Mizuki (smirking smugly): Say, readers… remember when this author could update his stories weekly?
Mizuki: And remember when the longest amount of time it took before he updated again was two weeks and not over two months?
Dopliss (angrily): Alright, alright! I get it! I'm sorry! (Sits over in a corner) Enjoy the chapter while I sit here in shame.
Disclaimer: Hiatus or no, I don't own Naruto.
After another day's mission had been completed, the members of Team 7 now stood in an alley framed by wooden fences, three of them looking at their sensei as he signed them off. "Alright, gang," Kakashi said. "We've cleared a bunch of missions, so now you've got the rest of the day off. So, until tomorrow, have fun." And with that said, he disappeared from sight.
With their teacher out of sight, Naruto stretched his arms and back, audibly popping a few bones. "Thank goodness that's over!" he cheered. "My back's killing me from all that work!"
"Picking up trash isn't that much of a pain, Naruto," Sakura stated. "And besides, you used four dozens of clones to make it easier."
"Yeah, that's right – but now I'm feeling the combined back pain of 48 people!"
Meanwhile, Sasuke quietly sighed in annoyance over his teammate's whining.
"Well, anyway," Naruto then said, changing the subject. "Now that we're off duty, it's time to do something I've been meaning to do for quite a while."
When she saw her orange-clad friend snicker mischievously, Sakura became suspicious. "What're you up to, you little sneak?" she asked in a slightly-demanding tone.
For the sake of building up tension, Naruto turned his back on his teammates and crossed his arms. "By the end of this day, I will have seen it," he said. "That which has been hidden before our eyes ever since day one, that which has been up till now a secret, will today be revealed for my blue eyes to see!"
"What are you talking about?" Sasuke asked, not out of curiosity, but rather just to make his rival-slash-nuisance get to the point.
"I am talking about…" For emphasis, he quickly turned around, zoomed right up to Sakura so that their faces were very close to each other, and shone upon his face with a flashlight that he had pulled out of thin air while grinning madly. "…Kakashi-sensei's face!"
The prankster's little jump scare succeeded, as the pink-haired girl jumped backward with a squeak. "You little brat! You nearly gave me a heart attack!" she then yelled.
Putting the flashlight back into hammerspace, Naruto asked in a more serious tone, "But all joking aside, haven't you guys ever wondered what's underneath that mask of his, how his real face looks like?"
Sakura meekly looked away and placed her right index finger on her lower lip. "Well, now that you mention it," she replied, "I have thought about what he looks like once or twice."
Turning away from the rest of the group, Sasuke scoffed and said, "Oh please. Who cares about stuff like that? We're done for the day, so I'll be on my way home now." And with that, he began walking away.
"But, Sasuke!" Sakura protested. "This could be fun!"
"In case you haven't noticed, Sakura, 'fun' and I never cross paths."
Naruto gave his pink-haired friend a reassuring nod and then whispered aloud to Sasuke, "What if he has lips… like a blimp?"
The question made Sasuke instantly stop walking, and he saw in his mind Kakashi smiling at him with red lips big enough to cover his chin and cheeks. The image alone made him shiver in disgust and curiosity.
Naruto smirked at his rival's response to his suggestion and hammered down the final nail in the coffin. "Or what if he has buck teeth?"
The image of big-lipped Kakashi faded from Sasuke's mind… only to be replaced with another image where his sensei had incisors so big that they would make any rodent grow an inferiority complex. And, as Naruto had predicted, it was enough to make him change his mind. Turning around and still wearing his stoic 'I'm cool and I don't care' face, he said, "I have nothing better to do, so I guess I can waste my time with this."
"Yeah, whatever, Mr. Cool Guy," Naruto replied, smirking in victory.
Meanwhile, on the other side of one of the wooden fences, Torabu had listened in on their conversation. Kakashi-sensei's face, huh? he thought. That's quite a task to do. And Sairento's been pretty darn mysterious about how she looks like underneath her mask, too. With a fire in his eyes and a grin on his lips, he pounded his right fist into his left palm. Today's mission is clear: Find out what Sai looks like beneath her mask!
A few minutes later, the genin of Team 7 were sitting on barstools at Ichiraku's along with their sensei. "Well, this is a pleasant surprise," Kakashi said. "I never expected the three of you treating me to a bowl of ramen."
