Warnings: gender-bender, cross-dressing, pseudo-slash, Gai/Kakashi (I feel that this needs a warning), un-beta'd, accidental groping, Gai (he deserves a warning all his own)
Disclaimer: Gai, Kakashi, and everything else involved in the Naruto manga/anime belongs to Kishimoto Masashi, Shounen Jump, and affiliates. Inspired by 'Antipodean: Book of Artemis' by Zhang Sizheng – I got permission, so no worries.
Beauty and the Beast
Hatake Kakashi was considered many things. A pervert – reading porn, never mind in public, would give anyone that reputation – was the most prevalent to mothers, an elite shinobi of nearly unrivaled skill in Konoha was what concerned most of the shinobi village. Kakashi was a ninja, a weirdo, perpetually late, and – mostly importantly – a liar.
Of course, if it weren't for Hatake Sakumo, Kakashi would probably be one of the most straight-forward kunoichi in Konoha. Or, at least, she wouldn't have ever thought of lying about her gender.
Her birth had been without a doctor or midwife, Sakumo's wife tended only by the man himself. The fact that she died from infection a few days later had struck the man hard, enough so that when he registered the birth of his daughter, he deluded himself into thinking all was well, perfect even. That despite his wife's death, he had a son to carry on the family legacy. Hatake Kakashi was not a boy, but she never really noticed the difference between genders until well into her years as a chuunin.
As the youngest kunoichi ever – believed to be the second to youngest male shinobi ever – Kakashi had an important and skilled sensei. When she made chuunin, she had an important and skilled leader, though she still called him "Minato-sensei". Her father was dead by then, and it was decided after her promotion that she would be living with her sensei.
A year later, when he walked in on her in the shower, he had walked out blushing, though Kakashi didn't understand why. It was then that Minato stopped suggesting that they go to the public baths – something Kakashi had never done with her father and so had no desire to do anyway, so she didn't mind.
No, Kakashi didn't have any real gender identity until Minato took on a proper team, a boy and a girl of Kakashi's age who were fresh graduates from the Academy. Obito had said something about Kakashi being a "small-pricked bastard". On the walk home, Kakashi asked Minato what Obito had meant, so when they got to the apartment he explained the physical difference between genders.
About a year later, Kakashi noticed that she was growing breasts. It was sort of interesting, she supposed, but she didn't particularly want to be a girl, certainly not like Rin. When they were large enough to be noticeable under her clothes, she began investing in bandages and started binding her chest.
Thankfully, Minato never called her on it, as Kakashi wasn't entirely sure how to explain, or if she wanted to.
But Obito had her curious. She wasn't sure why, and to quell that strange feeling in her chest, she picked on him. He picked on her back, and they had their own sort of friendship. Rin seemed to want her friendship too, but Kakashi couldn't bring herself to like the other girl. Especially the way that Rin kept trying to draw Kakashi's attention to her own breasts.
It was disconcerting, so Kakashi stuck to making fun of Obito. It was hardly professional after all, and Kakashi cared more for the rules than anything. About a month before her jounin exam, Obito tried to get under her mask though, so Kakashi wasn't very happy with him either.
They didn't make up until the boy's death, and it wasn't until Kakashi had Obito's eye in her empty socket, until she was facing down the Iwa nin who would later be taken down by Minato, that she realized just what the fluttering was. She had loved Obito in some way, perhaps a "crush" as Minato had warned her, or perhaps she had loved him the way that Minato loved Uzumaki Kushina. She didn't know.
When they returned from that mission, Kakashi couldn't help but to collapse in tears in Kushina's arms. Why? Why had Obito saved her? He couldn't have liked her the same way, not when he thought her to be a boy, and yet Obito had saved her life.
After that, both Kushina and Rin knew that Kakashi was really a girl, but they promised not to say anything. She had her allies for not even a full year before the Kyuubi attack. Kushina dead in childbirth, Rin killed by falling debris, and Minato suicided to save the village from the Kyuubi no Kitsune.
