This story is dedicated to two Naruto fanfiction writers: Swiss Army Knife and GoldenKizamu.
Swiss Army Knife's works (particularly Ripples in an Ocean) inspired me to write Naruto fanfiction and influenced my perspective on several characters and the shinobi world. My concept of Konoha's society has been further influenced by GoldenKizamu's Paperwork Ninja universe. (Though I trust this story is not a "carbon copy" of their work.)
I freely confess that I may never attain to GoldenKizamu's inventiveness; nor to Swiss Army Knife's…well…sheer genius. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy!
Kakashi leisurely entered the mission room, a somewhat crumpled and stained mission report in hand. It had been a struggle, conveying the experiences onto the page without letting emotion taint the account. He'd distracted himself from his more harrowing memories by doodling in the margins of the page. In the end, the report was not as complete as it perhaps should have been. The paperwork chunin would just have to deal with it. Not that they'd understand. Most likely, their biggest fear was warding off the ever present danger of paper cuts, Kakashi thought wryly.
Kakashi arrived at an off-peak time, when he knew there would be no lines. He'd frequented the mission office his entire life, and was as intimately acquainted with its schedule as an observant shinobi could be. This afternoon, he expected to be greeted by Umino Iruka. However, instead of the scarred-nose Academy sensei, a newly promoted chunin was receiving the incoming mission reports.
The teen looked at the report, looked at Kakashi, then looked at his files. "This report is three days late!" He remarked with surprise.
Yes, this kid was definitely new at this.
"I had to retrieve it from deranged squirrels."
The chunin gawked at him incredulously.
"They've been stealing lately," the jounin elaborated, as though it made the story any less nonsensical.
The young chunin stared at him, clearly debating whether or not to accuse the famous Copy Ninja of lying. Finally, he turned his eyes back to the mangled report. "Is this document encrypted?"
Kakashi grinned sheepishly under his mask. So his handwriting was a little sloppy. That's what happens when you're taught to kill before learning to read or write. But if this kid couldn't read the report, neither could he complain about its contents. "Iruka can read it," he said evasively, albeit truthfully. That teacher could puzzle out even the most illegible of scribbles.
The teen nodded. "Okay, I'll just leave it for Umino to handle once he returns from his mission." The report was placed into a rather large stack of paperwork that was sealed in an oversized tub.
Kakashi couldn't fathom having to face so much paperwork after completing a mission. He almost felt bad about needlessly adding his malformed report to the pile. Almost.
His half-guilty musings were interrupted when Tsunade thundered into the room. She gestured with the scroll scrunched tightly in her powerful fist. The chunin desk workers quickly snapped to attention.
"I just received word from the Kazekage!" She announced. "The Anbu squad arrived safely…"
"That's good news, Lady Tsunade," one worker began.
"…with the wrong scroll!" their Hokage boomed. It was to their credit that the workers didn't cower in fear at the thrum of anger emanating from their leader.
"Where is that forbidden scroll?" She demanded.
There was a flurry of motion as the paperwork ninja scrambled to find the answer to her question.
Moments later, a small "eep" could be heard from the northwest corner of the room. The rookie chunin was staring down at his files, guilt written all over his face. "Lady Tsunade- I'm so sorry- I…I mixed it up…with a C-class scroll."
"You 'mixed up' an S-class scroll…with a C-class scroll?" Tsunade repeated. Her voice sounded calm, but there was danger hidden beneath. "And where, pray tell, is the forbidden scroll?"
The teen looked at the folder in his hand. "It should be…on its way to, to Stone…with a chunin team." Hesitance and worry laced his words.
Kakashi watched with interest as these events unfolded. He'd never personally witnessed such a glaring error committed by the paperwork staff before. Would their Hokage unleash her fury on the kid?
When their leader's fierce amber eyes settled on the Copy Nin, he suddenly realized that he should have left when he had the chance.