Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.


The Male Kunoichi


Chapter 18 - We all heard that! I never thought I'd ever hear that coming from you!


The soft lushness of the bed offered no respite. The silken sheets that seemed so invitingly soft before became a source of irritation.

Yuuhi Kurenai breathed, slowly.

She was unsettled.

It wasn't very usual for her to be unsettled. Hell, as a shinobi they were supposed to be calm and efficient killing machines, and not unsettled, but if the fact that she hadn't fallen asleep yet was any hint, she was clearly not at ease.

Maybe that was putting it lightly. After all, the internal conflict was threatening to escalate into a full-fledged war.

What was she supposed to think? Or feel, even? It wasn't a very common situation she found herself in – not that their current situation was anything but usual, of course – but nobody could deny that it would be unsettling to be in her position.

Maybe unsettling was understating things a little. Well, depending on who you asked...

At twenty and a Jounin, she could say that she was fairly well established to have her own opinion, but either way she spun it, the matter wouldn't resolve itself. Anko's adage of "If I ignore it, it will go away!" wouldn't work here, that much she knew.

She tried to relax, clear her mind of extraneous thoughts and get back to the business of sleeping. She really did. But the soft bed felt hard against her back and the seemingly sensually soft sheets bore spurs. It was weird, she knew, and depending on which way you leaned it was okay, if not immoral or downright a crime against humanity.

He was fourteen. Fifteen, if she considered that his birthday was nearing, but either way to most of society he was considered a minor, despite the fact that all shinobi were exempt from the plebeian progressions of societal order once they donned the hitai ate. If they had so much as wanted to, any if not all of the graduating class of Genins could have married on the day itself and there would be no legal basis for anyone to oppose the unions.

Not even the Hokage had the power to object the union. Such was the concessions the Uchihas had demanded and the Shodai had acquiesced that the ninjas were pretty much legal adults the moment they stepped out of the Academy gates as full-fledged Genins. Of course, no such application of the law had been required since Konoha's founding, and consequently no repeals of the law had been made since it was out of sight and out of mind for many of the Council members, who had their own more pressing agendas to pursue. Not that she wanted to know what the Uchiha's were doing to demand that concession, but they were all but dead, anyway.

Council shenanigans aside, she wasn't remotely certain as to what exactly she should do. Naruto had professed what seemingly amounted to physical attraction earlier during dinner, which she wasn't exactly surprised at. He was young and likely undergoing puberty, and she wasn't exactly an old maid either. Was it really a surprise?

She couldn't decide if she was more surprised or had been expecting it, at least subconsciously.

While she wouldn't exactly said she was attracted to the young Genin, his infectiously good nature, exuberance, geniality and privately, possibly the lingering strands of her Academy days crush on the Yondaime were plus points of sorts. The resemblance was sort of… weird. But the last time the Jounins (and AnBu) gathered to question the unnervingly similar appearance between the two (they were shinobi, and most certainly not blind, thank you very much), the cornered Sandaime had spun out a whole long story - it took him six hours, and he wasn't even done yet when they surrendered - about seals, quarks, theoretical quantum physics, chakra systems, genetic selection and so much technical terms that it hurt her brain to even recall it - hell, even Nara Shikaku gave up! - so she put it out of her mind.

Well... No two ways about it. The War to end all Wars had really boosted the Yondaime's reputation – he was the man not even Kages could touch – and frankly he was a highly attractive man either way and in her defence the entire class had a crush on him. Even some boys.

She blushed lightly as she recalled the memories of her past. Who was she kidding? She used to sleep with his picture under her pillow! The Yondaime had practically been the Sasuke of their time, except if Sasuke had been older, wise, mature, impossibly powerful Hokage, and available when Hinata's batch was in the Academy.

And who was she to say the youth was foolish?