Kakashi didn't even realize that Minato and Kushina's child had survived childbirth until she was a year out of ANBU and was assigned her first genin team. She flunked them for lack of ability for creative thought, sloppy taijutsu, and no sense of teamwork. She was frozen in shock as she saw Konoha's demon container for the first time; a ten year old boy with wild blond hair and big blue eyes being chased down by angry villagers. There was no way he could be anything but Minato's son.
So she rescued him from the villagers, but she didn't let the boy see her, nor did she speak. Instead, she continued to the Hokage Tower, pondering the young jinchuuriki she had left behind.
Inside the Hokage's office, her thoughts were derailed by a man in green. A lot of green. In fact, he was wearing a green one-piece jump suit, not quite form-fitting enough to be spandex (thank the gods; she didn't feel like getting an eye-full of what made her not the man she portrayed herself to be), which was simply too much. Though she couldn't help but notice the pleasantly chiseled jaw and good muscular structure, there was the issue of his teeth blinding her one eye, ridiculous eyebrows, and bowl-cut hair style.
Of course, she had seen Maito Gai around before, usually in the jounin lounge. He was a nice guy, if eccentric... and more than a little enthusiastic. She had never said anything to him other than a quiet "yo". She didn't allow herself to think on him much though. They weren't friends, merely distant colleagues.
"Good afternoon, Kakashi!" Gai, as it just so happened, at least viewed her as an amiable acquaintance given his enthusiasm. "I heard from the Hokage that you were selected to test a genin team as well today! I'm sorry we could not talk earlier, but as usual you were late and I had to test my team."
She debated ignoring him, but instead indulged the man. She was only an hour and a half late to tell the Hokage if she had passed the children... though the fact that Gai wasn't on time was suspicious. "I suspect you passed them?"
"Nope!" He seemed rather happy for something that normally would have made him lament. "They were lacking in the flames of youth, though I have started the spark. I have high hopes that they will be passed at the next exam! Already I have seen progress in some who were dampened by the cold!"
Again, Kakashi debated whether or not to reply... but she still had time to kill. "Like who?"
Gai let out his most dazzling smile – Kakashi had to squint her good eye, and was thankful that her Sharingan was covered since she didn't fancy having that forever ingrained in her mind – and said in his happiest, proudest voice, "Why, you of course, Kakashi!"
She was tempted to punch him. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
In several very long sentences from Konoha's own Green Beast, Kakashi found out that the genin meeting wasn't for another hour. She should be at the memorial stone about now.
So that's what she did, merely waving at Gai before using shunshin to get to the stone. And there she swiftly divested herself of her jounin vest, dropped in on the ground, and sat to stare at the stone. Her hitai-ate lifted up so she could memorize the face of the stone, as she did every day. She'd been there for three hours that morning, but she could fit in another four or five before going to the meeting. Just to spite the old man for telling her the wrong time.
And, of course, to honor Obito, her first – and, to date, only – love. She owed him that much.
Half an hour later, Kakashi heard a sharp gasp and swore mentally. She hadn't been binding her chest for years; her breasts weren't particularly large and just so happened to be unnoticeable under her vest. She went without the vest so rarely that she really didn't have to bother.
But without the vest... well, her curves were easily seen under her baggy mask-sweater. And now someone had seen.
She had downed the witness in an instant, kunai in hand to help in her threatening of whoever had seen her. She saw wide black eyes, opened in surprise before green-clad muscle seemed to work on automatic to flip their position, and Kakashi was suddenly being straddled by Gai.
The placement of Gai's hands were just as awkward, as one was resting on her left breast, just over her heart, and the other held her wrist pinned to the ground somewhere over her head. It was a compromising position, and not for the first time Kakashi was glad for her mask. She couldn't bear the thought of Gai being able to see the blush that had no doubt appeared on her face. The man looked horrified when they caught each other's eyes.
