A/N: AU to the max.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Calmly seated behind his desk, the Yondaime of Konohagakure stared at his subordinate seriously, a distinct lack of kindness in the steady sapphire eyes. There was also no easy smile, only a soft contemplative frown.
Posture stiff and at attention, the ANBU bodyguard, his Captain, stood by the honoured right hand side. From the peepholes of the characterized mask, the deadly eyes glittered, trained steadily at the third occupant of the room.
ANBU Ox sweated nervously, standing in front of the two judging gazes. What did he do to warrant such a trial?
The Hokage broke the silence. "At ease, Tenzou."
"Yes, Hokage-sama," responded ANBU Ox, otherwise known as Tenzou, diffidently. The young man then removed his ANBU mask, clipping it onto his belt.
Minato started again, "I'm assigning you to an A-ranked mission – not as an ANBU agent but as jounin of the Hidden Leaf Village."
A distinct sinking feeling settled at the bottom of his stomach but Tenzou stayed quiet, palms wet with perspiration. He managed a small, weak nod.
"You will be providing around the clock protection to a very important and vital member of Konoha. I will expect this duty to take no more than four days and will start effectively this minute. Do you accept this mission?" asked his Hokage.
No hesitation. "Yes, I accept." He then belated said, "But Hokage-sama, my skills are-"
"I know of your unique situation but…" Minato paused, a small smile beginning at the corner of his lips. "This will work better if you're out of outfit. And, not to mention, you've been given a good reference."
Minato's sidelong glance at his ANBU Captain did not go unnoticed. If Tenzou was worried about the mission before, he was now having an internal meltdown.
"Kakashi." There was an underlying command behind their Hokage's voice – a tone that neither ANBU agents present overlooked.
The teenage Hatake shifted his mask to the side of his face, revealing a neutral expression crossed with exasperation. "Incognito, Yondaime-sama. I think we've talked about this already."
"Not with that wild silver hair of yours," sniped back their reverent leader. There was an easy shift from seriousness to amusement. Minato grinned, "Now, now Kakashi-kun. Tenzou is your teammate. I'm sure he realized it was you from that first step into my office."
"Ah…Kakashi-senpai," greeted Tenzou tardily.
"Kohai." Kakashi then turned back to face Minato, waiting for his next order.
Regretfully, Minato reverted back to his Hokage persona and commanded, "Kakashi, please bring him in."
The ninja nodded, walking around the desk and disappearing into the adjoined, personal quarters at the other side of the office.
From his seat, Yondaime continued to stare. From his spot on the floor, Tenzou continued to sweat.
After several seconds, Kakashi returned promptly and who he brought with him nearly made his jaw drop.
Oh no way…
His ANBU Captain, taking in his flabbergasted expression, gained a devilish look in his eye.
"Papa!" squeaked the blond-haired boy in Kakashi's arms.
Yondaime gave Naruto a fond smile before schooling his features once more. He addressed Tenzou critically, "As you might not be aware, Naruto's mother is away visiting family and I will be taking a short political expedition into Lightning Country."
"Normally I would have Kakashi or Rin look after Naruto but since Kakashi is accompanying me and Rin has her hands full with the current flu epidemic, there is need for someone else to watch over my future heir. This is where you come in."
Tenzou felt as if his heart was about to give in. It was beating much too fast to be normal.
He breathed in deeply. "I understand, Hokage-sama," said Tenzou stiffly.
Minato, voice calm as the waves but sharp as the wind, responded, "I'm sure you do."
He recognized what it was immediately. Those words were a deep-cutting warning that most overprotective fathers would express when handing their precious progeny over to the babysitter.
Heart? What heart? Tenzou was so nervous his chest felt ready to burst and his knees ready to meet the floor. Oh, it was no village secret how protective Minato-sama was over his baby boy. He once heard that a man was sent sailing out of the Hokage Tower window after looking at Naruto funny.
(Or it might have been an exaggeration. No one was sure. They only knew that father complexes had something to do with open windows – a not exactly brilliant or safe combination.)
He quickly made a new mantra that he repeated in his mind.
'Remember Tenzou. It's just a babysitter position. A glorified babysitter position.'
But one glance at Minato and Kakashi and the mantra shattered.
If something happened to the kid when he was with him, he would be a doomed man. A very doomed man.
Tenzou clenched and unclenched his hands at the thought, face drained of blood.
Deciding to alleviate the tension, Kakashi, for once punctually merciful, stepped in front of Tenzou and blocked him from Minato's view.
Sitting snugly in his arms, two-and-a-half-year-old Naruto scrunched his face, blue eyes blinking at the exceedingly pale Tenzou. The boy asked unintelligibly, "Gnyah?"
"That's right. You should say hello, Naruto-chan," said Kakashi.
"Gaah!" Naruto clapped his hands together. "Hewlo."
"Naru-chan, meet your new friend," cajoled Minato from behind them.
"Who?" asked the boy as he nibbled on a finger.
Kakashi whispered into the boy's tiny ear, his face curtained by his unruly hair. Neither Minato nor Tenzou heard the words.
Whatever he said though must have achieved the desired effect. Naruto began laughing excitedly, hand reaching outwards to Tenzou.
"Hold me!" pouted the Namikaze toddler.
Tenzou looked like a fish out of water as Kakashi passed the boy to him.
Naruto gave him a wide grin. "Hi-" Wiggling fingers slapped his nose and tugged hard. "-Pino-ko!"
The first thought Tenzou had was, 'Oh my god what have you been teaching the kid, senpai?!'
Kakashi's wicked grin answered all.
"Ah-Not so hard," protested Tenzou as he tried to remove the sticky fingers from his nose.
Yondaime, coat slung over his shoulder, stepped beside the three and cooed at Naruto. "Now you be good to Tenzou-"
"Pino-ko!" corrected Naruto. "Kaka-nii say so."
"Right. 'Pino-ko'." Minato tried a sympathetic look at Tenzou but couldn't stop the flickers of a smile.
It didn't matter though. Tenzou was too busy glowering at his traitorous senpai to notice.
Naruto cracked a wide grin as the Hokage continued, "But be good, okay? Papa will be back in a few days."
"Yes! Baby be good," gurgled Naruto innocently.
"And Tenzou. I'm leaving Naruto to you." Minato stared down at his young subordinate again.
But Kakashi cleared his throat loudly, trying to move the conversation on before Minato intimidated Tenzou to the point of a nervous breakdown.
The Hokage remembered himself with the prompt and continued, "I left your caretaker instructions with Rin. She'll be dropping by in a few minutes to explain them to you."
With one last heartfelt goodbye to his precious son, he left the office with Kakashi in tow. Tenzou finally let his legs give out and collapsed bonelessly onto the nearby couch.
Giddily, Naruto, sprawled over his chest, grabbed at his nose again. "Pino-ko!"
Tenzou could already feel the impending headache.
A/N: Pino-ko is equal to Pinocchio. Guess who's been telling Naruto bedtime stories?