Author Note: In this story Kakashi is much younger than the bibliography I found for him says he is. Instead of being 27-28, he is only 23. This is because I want him to be younger and the timeline I found allowed for it. Kakashi did become a chunnin at age 6. That is cannon timeline and we are told he was coming home to celebrate his advancement with his father only to find Sakumo had committed sepaku in the library. This is also when Obito dies in Kakashi's first mission as team leader. We can conclude he was six when his best friend, he didn't know he needed, died. This seriously would have messed with anyone's head. So I gave him a few years to deal with his losses before he again moved up the ranks of the ninja world.

As for Naruto, I have made her a girl born when Kakashi is ten and a jounin for two years by that time. Sarutobi hides her under a high level genjutsu to protect her as much as possible from any abuse the villagers might try behind his back. Sarutobi takes his role as her adopted Jijii seriously in this fiction. He doesn't try to ignore her or pretend everything is fine for her. Everything else though will stay the same as much as I can. Of course, there will have to be small changes to make the story play out correctly.

Once again I used Natsu Sukai for Naruto's female name. As near as I can figure it out Natsu means Summer and Sukai means Day. So putting the two together means Summer Day but given the Japanese habit of writing backwards I may be naming her Day Summer instead of Summer Day. Heck, as far as I know, I'm supposed to mesh the two words together or something to make it a name. Like maybe Natsukai or Kainatsu or something. I don't know. So I just went with Natsu Sukai and left at that.

However, this story is definitely Alternate Universe as some very key Canon events do not occur in my tale here. This is a Kakashi/female Naruto story so of course I do not own it in any way shape or form. I just play around with Kishimoto's character's to keep my heart content and to keep from prying into my boys privacy more than I want them to know I do. What I do know they do is. . . .onry but I'm kind of afraid to find out more if you know what I mean. I mean the oldest is in his twenties now and there are just some things a Mom just really isn't meant to know about. I mean really isn't meant to know.

Anyway, don't forget to review if you have a good idea to add, a good critique or just want to say you like it, you hate it, or whatever. I read all the reviews I get. Some more than once. So be sure you send them in and just because I don't seem to respond to them does not mean I did not see or understand your review. Occasionally I will take suggestions you make and work them into a new story because I can not make them fit in the present story without ruining it. Anyway I hope you enjoy this one and good reading.

The Honeymoon Mission

By The Mother Rose

Chapter One:

Naruto woke and stretched sinuously under the covering of a thin sheet. Her normal body temperature kept her too warm for heavier covering than a mere sheet. Looking at her alarm clock, she groaned. Time to get up for her last day at the academy, she thought as she tossed the covering aside and sat up. She rubbed her face, effectively smothering a jaw-breaking yawn before rising to her feet and making her way into her small bathroom for a quick shower. She did her business as quickly as possible before heading back to the privacy of her bedroom.

This room, unlike the rest of the apartment, was protected by a very high level jutsu to allow her a place to be herself. There were seals on the whole apartment but only in her bedroom was she free to be herself as she was born to be. The Hokage himself had cast the jutsu saying that she needed to be safe somewhere and the least he could do was to make sure she was safe while she slept. The unexpected benefit of the jutsu was that she actually knew exactly what she really looked like. So long as she was in her room she was the girl she had been born as.

She took the disgusting orange jumpsuit out of her closet after putting on fresh boxers and grabbing a smoke grey tee shirt for the day. She laid the jumpsuit on her bed as she dragged the tee on before sitting down at her vanity. She brushed her shoulder length, thick blonde hair into shining waves that rivaled the brightness of the sun on a cloudless summer day. Then she fixed it into the style everyone saw her wear. Spikes went every which way looking more of a sleep tousled mess than anything planned and sculpted. She rubbed scent-free lotion into her legs before pulling on the pants of the jumpsuit. Just because her henged self was a boy didn't mean she couldn't have soft legs since no one ever saw them anyway.

Done dressing she made her bed and grabbed the baggy jacket that went with the pants before heading to her small kitchenette for a bite to eat. A glance at the clock told her to be quick about it as the Hokage wanted to see her before she went to get her team assignment. Five minutes later she was on her way out the door as the boy the village knew as Uzumaki Naruto.

