A Different Perspective
By Book of Changes
Rating: M for Language
Main Cast: Kakashi, Iruka, Naruto
Summary: (AU) Kakashi prepared himself for the worst when he was saddled with the Kyuubi no gaki, a.k.a. Naruto. He did not, however, expect this.
Disclaimer: This story is based on situations and characters created and owned by Masashi Kishimoto, and various publishers including but not limited to TV Tokyo.
Addendum: I, Kage Husha, am NOT the author of this story, nor am I continuing this story. I am merely posting it so that readers may continue to enjoy it.
Also, characters from Eyeshield 21 and technology from Ghost in the Shell can be found in the fanfic.
He was going to kill Gai…and the academy teachers…and Kurenai. And—and Sandaime. All right, perhaps not Sandaime. But he was definitely going to kill Gai. As soon as he could pry him out of this Jounin-sensei impromptu get-together. Gai had had the brilliant idea in the first place. The Academy teachers had been at their wit's end on deciding who should be the third member of Uchiha Sasuke's team, when Gai made his grand suggestion:
"What Uchiha Sasuke needs is a team mate who will be his rival, someone who will stubbornly challenge him despite any lack of in-born genius, and never step aside and let him do all the work! Only then can he forget his past, and enjoy his years of youth!"
'Stubborn' had been the magic word, so to speak. The Chuunin teachers actually went through the entire list of graduates and filtered out the remarkably stubborn ones—i.e. the delinquents. Eventually the options narrowed down to Inuzuka Kiba and Uzumaki Naruto. Kakashi knew he should have been more suspicious when he'd overhead Kurenai talking to the academy teachers at the administration canteen.
"I don't think Uchiha Sasuke should be in the same team as Inuzuka Kiba," Kurenai was saying.
"Why?" That was some academy teacher who he didn't know. But then, he didn't know most of them.
"Kiba doesn't look stubborn or stupid enough to challenge Uchiha Sasuke all the time. Besides, if he's paired up with Sasuke, that leaves Naruto with Hyuuga Hinata, and no matter what Hiashi says, I don't think the Hyuuga as a whole would be happy if their official heir is teamed up with him."
Yes, Kurenai was definitely on the list of people facing imminent death.
Sandaime had appeared a little doubtful when he received the final list, but accepted the prospective teams without voicing any objections. Perhaps he thought Sharingan-no-Kakashi had a better chance at handling both Uchiha Sasuke and the (infamous) Kyuubi-no-gaki than any other Jounin. Or that any fresh-faced, cocky academy graduate team had about the same chance of passing his Genin survival training as any graduate team, genius or no genius. But the facts he learned from the cursory background check didn't really assure him. Neither were the unofficial tidbits he was learning in the impromptu get-together.
The get-together had started tamely enough. Since it was early in the day, there was no booze. Instead, those Jounin who were already in charge of Genin teams started sharing their horror stories to their bratless comrades. Then they started talking about this year's academy graduate students. Three students later Kakashi found himself on the spot, his so-called comrades showering him with all sorts of horrible little factoids about one Uzumaki Naruto.
"There hasn't been a class where he wasn't the last in. I think they call him 'the eternal dead-last' at the academy."
"It's nothing short of a miracle he managed to graduate at all—after four tries. A new record that."
"Did you know he used to transform into a busty, naked woman to get away from his teachers? I heard they made him mop up all the blood, and sometimes it covered entire halls."
"He's been peeping in the women's public baths since age eight!"
"I heard he has transvestite tendencies too!"
And so on. Then they started speculating the Kyuubi-no-gaki's chances on passing Genin Survival Training, leaving Kakashi to fend off their increasingly bizarre ideas as to what Naruto might do (to him) in order to pass. When they reached: "Virgin sacrifice to the other Youma (Demons)!" he excused himself and left the Jounin lounge, thinking about spending some quality time with a good book.
Alas, it was not meant to be.
Kakashi looked up from his freshly opened book and saw no one. Then he looked down, and found Sandaime standing before him, hands behind his back, and looking at him through piercing eyes.
"Hai," he answered, knowing from the elder's demeanor and glance there was something he wanted to say; something important or something very, very embarrassing.