"We decided that we'd for once treat you as a 'welcome back present' ever since you left the hospital," Sakura said with a sweet smile. "It might be a little late, but it's the thought that counts."
"But…" Kakashi's voice seemed to have taken a suspicious tone as he looked around with his normal eye. "…there's something odd about this." The three genin froze and silently gulped. "You're not setting me up for a stupid trap like, say, dropping a big load of snow on me, are you?"
"T-T-That's just ridiculous, Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura replied while smiling insecurely.
The jonin's eye then focused on the ramen stand's owner for a few seconds before returning to his students. "And you haven't convinced the chef to put something explosive in my food so that it would blow up in my face, right?" he asked.
Sasuke's reply was a huff that made it sound like he was being insulted.
Kakashi's eye wandered away from the children again, this time focusing on the owner's daughter. Ten seconds later, he returned his gaze to the three and crossed his arms. "And you're certain you haven't made a plan with the chef's daughter about her attacking me with something utterly ridiculous like a giant punching glove on a spring?"
"W-W-What the heck would make you think that?" Naruto asked, nearly sweating from how nervous he was about his sensei's awareness of their plan.
Kakashi tilted his head to the side. "C'mon, you guys are up to something. What is it?" he pried.
The three genin put on friendly smiles, trying to act natural (which Sasuke was not, given that he barely ever smiles). "W-We're up to nothing at all, Kakashi-sensei! Honest!" Sakura insisted. "We just wanted to properly thank you for all the progress that we've made as ninjas!"
With a sigh, Kakashi finally relaxed. "Well… if you insist…"
At that moment, the chef delivered the jonin's bowl to him. "Thanks for waiting," he said kindly.
"We hope you enjoy it!" the chef's daughter said with a smile.
As their teacher took a pair of chopsticks and separated them, Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke watched his face closely through the corner of their eyes. The ideas that Kakashi had mentioned were not, in fact, what the three of them had planned. What they really had planned was just peeking at his face as he ate. The veins in their eyes bulged and their pupils shrank as they watched him slowly pull his mask down.
But now, let's rewind the scene and change the focus from those inside the stand to two specific people outside of it.
"C'mon, Sai! Show me!" Torabu pleaded.
"For the fifth time, Torabu: no!" Sairento replied, not even hiding the fact that she was annoyed by her teammate. "Whatever secrets I may have are my business only, no matter what they may involve."
"But as teammates, we have to be open about anything that isn't very personal so we can bond better."
"How does knowing what my face looks like help us 'bond' better in any way, shape or form?"
Torabu gave a long, heavy sigh. "Okay then… Let me make it perfectly clear to you," he said. "You have a choice. Either you show me your face and get this over with, or refuse me and have me constantly nag you until you show me."
She did not need much time to think before she gave a reply. "I could also just refuse showing my face and just avoid you until you give up."
"Okay, okay, okay… You leave me no choice but to- KI-YAH!" Cutting himself off midsentence, Torabu pounced on his teammate with his hands aimed at her mask. But, unfortunately for him, the instant the two of them made contact, she disappeared in a puff of smoke and was replaced with a log with a piece of paper attached to it, and on that piece of paper was a frowning face. Torabu, as a result, landed flat on the ground.
"You really shouldn't have done that."
When he heard Sairento's voice, the cat-boy quickly turned his head in the voice's direction. The moment he found her, his eyes widened. "W-What're you doing with that mallet?!"
Alright, I think we have seen enough to know what is going to happen now.
With a pained cry and a huge lump forming on the size of his head, Torabu flew straight into Ichiraku's and hit the three chairs that Team 7 were seated on. With the three of them already sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation from seeing their sensei's face, they unquestionably fell down. "What the heck?! Where did YOU come from?!" Naruto shouted, but it was in vain; the troublemaking ninja had been knocked out by the blow.
Meanwhile, Kakashi, who was ignorant of what had just happened to his students, put his chopsticks into his empty bowl and smiled through his mask. "Thanks for the meal," he said.
The three conscious genin stared at their teacher with wide eyes as they got back on their feet, surprised at how fast he had eaten his bowl of ramen. Then their eyes turned to the chef and his daughter, and what they saw surprised them more. Apparently, the two had been fortunate enough to see the jonin's face, as the man had a very impressed expression on his face while his daughter looked downright love-struck.