Sparkling blue eyes surveyed everything as she made her way cautiously to the tower where the Hokage was waiting. Idly she wondered what he needed that was more important than her team assignment but she would deny the old man nothing. One of only a few people in the entire village who knew she was a girl rather than the boy she portrayed herself to be, the Old Man was both her friend and her surrogate grandfather.

She made it to the tower and up to his office. As she entered the room through the passage only she used the henge fell away, revealing a four foot, six inch pixie with golden hair, large blue eyes, tanned skin and no whisker marks. She knew she was small for a twelve year old as most of the girls in her class were almost a foot taller than she was but it didn't really bother her that much. The passage she used had a door that wouldn't open if anyone was in the office. Sarutobi didn't want anybody to know her true gender. Well, at least anyone who didn't already know that was. When she needed to come see him she could enter this way or through the main halls but she preferred to keep her numerous visits done as quietly as she could to avoid shouts and screams of how he was favoring her unnecessarily. There was also an alarm on it that let him know she was there so he could get rid of whoever was in the office unless they already knew her true identity. Then he'd just open the door for her after telling them she was there and sealing the office against intruders.

Seeing the Old Man, she walked over to him and he lifted her onto his desk top so she'd be comfortable while they talked. "Morning, Jijii," she said.

"Morning, Sunshine," he greeted her. His nickname for her was directly related to her real name but only when they were alone in his office would he ever call her either the nickname or her given name. She was born Namikaze Natsu Sukai but that girl had been so buried in the records that she would never come to light unless she herself wished her to. Or something happened to Sarutobi before she learned to perform the henge she hid herself under. He was pretty insistent about not teaching it to her and, to her mind, his secrecy over it really didn't make a lot of sense. Just because he saw the danger to her now while he was alive didn't mean it would vanish if he died and as far as she knew he was the only person who knew the particulars of her henge. Therefore, if something happened to him before he taught it to her, or someone else, she would be exposed to the vultures and that just didn't make sense.

"So why did you need to see me this morning, Jijii?"

"First, do you want your Jounin instructor to know the truth? And second, I want an accurate profile, including picture, for your records. Since you aren't yet strong enough to be totally safe, I think the record showing your true physical self should be done here in the office and kept between the two of us until you are ready."

"Why should anyone else know? I mean, I understand why you told Iruka-niisan. After all, he needed to know why he was required to teach me those girl classes relating to things that only affect girls but does the Jounin have to know? I don't even know who that is yet. What if he or she is another who would use it against me or tell somebody who would?" Fear showed in her eyes as she crossed her arms in front of her body.

"You have a valid concern but I am sure he wouldn't. The reason I ask is that it is likely you will get injured on a mission and I would feel a lot better about allowing you to take dangerous missions if someone did know and could help you keep it hidden."

"Oh." Her brows drew together as she considered her options carefully. Jijii tended to trust people more easily than she did but she also knew that where she was concerned he didn't trust anyone. Uneasily, she nodded and shuddered at one and the same time while closing her eyes. "Jijii, I trust you. You were right bout Iruka-niisan but I knew him also. So I had something to work with when it came to trusting him. But this time. . ."

"Ok, I can see your point. We can deal with that one later then." He smiled and put a friendly hand on her knee. "Now. You'll find some of your girl clothes behind the screen. So why don't you go get changed for the records shot I need? Then we are going to talk about potential husbands."

She groaned and rolled her eyes. As she went to change her clothes she thought again how much she wished he would drop the subject of marrying her off already. Sheesh, she was only twelve for pity's sake. After the picture was taken he showed her the pictures he was considering as potential mates. Kamizuki Izumo wasn't a bad choice age wise but she honestly didn't feel he was either ready for marriage yet or the right match for her. Hayate Gekko she rejected because she knew he was seriously and heavily involved with a woman in the Anbu corp. And the final guy, Namiashi Raidou, she rejected because he was homosexual and would not be at all interested in being wed to a real girl no matter how much he thought said girl was a boy. She told Sarutobi flat-out, "While Naruto might very well be able to hold Raidou's interest, for a few months at least, I never would. He is not into girls at all and never will be. Plus, he's a playboy. No one will hold him for very long unless they tie him up and refuse to let him ever be alone for more than a second. Even then his eye will wander where it pleases. You really need to listen more, Jijii. Although Gekko and his gal are very discreet, Raidou is anything but."