As it was, a well-placed knee to the crotch took care of Gai, though Kakashi had to use every ounce of her flexibility to escape Gai collapsing on top of her. She watched him curled up on the ground for only a moment before she was satisfied that he was taken care of for the moment. She was only gone for ten seconds to retrieve her vest from the memorial stone, and had already put it on when Gai quit twitching.
Alright, so maybe she had kicked him a bit harder than intended, but he had been taking liberties, however accidentally. It didn't stop Kakashi from being offended and pressing a kunai against Gai's throat.
"No one finds out about this, got it?" She snarled in his ear. He nodded quickly but carefully, obviously not wanting Kakashi's hand to slip. She didn't pull away immediately, and instead spoke again. "You'd better not tell. Being outed would be too much of a hassle. Send Hokage-sama my apologies for not attending the meeting; let him know I flunked my team." The kunai made its way back into her pouch and she started walking away.
"Why?" Gai's bravery truly knew no bounds.
"Their taijutsu was sloppy, none of them could work together, and they failed to look underneath the underneath, let alone creatively," Kakashi called over her shoulder. She was purposefully not looking underneath the underneath of Gai's question.
"That's not what I meant," which, of course, Kakashi knew. She sighed, stopped walking, and half-turned to look at the Green Beast. He still had a slightly dazed look in his eyes, and a light blush colored his cheeks.
After a moment of awkward staring, Kakashi replied, "Gai, you just groped me. I'm going to go take a shower and try to scrub my brain clean. Good bye." She hadn't answered his real question again.
But nothing would ever get that image out of her mind, she knew, because her Sharingan had still been revealed at the time. Kakashi had the image of Gai's hand on her breast and his face mere inches from hers forever imprinted in her mind's eye.
With a shudder, Kakashi decided that, yes, a shower sounded like a damn good idea. At least then she could get the shadow of sensation from his hand on her breast to go away.
Kakashi was sure she was going to have a permanent tic soon. Gai had decided that, now he knew her secret, she needed protection... or something. He never entirely said why he had taken to socializing with her, but she assumed it had to do with the male assumption that women were weaker. Considering she had been a jounin since she was thirteen, five years longer than Gai, she sometimes thought about discarding that idea, but what were the alternatives?
Either way, Gai was her self-declared best friend, and she supposed that since he was the only person who could really be considered her friend, it wasn't untrue. However, she soon discovered that Gai had something else in mind.
"Will you join me for dinner tonight?" It was a request. Not like how Gai usually went about such things. In the past months, he had hi-jacked Kakashi to meals, never actually asked her. And the way he stood – back straight, chest out, chin high, hand fiddling nervously with the material at his thighs, and most of all the nervous look on his face – gave Kakashi all she needed to know.
He was asking her to go on a date with him.
Oh, Kakashi had been asked out before. Mostly by women – chuunin Yuuhi Kurenai and tokubetsu jounin Mitarashi Anko to name a couple – and a few of Konoha's homosexual citizens – including the quiet Academy teacher Umino Iruka – but not by someone who actually knew that she wasn't a man. It was strangely flattering to receive her first real request for a date, even if she was twenty-five years old and tried her hardest to feign disinterest in anyone.
Not that anyone actually believed that, given the little orange book that she always seemed to be reading, but Kakashi ignored them. Did anyone really think that a genius jounin could get off on the complete idiocy of Jiraiya's cut-rate porn?
But that was beside the point. Kakashi looked Gai dead in the eye.
It was succinct, to the point, and wouldn't result in undue humiliation. They were in public; most people would probably assume that Gai just wanted to hang out with the only person who would tolerate him for more than ten minutes at a time and not pay any attention. It was nothing noteworthy, aside from Kakashi's momentary hesitation.
Thankfully, people tried not to pay attention around Gai, so no one would notice.
"But -" Gai was still picking at the green material; apparently he really wanted to go on a date with Kakashi.
