Shallow as the Ocean

Notes: Weird title I know, just think it the opposite of the old saying 'deep as a rain puddle'. Anyway, this fan fic was started with the intention of being a one-shot written in honor of Warrior-of-Ruin's b-day; but well the plot expanded beyond what I like to consider a 'one-shot'; so please forgive me Warrior-of-Ruin if it takes me awhile to complete you birthday present –sweat drop-

Disclaimer: If it appears in the Naruto anime/manga it's obviously not mine. I'm using the original characters, setting, and some plot elements of 'Naruto' without permission, but I'm not gaining profit from producing fan fiction so please refrain from suing me. Thanks.

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Prologue: Transcendence

"So…are you three ready to train today?" a deceptively 'chipper' sounding voice asked the disgruntled looking trio of Team 8.

"He's kidding…right?" a young man with rough looking brown hair and twin red triangle-like facial tattoos asked the teammates on either side of him.

"I doubt it." Shino replied while staring at their new sensei in a distrusting manner from behind his sun goggles.

Kiba then looked over to the shortest and sole female, member of the team.

"Umm, Kakashi-sensei…" she said, taking Kiba's looking as a signal for her to prompt a question on behalf of her team.

"Hn?" the masked-man questioned, "What is it Hinata-chan?"

The young Hyuuga woman couldn't stop her cheeks from turning a tinge pink after hearing Kakashi refer to her as 'chan'. Still she recovered quickly, "Well we…I mean…I was wondering do we really need to train so quickly. We just returned from a long mission a few hours ago…"

Suddenly, Hinata only had time to blink before Kakashi had all but vanished in front of her line of sight.

"Behind you!" Kiba warned, Akamaru barking along with his master; but it was too late, because the moment Hinata turned she found herself penned to the nearest training post, hands knotted behind her back by a length of rope.

"And it's carelessness like that…" Kakashi said as he stepped back from the tied up Hyuuga, "Is why you three need to train right after our mission."

Although Hinata couldn't see it, what with the mask being in the way, she could all but tell Kakashi-sensei was grinning.

He had made a perfect fool out of her.

And that realization made Hinata feel slow and stupid…

'He's not at all like Kurenai-sensei.' Hinata thought, all but wishing their female sensei would have her baby soon and could recover in time to take the reins back from Kakashi.

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Silently poised atop a tree branch, Shino allowed his dark gaze to wander the length of the forest.

First he looked to the East, South, West, and then North. Around him were miniature sentries of insects keeping watch and ready to alert their master to the slightest noise or smell of an intruder, namely the elusive copy-cat ninja.

'Where is he?' Shino pondered, 'It's been hours since he first insinuated this training exercise.'

The young man frowned, but it was hidden behind the high collar of his jacket, as he thought about how Naruto and Sakura would complain how Kakashi would sometimes ditch his young team in order to do…other things.

So, thinking ahead, Shino ordered a third of his bugs to scout ahead to find Kakashi, but even afterwards, the insects had yet to return, nor could Shino sense if they had been damaged or worse killed by the target.

To his right, an insect started drumming its wings against tree bark, creating a 'rattling' sound. His ears tuned to the vibrations, Shino knew from the start he shouldn't worry about the person approaching him.

'It's Kiba. Most likely he'll walk up and ask me…'

"Oi! Shino! Have you seen him yet?"

Shino just barely refrained from remarking how pointless Kiba's question was…or at least he tried to. But eventually, he had to say something.

"If I had discovered Kakashi-sensei, don't you think I would have attacked him by now?" Shino inquired.

"Sheessh…no need to be so uptight, it was just a simple question." Kiba snipped in response before he leaped up onto the same tree branch as Shino, Akamaru close behind him.

With the two young men- and one dog- playing look out, silence quickly crept in since Shino believed conversation and other unnecessary noises would alert Kakashi-sensei as to where they were waiting to spring and attack.

Kiba however started to grow bored of 'sit-and-wait' tactic well over fifteen minutes ago.

