O, My Captain

A Xenocide Production

AN: Greetings, True Believers. I regret to announce that I'm back on writer's block again. Joy of joys, eh? Fortunately, the opening scene of Initial Offensive Ch.6 is already done, so hopefully the rest will follow. Enjoy this little oneshot on the nature of captaincy.

Summary: O Captain! My Captain! Rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills! (Tentruths Format)

Disclaimer: I've given up trying to get Bakamoto to sell me the rights to PTS. Cuz we all know that an uneducated college freshman could do a better job with the plot than some skinny little otaku in Japan, right? I also own not "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman.


1. Ten Ten is nervous on the day she is to meet her very own genin squad. Her stomach is in knots, and she's quite sure that every iota of her emotions are bare to the world, despite the fact that her reputation as an ice queen, second only to Hyuuga Hanabi, has never been diminished over the passage of time. She sits on the very same bench that she herself, along with her old squad, sat upon on their very first day proceeding graduation from the Academy.

She worries that she isn't good enough. Worried that she isn't strong enough to protect her charges from the world, and at the same time, throw them nakedly to the wolves when she is ordered to do so. To do both of these things requires a kind of strength that she never could imagine she would have.

Her three soldiers appear suddenly before her, out of breath and faces flushed with youth and innocence. She is struck dumb by the realization of the sheer amount of responsibility that has been placed on her shoulders. To protect and teach. Train and enlighten. Harden and mold.

It's at this moment, when she feels as if she should march back to the Hokage's Tower and resign her post immediately, that one of her students steps forward and says,

"Hi! My name is Mishima Reika! I glad you're my sensei, 'cause I heard you were the strongest kunoichi in your year." The girl folded her arms across her chest and beamed. "I want to be the best, and you can make me stronger!"

The boy to her left, a waiflike little thing with a slightly cold expression, coughed and shook his head. "You, the best? Iruka-sensei will retire before that ever happens."

The boy to her right remained silent, eyes glittering behind his dark lenses. The Mishima girl turned red and proceeded to screech obscenities in the still morning air, effectively shattering what little peace was left.

Ten Ten could only close her eyes and smile a small, mysterious smile. She had almost forgotten what being a jounin sensei was really about. And that was lending your strength to others until they could find their own.


2. There were some things that Mitarashi Anko just couldn't stand.

The color amber, for one.

And people in general for another.

Life had been very cruel to her, as all had cause to know. All knew her unfortunate circumstances, but that's all they really were. Whispering and gossip mongering that was to be held in confidence whenever the twisted girl passed by, the very spitting image of her mentor, yet broken in some way.

She tried every way in the world to mend whatever it was that people said was broken.

Smiling didn't work. That made people frown.

Speaking softly didn't work. That made people flinch.

Even letting them use her didn't work. They merely turned a blind eye afterwards.

Anko came to the rapid conclusion that she had wasted her time trying to fix that moaning thing that twitched feebly in the depths of her soul. And she hated them all for it.

Yet there was only one part of her life that she seemed to tolerate, and toleration from the Special Jounin is akin to Buddha's favor. Favor that is sparsely given and easily taken.

She tolerates the short periods of time that she spends at the Academy. A lull in high ranked missions meant busywork that should have been delegated to experienced chuunin or administrative shinobi. Iruka notices her patience with the little ones when she corrects a stance here, and adjusts a grip there. Her sarcastic demeanor is downgraded to merely gruff, and he has yet to see her truly protest when his students pull her into a game of tag.

He pretends he doesn't see.

She pretends she isn't broken.

The children don't care.


3. Team Ten has very different views on what it means to be a captain.

Ino believes in the value of being connected to each of your students. A bond of comradie is the foundation of a strong team.

Chouji believes in being a pillar of strength for your followers. You should be willing to die for them and they for you.

Shikamaru knows his teammates are naïve fools. The world is not such a gleaming place as his two friends make it out to be. A captain does not have the luxury of becoming so close to his soldiers. Even Gai-sensei knew this, though he blatantly ignored the unspoken rule.

He reflects on this intrinsic truth as he lies dying in the arms of little Toho, that lazy bastard Jinta, and silent Atashi.

It's raining, just as it did that day so very long ago, and a cigarette is drooping lopsidedly out of the corner of his mouth.

His old teammates are fools. And he even more so.

He looked down at the gleaming metal that decorated his perforated chest. Toho was crying, Atashi had his eyes screwed shut, and Jinta could only stare in disbelief.