The Jounin and Hokage regarded each other in silence.
"Follow me," Sandaime said simply. Then he turned and walked down the hall without a backwards glance.
Kakashi stuffed his book inside his pocket and followed, one thought coming in a repeating cycle: I have a bad feeling about this…
Sandaime left the administration building, with Kakashi tailing silently behind him. They weeded through the busy streets, and finally came upon the stone street that led towards the Ninja Academy. It was unlike Kakashi to indulge in nostalgia, but at the premises of the few places he could claim to have some good memories, he could not help but notice the crispness of the air, the sounds of crickets heralding fall, and the rude kunai marks he made as a kid, on the tree that had a swing.
"I dare say you've heard enough unflattering things about Naruto," said Sandaime's voice, intruding into his thoughts.
Kakashi scratched his head. "Maa, who hasn't?"
This time Sandaime turned around and tilted his Hokage hat upwards. The wide brim shadowed much of his wrinkled face in contrast to the bright sunlight.
"I thought, perhaps, you would like to see him from a different perspective."
Kakashi tilted his head, hand still on the back of his head, "Who am I to meet?"
Sandaime continued to look at him piercingly.
"One of Konoha's finest teachers," he answered.
Kakashi stopped scratching his head. He slowly lowered his hand, and let it drop to his side.
"He knows Naruto the best," Sandaime told Kakashi. "And you'll need all the information you can get when you deal with Naruto. He can be quite … peculiar, for the lack of a better description."
Kakashi felt his shoulders droop even more. "Ah…"
The rest of the trip towards the academy building progressed in silence. It was lunch break, so most of the children were outside, doing what all children of age eight to twelve did: screaming, yelling, call each other names, and bringing general doom or destruction to everything and anything that crossed their path. The halls were crowded with racing students, but the cheeky brats gave the Hokage a respectable berth when they noticed him. Kakashi heard enough high-pitched and cheery 'Ohayo Gozaimasu, Hokage-sama!' for him to feel phantom skin rashes.
They finally came upon a door that had a worn panel "Teachers' Office" hanging next to it. As expected, the office was filled with Chuunin teachers of various ages, most of whom were seated behind desks, doing paper work or talking amongst themselves. Those teachers who realized the Hokage's presence immediately stood at attention, that is to say, all of them did, almost simultaneously.
"Please be seated," said Sandaime, after waving off their deferential greetings. He looked around. "Where is Iruka?" he asked.
"Ano, Hokage-sama, he left for lunch," answered a teacher of no consequence or relevance. "But he'll be back ten minutes before the end of lunch break. He always does."
Sandaime nodded. "Right…" He stood there for a moment. Then he left the office, and headed towards the Academy training grounds. As they walked across the field, Kakashi was harassed with more cheerful greetings, none of which were directed to him. One cheeky brat actually had the audacity to ask the Hokage who he was. Sandaime brushed off the question and magnanimously answered the greetings in a grandfatherly fashion as he proceeded forward. Kakashi continued to tail him, wondering where Sandaime was heading, and who this Iruka was. He better be worth the trouble…
Sandaime stopped at the northern edge of the training field, which was bordered with ancient camphor trees, and started to look around. Kakashi sniffed the air, but he couldn't smell anything tale-tellingly human, let alone ninja. He stretched his other set of senses, but with so many people running around clouding those senses with their Chakra, he couldn't make out a possible source that could be the Chuunin they were looking for. He couldn't tell if Sandaime was having better luck than he, but the old man was sniffing the air too, and Kakashi was quite sure his sense of smell was as good the Hokage's.
The old man's glance finally landed on the lone Gingko tree standing close to a lonely set of monkey bars. Kakashi didn't notice the young man wearing a Konoha flak-jacket lounging on a branch of the ancient tree until they were almost upon it. Kakashi eyed the man keenly. He's good.
"Iruka," Sandaime called.
There was a light rustle among the branches of the majestic Gingko tree. Kakashi registered a nigh imperceptible ripple of Chakra and shifting scents of chalk and sumi (Japanese calligraphy ink) through both sets of his senses.
A tallish figure dropped from the thick branches. A young Chuunin stood before the tree without much of a 'pat' on the ground or a forceful discharge of air.