"Ok I'll keep looking but keep Izumo in mind. He's not a bad kid."

"Hai, Jijii but you know I already said no. And you know it won't change."

A few minutes later she was done and on her way out of the office, as Naruto, once again. She brushed past a silver haired man in the lobby who wore his headband in the most unusual fashion but since she was short on time if she wasn't to get in trouble with Iruka she didn't pause to inquire about it.

A few seconds after Naruto left the office the jounin gathered in the room to watch the kids receive their team assignments. Sarutobi had really been hoping Naruto would agree to let Kakashi in on the secret but he'd known the dainty girl wouldn't. The people of the village had given Naruto/Natsu no reason to blindly trust any of them. He knew none of them were openly mean to her any more. His having put more than one on public display or having forced them to stand by helplessly and watch as their own child or a sibling her age was put through a similar torturous situation had put a stop to the outright cruelty. That didn't mean they didn't let her know what they would like to do if the Hokage would let them.

Sarutobi had made skillful use of genjutsu to convince the adults of the village that he would not put up with them mistreating a child of his village for any reason. It didn't matter one bit to him what they thought said child was. But the genjutsu was only used when he had felt it would be most effective for the person to watch their own child undergo the same thing they had allowed Naruto to undergo or put the golden blond through themselves. Others got a visit to Ibiki to reinforce the lesson. Some were sent to the internment camps and would spent the rest of their lives growing food for the villages orphans or breaking rocks or undamning streams.

But he also knew, that due to the demon her Otousan had slammed into her belly seal, Natsu did not forget anything she experienced. Not ever. For all that Naruto seemed to be an empty headed air head who dreamed of only new flavors of ramen and turning the world orange, Natsu was a very different character. Though Naruto and Natsu did share a seriousness about their love for the village and the job they did to keep it safe and healthy. But it was also that demon that made finding a husband for his dainty little charge so difficult and no matter what she thought Sarutobi knew she needed a strong husband to protect her when he was gone. He was an old man who would not live forever. Kyuubi did have a mental link to her vessel though she could not influence Natsu's thoughts in any way any real person could. She could offer her advice and give warning of impending danger but she could not harm Natsu in any way. If she even tried to threaten the girl with harm, of a mental or emotional type, she would suffer ten times as much as Natsu did and, as the demon had already discovered, that included trying to influence the girl into having nothing but nightmares.

Natsu could allow Kyuubi to talk directly to Sarutobi and that was how Sarutobi knew what would happen if he forced Natsu to marry the wrong person. That was also how Sarutobi had found out the protection the seal held for Natsu, preventing the demon from harming the girl in any way. She could aid her but she could not do anything that would hurt her or knowingly cause her to get hurt. That included Naruto/Natsu trying to use the unpurified demon chakra since that chakra would hurt Naruto more than it would anyone else.

For now, though, he temporarily shelved the problem of finding Natsu an appropriate husband. He needed to figure out a way to get the girl to reveal herself to Kakashi. The jounin was a responsible man and highly capable but he could not protect what he did not know needed protecting. And Sarutobi trusted him. Natsu was correct about his level of trust to a large extent but she was wrong if she truly thought he placed that trust blindly in his people. He didn't. He knew their faults as well as he knew their strengths and he knew their backgrounds that would determine how they would act in any given circumstance. He knew Kakashi would take care of his dainty little girl because it was in the best interest of the village but also because of who she was born. Kakashi had been ten when his mentor and second father figure had died performing the ritual that caused Natsu to grow up alone. Kakashi had strong ties to not only his village but also to the people of his past.

