Hello, everyone! Though I am not new to the sight/being and author on here (I have another account floating around cyberspace), this is my first time in this fandom, and i have to warn you: I haven't actually watched much of the show. What I know, I know from research and reading fanfiction. I'll stop rambling now. Enjoy!!

~Bard

Rating: Just for safety. Some bad language, violence, and mentions of child abuse.

Disclaimer: I don't own it. Don't sue me; I don't have the time.


Team 7 was eating lunch when Kakashi first heard it. A small series of taps on hollow wood. He paused from his reading and cocked his head slightly. It was ANBU code. His one eye narrowed. He hadn't been in the ANBU for years.... Why? The message continued.

Are you going to Scarborough fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Remember me to one who lives there,

He was once a true love of mine.

It seemed he wasn't the only one to notice the noise. Eyes closed and ears perked, Kakashi's shortest pupil had his nosed scrunched in concentration.

"I wonder what that noise is." He mused cheerfully. Without waiting for a reply, he sped away to find out.

Rolling his eyes at his student's impatience, lack of common sense, and almost deadly curiosity, Kakashi followed after the blond, hoping it wasn't anyone dangerous and motioning for the two remaining Gennin to come with him.

oOoOoOo

...One who lives there.....He was once a true love of mine...

Naruto hummed the last bits of the melody in his mind; one of his ANBU was calling for him. For them to bother him during training with team seven, it had to be at least fairly urgent, not anything he could ignore until a more opportune time. But how to get away...

It turned out to be fairly simple. All he had to do was utilize the incompetent nature that the others considered him in firm possession of. He pretended to notice the noise, and then dashed away to meet his agent and conclude the interview before the others could catch up.

Sneaking up behind his masked subordinate, he tapped him on the shoulder. He was captain, and torturing his subordinates was collateral for all the stress someone in his position had to deal with, after all. ANBU balance being all that stood between him and a humiliating fall, Naruto chuckled as the elite shinobi started before inclining his head to his taicho, handing him a scroll and disappearing in a 'whoosh' of smoke.

Stowing the scroll safely inside his orange jacket, the diminutive ANBU captain left a Kage Bushin to wait for the rest of his team, before quickly skimming the missive and then flitting hurriedly away through the trees.

oOoOoOo

Kakashi entered the clearing to see Naruto glaring at a broken branch, still entangled in the tree, swaying slightly in the breeze.

"It was only the stupid branch." Naruto pouted petulantly. "Not anything interesting."

"You shouldn't have run off." Kakashi admonished sternly.

"Gomen, Kakashi-Sensei." Naruto looked abashed, but grinned none the less.

"Let's all get back to training, now. After lunch, we have a mission."

Naruto skipped ahead enthusiastically, shouting in triumph, his glaring teammates following him back to the training ground.

Kakashi sent one glance back at the broken limb, eyes narrowed. What he had heard was no coincidence. It was an ANBU signal.

oOoOoOo

Naruto knocked on the door to the Hokage's office, his frown set firmly in place. Normally a cheerful person by nature, despite what most people thought, Naruto could be serious. His obnoxious behavior was a mask in and of itself. Naruto had convinced himself it was so no one would guess his true strength, but the few who knew him well recognized it for what it was: a psychological barrier against further rejection; a subconscious way of telling the villagers that if they didn't want to know Naruto as Naruto, they weren't going to be allowed to.

Naruto had taken off his jumpsuit to reveal the standard ANBU uniform. The bandages on his sleeves were a dark blue, however, as were the ones wrapped around his shins. He had a weapons bag attached to each leg, as well several on a loose black belt around his waist. His katana was strapped to his back, and his fox mask was hanging from the Aqua colored hilt.

"Enter, Kitsune-taicho." The Hokage called.

Naruto slid open the door, and walked into the room swiftly, offering the elderly man a slight bow before plopping into a chair.

"You called, Jiji-sama?" The blond raised an eyebrow.

"I did." The old man got up from his desk and gazed out the window. "A bridge builder called Tazuna has requested a team to escort him back to him home in Wave Country, a task that should be a C-rank mission. However, things become more complicated in and of the fact that Gato is involved. The subsequent danger makes this a mission for a jounin at the very least. And yet I cannot send one without arousing suspicion. I have an informant in Gato's circle, and if it was found out that I knew of his plans to attack the bridge builder, things would become ... complicated. You understand my predicament, Naruto."