She had feared the foolishness of youth would come back and haunt her in the future, and given the situation she was in, hindsight clearly hated losing a bet. Naruto's appearance had fired up whatever vestiges of her crush she had left for the Yondaime, she decided. And considering the mission wasn't over, she was going to conduct herself in a proper manner befitting a mentor, Jounin and not blush like a silly schoolgirl! She was a Jounin - who took down a Uchiha in the Chuunin Exams with Genjutsu! - NOT a silly hormonal teen, damn it!

She would have rolled over, deeply enraptured in her musings had she not managed to catch herself in time.

The slight rise and fall of Nozomi's back indicated the Genin was clearly still in deep sleep. Glad to have avoided a potentially awkward situation that she really could do to NOT have to suffer through, Kurenai groaned softly.

"…just my luck…"


Sasuke, if pressed, would admit he found the bed more comfortable than he had expected. He had spent some time gathering information about the locations of the library and training grounds, and while the library was easy to find, the grounds weren't. Besides, he didn't want to come across as a suspicious intruder since most tourists didn't really keep asking about things civilians don't really concern themselves with.

He would rather die than suffer the dishonour of becoming the reason why their team failed the mission. Naruto for one would never let him live this down.

Besides, given what village they were talking about the most he'd see would consist mainly of earth techniques, whereas his speciality was fire... He'll have to search more discreetly and more efficiently tomorrow. The Doton jutsu he could learn could be useful to counter any Suiton techniques used against him. Then again, any sufficiently strong fire technique could, and would simply overwhelm a lesser Suiton technique... Not to mention Raiton was pretty damn effective against Suiton as well. But the more he knew, the better. Itachi always did seem to know everything.

Rolling over in his bed, Sasuke tried to sleep, but it did not come easily.


Sakura dutifully packed her purchases aside before contemplating to crash on the bed, but decided against it and instead headed for the showers.

"Man, this place really has everything, doesn't it..." Sakura mumbled as she slipped into the private onsen. "Fthetttttttttttttttttttttttt ffftttttttttttttt..."

She giggled as she slipped lower and her breath created bubbles. Man... She'll have to convince Naruto to go paint the Fire Daimyou's throne again sometime if she got to enjoy such luxurious accommodations in return.


"So..."

Kakashi palmed the note that he had been slipped. He hadn't opened it up yet, but any issue that severe to warrant the Daimyou sending his Head of Intelligence out in person had to be pretty damn serious.

Then again, said Daimyou had sent them on this mission.

Let me see...

Flipping the note open, Kakashi was somewhat amused at the lengths the Daimyou went to piss off his staff. The information he had been passed barely warranted a despatch, much less activate the Head of Intelligence himself.

It began with a simple re-iteration of their mission's objectives. To determine if the Raikage and Tsuchikage were planning anything unsavoury for Hi no Kuni or Konohagakure no Sato, and secondly to invite them to the Hi no Kuni ball, as well as painting the Tsuchi Daimyou's chair pink. Then there were a few details about the two spouses' entourages and expected arrival dates, as well as the location of their accommodations, before ending with a coarse map of the Tsuchi area with the Lord's true castle pointed out. Hardly classified stuff.

All in all, nothing useful. Scarcely anything to require the infamous Mumei's considerable talents. And if Kakashi was completely honest, he could tell the man was forced to conceal details in the report, probably instructed by the Daimyou in order to make Nozomi's task harder. Considering the man's skills, he would have provided the entirety of the party's itinerary, detailed portraits, succinct summary of the supporters' abilities, methods to counter them, personal history, background, the works. That man was worth teams.

Still, hardly anything to require one of the most talented Intelligence gathers to work in the Daimyou's court's personal attention. The Sandaime had practically salivated when he had the opportunity to command the man during the Chunnin exam preparations. Although the Chunnin exams had quickly escalated from crap to Second Coming of the Kyuubi levels and ended with the deaths of their Hokage, it wasn't really Mumei's fault since he had been assigned to a relatively inconsequential post in screening candidates – sometimes the Sandaime's habit of challenging those whose ability he recognised to difficult, obtuse and ultimately futile tasks did bite him in the ass, and this time it swallowed him whole – it was hard to avoid a black mark on his career.

