Note: Story runs along the same AU as Baby Talk.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
ANBU: secondary on the hierarchy and are considered the best of the best under the kage.
Skilled ninja, ANBU are prepared for anything thrown at their direction – both literally and figuratively. From the horrendous traps to the difficult odds of success, these choice ninjas are resourceful and knowledgeable in their craft so as to ensure their survival and the completion of their mission.
Currently, two of their elites, the Dog and the Ox, just returned from a gruelling mission, smelling much like the marsh they waded through for the past week. Though, personal odours and hygiene aside, the two-man team managed to easily finish the mission with barely-worth-mentioning cuts and bruises.
So naturally, the two trained assassins were content and complacent when they reached headquarters to wash away their worries in the communal showers; their missions were almost never a walk in a park so it was definitely very nice to smell the flowers (or lack thereof with a bubbling swamp as the substitute) along the way this time.
And as Dog and Ox meandered towards the Hokage Tower to deliver their mission report, it was just so obvious to their off-duty ANBU colleagues that the two were in bright moods. The huge hint? Ox was joking and Dog deigned him a sarcastic and inappropriately funny response.
(There were several underhanded bets collected at this point concerning how long both Dog and Ox's good moods would last, but no one really needed to know about that. Clearly, the ANBU should have other, not so morbid, entertainments in their lives.)
Receiving clearance from the guards, the pleased two-man ANBU team entered the brightly lit Hokage's office, but as soon as they arrived, Dog and Ox, both lax from the lack of threat on their home turf, were immediately floored. And ANBU, because of their status, should never be floored – at least, not so easily.
But seriously, they really, really didn't expect the scene in front of them. Really.
Not looking up, the figure behind the desk chirped, "Hi!"
There was five-year-old Naruto, sitting happily on the Hokage's seat, stamping his tiny coloured hands all over official Konoha-business documents (When Dog tilted his head, he could figure out a blobby, messy, purple-splotchy cat on a paper declaring the status of the Academy's renovations). Sitting beside the boy's elbow in a surprisingly neat row were different coloured paint cans.
Both ANBU paled, not that one could see it through the masks though, but regardless of that, there was a moment of shared thought: Naruto plus unsupervised fingerpainting must equal to disaster.
"Where is Yondaime-sama, Naruto-kun?" asked Ox.
"Ummm…Yondy-ame?" Naruto made a sour face at the intruders. "Don't you mean Daddy? 'cuz Daddy's busy."
Sighing inaudibly, Dog inquired none-too-gently, "When will your Dad be back?" Ox stiffened, slightly appalled by the slipping professionalism his sempai had.
And it seemed Naruto noticed too because he sniffled. With his blue eyes set innocently wide, offset by the red and purple paint smudged on his cheeks, he pouted, "I dunno. I was painting and then Daddy came in and he took my picture away."
Ox chuckled weakly, "Maybe we'll come back later then."
"Noo!" Naruto immediately jumped out of the seat and it was all Dog could do to catch him before the kid fell. The bundle of sunshine, now secured, latched onto the ANBU agent tightly and demanded, "Stay and play with me 'til Daddy comes back." Thinking back to his fiery Mommy and the lecture on manners, the boy added in afterthought, "Pleeeease."
Dog sighed, mourning when he spotted multicoloured fingerprints smudged onto his meticulously clean black uniform. He said nothing as he tried to pry the little tyke's hands off his white porcelain mask.
"Sure, Naruto-kun…But first, why are you in here all alone?" As Ox asked the little boy, his eyes flickered behind the peepholes of the mask, edgy.
The blond shrugged his petite shoulders and waved his hands (Dog inwardly cheered when those tiny fingers left his uniform.). "Nanny went poof! Then I went to find Daddy and he went poof after I painted pretty pictures!"
"Mmm…I see…" Ox paced the room, looking just about ready to bolt and inform the ninja guards outside of the unsupervised child in the office.
"Don't you dare, Ox." Don't you dare leave me with this kid alone!
Said ANBU agent stiffened at the curt order and started to sweat.
Naruto, curious, pressed his face right up against Dog's ANBU mask and tried to peer into the eyeholes. "Hi nii-san. What's your name?"
The agent answered gruffly, "Dog."
A burst of sunshine laughter filled the room. "That's a really silly name."
The ANBU agent's hidden eye twitched. "I suppose it is."
"My name is Naruto." The boy grinned happily. "Isn't it a cool name?"
Ox agreed readily, "Yes, it's very…cool, Naruto-kun."
But the boy already wasn't listening anymore and instead, squinted his eyes in thought, his head tilted to the side. "Neh, Dog-nii-san…Why do you wear that neat, ugly mask? I wanna play with it."
"Because why?" Naruto attempted to stick his fingers through the eyehole but was stopped swiftly by ANBU Dog.
"Just because Naruto-kun."
Pouting again, Naruto quickly latched onto the edges of the disguise and pulled. "I wanna see the mask please!"