"Okay… now I'm really curious!" the three genin said as one.
"There's no question about it now!" Naruto said to his two teammates after they had regrouped back to the alley. "Kakashi-sensei's face has now upgraded from 'a curious sight' to 'a must-see'!"
"Agreed… But how do we find out?" Sakura asked. "The food plan was the most subtle one, and I doubt he'd let us 'treat him' again without being more suspicious."
The orange-clad ninja crossed his arms and closed his eyes. "Well, in that case, we'll just have to…" Once again, he zoomed up to his pink-haired friend and made a scary face while shining a flashlight on it. "…be more risqué and sneaky!"
Though Sakura took a step backwards from the jump scare, she was not as frightened as before. "Stop doing that. It's starting to get annoying," she said, not even trying to hide her aggravation.
Ignoring his rival's childish antics, Sasuke calmly suggested, "We should just shadow him – he's got to take off that mask at some point."
"Good plan, Captain Obvious," Naruto replied sarcastically.
Going with Sasuke's plan, Team 7 stalked their sensei from the rooftops, watching him as he went shopping for groceries. But as he went on his merry way back to his home, something caught his eye in the bookstore when he passed by it. Dropping his groceries, he approached the shop window and moved left and right, as if shimmying on a ledge. From their vantage point, Sasuke and Sakura groaned in disappointment at their sensei while Naruto wondered what on Earth the jonin was doing.
Not five seconds later, Kakashi suddenly turned around and looked in the direction of his students, who quickly ducked out of sight behind a big object. "He's on to us!" Sasuke cursed lowly.
"If he finds out that we're tailing him, we'll say that we were just practicing our reconnaissance skills," Sakura whispered.
Fortunately for the three genin, their teacher was more focused on what they were hiding behind – a huge poster of 'Make-Out Paradise: The Movie'. "Wait… my favorite book is going to be a movie?" he wondered aloud. Then, with the absolute glee of a little kid on Christmas Eve, he skipped along while squealing like a schoolgirl, "I'd better order tickets in advance!"
Seeing their sensei on the move, the three genin leapt down after him as he turned a corner. But, as soon as they had gotten to that corner, he was nowhere to be seen. "Oh great… he got away…" Sasuke sighed.
"Oh, come on!" Naruto groaned. "Where did he vanish off to?"
"Where did who vanish off to?"
The sound of Kakashi's voice coming from right behind them made all three of them freeze in place. "Did you need me for something?" the jonin asked, seemingly ignorant of his students' doings.
"No, no, nothing at all!" Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura replied as one, frantically shaking their heads.
With the direct approach proven ineffective, Torabu had decided to find alternative methods to finding out what Sairento looks like underneath her mask. His first attempt focused on those closest to her, and since he did not know her parents and they would likely keep their daughter's secret, he decided to ask the third member of Team 6.
This proved just as effective as asking his masked teammate in person.
"No, Torabu," Konran said bluntly. "I will not help you find out what she looks like without her mask."
"But aren't you just a little bit curious about what she looks like?" Torabu asked. "You must have given it some thought at least once, right?"
"Possibly, but I still will not help you. If she wishes to keep her face hidden from us, then we should respect her decision."
The cat-boy then decided to switch perspective. "Well, what if we're on a mission and she gets kidnapped and impersonated, then?" he asked. "Wouldn't it be best if we saw her face so that we can identify her if that was to happen?"
Konran shook his head and gave a sigh. "Torabu… if someone would kidnap and impersonate her, they would probably get every single detail right, even her face," he countered. "Ask all you want, but I am not going to help you."
Frowning, Torabu left, muttering under his breath, "If someone captures you, don't expect me to cry about it."
Back at the alley, Team 7 had regrouped once again. "Hey…" Naruto started, "how did he know we were following him?"
"Maybe it's because there were too many of us," Sakura reasoned.
"Bah! Numbers mean nothing if we can stay invisible!" Then, for the third time that day, Naruto put his scary face on, centered a flashlight on it, and got really close to Sakura. "You haven't forgotten your ninja lessons, have you, Sakura?!"
By now, three annoying jump scares were enough to justify Sakura clobbering her orange-clad friend on his head. "You're the only forgetful one here, you little troll!" she growled angrily.