He looked over the rest of the jounin who had gathered to watch the team assignments and noted Natsu seemed to be correct about Raidou. The guy was doing everything he could to attract the attention of the newest jounin to join the ranks not that Genma was either returning that interest or unaware of Raidou's flirtations. It seemed Genma was very aware of what Raidou was doing. Gekko was standing next to Yuugao and both were intently watching the proceedings in the ball on his desk but was he imagining they were a little more familiar with each other than was normal? Maybe. But then again maybe not. Natsu had said Gekko had a girlfriend he was very serious about and it was someone in the Anbu corp. Come to think about it, why were they here? They weren't taking a team this year. He hid a smirk as he watched his young people interact in ways they thought he didn't notice. Funny thing was if he hadn't just suggested Gekko and Raidou to his little girl he probably wouldn't have.

His thoughts meandered on as the gathering watched the proceedings and, when they were over, he took Kakashi to the homes of his latest team. Kakashi was well known for failing genin and Sarutobi had decided, since this team included Natsu as Naruto and the Uchiha Gaki and the Haruno girl, he would do his best to make sure the jounin gave the kids a fair chance at passing. The civilian council wanted the Uchiha out of the classroom. They didn't really care who was on his team but they were insistent that Kakashi be his instructor now. The ninja part of the council was a little less insistent. Their only concern was that the Uchiha be kept in the village lest he run off chasing power or his brother before he matured. Those councilmen were just as insistent however that Naruto be passed out of the classroom and placed on the team with the Uchiha as a stopgap to his running off. All of them had noticed Naruto could and would get the Uchiha's attention whenever necessary. And the final member was the daughter of a personal friend of Sarutobi's. Haruno Kiku did hold a civilian council seat but she had long ago learned to see what was real from what was not and as a return for her dedication to him and the village Sarutobi wanted to keep her daughter as safe as he could. The girl was the only person Kiku had left of her family and as such Sakura meant the world to Kiku.

The genin of Cell Seven did pass the jounin given test, much to the amazement of everyone in the ninja corp who knew anything of Kakashi and his tendency to fail genin for simply being too young in his opinion to take the life of a ninja seriously enough. What Kakashi didn't tell them was the fact that even if he'd wanted to he couldn't have failed this cell. It was just a lucky circumstance he really didn't want to fail them.

The Council had made it very clear he was to pass the Uchiha boy and keep the brat active until his seed ripened. The Council, being comprised of retired ninja and civilian businessmen, knew full well the brat would never make a good village ninja, being too obsessed with getting his revenge and the power necessary to attain it, for such a thing as meekly waiting and following orders. Well the ninja half knew that anyway. The civilians had no idea what made a good ninja from what didn't but Kakashi didn't care what the civilian councillors wanted. Sasuke was not a team player in anyone's definition of the word. The only thing he cared about was learning more jutsu and attaining power; no matter the cost to either himself or someone else.

Because of this, the council made it very clear to Kakashi he was to pass the brat, so the kid would be seen as an adult in the eyes of the villagers, and then see if he could change the boy around. If he could turn Sasuke into a team player, they might not marry the kid off as soon as his seed became viable. But if, by the time it did, he was still the anti-social punk he'd always been since the death of his clan, they would tie him down with a wife in order to create a new child for the village's shinobi forces in the future. Sasuke, they said, could still be treated well enough to honor their word while he created new children for the village.

Kakashi didn't like it but he did understand it. And he knew it was best for the village if they did not lose the sharingan just because Itachi had killed the whole clan except for his own younger brother and because Sasuke was a spoilt, whiny brat. The whininess was because of the torment his brother had put him through the night the clan died but the spoilt aspect had been done by the Council and the villagers themselves. By the time the Council realized what was happening with the last Uchiha, it was too late for them to really make a lot of difference in his life or personality. The villagers still didn't get it. To them, Sasuke was just a poor little orphan who needed all the love and care they could lavish on him. It didn't hurt that they knew the clan restoration laws of the village applied to him also. That meant he represented a way to upgrade the social position of their families and maybe someday become part of a clan through association. Those with unmarried daughters would not quit fawning over the boy and swelling his head with his own importance.

