Disclaimer: I own none of these characters or any of the licensed materials they might be related too except the ones I make up of course.

Certainly More than a Raccoon

Naruto was fidgeting again.

"Naruto, you've trained half your life to utilize stealth, do you think you could please act like it?" scolded his teammate.

"Bite me pretty boy", was the blonde's reply.

"What did you say you little troll?!" Sakura demanded.

"This could be going better", sighed their teacher inwardly. How was it that the first team to ever pass his test was also one of the most ill matched? He was surprised that they hadn't managed to come to blows yet. Then again, Naruto still had a knot on his head from a smack Sakura had given him earlier. The kids at least had the sense to whisper when on a stakeout. Unfortunately, their argument was rapidly working against their better judgment as their voices were beginning to rise.

"You're not the sensei Sasuke", Naruto declared in a whisper rising dangerously in volume.

"Maybe not, but I am, so will the three of you kindly zip it?" Kakashi finally intervened, "We are supposed to be on a mission here, and I'm sure you can stop fidgeting if Sasuke can stop nodding off." Both of the boys stiffened as their mistakes were pointed out and found very interesting things in the distance to stare at.

Kakashi smiled at his own brilliance, though the mask and the night hid that fact. In one sentence, he'd managed to shut both of the twerps up. Aside from giving him some peace, he'd kept the rivalry between the two on the level. The two both had potential, and Kakashi had picked up on using their rivalry as motivation in just a few days. The Jonin knew he would have to be careful though. These rivalries tended to get nasty when allowed to go too far. Now if he could just find a way to quiet the Haruno girl, he might be able to get a little shut-eye.

The mission had started on such a positive note too. The team had just been put together, so they had nothing but pointless D-rank missions so far. Though Naruto was the only one to voice it, they had all begun to wonder what pulling weeds and catching cats had to do with being a ninja, even if the cat had taught Naruto how to properly defend his face the last few times they had gone after it. Therefore, when they had been given the task of capturing a thief, stars had flashed in the Genins' eyes. Catching a cat burglar certainly did have a heroic feel to it. It was a bit of a letdown then when they found out that they were actually trying to catch whoever had been raiding their employer's pantries.

A noble family by the name of Nobend had apparently been finding foodstuffs missing from their inventories. After questioning their kitchen staff with no results, the head of the family had decided to hire top ninja to catch the intruder. The man then saw the price of top ninja and quickly opted to hire the next tier below top ninja. Once he saw the price of those individuals, he repeated the first steps until he ended up with a D-rank mission for Genin.

After the first two nights of watching the estate with no results, Naruto had decided that the Nobends simply had a raccoon problem. By the third night, Kakashi was tempted to agree with him. The stakeout was really starting to cut into his sleep, and he had started to make it up by napping whenever his students weren't looking. It was now the fourth night and Kakashi was settling himself in for some much needed slumber. It figured then that it would be this night that things finally got interesting.

"Sensei, I think I see someone", whispered Sakura.

Naruto and Sasuke's heads perked up, and Kakashi cracked his eye open to see why the girl had interrupted a rather nice dream involving Anko, Kurenai, and mud (What? Don't judge Kakashi. It's been a long week.). All three followed the girl's outstretched finger to the shadows it was pointed at.

"I don't see anything", mumbled Naruto.

"I know what I saw twerp", she insisted.

Kakashi saw him. Whoever he was, he knew how to use shadows, and the Jonin was impressed with Sakura for spotting him. He'd wait until his other students found him though. They needed the practice.

"Wait, I think he's on the roof", Sasuke said.

"Yeah, he's by the chimney right?" agreed Naruto.

"Good eyes Sakura. Lets move, but keep your distance, we want to catch him in the act" Kakashi ordered.

The four of them leapt from the trees across from the Nobend compound and followed the figure across the rooftops, keeping low. The Genin lost him once or twice, but Kakashi kept them on track. The Jonin noticed that the thief certainly seemed to know his way around. How long had he been robbing this place? He certainly had skills beyond the average cutpurse, but anyone with brains wouldn't keep coming back to the same location.

The lone thief stopped, apparently reaching his destination.

"The kitchens?" thought Kakashi, "That's right, pass up the family jewels for the family beef jerky. This guy has a one track mind, and it's in his gut."

The figure stooped down and opened a skylight, dropping silently out of sight.

"Alright, lets catch this loser", Naruto breathed, already drawing a kunai.

"Cool it Naruto, wait till he comes out, we don't want to damage our employer's home do we?" corrected Kakashi.

The boy folded his arms in frustration but didn't need to be told twice. He and the other Genin got into position, and the four of them waited… and waited…aaaaaaand waited.

"What's taking this jerk so long?" thought Naruto, "Did he break in so he could bake a cake?"

At the last thought the figure appeared again, or rather three figures appeared. The trio burst from the skylight and bolted in opposite directions.

"Crap, they knew we were waiting! Get em'", called Naruto and took off after one of them.

"Wait, where did the other two come from?" asked Sakura.

"No time to find out, go or we lose them," replied Sasuke as he ran off.

Sakura shrugged and began her own pursuit over the rooftops.

"As expected, the three of them jumped the gun," sighed Kakashi to himself. What the three had failed to notice was that the figures they were pursuing weren't carrying any loot. As the Jonin had expected after such a long wait, the thief had caught on that he was being followed.

