Kakashi strolled lazily through the heavy doors into the Hokage's office, nodding once to Naruto and Sakura as he passed them.

That is, he would have bestowed upon them the pleasure of being on the receiving end of one of his gratifying nods-if Sakura hadn't smacked him in the back of the head sharply when he walked past.

Since when has our relationship been so touchy feely?

Kakashi wisely swallowed his words, he knew when. Since I handed over my impressionable student to be trained by a temperamental, impulsive woman whose preferred method of communication is done with her fists.

He paused mid-slouch and raised an eyebrow at her, opting for a haughty, condescending tilt of the head to express his annoyance.

"You're early!"

There is a surprising deficit of thankfulness in that statement...

She crossed her arms and glared at him as if he had just tracked mud in on the nice carpet. Kakashi looked behind him and was fairly surprised to see that he had.

"You think that the Hokage is the only one who deserves to be treated with respect?" Sakura demanded. Her green eyes narrowed, incredulous.

Kakashi felt that it would be in his best interest not to answer.

Naruto perked up at the sound of Sakura's interrogative cry, his perch on the windowsill unconsciously slipping into a hunter's crouch. Like a shark enthused at the scent of fresh blood, Naruto sped over to the crime scene, his blue eyes glinting with predatory intent.

He's never been one to miss out on the opportunity to publicly harass his poor sensei. Kakashi mentally sighed.

Suddenly he became aware of an inferno of killing intent blazing within the room. Kakashi reflexively looked to Tsunade. Just as he suspected, she was leering at him with an expectant expression, her amber eyes glinting dangerously beneath long lashes.

So it's come to this then... Kakashi braced himself.

"Yeah, Kaka-sensei! You really think that you only need to show respect to the Hokage, and no one else?" Naruto leapt up passionately and jabbed his pointer finger at him, "That the Hokage-"


Tsunade smirked in satisfaction and went back to her paperwork. Kakashi visibly slumped with relief. That could have ended very, very badly...

As Sakura rolled her eyes and Naruto muttered something sourly under his breath, Kakashi allowed himself a small smile of genuine fondness. Despite the fact that the two of them had just tried to get him slaughtered by a ridiculously powerful woman with an explosive temper and a quirky fetish for bean buns-he still loved them.

He cared more for those two than he did for anyone else still performing the basic bodily functions necessary to sustain life. And for Kakashi, that was saying a lot.

Now the only thing missing from the happy picture was Sasuke.

Kakashi imagined how, if the Uchiha were in the cramped office with them, he would cross his arms and huff in annoyance. Or rather, Kakashi mused drily, try to kill us all...

It really was too bad that Sasuke had decided that selling his body to a creepy, old snake man and plotting to murder his brother was a better use of his time than humoring his former sensei with timely, expressive exhalations. Maybe Kakashi should take advantage of the new replacement on his team and forget about Sasuke.

He could teach Sai the art of sarcasm. The jounin considered this briefly before deciding that the result would end up as socially disturbed as Gai's spirit of youth had. Desiring to cut that train of thought off right there, Kakashi whipped out his Icha Icha. He was early after all.

Still feeling a little ruffled at how close he had come to getting whipped by his sadistic boss in front of his former students, Kakashi immersed himself into the familiar scenes and subplots. The Copy-ninja read Icha Icha for many different reasons, and one of them was comfort. He flipped to a page at random and was immediately soothed by the stereotypical characters and predictable interactions.

Other people had close friends and dependable family members to reassure and comfort them, Kakashi had an assortment of lecherous romance novels.

A few minutes later and he was so absorbed that he unconsciously leaned his seat against the Hokage's desk. A swift, stinging smack to the rump later and he decided that he would much rather occupy a space where there was not an irritable woman filing paperwork with her chakra-strengthened hands. Ow...

Soon the rest of the jounin she had summoned began to file into the cramped office. Ino, Chouji, and Shikamaru all came in together, Ino reprimanding the two boys for something they didn't appear to have any concern over.

