A/N: For my friend hitplayer's birthday, although it is two months late. Hope you like it! I killed brain cells writing this.


The Power of Hard Work

It was a normal day, just like any other day in Konoha for its residents. At the hokage's office, Tsunade was dealing out missions as usual while Shizune helped her with the paperwork and listened to the complaints of the shinobis on the receiving end.

A few buildings away Iruka was punishing a student at the academy for defiling the hokage faces.

On the outskirts of the village, Izumo and Kotetsu were playing a game of hangman at the guardhouse. There had been no visitors since morning, and not many shinobis had left the village either.

It was a slow day.

Somehow, a feeling of peace penetrated the entire village, so no one felt inclined to do any real work. Of course, there were also some shinobis who rarely felt the inclination to get anything done outside of missions.

Hatake Kakashi was one of them.

Today was one of his rare off days, so he had decided to indulge himself. Which was why the orange novel in his hand hadn't left his sight for a minute ever since he woke up this morning. He'd managed to get toothpaste on his toothbrush single-handedly, dress himself single-handedly and now he was walking around the village with his nose buried in the novel.

No one on the streets dared to tell him that his hair was in a more horrendous state than usual, or that he'd forgotten to put on his sandals. The last time some one tried that, Kakashi had let loose a chidori and administered 1000 years of pain on their asses because they'd interrupted a good part.

They gave him a wide berth now.

Admittedly, Kakashi could just have stayed home, but he had a mission report that was due, and it already being two days late, he thought it wouldn't be wise to push Tsunade any further. Sometimes he also liked the occasional breath of fresh air he got from walking on the streets. It was very different compared to being on the streets in the middle of a mission.

Reaching the hokage's office, he knocked. When Tsunade gave him the affirmative to enter, Kakashi teleported inside, because he could and because turning the door handle would have been too much of a hassle. He walked up to the table, withdrew his mission report from his inner pocket, and placed it on the table, all while he tried to suppress a giggle as the main character in Icha Icha Paradise got raped quite graphically.

The first thing he heard from behind the orange novel was a curse, and then

"KAKASHI! WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?"

Damn. Tsunade was as loud as ever. Kakashi sighed, and turned a page. Then her words hit home, and he looked down. Oops. No wonder the ground felt especially hard today.

"Oh. I… er… got distracted and forgot them."

Tsunade's eyes narrowed. "Well no wonder, since you've got that damn orange book glued to your nose all the time, you pervert."

Kakashi, being a tokubetsu shinobi, could usually smell danger a mile off. And that was why when Tsunade lowered her voice, alarms went off in his head. Shit. She sounded really pissed.

He closed his book, hoping it wasn't too late to appease her, and wondered vaguely what could have put her in such a bad mood. He glanced at Shizune, who didn't help matters by giving him the oh-wow-you-are-so-dead look from behind Tsunade's back.

Kakashi decided to feign innocence.

"If that's all, may I go now?"

The frown marring Tsunade's face grew a tad darker. Kakashi really wanted to run.

"…Kakashi, do you call this a mission report?" Tsunade ground out, holding up the piece of paper he had left on her table.

Kakashi looked at it. It was a little dog-eared, crumpled, and the handwriting slightly illegible, but that couldn't be helped since it'd been written in the enemy's blood. So Kakashi had run out of ink. So what? A little bit of blood never hurt anyone.

"Um… yes?"

Tsunade's internal bomb exploded, although she remained quite calm on the outside.

"Kakashi, remember the last time you pissed me off, and what I said I would do if you ever repeated it again?

Oh shit. Not on his day off, not today, please, please, please not today! Kakashi wailed internally. He shook his head.

"Well, I'll remind you, shall I?"

Kakashi didn't know Tsunade could look this evil.

"YOU ARE HEREBY ASSIGNED FIVE D-RANK MISSIONS TO BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF TODAY. ONE: PICKING UP DEAD LEAVES. TWO: WEEDING THE GARDEN. THREE: PAINTING A BUILDING. FOUR: WALKING DOGS. FIVE: CLEARING RUBBISH IN THE LAKE. ANY QUESTIONS?"

Kakashi's heart sank like a rock. There went his entire day. He knew he shouldn't have come out today. On the brighter side, Tsunade seemed to have forgotten about the second part of her threat…

"OH YES, AND GAI WILL BE ACCOMPANYING YOU ON YOUR MISSIONS."

Kakashi paled.

As if on cue, Gai teleported into the room with a loud bang and a puff of pink smoke. "Helloooo my dear Tsunade! It is great to see you so healthy and energetic today! It is a beautiful, peaceful day today, is it not? I am so glad I don't have any missions! I have come to hand in my mission report, even though it is due tomorrow!"

Then Gai spotted Kakashi, who cringed visibly.

"Aha! What an amazing coincidence! To have met at the hokage's office at the same precise moment in time! We truly are fated rivals indeed!" Gai walked towards Kakashi, and threw a friendly arm across his shoulder as the white-haired jounin muttered a greeting.

"So what do you say, Kakashi! How about we run ten laps around Konoha in the afternoon sun? I happen to have the entire day free! And let me declare this – I WILL NOT LOSE!" Gai threw him a ridiculous wink and struck a pose as Shizune gagged.

"That's good to hear, Gai," Tsunade said, throwing warning glance a Shizune. "Actually, I was looking for you. It's like this. I have assigned Kakashi to do five D-rank missions to improve his general well-being and curb his laziness. Would you like to accompany him and make sure he works hard?"