"Hokage-sama," he greeted.
For the longest time Kakashi wondered what made Iruka so remarkable. It couldn't be his appearance: average height, average build, dark but otherwise unremarkable complexion, and averagely attractive features that could easily blend into a crowd of everyday people despite the horizontal scar that marred (enhanced? highlighted?) the nose.
"Hello, Iruka," said Sandaime. Then he waved a hand in Kakashi's direction, "This is Hatake Kakashi. He's here to learn more about Naruto."
Iruka blinked once, clearly taken aback. He probably thought no one would take the time to learn more about the Kyuubi brat, and in all honesty, Kakashi wouldn't have if it weren't for Sandaime. Guilt, which foundations of morality he could not trace, started to pile up in his stomach as soon as the thought crossed his mind.
"Oh," said Iruka, recovering rather well and fixing one of those painfully polite smiles on his face. "Ano, is there something specific you're looking for, Hatake-san?"
"Anything you would like me to know," Kakashi answered smoothly. "I'd like to know more about his other teammates, too," he added as an afterthought.
"Have you read their records?"
"I read the standard report. It didn't tell me much." They gave me too many nightmare scenarios, I stopped reading halfway.
Iruka blushed and scratched a cheek. Cute.
"I can show you their school records… if you like."
Kakashi shrugged, "Why not?"
Ten minutes later, Kakashi found himself sitting behind a desk with three record books in his hand. He dutifully read through Naruto's records first, and decided he was definitely going to kill Gai…and Kurenai.
"I'm surprised he managed to graduate at all," he said, and that was the nicest thing he could think of. He's an idiot of uncharted proportions. Someone save meeeeeeeeeee…
Iruka rubbed the back of this neck. "Certainly his records paint the most uncomplimentary picture… but…"
He handed Kakashi a bound stack of papers.
"Test papers?" asked Kakashi.
"These are copies of all the written tests Naruto took over the past three years. Please look through each question."
Kakashi did so. After the first test, he glued Iruka with a stare.
"He's been graded … very harshly. And here:" he pointed to a question, "It looks like someone erased his answers." Kakashi cocked his eyebrow at Iruka. The younger man didn't look like he would do such a thing to a student, even for the likes of the Kyuubi no gaki. Besides, who was stupid enough to more or less admit they cheated a student in front of the Hokage…?
"Three years prior, the Ninja Academy decided to hire proctors and graders for the written tests," said Iruka. "The basic idea was to lighten a teacher's workload, and ensure the student grades were not affected by personal opinions or bribery."
"Personal opinions," Kakashi repeated.
Iruka nodded. "It's been mostly successful."
Kakashi hmm-ed and returned to the short stack of tests.
"Do teachers normally take off points for untidiness?"
"Yes. But only a point off per test, and we make an effort to read all types of writing styles."
The grader marked no less than five questions wrong because he 'couldn't read the answers'. Admittedly, the kid's handwriting is bad, but nothing you can't read. "Did Naruto ever protest his test scores?"
"Many times, and I encouraged him to," Iruka replied. "But to protest, a student must submit an official inquiry written and signed by a legal parent or guardian."
Both which, the kid doesn't have. Also, that's way too formal of a procedure for a lousy kiddy test. "Couldn't you have vetoed his scores?"
"The whole point of the grader policy was to remove teacher-subjectivity. So no, I couldn't just change his scores because I thought he was graded unfairly," A pause. "Koharu-sama made sure about that."
Either the old bat is part of the conspiracy, or her scheming went awry. Kakashi flipped a page and paused. "He did much better on this one." And someone else graded it too.
Iruka blushed. Awwww… "For that test, the grader systematically graded a question wrong, so I had to make the … appropriate …corrections."
Ah, good. So he's not that stupid. "You're pretty strict." But fair. Scrupulously fair, as Kakashi quickly came to expect from this teacher.
Iruka stood a little bit straighter. "This isn't an ordinary school. A full-fledged shinobi cannot afford to be ignorant of any of the basic skills."