"No-!" There was a light struggle between both sides; Dog was gentle but firm and Naruto was relentlessly tugging at the disguise. Unfortunately for Dog though, the battle eventually came into Naruto's favour and the mask fell off.
So much for incognito.
An exuberant, joyful cry came from Naruto as he hugged 'Dog' tightly. "Kaka-nii! Why are you hiding behind that ugly mask?"
Kakashi choked and couldn't respond. How can he tell the kid that he's part of an assassination squad and needed the mask to retain anonymity?
Oblivious, Naruto eased up on the hug when Kakashi was sputtering and smiled cutely; his next suggestion, however, was anything but sweet, "Let me make the mask prettier!"
It was Ox's turn to choke as he attempted to muffle his laughter.
"That's quite alright, Naruto-chan. I don't think you need to do that," refuted Kakashi hastily as he attempted to extricate the mask from the boy's (evilly innocent) clutches.
And it seemed that Naruto thought the nineteen-year-old denied his help too quickly because he pouted and asked petulantly, "Why? You don't like my colouring?"
Ox, removing his mask as well, decided to intervene. "What Kakashi-sempai means is that we're not allowed to paint our masks."
There was silence and then…Uh oh. It seems Naruto found a loophole in that statement. "But I'm colouring it, not you. I pwomise to colour within the lines." A hopeful, wide grin appeared on his face; the movement caused the splotches of red and purple paint on his cheeks to crack and peel.
Kakashi glared at Tenzou. "Sorry Naruto-chan. I know you'll do a wonderful job colouring it but it's against the rules."
Naruto's mood immediately shifted and the boy started to tear up; he wailed, "But-But Kaka-nii!" Azure eyes innocently wide and watery, he stared at Kakashi miserably, "But I thought-" 'Hic'. "-You liked me." Another dejected 'hic'.
Sighing, his will to rebuke was instantly squashed by Naruto's wet baby blues. The Hatake decided that if the ANBU quartermasters were going to hate him after this, he would like to see them re-evaluate their opinions once they handled Naruto and his patented teary eyes. "Alright. Go ahead, Naruto-chan."
And so Kakashi resigned himself to his fate and allowed delighted Naruto's greedy hands to paint rainbows and flowers onto the blank canvas of his ANBU mask. All the while in an inconspicuous corner, Tenzou watched on with awed horror; no one should mix and match neon orange and green like that. No one.
Many punishing minutes later, a sulking Yondaime entered his office…and instantly did a double-take.
"Daddy!" came the delighted squeal.
"Naruto-chan, what are you up to?" Minato tried to look stern, really, but the fact that Kakashi, looking extremely cross but submissive, was sitting cross-legged on the floor with Naruto in his lap did not escape his notice. Nor the fact that Tenzou's face was suspiciously red and he appeared just about ready to bolt the room in fear for his life.
But what caught most of his attention were the bright neon yellow smiley faces, green whiskers, and tiny red hearts painted on Kakashi's exposed face and mask. Minato quivered with suppressed laughter and managed a, "Ka-kashi...What-?"
"Naruto-chan insisted on a fashion statement," answered Kakashi sarcastically and glared as if daring the Hokage to say more. He absently rubbed at the paint on his face with the back of his hand.
"Kaka-nii so pretty now!" chirped Naruto happily as he dabbed more paint onto Kakashi's nose.
It took all of the Hokage's willpower to not laugh or else face a very irate ANBU agent. "I think you mean handsome, Naru-chan."
Big blue eyes blinked and the boy scrunched up his nose, "Pretty!" Tenzou made a funny noise at the back of his throat as he tried to stop from chuckling.
Kakashi, clearly believing that this was getting out of hand, changed the subject, "Naruto-chan, don't you want to show your Daddy what you did to my ANBU mask?"
The boy's eyes immediately lit up, excited. "Daddy look. Look!"
The Hokage did look and immediately spotted the newly decorated ANBU mask. He took in all the new details, from the giant purple butterflies, and what seemed to be black stick figure ninjas, to the shiny neon-coloured rainbows.
There was a very brief quiet before Minato doubled over laughing uproariously. Wiping away tears, he choked out, "It's wonderful, Naru-chan! Very lovely."
Kakashi despite himself, chuckled weakly. Gods the quartermasters were going to flay him alive.
"Oh..." Laughter subsiding, Minato smirked, "Kakashi, Naru-chan has you eating in the palm of his cute little hand."
ANBU Dog did not appreciate that statement, especially one so hypocritical since he thought that he can still resist - somewhat. Minato-sensei, however, had absolutely no immunity towards Naruto's begging. So eyes narrowed in interest, Kakashi commented almost offhandedly, "It appears though, Yondaime-sama, that you should eat your words."
A strangled "What?" from Minato followed by Tenzou's admonishment, "Kakashi-sempai!". Then Naruto added his own adorable two cents and asked, "But how do you eat words?"