"Hey, Shino…"

"…what?" the bug user asked in a low mumble, while half-listening to the insects in case they gave the signal; but it was difficult for him to focus with Kiba talking right next to him.

"Have you noticed anything strange about our new sensei?" Kiba questioned aloud.

Unable to stop himself from becoming a tad…curious, Shino responded but kept his voice low and as quiet as possible.

"Kakashi-sensei is rather…eccentric yes. Why? Have you noticed something about him that I happened to miss?"

Kiba nervously scratched the back of his head, "Well…he seems to pick on Hinata-chan a lot."

Shino barely refrained from rolling his eyes, not that Kiba would have been able to see the motion what with the smoked glass of the sun-goggles.

"He's training us Kiba."

"Well yeah I know that. I'm not stupid!" Kiba said raising his voice, until Shino ground his sandal into his right foot to make the outspoken young man lower his tone.

"I mean whenever he has a new jutsu or technique he wants us to practice he always chooses Hinata-chan to go up and help him demonstrate. And…he likes to pick out what she's doing wrong every time she trains. It's almost like he's got something against her…or something."

It wasn't that Shino had not taken note of Kakashi-sensei's unusual brand of favoritism towards the female Hyuuga, he just felt it wasn't worth mentioning.

"Perhaps it's his way of coping with Hinata's short comings."

"Whoa, short comings!" Kiba shot back with a growl, until Shino motioned with a finger to his mouth for the other to shut up or at least tone it down…again.

"Hinata is still struggling with her self-confidence. You know that. I know that. And of course Hinata knows it. So, either Kurenai-sensei mentioned Hinata's issue to Kakashi-sensei, or he figured it out on his own."

Kiba moved to speak up again in defense of their teammate, but Shino cut him off, "Kakashi-sensei is most likely 'picking on Hinata' as you call it, to encourage her to stand up for herself when she faces real dangers instead of simply putting up with an annoying instructor."

The teammates and dog were surprisingly quiet for several minutes before Kiba sighed and conceded.

"I guess that makes sense. I still don't like it though."

"No one said you had to." Shino said quietly, "I would almost dismiss his behaviors as part of our training…if it wouldn't be so difficult to find him the first place."

"Think he bailed out on us?" Kiba questioned.

Shino shrugged, "Who knows. The insects I sent ahead have yet to find him."

Kiba snorted, "Just our luck that we'd get a 'new' sensei who can't decide if he wants to be a slave driver like Kurenai-sensei…or a slacker."

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Bending her legs at the knees, Hinata prepared herself to jump to the next tree branch. Firmly placing her sandals on thick bark-covered wood. Even with the Byakugan at her immediate disposal, Hinata found she was having a hard time locating Kakashi-sensei.

'Remember, Kurenai-sensei said he was once on the ANBU squad, so of course he'd know how to hide himself better than an average Jounin.' Hinata tried to remind herself.

Yet for all the practical explanations and reasons as to why she couldn't find Kakashi-sensei, it didn't stop Hinata from being eaten up by self-doubt.

'What if Kiba and Shino have already found him and are fighting without me?' Hinata wondered, yet shook her head the moment that thought came up.

'No, they'd find some way to tell me. After all, we're supposed to complete this exercise as a team and…'

"Ahhh!" the young woman screamed as she accidentally stepped into a trick rope.

The coarse fibers instantly coiled around her ankle, then some sort of hidden counterweight hoisted her further up into the tree, causing leaves to fly off, and spindly twigs to break in the wake of her ascension.

Eyes closed in order to protect them, Hinata didn't even dare pry one eyelid open until she had stopped swaying from side to side.

"Ah…I'm almost surprised to see you got caught so easily, Hinata-chan…" a familiar voice commented.

Closing her eyes tightly to the point it hurt, Hinata kept hoping it wasn't who she thought it was. She'd rather it be anyone else than who it must be…

"Hn, how are you going to get out of this I wonder. It's at least a thirty foot drop from here to the ground. A fall like that from this height would lead to a long hospital stay at least…or perhaps worse."

Swallowing once, Hinata finally dared to open her eyes. At first all she could see was black/white spots, her vision spinning from a sudden rush of blood to her head from hanging upside down.