There should be some type of mathematical equation to determine the percent correlation between the number of kunoichi in the room and the probability of Hatake Kakashi getting physically assaulted. Kakashi warily slunk into a corner, feeling a keen reluctance to expose his backside to the capricious females. Who knew when they would attack next?

Tenzou and Sai blew in at a brisk, professional pace that reminded him of the old ladies that power-walked around his street every morning. Kakashi snapped his book shut. The image of Tenzou and Sai wearing fanny-pacs and visors overtop of grimly determined expressions tainted the erotic passage before him. Sometimes I wish I didn't have such a graphic imagination...

"Good. Now that everyone is here, let's get started."

Tsunade stood up purposefully behind her desk and fixed them all with a level stare, "Within the last few weeks we have gotten multiple complaints from the the settlements along our border with Grass Country. As some of you know, there have been reports of a band of nomadic rogue nin from the Sand for the last couple of months. We haven't really considered them a threat until now, their sphere of influence didn't demand our immediate attention. Anyway, they have found a thriving market in Rock's growing underground drug cartel.

'These rogue nin specialize in poisons, the likes of which our scientists have never encountered." She paused, her honey-brown eyes grave, "Some of the underground mob leaders and their lackeys have been lacing all of their weapons with these unknown poisons. At first they stayed within Rock Country, but lately their attention has been directed towards some of the outer villages in Fire Country. Apparently the ability to demolish all opposition with a single blow has heightened their confidence."

She rolled her eyes, "Needless to say, these thugs don't have the skill to take on shinobi. We have genin teams taking care of the drug cartel. I've called you here today so that we can eradicate the source of the problem." She began to hand out mission scrolls, "There will be two teams. Team one will infiltrate the rogue ninja camp under the guise that you are rogue ninja and want to buy some of their poison. Your job is to gain their trust and to kill their leader. Team two will provide surveillance, any changes in strategy, and backup if necessary."

Tsunade turned to look pointedly at Kakashi, "Kakashi, Naruto, Sakura, and Sai. You will be Team one." She turned her gaze to Tenzou, who nodded, "Yamato. You, Chouji, Shikamaru, and Ino will make up Team two." She smirked, resting her fist on her hip, "Everyone understand what they're doing and why? Yes? Good." Everyone nodded and voiced their understanding anyway.

The blonde turned away from them, waving her hand as she settled back into her monotonous paperwork. "Oh, and Team one! You will need realistic disguises. Before you head home, Shizune will help each of you assemble an acceptable disguise. That means no orange, Naruto."

Kakashi blindly followed his team out of the Hokage's office, reminiscing about the last time that he had used a disguise on a mission. He had kept the sequin gloves as a souvenir, having developed some masochistic attachment to them.

"Haha, Sakura! Do you think they'll make you shave your head?" Naruto flicked her short pink locks, holding up a hand to cover the smile that everyone already knew was there.

"Idiot!" Sakura growled, smacking his hand away, "Of course they won't! I'll probably just have to dye it." Her green eyes slanted mischievously over to the slouched frame of her former sensei, "If anyone here is gonna have their head shaved it's Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi widened his visible eye, looking down at their impish grins suspiciously, "What's wrong with my hair?" he asked. The noticeable space between himself and his two former students increased fractionally.

"It intimidates people." Sai cut in knowledgably, "It says in my book that people who have wild, unkept appearances tend to make other people feel uncomfortable."

Naruto collapsed, clutching his stomach mirthfully and wiping imaginary tears from his eyes. Sakura giggled, covering a smirk with her hand as her green eyes swept over his tense form. Sai just nodded sagely.

Children can be cruel, wicked things.

Kakashi pouted, reaching up to pat his fluffy silver-white locks, "You hear that?" He ruffled his hair fondly, "They're on to us."

All characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto. There will be a couple of my own later on though, but don't worry, they're there for plot purposes only

Thankyou for reading! And please don't hesitate to review!