And Shikamaru could only sigh bloodily and murmur one thing before the light in his eyes faded.

How very like his old sensei.


4. It is a little known fact that the Inuzuka produce the cruelest and most vindictive shinobi in all of Konoha.

Having acquired an extremely beneficial contract with the Dog Family, the Inuzuka have prospered, showing rapid rates of growth in both power and wealth. So much so that the Hyuuga have been quietly setting up…safeguards in the event that the rising clan should take it into their head to place themselves above Konoha's Most Ancient and Noble Bloodline.

And perhaps it is good that they do so.

For while the contract between the Inuzuka and their summonses greatly strengthen their family, that power also comes at a price. With each successive generation, the Inuzuka are that much closer to losing their humanity. The pack mentality and survival of the fittest has begun to strain the very sanity of some of the brightest stars in the clan.

Long before she became a mother, Inuzuka Tsume, during a crucial espionage mission to Rain country, murdered a severely wounded comrade and disposed of his body in such a way that it could never have been recovered, either by the enemy or Konoha shinobi themselves. When questioned before a court martial committee, Tsume only shrugged and said,

"He was near to mortally wounded and slowing us down. If the Rain had caught us, we would be in the middle of another Great Shinobi War." She had bared her teeth and added softly, "I saw an opportunity to salvage the mission and ease my comrade's pain. Would any one of you not done the same?"

She was released without any further public explanation, nor penalty that anyone could see. The Inuzuka were watched more closely, and the Hyuuga sharpened their blades.

Kiba was recommended by his old sensei to become the captain of his own team, but was summarily refused. He went home confused, shamed, and saddened.

Tsume only narrowed her eyes and shrugged helplessly when she heard the news. Some things were best left to ignorance.

The Inuzuka embraced wholeheartedly the notion of putting the whole before the one, and indeed, their gradual decline of humanity only served to boost their acceptance. But somehow, the values that every shinobi held dear in their hearts and recognized as a universal truth also became the very downfall of the Inuzuka.

No Canine Master or Mistress ever became a jounin sensei after Tsume was eventually stripped of that rank.

And the Hyuuga kept a watchful eye, should ever they feel the need to bare their blades.

In a generation or so, they probably would.


5. Hyuuga Neji is the third member of one of Konoha's founding clans to accept a post as a jounin sensei.

The honor of first place had been bestowed upon the Sarutobi clan, who had produced a genius of a boy who was fortunate enough to have both the Shodai and Nidaime as his sensei. The Sarutobi held it as a matter of pride that one of their many sons was so trusted as to be given the future of Konoha to mold.

The Kazuma clan most likely would have protested one of their own becoming the second noble clan to dirty themselves with a common title such as jounin sensei. Orochimaru could not be bothered to conform to his clan's ideals, and told them so through some very choice demonstrations of exactly how good he was at summoning snakes, and which particular summons preferred human sacrifice.

The Elder Council of Hyuuga was severely outraged, as no Hyuuga, whether they be Branch or Main House, should ever lower themselves to be a mere teacher. Hyuuga were warriors and, shameful though it was, scholars of the highest degree. Any Hyuuga was far too valuable to be wasted on the likes of the commoners.

The Rokudaime, who had been extremely irritated to be interrupted during his mealtime of Ichiraku ramen, told the Hyuuga petitioners to fuck off. When they tried to press the issue, he merely stood up and walked around the mahogany desk to stand beside Neji, who had been standing quietly behind the Council, fuming but fully prepared to reluctantly accede to their wishes.

"Hyuuga Neji is a far better man than any of you worthless bastards will ever be. I trust him with the life of my child. Are you calling my daughter a fucking 'triviality'?"

The Hyuuga were silent.

Neji vowed then and there that he would die before anything happened to his Hokage's child, and the same went for the other genin placed in his team.

The Rokudaime merely smiled and went back to his lunch. Neji shook his head in bemusement as he mock docilely followed the meek Elders out the door.

Naruto was still Naruto, when it came to certain priorities.

Ramen tasted horrible cold.


6. Hatake Kakashi doesn't often think of his father these days.

Though the White Fang's name is on the Memorial Stone, by his family's code of honor, he was forbidden to even mention his father's name for the rest of his natural life. The shame of defeat and the knowledge that he had put his teammate's lives before that of his villages' was more than enough to stain the family name for generations to come. If there were any future generations, that is. Really, it was rather curious that the Sandaime had ordered his father's name etched into the Stone. Even the more neutral families and clans had raised an eyebrow at that.