Once her vision cleared, Hinata could see the soles of Kakashi-sensei's sandals, his legs folded Indian style, the hardback cover of an orange book held between his index and middle finger as his uncovered eye scanned the contents printed on the pages.

"Um…" Hinata uttered quietly, her lips momentarily pressed together as she considered what to do.

"I could…cut myself down, but I'd have to grab onto a branch quickly, so I don't fall."

"Good, but any Academy student could have figured that out." Kakashi replied lightly as he nonchalantly flipped to the next page.

"But what would you do if your hands are trapped too?" he asked in a cryptic manner.

"Eh?" Hinata asked, yet didn't have much time to think on it since two more ropes suddenly emerged from the tree branches and grasped her hands.

'Is this…some kind of jutsu?' Hinata asked herself since she couldn't think of any traps that could do this on their own, no matter who had set them up.

"So…" Kakashi asked as he closed his book, "What are you going to do now, Hinata-chan?" he asked with that same grin Hinata couldn't see from outside the mask, but could just 'hear' it coming out in his voice.

Hinata swallowed uneasily yet again, her head felt heavy from all the blood rising to it, and now her hands were starting to get the pins-and-needles sensation from being bound behind her back.

"Um…obviously cutting myself free is out of the question…" she muttered, eyes downcast only to look away as she saw the unpleasing scenery of what awaited her below- a long and all but fatal fall into the earth-.

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This was something new to Kakashi. His previous team, Team 7, had their own set of problems, downfalls, and pitfalls; but yet still managed to pull through some of the toughest situations. Team 8, however, was an entire matter all together. Kurenai-san had taught the kids well. They were already a well-oiled machine of teamwork with only a few kinks to work out.

One such 'kink' was Hinata-chan. It hadn't taken Kakashi long to notice that whenever Hinata faltered Kiba or Shino picked off where she lacked. While that was all well and good for teamwork, Kakashi knew from experience that teammates…won't always be there to watch your back.

He figured that now was the time for Hinata-chan to learn the same lesson. Or rather he waited for her to suggest calling for help, which- predictably- didn't take long.

"I…I could find a way to send a distress call to Shino-kun and Kiba-kun…"

"You could." Kakashi said, cutting her off., "But what if they're somewhere else, fighting for their lives. Would you honestly want to risk them getting harmed or killed just because you need help?"

He watched the girl swallow for a third time, sweat starting form along her face as it started to turn red from the build up of blood towards her head.

"N-no. I wouldn't want that at all!"

"Then…think for yourself for once and quit relying on other people to take of you and clean up the mistakes you made." Kakashi said.

He hadn't meant to come across as harsh, but Kakashi felt the Hyuuga heiress would do well to learn such hard lessons earlier on life before she would have to experience it first hand.

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Hinata could feel her palms become slick with sweat, yet her mouth was as dried and chapped as it could be.

'I've got to think how to get out of here…' Hinata thought to herself, her heart pounding more blood, making her head ache terribly.

She knew cutting the ropes would be the only way, but since she couldn't use her hands to free herself, she would have to come up with some other way to get a kunai from her jacket pocket and somehow cut the ropes stringing her up in the tree.

"Take your time," Kakashi said as he went back to reading his book.

For a moment, Hinata lowered her head in dejections, nothing she seemed to do could appease her new sensei.

Suddenly, an idea came to Hinata. Looking to one rope holding her right hand, then to the one holding her left, she first tested the strength of each rope. Finding the fibers to be stable and strong, Hinata exhaled before she stared to lean her body first to the right, then to the left, sort of like a pendulum.

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Paying half attention to his captive, the other half devoted to a particular riveting chapter in Icha Icha Paradise; Kakashi half wondered what the Hyuuga heiress planned on accomplishing by swinging back and forth.

Then he saw her aim was for tree branch right above them. Still, he wondered just what that would do in terms of freeing her, so for a moment, he placed the book aside and watched as Hinata struggled and strained to keep her swinging momentum going.

