Last chapter was a random interlude for a character who will eventually play a bigger role in the story. But now, onto the last member of Team 12.
Team Twelve 4:
Inrou Jen, at first glance, appeared to be little more than a normal, civilian housewife, which was partially true. The lithe, auburn-haired woman favored plain, dark blue kimonos with dull white sashes as her main dress, with previously said hair done up in a bun. Her wooden zoori and white socks, combined with her slow, graceful style of walking, further seemed to suggest nothing out of the ordinary.
Which was the point. While Jen was indeed a wife and mother to two darling little children, she was also a Jounin-rank med-nin, the third-highest possible rank in the shinobi world (only surpassed by Sannin and Hokage). Not only that, but her combat record was nothing short of spectacular, having completed nearly three dozen S-rank missions and six dozen A-rank missions over the course of her career. With only the forehead protector across her brow signifying her status as a shinobi, she'd been dubbed (derisively at first, but now with near-reverent awe) the Housewife Ninja.
And the Housewife Ninja was not in a good mood.
"I'm going to kill him," she seethed, leaping over the rooftops towards the Hokage tower, the tallest and best defended installation in Konoha. It served as the office and headquarters of the Hokage and the ANBU special forces, responsible for managing any and all activities of the ninja serving the Leaf.
Jen landed on the upper balcony of the tower, her eyes practically burning with fury. She stalked into the tower itself, her zoori barely making any noise on the carpeted floor. The ANBU guards noted this and chose not to stop the woman. When Inrou Jen was making noise, it was best not to interfere.
"Excuse me ma'am, you can't just-AUUUGHHHH!"
CRASH! The more experienced ANBU sighed behind their animal-like masks.
'Newbie,' they thought, half pity and half disbelief.
The Third Hokage was well into his eighties. He'd originally retired and handed his office over to the Fourth Hokage, a brilliant young man with blond hair and a strong, vibrant soul. Alas, the Fourth Hokage's dedication to Konoha and it's people cost him his life against the Kyuubi, and so the Third resumed his post, twelve additional years past his original retirement.
As such, he made no show of surprise when Inrou Jen burst into his office through the double doors. He would have appreciated it if she hadn't knocked the doors off their hinges though.
"Hokage-sama," Inou stated, in a sweet voice practically dripping with venom, "we REALLY need to talk."
The room's sole other occupant poked his head over the orange book he was reading. His standard-issue Konoha forehead protector was at an angle, covering his left eye, while a mask covered in face up to the bridge of his nose. Only his messy grey hair and right eye were visible, and that lone eye scrutinized the Housewife Ninja with a dull expression.
"Inou," greeted the Copy Ninja Hatake Kakashi lazily. Inou's right eye twitched.
"Hatake," she got out through clenched teeth. She then turned to the Hokage.
"Inou, I know what you're going to say-" The Sandaime began.
"Then I'll say it anyway! How could you give Hatake Kakashi, the laziest, most irresponsible ninja in the entirety of THIS VILLAGE the instructor position for TEAM SEVEN?!" Inou roared. Hatake's single visible eye closed in his version of a smile as he put one of his hands behind his head, rubbing sheepishly. The Hokage coughed.
"Because Kakashi is the only member of this village with an active Sharingan, and Uchiha Sasuke needs to be instructed in the use of his family's bloodline," the Hokage responded.
"Oh, by ALL MEANS, let's let the boy with a superiority complex a MILE WIDE, with an obsession to get revenge for the death of his family overriding all other concerns, and a potentially unstable personality be TAUGHT how to KILL PEOPLE by THIS LAZY BUM!" Inou seethed. THe Hokage sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Oh, and by all means, let Naruto Uzumaki, who has been isolated, hated, and alone MOST of his life by this village for SOMETHING you've banned from EVER being discussed, EVEN TO HIM! ALSO be taught by this bastard!" Jen turned on Kakashi and shot him a glare, her fingers working behind her back to cast a mild jutsu that made her eyes appear to be glowing red. Kakashi coughed nervously at this.