At her words, Gai's eyes filled with shining tears. "Tsunade! I am so, so delighted! Doing so would be the greatest pleasure in my life! Never have I had the chance to do manual labour with my fated rival, and I accept your offer most willingly!"

Turning to Kakashi with a maniac gleam in his eye, Gai grabbed Kakashi by the arm and dragged him out the door. Kakashi threw one last pleading look at Tsunade before the door was slammed shut by Gai and they were heading towards their first destination.

Two hours later

Kakashi sat on a rock, fully absorbed in an orange novel that looked a lot like a porn novel. Gai had just gone to dump six trash bags full of weeds in the garbage dump, and Kakashi refused to follow him.

The day was turning out much better than he expected, since Gai was doing most of the work while Kakashi went about doing his part single-handedly. So far he'd picked up about ten leaves and pulled two weeds. Gai was such a great help! Kakashi couldn't wait to thank him.

Four hours later

Kakashi snickered as he sat on the grass, reading an orange novel that looked a lot like a porn novel. The main character was getting raped again! Jiraiya was definitely improving his plots.

He looked up just as Gai finished tying up the tenth trash bag full of rubbish from the lake, which gleamed in the setting sun. He blinked.

The lake never looked so clean in his entire life. Embarrassed, Kakashi glanced down at his own trash bag, which was pitifully empty. There was only one soda can in it.

Gai was doing all his work, and so far, he hadn't complained. In fact, he hadn't said much. Kakashi found this weird. Usually he talked too much.

"Hey, Kakashi."

Kakashi looked up at Gai in surprise, not knowing that the man could possess more than one volume setting to his voice.

"Uh, yeah?" he asked, deciding to put away his orange novel for a while. He owed Gai a genuine thank you, at least.

"Do you like me?"

WHOA, WAIT, WHAT? WHAT WAS HAPPENING? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?? Kakashi didn't know how to answer, in fact he felt as if he'd suddenly lost the ability to speak.

Oblivious of the thoughts going through Kakashi's brain, Gai continued. "Kakashi, I have always regarded you as my closest friend, my truest rival, my one and only reason to complete missions and improve myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I am convinced, that without you, my life would be bleak and meaningless. It was only after I met you that I felt I had to do something to beat you and that if I worked hard enough, I eventually would."

Kakashi was mortified. Crazy, dramatic, impossible, stupid, retarded, lame Gai, yeah he could deal. But a serious Gai? What the hell was Kakashi supposed do? What was he supposed to he say?! For the second time that day, Kakashi contemplated running away.

But it wasn't like Gai would let him get far.

"Er…" Yeah, good one Kakashi. You've just come up with the wittiest comeback to a confession.

Kakashi's brain went into overload. Why the hell was Gai looking at him like that, dammit! It was already hard to focus on how he was going to reply, and he really didn't need any more distractions such as the look Gai was giving him.

"Kakashi?"

Kakashi blinked and jumped up faster than he wanted to. "I think we gottagobackandreporttoTsunade."

With that, he turned and walked away as quickly as he possibly could, trying not to look like he wanted to hightail it out of there. Gai followed him silently, and Kakashi wished they would reach the hokage's office already.

On the walk back, Kakashi had to admit that he never thought much of the green-clad man beside him, also known as his self-declared rival. He'd always took his presence for granted. Loud, rather annoying, and generally something Kakashi liked to ignore. But Kakashi couldn't ignore what Gai had just said, in fact now that Gai was eerily silent, Kakashi found him even harder to ignore.

Dammit.


Tsunade smirked at them from behind her paperwork. "Had fun?"

"I had such an enjoyable time! It was wonderful to sweat it out and use up all my youthful energy!" Gai declared.

Kakashi whipped out his porn book in reply.

"Fine, suit yourself. Don't talk." Tsunade said to the sulking silver-haired man. "Gai, thanks for accompanying Kakashi today. Both of you are dismissed."

As they left the office, Gai seemed to have gotten back to his old self.

"Kakashi! What do you say we have dinner together! It's been such a long time! We need to catch up! How is team seven these days?"

"Angsty as ever," Kakashi said, lost in thought.

"That was such a cool reply, Kakashi! I could never say that! But teenagers are all like that! My own Rock Lee has been moody recently, but he refuses to tell me why! Although I'm sure he'll confide in me all in his own time! It's nothing to worry about!"

Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief, glad that Gai was back to his old jovial self. He was still thinking about what Gai had said asked him earlier, though. Did he like Gai? He supposed he didn't mind him all that much actually. In fact, Kakashi had gotten used to his friendly bantering. It would be weird if Gai stopped doing that.

As they sat down to place their orders at a small roadside stall, Gai continued with the friendly chat as Kakashi brooded.

"Gai." Kakashi suddenly said. "You know, about what you asked earlier, well, I do like you."

Gai stopped talking.

"You're a nice guy actually."

Silence.

"And I could get used to looking at green." Kakashi sighed. Now that he'd gotten what he wanted to say off his chest, he could start eating. Turning away from Gai so that his face wouldn't be exposed, Kakashi started to devour his soba.

And that was why he didn't notice the sudden gleam in Gai's eye after he'd uttered his words.

Gai was practically gloating. He'd finally established that Kakashi liked him as a friend, and it looked like he needed to try harder to get Kakashi to like him even more than that.

There was one thing Gai never did, and it was giving up.

Oh just you wait, Kakashi. I'll get you yet.

-end-