Spoken like a true teacher of ninja. "Hai, hai…"
The next test was also graded by Iruka's precise hand. The test after that, however, looked very similar to the earlier ones. A quick browse told Kakashi the cause. "His sixth year first midterm was difficult," Kakashi commented. It was the kind of difficult that would force a ninja to cheat.
"During Naruto's last year, the Ninja Education Council raised the issue of cheating," Iruka said. (Cheating students or cheating skills? Kakashi wondered.) "It was decided different versions of the same test were to be handed out to the students; and the questions and level of difficulty were to be different for each version."
So it was cheating skills. "You mean some tests were more difficult than others?"
"Yes. But the number of tests a student took each year increased accordingly to the number of versions. The test assignments are random, so theoretically a student has about the same chance of getting a difficult test as getting an easy one."
"Is that so?" But, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Naruto somehow always got the most difficult versions. Kakashi looked through the last five tests. As expected, the questions were all difficult beyond the knowledge of a normal Academy student. But it also appeared Naruto was either studying harder or his cheating skills improved accordingly. That was a good sign. He's not hopeless. I can handle that.
Kakashi set down Naruto's stack of written tests. "Saaaaa… they're really getting tough on the students these days, aren't they?"
"It can't be helped," said Iruka. "There has been a noticeable drop in the number of Chuunin promotions during the past two years, so Koharu-sama wanted to cull and prepare early on."
At least that's the official reason. "Maa, at least the brats would be more prepared."
"I hope so. This year's bunch caused me a lot of trouble," Iruka said.
Then he smiled and blushed at the same time.
CUTE! CUTE! CUTE!
"Ah…ahem," Kakashi said, clearing his throat before the silence became too long. "Eh, what can you tell me about Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura?"
Kakashi left the teacher's office a more enlightened and happy man. As he walked through the halls of the Academy, Icha Icha in hand, he decided he was not going to kill Kurenai…or the Academy teachers. Gai however…was seriously dead…dead, Dead, DEAD! As far as Kakashi was concerned, just because it was revealed Naruto wasn't the biggest idiot in the history of Shinobi, didn't mean the pudding-bowl haired man was exonerated for traumatizing him, no matter how infinitesimally small that trauma might be.
But…the whole team assignment fiasco Gai triggered introduced him to one Umino Iruka, who proved to be far more interesting than Kakashi ever imagined. For that reason alone, perhaps, he would listen to Gai's grandiose ranting for a fraction of a second before he killed him dead.
…On second thought, perhaps not.
Kakashi sauntered towards the classroom a good forty minutes late. His previously good mood had rapidly vanished like wisps of smoke as the inevitable moment of introductions came closer. Never before had he regarded a plain classroom with such palpable dread.
The door to the classroom was slightly open, so he could hear the sounds from within. At the moment, he could hear what sounded like a lengthy, profane monologue through the opening. The monologue was cut short after the tall-tale sound of fist meeting flesh. Kakashi felt his shoulders droop even more. They're fighting already, he despaired.
"Saa…" sighing heavily, Kakashi slid open the door.
A dirty chalkboard eraser dropped on his head with a dull poof.
The silence that greeted him afterwards was complete.
Kakashi stared at his prospective Genin team through a half-glazed eye. He did not listen to what the pink-haired girl was babbling about. Minus five points for the impractical skirt; another minus two for turning the hitai-ite into a fashion accessory, he mentally tallied. He shifted his glance to the brooding, pale-faced, black-haired child clad in a dark blue shirt bearing the Uchiha clan crest. The boy eyed him in askance, and his dark eyes held no little amount of contempt. Oh, Kami-sama… not a brat who thinks he's too cool for the world… Kakashi then shifted his eyes to the last child, who was sitting on the floor doubled-over, trembling under the force of pain radiating from the three lumps on his head. He was short, skinny (almost underfed looking), and was wearing a grubby jacket that was an eye-burning shade orange. Okay. Stop. You're going to seriously stab yourself if you keep on…
"Hmm…" muttered Kakashi, "How should I put this…?" He brought a hand up to his chin, face turned upwards in an exaggerated show of deep thought. "My first impression of you three is…" He drew out a little bit more. He could almost hear the brats straining to listen.
"I don't like you!"
Let the torture begin… Mwahahaha…!
To Be Continued...