Still Kakashi knew it wasn't for the Uchiha he had passed the team at all. No, the Uzumaki boy held a lot more interest for the lazy jounin than the cut and dried Uchiha. Uzumaki was fun in the sun compared to the skulking in alleyways that was the Uchiha's personality. Kakashi was intrigued with Naruto because something about the kid didn't add up. It wasn't just the fact the kid wore orange in unreasonable amounts and yet could remain unseen standing in the center of a well lit room. Or even his reputation, that was definitely well earned, as the Prankster King of the village. While one part of that evaluation made him a mystery and the second made him fun, neither was what had the one-eyed jounin intrigued with the boy. He was a boy, wasn't he? You see, that's what had the jounin trailing the kid and trying to trick any trickle of information from him he could. Kakashi's eyes and sense of touch told him Naruto was a boy in every way but his sense of smell said quite clearly the kid was anything but a boy. Intuition was also saying the kid was a girl. Sometimes, when the kid spoke, even his voice said he was a girl but other times there was no doubt it was a boy. Confusing in the least but it was also what got the cell past Kakashi's test. He absolutely loved a puzzle and could not resist solving them whenever he came across one. Of course, he also hated them for the very same reason. Everyone thought his little orange books were his biggest weakness but they were wrong. Puzzles were his weakness. He simply could not resist them. And right now Uzumaki was a puzzle Kakashi was going to solve one way or the other.

As for Naruto, his new Sensei was driving him nuts. The silver haired man was an open pervert who didn't give a flying flip who knew it. He read his little orange books wherever he wished to no matter who was around or how much attention they were paying to his reading material. He also had an uncomfortable habit of shadowing Naruto everywhere he went. Naruto knew, kind of, what the jounin was trying to do but he was damned if he'd make it easy for the pervert. He knew something about him bothered the jounin from the first day on and Naruto knew of only one thing about him that could bother someone like his new sensei. However, Naruto was no more inclined to trust the man now than he ever had been so his secret was staying safely locked behind his lips, thank you very much.

It might have been different if his Sensei had actually made some kind of an effort to actually teach the whole cell how to become better ninja but he didn't. He only taught Sasuke while Sakura sat on the edge of the clearing to coo and drool over the dark haired brooder hen. Luckily she didn't choose the same spot for drooling in every day or there would soon be a swamp in that location. Naruto had toyed with the idea of bringing her waterbottles to replenish her drool but figured she wouldn't get the point or the humor. And he really didn't like bumps on his head or balck eyes and loosened teeth that much. But lately Kakashi had stepped up the game of hide and seek they were playing. He was getting the most disagreeable missions he could find for them.

Understandably, Sakura refused to do them. She was a twelve year old girl and concerned with the same thing as any other twelve year old girl. Her appearance, compared to the appearance of other girls her age, was the most important thing in her world view. She would not do any mission that might mess up her clothes or that caused her to sweat, break a nail or get scratched up or in any other way disfigured. She was firmly convinced that if her dear Sasuke-kun ever once saw her in less than a perfectly groomed state she would forevermore lose her chance at his bed with his ring on her finger and until he committed himself to her there was no way she was going to agree to do anything that might make him shy away from her or look elsewhere.

Sasuke also refused to do the missions saying he was not an errand boy and errands had nothing to do with becoming a powerful ninja. His job was to learn as much as he could and grow to the point where he could defeat his enemies, not to paint some old codger's fence or reroof their barn. Besides, he was an Uchiha and Uchiha did not do menial labor. Naruto had snorted at that but did so silently. Sakura would take offence on Sasuke's behalf and Sakura taking offence was always displayed the same way. Two fists of raging glory painfully landing somewhere tender upon his person.

That left only Naruto to do the chores for the villagers. Naruto didn't really care that much. The chores needed to be done and most of the time the villagers requesting the work could not do it themselves and it gave Naruto a chance to get away from his team each day. So while Kakashi put the Uchiha through his paces, and Sakura drooled, Naruto went and did their chores. He created his clones and tried to think of how each mission could be translated into a shinobi skill and then work at it as if he was actually being taught that skill. Sometimes though he really didn't have any idea. How the heck did cleaning stalls relate to ninja techniques? But still he did the missions, being polite and well mannered to the people who were paying him for the work.

