a ninja of Rain, here to take the Chuunin exam," the boy hissed. "You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into."
It was true. Harry didn't know, and to be honest, he didn't really care. Irritated now, as well as tired, he snapped back, "Really, small children like you should respect their elders and betters."
The next few things happened nearly simultaneously. The boy threw the knife. Harry deflected it with slightly more force than necessary and it ended up buried to the hilt in the wall behind the boy. Then he stepped forward, punched the boy with magically enhanced strength, shoved him back into the room and slammed and locked the door.
Then he ran like hell. The last thing he needed was a real fight on his first day here, and anyway, ninjas were creepy, and far too much like the assassins that annoyed Harry on a regular basis for him to appreciate their unique skills.
Since a strategic retreat was clearly necessary, Harry apparated up to the roof with a soft pop. There were no stairs up here, so hopefully no one would disturb him. He looked around, and seeing no one in sight lay down on the far side of the sloped roof, sighing in pleasure at the warm sunlight. Soon his eyes began to grow heavy, and he relaxed, letting himself doze.
Harry's very pleasant relaxation time was interrupted when something large and heavy landed on his stomach. Harry sat bolt upright, wand springing to his hand and spells to his tongue, and mentally thanked Hermione again for his shield. It was getting a lot of use today.
Looking around, he saw a boy lying bound and gagged a little way from him, struggling furiously. Harry scratched his head and looked around. The boy clearly couldn't move, so how had he landed on Harry? Perhaps he had been dropped? But Harry couldn't see anyone else around.
Then Harry happened to glance at his wand, and realized what must have happened. "Oh. Oops," he said quietly, and went over to release the boy who had gotten on the bad side of a highly trained wizard's ingrained reflexes.
Dragging himself to his feet with a sigh, and thinking mournfully of his nice, peaceful holiday, Harry went over and ungagged the blond haired kid, only to be subjected to a string of curses that would make a sailor blush.
Harry sat patiently and waited till the kid had run out of words, then he added a few more.
The kid stared at him, wide-eyed. "That's… really disgusting," he said, sounding impressed.
Harry nodded gravely. "Your one about the slugs and the kidneys was pretty good, too. Now, would you mind telling me why you jumped on me? I was having a very nice nap, you know."
The kid immediately scowled. "Jumped on you? You were the one who got in my way. Everyone knows that this roof is safe to travel on. You shouldn't just be lying around on it," he said heatedly.
"Safe to travel?" Harry asked doubtfully. "Is jumping from roof to roof a very common way to travel here?"
The kid gave him a withering look. "Well, obviously," he said. "What rock have you been hiding under? Haven't you ever seen a ninja before?"
Harry cuffed him lightly on the side of the head. "Man, children here are so rude-"
"I'M NOT A CHILD!" the kid yelled, and Harry winced at the volume.
"Sure, sure," he said indifferently. "So what, you're some kind of ninja? Aren't you a bit small?"
The kid looked extremely offended. "Hey, I'm a ninja of the Hidden Village of the Leaf! So you'd better untie me, or you'll be in big trouble."
Harry looked at him thoughtfully. "Really? I'll be sure to watch out for it, then. Thanks for the warning." Then he levitated the kid with a flick of his wand, and hung him upside down from the inn's sign, ignoring the kid's screams of protest.
He stood on the edge of the roof, looking down at the yelling kid, who was promising him many slow and painful deaths, and considered it a job well done. Then he apparated back into the building, straight into the room he thought must be his this time, and hoped the quiet pop wouldn't signal his location to any of the enemies he'd made today.
Thankfully, the room seemed empty, so he assumed it must be his. After investigating the room thoroughly, he cast a longing look at the bed (wonderful, glorious sleep!) but instead gave a deep sigh and sat down cross-legged in the centre of the floor, taking out his wand. With so many hot-tempered people around, he figured he'd better put up stronger wards than the usual Proximity/Locking/Stalling combination.
He shook his head a bit at his dramatics. Ah, poor wee Harry, he mocked himself. Even on holiday, the work of an Auror is never done.
He smiled, then pushed all his distractions aside, settled down and got to work.
A/N: All comments and criticism welcomed with open arms, as always.