"And informant. Why?" The blonde's voice was calculating.

"Because the Akatsuki are also involved." The old man looked at Naruto wearily. "They're receiving funding from Gato. There is something more sinister going on in Wave Country than an egotistical crime lord."

"I know what you want, so don't even bother asking." Naruto scowled. "Don't blame me if they find out, Jiji-sama. Sensei is already suspicious."

"The Akatsuki need to be investigated, Naruto. I must know if their presence in wave Country has a reason beyond an easily intimidated benefactor." The old man insisted. "Don't worry too much about them finding out; Kakashi was in the ANBU you know, and you do outrank them." The man's eyes twinkled before he became regretful. "I'm sorry to put you in this position, Kitsune."

"Don't worry about it, old man." The boy turned to leave, but stopped in the doorway. The Hokage could see the mischievous smile. "When I get back, though, you owe me ramen. Ja ne!" He put his mask on and swept out the door.

oOoOoOo

The team watched as the lady cooed at her missing cat, and shuddered. Sakura summed up the thoughts if the entire group in saying that she understood why it ran away in the first place.

Though the others were bored with the missions, frustrated and wanting something more, Naruto really didn't mind them aside from the fact that they prevented him from spending his time in a more productive manner. As an ANBU, his night workload certainly wasn't light, so aside from the pointlessness of the D-rank tasks, it was nice to have a break.

Of course, the old man he was forced to call Hokage had decided that Naruto would throw a fit and ask for more complicated missions. Naruto sighed, he didn't mind pretending to be stupid, and he often acted obnoxious, but he didn't like acting that bratty. Not that the Hokage had given Naruto much of a choice over the years. The Hokage summoned him at inopportune times on a regular basis, so Naruto was forced to make trouble so he would be sent to get reprimanded by the old man. Naruto swallowed his pride and prepared to humiliate himself, deciding that his public image couldn't sink much lower anyway. The joy of being ANBU.

oOoOoOo

Kakashi frowned at his student's outburst, wondering why in the world the Hokage was smiling.

"Very well, Naruto. Team 7, you will receive a C-class mission." The Hokage announced. He raised a hand to Iruka's protests. "They have a jounin with them, and they are not wholly incompetent."

The academy teacher scowled, then fell silent. The Hokage introduced their client to them, then asked Iruka to wait with Tazuna outside. He waited for the door to shut completely before he started speaking again.

"There is one thing that you need to know before I send you on this mission."

Kakashi nodded, waiting for the man to continue.

"Your presence is merely a front. There is something deeper at work. Tazuna seeks protection from a ruthless man called Gota, who is involved with some who pose a very great danger to us. However, since Tazuna asked for Gennin and nothing more, that is all I can officially send. However, you will be accompanied. Enter, Kitsune."

A shadow slipped through the window, and suddenly one of the ANBU had taken his place beside the Sandaime.

The first thing Kakashi noticed was that the boy [he was too short to be anything else] was wearing a fox mask [it made sense with the boy's code name, after all], and the second thing he noticed was the shaggy blond hair, exactly the same shade as his student's [and Minato's, that torturing voice in the back of his head whispered]. Both of these things seemed very significant, but he just couldn't place them, and that bothered him. The third thing Kakashi noticed was the navy blue. Kitsune was a captain.

"Kitsune will be shadowing you to your destination, unless dire need forces him out. You will not mention his presence, least of all to Tazuna-san. If he tells you to do something, you will do it, without question. Once you reach the village, he has some other business to attend to, but other than that, he will stay relatively close at hand." He nodded to the team and the ANBU. "Dismissed."

"ANBU-san." Kakashi spoke softly, knowing that the masked captain could hear every word. "Were you the one signaling earlier in the forest?"

The ANBU shook his head, and disappeared.


So what think you? Sorry that it's short, but my life is pretty hectic right now, and since I have some written ahead I want to regulate how much I post at one time so that you can have semi regular updates. Please review, whether you're in love with it, in the middle, or hate it completely (though I'd appreciate 'You did awful but here's how to improve' rather than 'you stink like dead pretzels you nutcracker!'). Thank you for your time!