She, however, didn't feel the same. She had only really had any romantic interest once before – although she suspected that some of her admiration for Minato might have had to do with having a crush on the man – but she knew that Gai didn't make her stomach flip or her chest flutter. After the grope-that-would-never-be-forgotten, she hadn't even blushed. Kakashi simply didn't feel that way about Gai.
"I'll talk to you later, Gai," and she shunshined away rather than dealing with him.
As had become Gai's habit, he found her not an hour later at the memorial stone. This time Kakashi had visited the stone bearing Obito, Rin, and Minato's names not to mourn their deaths or to simply honor their lives and deaths, but to think on her own. This time she was tracing Obito's name with her thumb the entire time, just thinking. She had liked Obito, perhaps not physically – 13 year old boys weren't very attractive even to 13 year old girls – but she had loved him none the less.
She knew that certain aspects of Gai were attractive. His zeal for life, his sense of humor, those were the qualities that made him a friend. When he wore civilian clothes, Kakashi could find him physically attractive – she had never said he didn't have a good body, she merely preferred it when he wasn't covered in so much green – especially if his hair wasn't gelled into a bowl shape. Sure, she had only seen Gai like that once or twice, but the difference was astronomical.
Still, Kakashi was fairly certain she didn't like Gai in that way. Okay, so shinobi tended to not care about the ability for a long-term relationship when thinking of sexual partners. They didn't live long enough for that. But Kakashi knew Gai, and she knew that he wouldn't try to get involved in some sort of romantic liaison without a desire for something more that sex with a pretty face he'd never actually seen.
Gai wanted her, and to Kakashi, that idea was incomprehensible.
She didn't react when Gai strode up behind her, instead rememorizing the exact curves that made up the little inscription of Obito's name. She heard each hesitant step as Gai approached, but she did not turn or acknowledge him. He undoubtedly knew that she was aware of his presence, too.
He had stopped a few feet behind her as Kakashi's spacial awareness alerted her. It remained that way for a good minute before Gai spoke.
"Can you give me a reason?"
It was a good question. Kakashi had to mull it over; could she give him a reason? What reason could she give? Saying she wasn't interested seemed somehow callous.
"Imagine how it would look to other people," Kakashi decided to say instead. "No one else knows I'm a girl, not even the Hokage himself." Maybe that wasn't true. Some Hyuuga were bound to have noticed, but they didn't really care about anything outside the clan and had never tried to black mail her with that knowledge or anything. The Inuzuka as well, but none of them really paid any mind to Kakashi either.
"I don't care if they think I'm gay," Gai shrugged. "Most people already do. I'm not that oblivious to the world around me." Of course he wasn't; no ninja was, not even the ones who were bat-shit crazy like Anko.
"And what if I care?" Kakashi really did care more about appearances than anyone in the village expected, else she would have no trouble being female. She had long since decided not to be feminine, and to change that image now, when she was already over the mean age for living shinobi, it would be difficult and awkward. But it wasn't that she cared that people might think she was a gay man.
"You could stop hiding," the Green Beast was completely oblivious to what Kakashi had really meant. She cared if people thought Gai was gay when he wasn't. She might not like Gai, but he was a friend that she had lacked for a good decade, and she cared for him.
But she didn't let on. "And let people think I'm some sort of creepy cross-dressing freak? No thanks."
"What happened to my hip friend who walks down the street reading Jiraiya-sama's Icha Icha books?" Kakashi twitched involuntarily.
"I don't actually read those and you know it," it had been completely by accident that Kakashi picked up that image. Someone on her ANBU squad had given her Icha Icha Paradise, which she read at a restaurant without realizing it was smut. Within a week it was public knowledge that she read them, and rather than disillusion people she started keeping her regular books and jutsu dictionaries inside the orange cover.
"But you still keep up that image without caring what people think." Her image as the average male with no shame and a high libido despite never accepting any offers nor giving any.
"Gai, I'm a woman; we are a completely other race of beings who are never straight forward and just so happen to be extremely image conscious no matter how it might appear otherwise," only half true in Kakashi's case, but she found Kushina's definition to be so true in general.