Kakashi gestured at Minato's clothing, "Naruto got you too."
Hearing his name again, Naruto beamed, "Isn't it pretty? It's the picture Daddy took away!"
Both members of ANBU stared at the Hokage's coat, suppressing the grins that would undoubtedly blossom on their faces had they not been trained to be detached and emotionless when the time called for it. They both came to one singular conclusion: Naruto must have decided that the Hokage's coat would be a good place to practice painting.
Mildly embarrassed, Minato smiled wryly, "Yeah. I can't wait 'til the Council Elders see it." The blond rubbed the back of his head. "I mean, they were already spitting fire when I added flames at the bottom hem - no puns intended." Both ANBU pretended to miss the rapidly muttered, 'But Yondaime-sama, that's not traditional enough!'.
Analyzing the clothing hanging off of Minato's left arm, Tenzou noticed the pattern of multicoloured handprints, flowers, and giant bees adorning the sacred, albeit very-soaking-wet, coat. The Yondaime must have tried really hard to wash off the paint because the coat was still dripping sudsy water, and to no avail, the colours were still stubbornly permanent on the clothing.
But quickly collecting himself with no further comments, Tenzou saluted smartly and greeted, "Yondaime-sama. Dog and Ox reporting."
Minato waved dismissively and gestured meaningfully at his messy desk, "It's alright, Tenzou-kun. I think we'll have to wait before I can receive your report. Naruto seemed to have taken a liking to painting on my official documents."
"Right, about that." Running a tired hand through silver hair, Kakashi glowered, "I can't believe you left Naruto in here unsupervised, Yondaime-sama."
Minato bristled, "He was never unsupervised! The ANBU guards stationed in the tower would have known if anything was threatening my Naru-chan."
Eyeing the colourfully painted office, two parts dryly and one part amused, Kakashi remarked, "I hope Kushina-san is aware of Naruto's artistic escapades."
Minato paused into silence before he paled noticibly; he took in Naruto's appearance – paint from head to toe – with ill-contained horror. Kushina would give him an earful and kick him out of the house if she ever set her eyes on her multicoloured hunny-bee. To prevent and divert that occurrence, he had to immediately take matters into his own hands and fix this mess.
In an authoritative voice, the Hokage barked, "Dog. Ox. I order you to help me give Naruto a bath."
"…What?" "What?" "A bath? But Daddy I don't need a bath!"
Kakashi looked murderous. Tenzou was timid and slightly appalled. Minato hoped to all deities that Naruto would be complacent during the bath, that the paint would wash off, and that Kushina would never, ever hear about this.
But unfortunately for him, the very next day the red-haired matriarch of Konoha was seen bellowing at their Hokage, ranting endlessly about the dangers of fingerpainting and leaving a child alone. Several citizens who witnessed the scene even claimed they heard their Hokage cursing at one Hatake Kakashi, asserting that 'the brat couldn't keep his blabber-mouth shut'. Apparently, 'Hokage-sama' even swore an oath to 'kill his wretched ex-student and toss the corpse over a deep gorge'.
And Kakashi? He just sat in a very secluded tree, extremely pleased that revenge was exacted. In his head, Minato-sensei had it coming and the easiest way was to inform Kushina-san. Too bad about Tenzou though, who couldn't – wouldn't – help him. If only he did, Kakashi wouldn't have resorted to tying him up and letting him hang beneath the branch he was sitting on.
Oh well. It was kind of Tenzou's fault anyway, especially when he 'accidentally' knocked Kakashi into the bathtub filled with soap and water. Liking the turn of events, Naruto, with his cute little lopsided smile, wouldn't stop squealing and splashing water into Kakashi's face. Not to mention, Minato didn't help much at all, too busy giggling at Naru-chan and his 'adorability'.
Gods, his eyes still stung from the soap.
So feeling absolutely no remorse whatsoever, Kakashi only hoped that the Yondaime wouldn't find him any time soon once Kushina released him from her wrath because he knew the Yondaime would search high and low to exact his brand of revenge. And equally, Kakashi knew what he did and got himself into –
– He knew he just started a war.
"...Maybe Kushina-san will help me..." Kakashi smiled pleasantly. By recruiting her - and maybe even Rin if she's agreeable - he knew he was going to win...
After finally placating Kushina, Minato camped out a distance away from Kakashi's position and smirked as he spied at the ANBU agent. With Naruto on his side (as well as being the Hokage, he had many strings he can pull), he knew he was going to win this war.
"You may be improving without bounds, Kaka-chan, but you haven't surpassed your old sensei yet!"
And where was Naruto-chan in all of this mess? Well...Let's just say, the ANBU quartermasters are in for a shock when they see a little blond boy painting and decorating all of their ANBU masks with shiny, neon-coloured rainbows.
...Not that they can stop the kid. After all, how can you resist Naruto-chan and his patented wet baby blue eyes?
As you can tell, this story kind of spiralled out of control.