Kakashi burnt the note with a quick Katon and prepared for bed. He'll have to brief the others at the hotel tomorrow – not that it was an urgent task of course, but it would be interesting to see what Naruto made of it. As much as his Nozomi form had seemingly tempered the blonde's insatiable lust for chaos, he was willing to stake his reputation as a ninja – S-rank, mind – that it was a mere lull and Naruto would soon be back in full swing.

The Earth Lord wouldn't even know what hit him. And judging by how long Naruto had went without a prank somewhere, the entire Earth Castle along with it.


The rising sun's rays tracked a smooth path up the sheets and the occupant raised a hand to block the offending light.

"Urgh…" The sole occupant on the bed moaned.

Attempting to swat away the offending light, the woman hissed in anger. A wall of mud cloyed up behind the wall and barricaded the window from outside. "…much better." Muttering darkly, the occupant rolled over.

There was a soft knock on the door "Mao-sama…"

The occupant froze.

"I know you're already awake Mao-sama…"

"What?" Said woman hissed.

"It is already morning Mao-sama, and we need to get moving…"

"...it's still dark out!"

"…you didn't. Not again. Not after that last hotel-"

"…maybe I did." Mao rolled over. "Maybe I didn't."

"At your age Mao-sama…" The voice had a disapproving tone. "Isn't it nice for once to not get banned from another hotel for-"

"My husband is the Tsuchikage, they can bill him for all I care." Mao groaned. "Get off my back. As it is, it hurts enough already. Is it my fault that their cleaners are so incompetent that they cannot-"

"We still have to reach Tsuchishi Mao-sama." A second disapproving voice piped up. "And I'm pretty sure cleaning up after high levelled Doton techniques wasn't-"

"Shut up Kageyasu, you're the one who made us crash the bar yesterday." Mao attempted to burrow deeper into the sheets. "Leave me alone."

She heard a sigh outside the door and hoped her attendants would finally get the hint and leave her alone. A slight discussion seemed to have passed between her two retainers and she was sure they had considered it a futile cause and would leave her alone to sleep. The bed was too comfy for her to even consider getting out of it for the foreseeable future.

"…you tried to sing. Again."

She froze.

"…whatdidyousay…?"

"You were intoxicated, Mao-sama." The first voice sighed. "And frankly in hindsight we could have done something to stop you, but I think the windows were starting to break and Kageyasu was theorising about the offensive potential of-"

The dirt bullet barely cleared her head.

"What did you say…?"

Peering through the freshly created hole in the wall, Kageyasu was pretty sure her mistress was wide awake.

"I see you've woken up Mao-sama."

"What did you say?"

"I believe we can be on… eek!"

The second bullet barely cleared her chest. Almost.

"What did you say…?" Mao moved fluidly out to the corridor. "Mmmm…?"

"You tried to sing again and got us banned from another bar, Mao-sama." The first voice responded. "And the Iryou-nins had to drop by the bar and required an incident report."

"Is that so…" Mao hissed. The air around her crackled and the attendants took a quick step backwards. "And why did neither of you stop me?! Especially you Yuko…"

"In my defence Mao-sama, you are the Tsuchikage's wife and your abilities outstrip ours…" Yuko shrugged. "And by then we were drunk too since you kept making us imbibe more, and-"

"…Ounoki's not going to let me live this down…" Mao moaned. "And as for the two of you... You'll see."


"So…"

Kakashi's tapping fingers drummed an odd cadence on the smooth wooden table. Kurenai recognised it as one of the standard AnBu signals' pattern, but made no note of it. She did however, make note of the shit-eating grin that was threatening to take over the Copy-nin's face, if partially hidden under that beard of his that he was so insistent about.

"Nothing happened." Nozomi snapped brusquely.

"Mmm, nothing happened..." Kakashi smirked. "Yessir, nothing happened indeed!"

Sasuke mutely attacked the bowl of cereal he had ordered from room service. He did however, seemed more amused than he had ever been in years. Nozomi took special note of that.