The Kazuma sneered, as they always did.

Of course, he did not truly have any family left to enforce his rule, but he liked to use it as an excuse should anyone ever become too overly curious, as the ever exuberant Maito Gai had done on numerous occasions.

He could recall the very last conversation he had had with his father, exactly two months and three days after the disastrous mission to Suna, and exactly one week before his father's suicide.

His father had sat him down and explained very clearly and very slowly why his son would grow up without a father.

"I failed as my duties as a captain, Kakashi-kun. I failed the village, and that is something that you must never do."

The little boy was solemn, a trait that he had gained early on from his father. He had often wondered if his smiles were from his mother.

"But papa, I thought you said that friends were more important than rules."

His father only shook his head. "I was wrong, son. I see that clearly now. Those who abandon their friends are scum, but those who abandon their mission are traitors and trash. Never forget that."

And that had been that. He did not speak to his father for an entire week, nor did he cry or scream when he found the corpse of his father, entrails still warm and twitching. Out of the entirety of Konoha, he was the only one who petitioned not to allow his father's name placed on the Memorial. Not even his father's enemies had tried to deny him that. When asked why he would do such a thing, Kakashi would only shrug and state in his high, childish voice. "Father betrayed the village. He was a traitor and nothing but trash to me."

It had taken the death of a dear friend for the damage caused by his father to come undone, but some things could never wholly be healed.

It is his deepest, most shameful secret that he had considered leaving Naruto to die at the Valley of the End to chase after Sasuke. It had been only for an instant, and it was only fleeting as the ghost of his father's whisper. But it was there.

And that was all that mattered.


7. The ANBU Corps of Konoha had extremely stringent requirements for their recruits.

Every member of the Corps had to be perfect.

Their captains were required to be gods.

One must be emotionless to a fault, possessing the countenance of a stone, and cold as ice.

Pleas for mercy were lost on him. Eyes full of tears were merey torn from their sockets. Beseeching hands were impaled on cold steel.

One must be willing to put the all before the one, and be willing to sell your soul, along with that of your comrade's, to the devil and be glad of it.

He embraces Shisui in his arms as he would a lover, and gently lowers his body to the ground. He leans over to divine the last wet gurgles of his friend, searching for immortality in them.

One must be willing to strike down everyone and everything in one's path, man, woman, and child if need be.

He ignores feeble twitchings of the father. He ignores the wails of the woman, heavy with child, as she dances upon the end of his sword. But he deliberately gazes into the eyes of the child as he slowly leeches the air from the boy's lungs.

Above all, one must be capable of following orders, obedient unto death.

"For the good of the Clan, Itachi. Always for the good of the clan."

Uchiha Itachi was a god.

And He struck them down with the calm certainty of the righteous.

The irony is not lost on those who had eyes to see, and the Uchiha clan saw it all in its divine glory as the whisper of a blade was drawn across the first throat.


8. "How does one reap the whirlwind, Gaara?"

It is the first question that his Baki-sensei ever asked him, and it was also the last. The Gaara of Then had only one reply to everything: Death.

But as time went on, whenever he saw a breath of wind ghosting over the top of a dune, scattering the desert's blood to the four corners of the earth, or when the evening sunlight would paint his village in a multitude of earthen tones, or when the wind would seem to moan his mother's name, he would always come back to the first lesson he was ever taught, and Baki-sensei had been wise to see that it was all he would ever need.

Not one day passes without that question surfacing in his mind.

It usually comes to the fore when he is issuing orders to his soldiers, especially in times when he knows with absolute certainty that he is sending at least a handful of each group to their deaths.

It also comes to mind when he is given the list of newly minted Genin, their teams, and their designations. As with every year, he sits down behind his desk, strangely reminiscent of the Hokage's oaken monstrosity, and pores over the file, committing each face and name to memory.

Since his Induction Ceremony, he has carefully studied approximately 462 students, and come to know all of them almost as intimately as their instructors.

Not that they knew, of course.

It would almost certainly damage his reputation as the stoic Kazekage of Suna if he were to be found displaying sentiment of any sort.

Of those 462 children, over half of them are dead, and every single one of them by his hand.

There was some nameless emotion that stirred in his chest when he thought of young Yashamaru's smile and Temari's wails of pain when her son's broken and lifeless body was brought back by his uncle. Temari and Kankuro visited his grave on a daily basis, but Gaara could not seem to force his feet to enter that hallowed ground.