"Kage-bunshin," muttered Kakashi, "so this guy has some jutsus does he? Should be fun." Kakashi scanned the area, waiting for the real thief to make his escape. He could call his team back, but he wasn't sure they were ready for combat with other ninja yet. Besides, this guy had cost him far too much sleep to not pay Kakashi back with a little entertainment.

A door opened in the back of the building, and the Jonin watched as someone backed out the doorway with two bulging sacks of food in his arms.

"Getting greedy are we?"

The question belonged to Kakashi who now stood behind the would-be thief, his arms crossed and a scolding tone in his voice.

The boy, and that was what he was Kakashi realized, stiffened and turned around slowly.

The Jonin finally got a good look at the "master" burglar. His clothes clearly didn't fit, as his pant legs were rolled up, and his shirt and jacket hung loosely from his wiry frame. Had their original colors been visible, the clothes most likely wouldn't have matched either, but they had a common dark hue of dirt and overuse. Any exposed skin was wrapped in rags, showing only a pair of emerald eyes, which were currently wide and staring right at Kakashi. The boy simply stood there, unmoving.

"Geeze. Did I scare this kid stiff?" wondered the man.

He realized he hadn't when the boy said calmly, "Oh…There were four of you."

"Yes, there were," Kakashi replied.

"Hmm, could have sworn there were three," the boy continued as if arguing a point. His voice was somewhat dry and rasped a little, but still had the high pitch of youth.

"Nope, there were four," Kakashi corrected.

"Huh… Well… This changes things."

"I'd wager it does, would you care to come quietly?"

"Not particularly, would you care to let me go?"

"Not particularly," Answered Kakashi as he slowly began to wonder how he had gotten into this conversation.

The thief's shoulders slouched in defeat, and he grumbled, "Fine, I won't put up a fight. Just hold these for me for a second, will ya?" With that, both bags of food flew at Kakashi and the boy was off and running while the Jonin dodged the foodstuffs.

"About time this guy bolted," thought Kakashi as he started after him, "I was worried he might actually give up, and where's the fun in that?" His jovial nature was put to the test, however, when the explosive tag stuck to the back of one of the bags went off, spraying the man with the pulverized remains of a sizable portion of the Nobend family pantries. Whipping mustard off of his face and gathering his wits, Kakashi cursed and dashed after his target.

"Clever boy," the now much less entertained ninja admitted to himself.

Clever and fast might have been more accurate, as the boy was already almost out of sight. Kakashi knew he couldn't risk losing him and stepped up the pace, hopping the walls of the compound just behind the kid.

All of these events were of coarse unknown to a young ANBU recruit drawn by the explosion. So he was certainly surprised when a terrified blond-headed child rounded the corner calling him for help, spouting something about a madman with explosives that was after him. The ANBU immediately drew his blade and pushed the child behind him for protection, not noticing the smirk that was pulling across the child's face or the sound of the child continuing to run. Kakashi was even more surprised when he rounded a corner and had to duck the katana of a gullible rookie. Cursing the young man and pushing him aside, he continued his pursuit, leaving a very confused ANBU wondering what had just happened.

"Great," complained the Jonin to himself, "Not only is this guy fast, but he's a smart #$ too".

A few blocks away, the child chuckled and congratulated himself as he ducked into an alley. He'd lost the food, but he had also lost his one eyed pursuer. He plopped down behind a dumpster to catch his breath and wait for things to die down.

He smiled to himself and muttered between breaths, "That guy wasn't half bad. Thought he had me there for a little while."

"I thought I did too, but you certainly are a fast one," came a voice from above.

The boy might have looked up, but he was too busy being tackled by Kakashi and roughly tied up.

The child was now staring at Kakashi in disbelief while swinging upside down from a street lamp.

"Now, would you like to explain yourself?" Kakashi asked as he pulled the mask from the boy's face. Kakashi had know he wasn't an adult, but he wouldn't have thought he was this young. He couldn't be older than one of his students.

The boy's slowly reddening face glared at him.

"I was hungry and all the stores were closed," the child spat.

"Cute," Kakashi sneered, though he was starting to get a kick out of the kid's attitude. He might have put Kakashi through hell in the past few minutes, but he had certainly done it with style. At these thoughts, he wondered if the explosive tag had given him a concussion.

"Kakashi sensei!" called a voice and the Jonin turned to see that his students had

finally caught up.

It hadn't been hard to find him. The clones had vanished shortly before the explosion and the three had been quite surprised until an explosion had gone off shortly afterwards. They had rushed back to the scene to find an awful mess of splattered foods and a trail of footprints in what looked like mustard leading down the street. They followed the trail past sleepy eyed Nobends who had been awakened by the explosion to a dazed looking ANBU who had simply pointed down the street and muttered darkly about the end of his career.

"Sorry sensei, I didn't realize it was a clone until the little twerp flipped me off and disappeared," Sakura apologized as she approached.

"Yeah, mine too," admitted Sasuke.

"Yours flipped you off? Mine punched me in the face before he poofed," complained Naruto while nursing a growing bruise on his cheek.

"Oh, sorry, number three is always a jerk. I can never figure that out," explained a strange child as he hung upside down from a lamp as if he did it every day.

"Quiet you," interrupted Kakashi giving the boy a rather unpleasant spin.

"Ummm, who is this guy Sensei, and why do you smell like a hotdog?" asked Naruto.

"This is our raccoon Naruto, and it's time we took him to the authorities." With that, Kakashi cut the rope to the lamp and threw the bound and uncooperative child over his shoulder, leaving the three very confused Genin to wonder what had just happened before hurriedly following after their teacher.