"I have been in this form since we left Konoha, Kakashi-sensei!" Nozomi snapped. "EVER since we left. And even before that, too."

"There are... shall I say... ways..." Kakashi's finger traced the spine of his Icha Icha sensually, the one visible eye brow wiggling. "Mmmm...?"

"I do not need this conversation first thing in the morning, Kakashi." Kurenai massaged her temples. "I am sure you have more pressing matters than to make fun of the accommodations Daimyou-sama has arranged for the two of us."

"That can wait, let's have our breakfast first." Kakashi shrugged. "Maybe the two of them don't, considering how much eating they've done last night..."

"Wh-" Nozomi gagged on the tea she had been drinking.

"HATAKE!" Kurenai roared, slamming her hands on the table so hard the milk splashed into Sasuke's face.


Shit shit shit shit shit shit... Sakura mentally chanted as she sprinted the short hallway down to Nozomi's room. The note under her door had definitely stated a time that had most certainly passed some fifteen minutes ago.

She wasn't Kakashi, damn it! ...although it would be sort of good to be a very dangerous Shinobi for once...

She knocked on the door gently and let herself in.

...Why is Sasuke's face white and pink in places...? The silly grin on it too... "Sorry I was late, a black cat crossed my path..."


The Library had been a fruitless endeavour. The fact that his mind, honed by weeks of Icha Icha, kept providing him with tantalizing fantasies of what might have gone down yesterday didn't really help. He wasn't Kakashi, damn it!

Sasuke hissed softly as he palmed the rather worthless book on Tsuchishi's history open. The shinobi section was in another area, likely fortified and heavily guarded. Staring at the words on the page of the book Sasuke reconsidered his options. He had spent the morning slowly going through the Library, in case Tsuchishi was built similarly to the Fire's capital and had a small shinobi library nestled away in the main Library, but clearly they were either more careful about it or it wasn't there in the first place.

Considering that it would soon be lunch hour, he had a small window of opportunity to fulfil the task Kakashi had assigned in the morning to them, which was to scout out various sectors of the city to see if the Raikage's or Tsuchikage's wife was already in the city. Of course he had chosen the sector near the Library, but he was pretty sure that if there was a good time to confirm the lack or presence of a hidden shinobi library had to be during lunch. He hissed again when he realised how useful the dobe's Kage Bushin would have been, and cursed his own stupidity for never having copied the technique.

They had been mostly left to their own devices, considering that the party was tomorrow and the expected arrival times of the Tsuchikage's wife and Raikage's wife was much later in the day, and snooping around too much would lead to heightened suspicions they could do without, so Kakashi had merely briefed them on the estimated itinerary and left them to decide what to do themselves. Typical.

He had spotted Kakashi entering quite a few bookstores earlier and found himself surprisingly curious and desiring to follow Kakashi.

That's right, I need to check if the latest Icha Icha is out...

...No! Not Kakashi! Bad Sasuke! Bad!

...

...

...I really want to know though.


If anyone had asked her later, she would have confessed to being utterly mortified and disappointed when she had realised she overslept and ended up missing whatever had caused Sasuke's face to be covered with milk.

Then again, the onsen was too damn good and had worked out kinks in her body she didn't even realise she had. Sakura grinned subconsciously and resolved to take another dip that night. The zinger she delivered and the somewhat stunned face on Kakashi... Priceless!

She had found herself seated near the main streets of Tsuchishi for more than an hour and so far she had yet to spot anyone out of the ordinary, and her second sundae was getting warm. Why couldn't these bigwigs save them the trouble and announce their arrival?

"Hey Uke!" Sakura waved when she spotted Sasuke sulking down the street, some store's purchase clutched in his arm.

He pointedly ignored her as he continued on.

"Hey Uke! Over here!"

Frowning, Sasuke chose to join her instead of risking the entire city knowing about the silly name Kakashi had chosen as his during the mission. "What is it, Sakurai?"

"Seen Kakushi or Kure around? I saw Nozomi head towards the other end of the city an hour ago, but I haven't seen the other two yet."