"Hello, Mr. Tsumoki. I understand you need help on the harvest today. Where would you like us to work?"

"Hello, Mrs. Chan. I understand your fence is in need of repair. If you'll show me where the problem is, I'll get it fixed right up for you."

"Good Morning, Mr. Lee. You're short a farmhand today. Where would you like me to work?

"Good Morning, Mrs. Itachou. You need some house repairs done? Could you give us a list and the supplies? We will get right on them for you.

"Good day, Mr. Hakitosuma. We understand you need help in the loading and unloading of your merchandise. If you will show us the way, we will get it done for you."

"Good day, Mr. Jissowaki. You said flooding is causing you to lose your crops. How can I help you with this?"

On and on the list went. Yet Naruto did every single chore often working until late in the evening on the said chores. He never complained and often the same people would request him time and again to aid them since he was a good worker who never complained or stuck his nose in the air over what they needed help with. At first, the villagers had been upset to see Naruto responding to their aid but over time they began to look forward to the days when the polite jinchuuriki was expected. Many of them were coming to a different opinion of the blond haired boy, seeing him less as a troublemaker or a demon than as what he was. Just one more child of their village. That he was polite and well mannered for all that he was clearly an orphan was a bonus to them. After a few times of Naruto showing up with his clones the villagers began to realize the rest of the team wasn't with him and more often then not told Naruto he did not need to waste his chakra on them. They took to buying things for him that they knew would be hard for him to get any other way given the overall attitude of the village as a whole towards him.

Kakashi often came by the job site and sat watching as Naruto did the work. Never once did he offer to help. Nor did he ever bring the other two with him when he came by. Instead, he would pretend to be reading that book while never once taking his eyes off Naruto. While it was flattering to have someone watching you in such a dedicated fashion, it creeped Naruto out. Naruto might be just as much a twelve year old girl as Sakura was but she wasn't into the whole got to be attractive to others stuff Sakura was into. So to have Kakashi devoting so much attention on her, whether in her henge or not, was just creepy.

The day Naruto had needed to unplug a nearby stream where a family of beaver had blocked the water with their dam home, Kakashi sat on a rock near the water's edge watching as a slender Naruto dove and swam around moving the dam to another location where the beaver family would survive just as well without ruining the farmer's crops. He had stripped off his orange suit and was wearing his boxers for the job. Though the stream wasn't all that deep at any one point it did have deeper areas and for Naruto those spots were very deep. Being smaller than most twelve year olds those areas were deep enough to submerge him.

Kakashi sat watching him work, a little alarmed when he realized how deep the water was until he realized Naruto could swim like a fish. He was impressed with how careful the kid was being and yet very confused as well. The wet boxers made it very clear the boy had all the right anatomy of any boy and yet. . .something didn't feel right. Something told him he was being incredibly dense about this kid. But for the life of him he couldn't figure out whether his orange wearing student was a boy or a girl.

"Naruto-chan," called the farmer who had hired him for the job of clearing the stream. "Come out of the water and eat. My Missus made some sandwiches and tea for you and me." This was the third job Naruto had done for the Jissowaki family and they always fed him for his help since they knew it was supposed to be three teens doing the chores instead of one and they knew it was hard for the blond to get good food on a regular basis that would not make him sick. So Naruto had no problem coming out of the water for the food. "Here, Naru-chan. Dry off some so you don't take a chill while we eat." He waited while Naruto did as he requested. Then passing the kid a teacup and a platter with his sandwich, he said, "Tell me, what was causing the problem?"

"Some beavers are building a dam and forcing the stream to go around it. There's three dams in the area but this new one is the one that was causing the issue. I'm moving it to a different location now. A careful eye should keep them from building new ones." He sat down and ate one of the sandwiches. "This is delicious. Tell your missus she's one heck of a good cook and if I was only a few years older I might be tempted to steal her away from you for that reason alone. I was actually dreaming about that meatloaf thing she made last time I came here." That was as close as Naruto would ever come to asking for anything from a villager and Mr. Jissowaki knew it.