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'Almost…there…' Hinata thought to herself with each swing, until she finally had a length of rope wound around the tree branch above Kakashi-sensei.

Once the rope wound itself up on the branch, Hinata's hand grasped tree bark as she attempted to pull herself up, yet she could only pull half of her body up since her other hand was tied to an opposite limb.

'I need to find the counterweight…' Hinata thought to herself as she looked around the thick patches of leaves and limbs to find the weight which held her feet up in the tree. However, what Hinata didn't notice was the strain her feat of acrobatics had placed on the ropes on her hands.

While able to hold her weight free-swinging, the fibers were quickly worn down with the constant rubbing that occurred as she swung up onto the branch.

Kakashi watched, in horror, as Hinata found the counterweight and kicked it over…just as the ropes around her right wrist snapped cleanly off.

As the counterweight flew downward toward the ground so did Hinata.

"Wait!" Kakashi called out as he moved to quickly grasp Hinata's hand, but she slipped through his grasp.

"Dammnit…" the Jounin cursed as he raced down the tree in order to catch the Hyuuga heiress before she fell.

In a panic, Hinata applied chakra to her feet and pressed herself close to the tree so her sandals would stick to the tree and slow down her fall; but the heavy and quickly falling counterweight made it next to impossible for Hinata to slow down her fall.

Shutting her eyes, Hinata prepared for the inevitable fall to come and shatter her…

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'I'm not fast enough…I can't reach her before she hits the ground at this rate.' Kakashi thought all the while cursing himself for not using fresh ropes, instead of some old ones he had around his home.

Since the rope he used was old and brittle they were easy to break. The ropes tied to Hinata wrists were meant to stay tied so she could slow her decent but the right rope snapped, so she was falling too fast to react.

Instantly, Kakashi knew of a jutsu he could use to help catch Hinata before she could fall and injury, maybe even kill, herself.

'But would it work with two people? I've only seen it done by one person…and I never mastered the technique myself…'

Yet, in the end, Kakashi decided there was no time for inward debate.

He activated the seal and in a flash, was down the tree, his arms out to catch the falling heiress, then in another flash landed face forward to the ground.

Tasting dirt and a touch of blood behind his teeth, Kakashi gingerly moved about. Testing his fingers one by one to make sure none were broken. His nose hurt like hell from being squished against the ground. Slowly sitting up- yet instantly regretted it as a case of vertigo set in- Kakashi blinked his uncovered eye to get dust out of it.

"That was a close one…eh…Hinata-chan?" Kakashi asked with a small humorless chuckle.

Yet there was no answer.

Opening his eye, Kakashi looked to the ground, no girl. To his left, then right.

"Where is she?" he asked, only to have a sinking feeling settle in.

There was a reason…'that' jutsu had only been mastered by one person.. It had dire consequences if preformed improperly.

"…what have I done?" Kakashi asked himself.

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A small groan escaped her as hot afternoon sunlight bothered her eyes. Slowly blinking pale lavender eyes open, Hinata gasped and sat up when she found herself surrounded by a grassy field instead of a thick forest.

"W-what happened?"

"I was about to ask the same thing…" a voice behind her asked.

Turning her head, Hinata half recognized the tone of voice used, yet at the same time didn't.

Twisting around fully, Hinata found herself face-to-face with a tall young man dressed in a dark sleeveless turtle-neck, a long white vest over the shirt, dark pants, and a dark mask covering his face.

"K-Kakashi-sensei?" Hinata asked meekly.

The person looked mildly surprised at the mention of his name, "How do you know my name?"

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Notes: Dundundun! Cliff-hanger time, sorry folks but the story stops here for now, but I promise to add more as inspiration moves me.

To Warrior-of-Ruin: again please forgive me, but such a complex plot I couldn't do a simple one-shot, so this is going to be a multi-chaptered fan fic, hopefully I can finish it before your NEXT birthday, neh?

And before anyone asks about Kakashi's 'jutsu'…I'm sure it won't take a lot of you to figure it out, but if you haven't, don't worry…all will be revealed as more chapters are added, so please be patient and your questions will be answered.

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