"...is that your second sundae?" Sasuke stared at the bowls.

"Yes it is." Sakura's eyes narrowed. "...Something you want to say about that, Uke?"

"...No." Sasuke leaned back on the chair. "I saw Kakushi headed to some book stores some time back, but I haven't seen Kure."

"What'd you buy, anyway?" Sakura leaned forward.

"...none of your business." And then he was gone, blending into the crowd.

"Wha...?" Sakura sighed. "Sheesh! So defensive..."

Attacking the remnants of her second sundae with glee, she cackled. Ino had been right. "Maybe some anger management books? ...Yes, and Kakushi went to buy sutras. Another sundae, please!"

It was really good enough to die for.


Nozomi tapped the table in an annoyed staccato as she turned down the sixth person that had tried to ask her out in the hour. She had spent some time walking around the upper scale area of Tsuchishi to familiarise herself and plan an escape route if needed be.

The restaurant of choice might have afforded a limited and frankly mediocre selection of food, but what it DID offer was an unrestricted view of the Tsuchi Daimyou's Castle grounds. Of course, there had been tall walls erected around the area, but clearly the Earth people had some malfunction in their heads since the Castle was located in a lower elevation level than the rest of the city, and the third floor of any restaurant in the area easily circumvented the walls.

...not bad. Nozomi found herself rather impressed by the security measures the Earth Lord had set up. Frequent ground sweeps, sentries, guard dogs, the works. There were even patrols of spear warriors and archers at regular intervals.

All in all, a damn step up from what she had faced with the Fire Lord's castle, at least superficially. The Daimyou of course had ninja patrols, seals up the wazoo and enough firepower to stop armies behind the less than optimally guarded façade. Nevertheless, she had proved herself superior to his inferior defences and have had pranked the man so hard he was bound to remember the name of Uzumaki Naruto.

The Earth Lord's castle would be a walk in the park, especially if the idle talk she overheard was true. It seemed that he didn't trust shinobi too much, and preferred them out of his castle. There was also another nugget that got her engine really going.

Whoever hated orange would soon get the much overdue karma.


Kurenai wasn't sure if she should be happy or amused, because a motley crew of two young women and an old lady had entered the gates bickering and she was pretty sure she had heard the Tsuchikage being used as an insult.

Hardly subtle, and given the near worship status the Tsuchikage was accorded in Iwa, the fact that the three was unscathed, if not purposely avoided, meant they had relations with Tsuchikage himself, and judging by the familiarity the old woman was hurtling insults with, probably his immediate family and likely his wife.

That meant the woman was Mao of the Kokuyouseki, famed for her incredible battle instincts, fierce intellect and unique blend of earth techniques that could yield projectiles capable of cutting through even chakra blades. Of course, even her famed Ruined Earth technique had proved but child's play in front of the Yondaime's overwhelming Hiraishin. Nevertheless, she was a dangerous opponent, and Kurenai doubted even Kakashi could really win her in a battle one-on-one, much less in the middle of enemy territory. Her appearance had changed from what the Bingo Books had accorded, but it hadn't deviated too far.

Kurenai focussed on the trinkets the vendor was attempting to hawk to her and she suppressed a shiver when she felt the sharp gaze of the Tsuchikage's wife pinned on her. She picked out one that had somewhat caught her interest and proceeded to bargain with the vendor who was now suddenly unenthusiastic.

That woman was too sharp for comfort, and frankly she wasn't as confident as she had been that Nozomi would be able to pull the whole mission off. If one was this sharp, if the two of them were together...


"Yes yes, and the next time Ounoki thinks about it, I'll be sure to mention your suggestion to him!" Mao snapped. "Fence sitter as he is, I'm pretty sure that'll swing his choice one way! At last, I might add."

"Mao-sama, it's not nice-"

"I'm sure it is, my dear." Mao snorted.