That day was also the beginning of the Eternal Rivalry.
Gai immediately started in on one of his self-imposed punishments – something about doing a bunch of sit-ups while hanging upside-down from a tree so she would date him – but Kakashi cut him off.
"Trying to impress me isn't going to impress me," she stated simply. Or not so simply. Honestly, she'd be more impressed if he impressed her on accident than with one of his stupid goals. That was one part of his public personality that was really and truly honest, much as Kakashi found it aggravating.
"Then how about we compete? If I defeat you, will you go out on a date with me?" Gai had a lot of hope in his gaze, and Kakashi was torn. One option could tear away the first friend she had after the death of her precious people in her early teenaged years. The other option would land her on a date with Gai.
It was a tough decision.
"How about we keep score, and if you can beat me in five more things than I can beat you in... then I'll go on a date with you," she almost winced at her own proposal, but at least this way she had a fighting chance.
"Three," apparently Gai wasn't quite as knuckle-headed as she thought.
Still, Kakashi agreed, and soon Gai had drawn up an official roster to keep points – also known as a quick T-chart on a spare scroll that they could make tic marks on.
And so Kakashi became Gai's Eternal Rival instead of his best friend.
The terms were pretty much synonymous anyway.
They had had contests in just about everything. Jan-Ken-Pon, badminton, taijutsu sparring, ninjutsu sparring, races, handstands, jumping jacks, who could break a boulder into the most pieces, poker, mahjong, ping-pong, the number of d-ranked missions they could do without going mad... the list included over one-hundred activities by the time Kakashi accepted a genin team (on the third try), and it continued to pile up. Neither of them ever gained more than two points on the other before they evened out again.
She and Gai remained friends, thank goodness, though she did have a healthy working relationship with Yuuhi Kurenai and Sarutobi Asuma, the other two teachers for the genin in his students' graduating class. Gai seemed content to stick to the rules of their competition, though Kakashi often caught him sending longing or mournful looks her way.
Sometimes she didn't mind.
Still, with students of her own – a know-it-all kunoichi who reminded Kakashi of precisely why she didn't want to be feminine, the sole Uchiha survivor, and Minato's son – Kakashi had a lot less time. Most of the teaching she gave them was trying to get the three to work together and taijutsu practice (they needed it. Badly), but it was still strangely labor intensive, and Kakashi was hard up to keep her gender a secret from the three children who saw her for eight hours or more a day, every day, on top of everything else.
Then there was the attack by Suna and Oto. Suddenly, Kakashi found herself in a large-scale melee with Gai at her side. Even with his stupid "dynamic entry" she was glad to see him. They fought in sync, trying to kill more shinobi than the other, though their teamwork was, after two years as friends, flawless.
And when it was all over, Gai had killed two shinobi more than he had. If Gai beat her at one more thing, then she would go on a date with him, after more than two years of the stupid contest.
So when it was all said and done, Kakashi had no trouble walking up to Gai, pulling down her mask, and giving him a kiss.
It seemed he had beaten her at being stubborn, which gave him a three point lead.
Author's Note: Again, this was inspired by Zhang Sizheng, though I was talking it over with Corselli before I actually read Antipodean. I hope this was palatable and made sense (I tried not to make it seem like I was most just trying to get through the back story, as I know I have a habit of doing at the start of one-shots, and really just any story I write). It's meant to just be a bit of Gai/Kakashi fluff... Gai really doesn't get enough love.
It appears my Naruto-block didn't apply to this. Maybe it's just applying to writing Naruto himself... or my brain could just be telling me to give up on Imminence. But I'm stubborn like that.
In other news, this is pretty much the first time I've written from the female perspective since I was about 13. For a 17 year-old girl, I'm rather... odd. The only other such occasion was a single omake I wrote a few months ago... everything else – and I mean everything – has been male perspective, even when I had the opportunity to use female. As I said: Me? Odd.