Tomoko had always been a shy girl, and her teammates were never quite the same when her body couldn't be recovered after the disastrous first invasion of Otokagure. He suspected that they had begun to hate him the very instant that he had coldly informed them that no more resources would be wasted searching for a dead and obviously destroyed body.

The burden is heavy, but he shoulders it as every good captain does. The captain grasps the whirlwind with both hands weathers the storm for his men.

He will reap the whirlwind for them, and be damned for it.


9. For all of his strengths, and many of his strengths have only just been awakened by his blonde counterpart, Gaara still has far too many faults to be considered human.

It's an absurd thought, isn't it? That one can be so flawed as to not even be considered human, though it is Gaara's greatest desire, and one that he will see fulfilled even if he has to see every last wall of stone torn down, every last barricade of wood burnt to ashes, and every last resource at his personal disposal drained to the dregs.

His most glaring fault though, is his inability to see people as more than objects that he interacted with over the course of his day.

Oh, you could argue that the Uzumaki brat had changed Gaara, and he was no longer the bloodthirsty thing that slavered for fresh meat in the shadow of a full moon. And in a sense, Subaku no Gaara had changed, though perhaps change is not the right word.

It is an indisputable fact that humans are the top of the natural food chain. This is so because of homo sapiens instinctive ability to reason, to survive, and most importantly, adapt. It is adaptability that allows mankind to build a fire to drive away cold, survive in every corner of the globe, and fashion deadly instruments that aid in the most celebrated pastime of them all: Death.

But what is not taken into account is the combination of a Demon's nature directly interfacing with a Human's nature. What results in the culmination of the ability to adapt, and the even stronger need to survive? Demonic resolve meets Human resourcefulness.

If the Kami had never cursed mankind before, then they certainly started when the Shodai Raikage performed the prototype Six Pronged Demonic Seal on a carefully selected baby boy almost two hundred years ago, capturing the Nekomata during one of its fits of slothfulness.

So began the downfall of the human race.

Jinchuuriki were trained to be weapons, with the noted exception of the Kyuubi's container, and Gaara was literally torn from the womb in Suna's mad quest for power.

In the beginning, there was death. And the vicious cycle continued until His Other That Was Himself showed Gaara that there were things not ever dreamt or imagined in his limited philosophy.

But still, an enlightened awakening is not enough to make up for a lifetime of brutal instincts.

While Gaara is slowly, ever so slowly, learning how to be human, he recognizes that he is supposed to care for his people, but not why he should.

A captain is not supposed to feel for his soldiers, even if he does reap the whirlwhind for them.

They are merely there for his acknowledgement, and every life lost in battle meant one less existence that would verify his own.

It is this frame of mind that he is in when he reads the yearly list of Genin, and it is this frame of mind that he is in when he forces himself to visit his nephew's grave, and it is this frame of mind that he is in when the very first tear he has allowed himself since he was four dropped onto his brother's broken body.

Gaara is not yet human. But he is learning.


10. It all came down to the two of them, as it always had been, and always would be come to think of it.

Two men locked in an eternal struggle, in between sun and moon, over sea and under stone, and brighter than star and darker than flame.

An endless cycle of end over end and selfish survival.

The battle raged around them, though it seemed to fade into nothingness, as though there were only the two of them in existence, and the entire cosmos held its breath whenever they moved.

He stared at the man across from him, and something not at all like regret flashed across his face. He had done too many things that he could not and would not regret, for that would mean that his entire life had been a sham for chasing after something that had never really been there, and was only an illusion for those who starved for such meaningless concepts like revenge and power.

The other man, on the other hand, was cold as ice, his cobalt eyes exuded a piercing rage that no longer harbored hope or naiveté. He had lost that sense of innocence when his mother had been cut down by the last Swordsman of the Mist. The man had had little time to celebrate his hard earned victory before the blond boy had rushed upon him and literally slit the swordsman open from throat to crotch.

Yes, they were two very different people from who they had once been.

One had learned the value of the past.

One had learned the uselessness of the future.

So the dance began, and they were as gods, trading blows that shook the earth and tore open the heavens.

They fought until rage abated and all that was left was stillness.

They fought until they had no eyes to see, ears to hear, or tears to cry.

They fought, until at last, he lay upon the muddy ground, with his head resting on the lap of his enemy.

The end had come, and the taste of it was bitter.

With his last breath, all of his hatred, all of his happiness, all of his sorrow, and all of his regret was uttered in one last sigh.

"My captain, I fulfilled my promise."

And there he lied, cold and dead.

Lend me your thoughts and opinions. I always welcome them.