Spreading her senses out of ingrained habit, Mao's eyes narrowed when she detected a particularly outstanding kunoichi near the area. She would have recognised any kunoichi that pretty from Iwa, and given the attire and clothing it was possible that the kunoichi was holidaying in Tsuchishi, or carrying out a mission. Foreign Kunoichi. The slight shift in posture confirmed her suspicions that the raven haired ninja wasn't an Iwa nin.

She had to be a pretty good ninja too, if she could feel that she was being stared at from far away. Not many ninja had that kind of instincts, and those that did tended to be dangerous, if not now then in the future. Mao rubbed her thumb and index finger together as she contemplated whether it required more attention. She had tried to be inconspicuous too, and if anything, one of the most basic tenets of beign a Shinobi had given her away than any mistakes she had made. Her movements were simply too economical to belong to that of a civilian, most likely military, and given the lack of significant muscle bulk, a ninja.

Given the build, unlikely to be a Taijutsu or a Ninjutsu focussed type... Either a kekkei genkai user or a genjutsu user... No particular feature either... Too young to have retired and not famed enough for me to remember... Hardly a dangerous opponent, then. Mao tuned out her bickering attendants. No matter, she could be here to holiday and boost Tsuchi's economy, no reason to make enemies and risk war over suspicions. ...besides, if she turns out an enemy, I haven't had a proper workout in ages...

"Can we get to the hotel now, or do I have to do everything myself?!" Mao snapped. "Seriously!"


For all the physical security the grounds boasted, Nozomi was almost bored as she circumvented everything and found herself inside the castle easily. Really, his seals were barely Chunnin level in complexity and she had learnt to disable harder ones when she was in the Academy! ...Not that every Academy kid went around pranking the AnBu though. Flattening her current form's abundant assets, she pressed herself on the roof as the oblivious samurais' patrolled below her. She had been unable to suppress her curiousity and her pride practically demanded her to challenge her skills against the castle.

In hindsight she should have changed back to being Uzumaki Naruto first, but no matter, she was in the castle and no alarm had been raised yet - or could be raised, for that matter - so that meant no one had noticed. She needed to have a general map of the entire castle first, so as to aid the prank... no, the mission objective, and she liked to plan her missions thoroughly. Hell, she'd throw in some extras just to placate the obviously loony Daimyou.

A quick chain of one handed seals later, five Kakuremino-clad Uzumaki Narutos scurried around the castle. (Kakuremino is the cloak of invisibility technique they learn in the Academy. Not that any one actually seems to be using it. Or being Ninja-y in the ninja sense either...)


"Rio-sama."

The woman tilted her head slightly in her attendant's direction. "What's bugging you, Keiko?"

"Rio-sama, I'm... I'm not sure if this is a good idea." Keiko sighed as she nimbly avoided another low hanging branch. "I mean, we're meeting in their grounds and -"

"Tsuchishi is a barely strategic location as it is, and frankly A's been getting on my nerves recently." Rio shrugged. "Some time out of Kumo sounds like a good plan to me, and if Mao of the Obsidian wants to meet, who am I to say no? I thought we settled this argument a few weeks back."

"But Rio-sama..."

"Oh kami, who are you, my mother?!" Rio groaned. "I am Rio of the Jinrai, the fucking Thunderclap, not some wet behind the ears ninny Genin!"

"But Rio-sama..."

"That's it." Rio hissed. "No more nonsense out of your traphole till we reach Tsuchishi. Or somebody's going to have a taste why they call me Jinrai. It has been a couple of years, so I might... slip."

Keiko privately thought the ensuring evil laughter wasn't appropriate behaviour for a Kage's wife, but what could she do, the great and mighty Jinrai...


"Mao is here." Kurenai stated.

The statement would have had more impact if Kakashi hadn't been pigging out on some odd combination of beef and rice amongst more esoteric ingredients he had purchased from somewhere. The hotel staff sure shot him some odd looks when they thought he wasn't looking.

The half disgusted, half disbelieving stare Sasuke was giving Kakashi hadn't helped things. "We have room service. There is surely something else you can eat other than that..."

"It's... something." Kakashi grunted. "Surprisingly good."