"I will give all three of my students the attention and care-"
"LIKE HELL YOU WILL! I know you, Hatake! Even with that mask I can read you like a book! You'll favor Sasuke, inflating his already out of control ego, and neglect the other members of the team! Even though some might say you OWE Uzumaki because of who your SENSEI was!" Kakashi's easygoing manner vanished in an instant, to be replaced by cold anger. The tell-tale sound of electricity crackling could be heard, as the Copy Nin glared at the Housewife Nin.
"Don't go there," Kakashi said, quiet anger in his tone. Inou glared right back.
"Why not? It's about time SOMEONE confronted this!"
"You may be able to read into my heart, Inou, but what I do with it is MY business, not yours," Kakashi responded, still quiet but with a thundercloud of fury behind his words. Inou's anger remained firm, as she leaned her hand provocatively against her fan.
"Not when it involves lives going under your instruction, and PROTECTION, Hatake," Jen returned flatly, her anger tempered into dangerous but focused killing intent that made the room temperature drop noticeably. "They don't deserve to be sacrafices to YOUR ego OR guilt."
"Enough!" Sarutobi stated, dignified anger in his speech that made both nin look back at him. "I will not have two of my best jounins fighting in my office! Back off, both of you!" Her eyes still locked on Kakashi, Inou tucked her battlefan back into her robe's sash, as the sound of lightening crackling ceased and Kakashi resumed looking at his book. The Hokahe sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"We've been over this several times, Jen-"
"And we'll be going over it SEVERAL MORE TIMES, until you finally come to your senses! Look, Hokage-Let me instruct Team 7. Hatake can instruct the Uchiha in the use of his bloodline on a part-time basis. It should appeal to him-Less work to do," Inou stated, eyes narrowing a bit more at the Copy Nin. Kakashi's lone visible eye narrowed back, as if in challenge.
"No. Inou, you have been assigned your own team, you will instruct them. And I have faith in Kakashi's ability to teach. The decision is FINAL, Inou, and I'm sorry, but I cannot go back on every decision I make now can I?" Sarutobi sighed. "Besides... The Council was reluctant to even allow Naruto to be a ninja. They would allow him on a team provided that the instructor was powerful enough to deal with him should..." THe Hokage left it at that. Inou snarled.
"THAT'S BULLSHIT! How could they doubt the Fourth so badly? Oh wait, it MUST be easy to do since they've ignored his LAST REQUEST ever since the attack!" The Hokage sighed. At the time, making it a crime to speak about the Fourth's sacrafice, and Naruto's, had seemed prudent. The fewer people who knew that the Fourth Hokage had sealed the Kyuubi, the most powerful demon on the continent, the one that had single-handedly nearly destroyed Konoha twelve years ago, into a child, the better. Naruto Uzumaki would hold the Kyuubi prisoner in his own body until the day he died, and when that happened, both demon and container would die, bringing a final end to the menace of the Nine-Tailed Fox.
Aside from that however, Naruto was no different from any other child. The Fox did not directly influence Naruto's mind, and it's presence within him had the potential to make Naruto very powerful, as the Fox was forced to protect his jailor lest he died with Naruto in a violent situation. Saruobi smiled fondly of his surrogate grandson, how under the mischeif and pranks he pulled he was kind, loyal, honest, and brave.
But the villagers refused to see that. Hell, the number of times Naruto's life had almost been taken was enormous. The daily abuse he had suffered-The looks, the unfair treatment in shops and businesses, the social isolation-It was a wonder the boy hadn't grown up into a psychopathic killer. But no, the boy kept trying to become a ninja, kept announcing and working towards his goal of someday becoming Hokage himself, to show everyone that he wasn't a demon.
It nearly broke his heart... But as Hokage, the fact that his word was law was a double edged sword. He could not rescind some orders, and the Ruling Council of the village held him in check in many ways. This was one of them.