The farmer laughed and said he'd relay the compliment. He also filed away the meatloaf comment to tell the Missus to make the boy a loaf of his own. "So when do we get to meet your teammates?"

"I really can't say. Sakura-chan is at that stage where she doesn't want to get dirty or messy so it might be awhile before I can convince her to come with me."

"So why do you let her get away with that? You know that attitude is no good for a ninja."

"She'll outgrow it. Jijii says we should all have a chance to be children during peacetime. Not really sure why but he believes it so," Naruto gave the farmer a shrug as he finished his second sandwich.

"So you'll be the grown-up and let her be the child. Naru-chan, that's not right. She's gonna have to grow up before you wind up in the field. Otherwise, you're gonna get hurt trying to protect her and still do your own job."

Naruto snorted. "Jissowaki-san, you know Jijii better than that. He isn't about to let me into the field so long as my team can't pull their weight. Sasuke will do alright in the field so long as he doesn't see whoever it is he wants to kill but she would only scream and cringe away waiting for Sasuke-kun to come riding in on a big white horse to save her from the big, scary bad guy and never notice Sasuke has his hands full with his own bad guy. So Jijii won't be sending us anywhere dangerous."

"But you know, Naru-chan, he won't always have a say in that. Your Sensei could pick up a d rank like this that's outside the village and Hokage-sama wouldn't necessarily know anything about it until you'd already left on the mission."

"True." Naruto frowned. "But you know there isn't anything I can do about it so why dwell on it?"

"Because you need to be ready, Little Bitty."

"Hey! I'm not that small," Naruto protested.

The farmer laughed and said, "Kid I've seen twelve year old fleas bigger than you." At Naruto's affronted pout, he conceded, "Though they aren't half as useful to have around. Ok, you finish with the stream and I'll tell the Missus you liked the food." He picked the pack up and walked off as Naruto went back into the stream to finish moving the beaver homes.

Kakashi made a mental note not to get any out of the village missions. The last thing he needed was an irate Hokage because something happened to Naruto or an irate council because something happened to Sasuke. He watched the kid heading back to the stream before taking off to join the farmer on his walk back to the farmhouse. "I wondered how long you were gonna stay hidden in the tree watching us."

"I was listening. Seems like you know Naruto pretty well."

"I guess so. Kid's a hard worker. Naru-chan is close to the Hokage and he's a nice boy regardless of the rumors about him."

"Why do you call him that?"

"What? Naru-chan? Well, the Missus pointed it out once when he was here to help with some carpentry work. Kid is as tiny and graceful as any girl and yet he's as strong as any boy his age and size could be expected to be." He laughed and said, "We tease him and tell him when he finally hits puberty and a growth spurt nobody's gonna recognize him."

"He is rather small for his age, isn't he? If he were a girl, though, I don't think anyone would notice it as much. But, as a ninja, that's actually an advantage for him. He's a smaller target and can fit places normal size people can't go."

"You'd know all about going places other people can't go. I remember you during the war, Boy. You went a lot of places, no child should ever go, simply because you were young enough or small enough to get the job done. I just thank Kami those days are over for now. It'd be terrible to see the innocence vanish out of Naru-chan's eyes the way it did out of yours." The two fell quiet as they remembered the Iwa/Konoha war and it's brutality. "Just remember we aren't at war now and start training that damn girl before Naru-chan gets hurt cause she didn't know how to protect herself. Naru-chan gets hurt cause you didn't train the girl and I can promise you a whole lot of upset people, not the least of which will be the Hokage and don't let the Missus catch you reading that book in front of Naru-chan. She'll give you a lesson the war didn't teach you. As for me, don't you even think about sending Naru-chan into some of those small places you used to go during the war. I may not be the warrior I was back then but I do still know how to whop a butt or two when I need to."

The farmer went into the house and Kakashi returned to the stream with the farmers words ringing in his ears. Tiny and graceful as any girl but as strong as any boy his age and size. Another damned contradiction. Naruto was tiny, strong and graceful. Kami damn it. He wasn't getting any closer to finding out the truth here.