Snorting, Sasuke went back to his bento dinner, and Sakura eased into her own Gyuudon, although the pink haired Genin had clearly suffered some loss of appetite, the beef bowl resembling Kakashi's hodgepodge just that wee bit too much.

"So there's just Rio of the Jinrai left, probably sometime tonight if not tomorrow morning..." Nozomi picked at her own take away bowl of Ramen.

"I would guess so..." The whiff of something caught her nose, and Kurenai narrowed her eyes. "...Is that Ramen again Nozomi...?"

"...maybe." Oops.

Kurenai groaned. "What did I say about a balanced diet, Nozomi..."

"To eat different types of food!" Nozomi offered, before wilting under her sensei's crimson gaze. "I don't just eat Ramen alone!"

The gaze persisted.

"Okay, I might have had Ramen for lunch also, but..."

The. Gaze.

"Okay okay!" Nozomi whimpered. "I'll keep off Ramen for the rest of the days I'm here!"

"That was... Illuminating." Kakashi suggested. He waved his hands over Sasuke's and Sakura's gob smacked faces before slapping them lightly. "Fly. Mouth. Mmm?"

"D-did... Did Naruto just swear off Ramen?!" Sasuke stuttered, almost choking on his rice. "Oh kami, next thing I know Itachi is my sister!"

"What?!" Nozomi blinked. "No I didn't! I haven't heard of this!"

"You did!" Sakura squealed. "We all heard that! I never thought I'd ever hear that coming from you!"

"Me too." Kakashi nodded.

"I said, I'm not eating Ramen for two days! I'm NOT quitting Ramen!" Nozomi frowned. "I've gone longer without Ramen."

"I think you'd remember that during my most recent attempt, you protested so much so that you wanted to ban me from Icha Icha." Kakashi shot her a dirty look. "That counts as a crime against humanity."

"The other time we tried, you told me in no uncertain terms to... What was it..." Sasuke air quoted. "Fuck off and die teme, was it?"

"Whipped." Kakashi nodded in certainty.

"...I agree." Sasuke nodded.

"...me too." Sakura could only marvel at the change in her team mate.

"Seriously!" Nozomi protested. "Sasuke here just spoke more words than he does in years and the only thing you comment about is me not eating Ramen for two days? The Wave Mission was longer!"

"Totally whipped." Kakashi nodded sagely. "I'm convinced that becoming lesbian has changed things-" Kurenai hissed. "-and did I mention Genjutsu doesn't work on me? Because they totally don't."

"I'm not lesbian!" Nozomi groaned. "I'm MALE! ... And I thought we have had this argument settled in the morning already!"

"Then clearly, you have consummated your marriage last night-" Kakashi lazily swatted the thrown Kunai aside. "-and a mere few hours apart has brought the sexual tension -"

"I'M FIFTEEN!" "SHE'S FIFTEEN!"

"They used to get married earlier." Kakashi shrugged. "The Shodai married his first wife at twelve, and-"

"I don't need the history lesson. We've had enough of it back at the Academy." Nozomi snapped. "And for that matter, I'm sure somebody fell for something during the Wave Mission-"

"Love transcends mortal concepts like age." Kakashi sing-songed, pointedly ignoring the jab.

"...was that from Icha Icha?" Nozomi narrowed her eyes. "Seriously? You're not just reading porn in public, you're quoting from porn now?!"

"It's art!" Kakashi caressed his book with a hurt look. "Don't insult my precious!"

"I - what - this - I don't even - Urgh!" Nozomi palmed her face.

"Can we get back on topic?!" Kurenai snapped. "Mao of the Obsidian is already in town, kami knows if Rio of the Thunderclap is at the gates now, and the only topic you can pursue is a puerile one like this?!"

"It is a very important topic concerning the future of my team." Kakashi nodded. "But of course, I'll accede to the desperate change of topic the two of you want so much... I know it isn't much fun discussing your marital matters in public. It's clan matters now after your... union, and-"

"KAKASHI!"