"Jen... Hatake will instruct Team 7. And you have Team 12. You cannot be of two minds about this. You must focus on the task given to you. These children need YOU now." Jen sagged, her teeth gritted. She nodded stiffly, before bowing.
"Hokage-sama," she stated, quietly and respectfully, as she departed. Sarutobi sighed, noticing that Kakashi too had left.
Naruto... I hope that when you become Hokage, you do not make the same mistakes that I have...
Five days later...
"Here to rub it in?"
Kakashi blinked, and shook his head, a wry smile forming under his mask as he leapt out of the tree he had been hiding in. Jen was standing at the edge of one of Konoha's numerous training fields, this one labeled number fifteen. In the clearing ahead, three young genin were training.
The first was a surprisingly developed girl, with long brown hair done up in a tie that resembled a dolphin's tail under her blue bandanna and forehead protector. Her dark blue hooded sweatshit and tan pants had a passing resemblance to the attire favored by Uchiha Sasuke. Her feet, hands, arms, and knees were protected in rough-looking leather and steel bands, straps, and plates. She was practicing acrobatics, flipping, tumbling, and spinning in the air over the sections of ground and rock appearing and jutting out below her.
The source of these obstacles was a lithe, bronze-skinned girl with her shoulder-length hair done in two lowtails behind her shoulders. Her forehead protector was tied around her neck, a common style for many kunoichi (female ninja) these days. Under a tan jacket, purple tanktop, and green shorts she wore a fishnet body sock, providing greater protection should an attack get through her defenses. By the seal glowing on her hand she was a member of the Pagnin clan, and from the way the ground around her moved with her taijutsu stances and gestures she was using a summoning contract with a force of the earth. The Pagnins were unique in combing such techniques with their taijutsu, turning air, fire, lightening, water, and the earth itself into extensions of their kicks, punches, and other movements.
The third child was moving through the obstacle course, only with a more direct approach. The twelve year old looked barely over five feet tall, and yet was handling a sword nearly as long with incredible precision and speed. His wavy brown hair and bright eyes seemed out of place for a serious swordsman, but every strike made with his massive weapon spoke of forethought and experience. His garments were dark-Black jacket, dull gray undershirt, black shorts, and leather gauntlets, gloves, and harness. His forehead protector had been stitched into the chest strap of his sword harness, covering his heart as he bobbed, weaved, and sliced his way through.
"No." Kakashi returned at last. He nodded in approval as the long-haired girl in blue was knocked back by a blast of earth, but the boy with the sword used the flat of his weapon to catch her. She kicked off the sword, slamming both fists through the tower of soil that had attacked her. "They seem to be working together well already."
"To a point," Jen stated quietly. "Shiina was fighting the others when I first got here, trying to get them to stop being such 'wusses'. I had one of the giant combat dummies attack." Kakashi winced. Those dummies were loaded with automated weapons, including kunai launchers, shuriken shooters, and flamethrowers.
"Tsume tried to fight it himself, get the others out of the way. Shiina refused, tried fighting it on her own, and NEARLY got maimed if Tsume hadn't taken the hit for her." Jen smiled slightly. "I've got to break Tsume of doing that so much." Kakashi hummed.
"Self-hating, self-sacrificing type?" Jen nodded.
"The same. Aki managed to slow it down enough for Shiina to drag Tsume out of range. They came up with a plan to take it down, using Tsume as wounded bait. And it worked." Inou smirked. "Aki was the first to figure out it was some kind of test of teamwork, so they gave it their all. I treated them to lunch after."
"Hmph. Took my genins til mid-day to figure out my test," Kakashi sighed. "Sakura's a complete fangirl for Sasuke and abuses Naruto, while Sasuke kept trying to do everything himself, regarding the others of his team as liabilities. And Naruto, well... He was the first to get it, but he had to beat his head against the problem several times to do so."
"Don't tell me you want to trade already?" Kakashi smirked right back.