As his teammate-slash-rival-slash-common-annoyance rubbed his sore head, Sasuke told the two, "Tailing him could work, but it'd be best if we do it solo, so we can avoid getting caught."
And so they tried their new strategy… and all ended in failure. Naruto had tried to follow Kakashi through the streets, only a few steps behind, but eventually lost him when he seemingly disappeared in a blur. Sakura had been watching him from the bushes as he paid his respects to his fallen comrades, but after hours of nothing but watching him stand still as a statue, she found out that she was looking at a disguised dummy. And as for Sasuke… well, according to him, he got tired of tailing his teacher.
It dawned on the three that their objective was a lot tougher than they first thought.
"I'm sorry… I can't help you with that," Hinata said to Torabu in a reply to his plea.
The cat-boy had gotten the idea of using the Hyuga girl's Kekkei Genkai to help him see Sairento's real face. "Oh come on! Please!" he pleaded, smiling brightly and holding his hands together. "You would do me a huge favor if you do it, Hinata."
The timid girl shook her head with a sad frown. "I'm sorry… It's just that… well, it just doesn't seem fair to her."
"But wouldn't it be nice to see what she really looks like, to see whether she's pretty or not?"
She shook her head again. "To be honest, I don't really care about her face. And besides… it's not like I have a reason to help you."
Paying close attention to that last sentence, Torabu let a smirk grow on his face. "Oooooh, that's what you want…" he figured. "You want another half-naked picture of Naruto in return for helping me."
Hinata said nothing, but her blushing cheeks and her eyes looking off to the side told the troublemaking ninja more than enough.
"Well, if that's what you want, then I can easily transform into him dressed in his boxers and strike a pose for ya."
At that proposal, the timid girl once again shook her head as the red color vanished from her face. "…It's not the same," she replied. "In fact, now I… now I'm not sure if that picture you gave me really was Naruto…"
"No, it's real," Torabu said before sighing in defeat. "Have a nice day." And with that, he left.
The next day, Team 7 was off on a mission to assist on a farm. Of course, the three genin in the team were less interested in their mission and more in their real task of unmasking their teacher. At the halfway point of their journey to the farm, they came across an inn and decided to have a break there. After a failed attempt at seeing Kakashi's face during lunch (with the jonin refusing to eat by claiming that he was on a diet), Sasuke had come up with another plan.
"Good idea, Sasuke," Naruto praised as he and his rival soaked in the inn's hot spring together. "Nobody would ever take a bath without taking all their clothes off."
"Quiet down, you nimrod, or you'll spoil everything," Sasuke whisper-hissed back.
But where was Sakura in all this? Well, since this hot spring was not one for mixed bathing, she was forced to stay on the other side of the big fence that separated the boys' side from the girls'. She was not happy about this, and sulked as she soaked in the water.
"I'm going in, guys!" Kakashi called.
Naruto and Sasuke stood up in the hot spring and turned their gazes to the door to the dressing room. As they saw his silhouette in the steam close in on them, his footsteps eventually became splashes. And then, when he was close enough to be fully visible in the steam, they saw that his mask was off…
…but he had replaced it with a towel wrapped around his head from the eyes down. "Phew! It sure is hot here!" he said.
Foiled again by their efforts, the two boys lost balance in dumbfounded shock. "You have got to be kidding me!" both of them groaned underwater.
Back in Konoha, Torabu decided to ask the last person that he knew would be able to help him.
"C'mon, Ino! Pretty please!" he begged.
Ino sighed as she finished watering the flowers in her mother's flower shop and put the watering can away. "For the third time: no. Stop bugging me," she responded and walked behind the counter. "I'm not gonna use my Mind Transfer Jutsu to possess her body and take off her mask in front of you."
"But you're my last hope! If you refuse to do it, then I'm all out of options!"
"Too bad." The blonde put her elbows on the counter, folded her hands, and rested her head on her hands. "You've just got to realize that girls have to have secrets only they know."
Torabu scoffed at that statement. "What secrets?" he asked. "As far as I know, girls don't have anything special under what they wear – they're all the same."
Hearing that claim, Ino decided to mess with the cat-boy. "Oh, really?" she asked. "And how would you know?"
"I've seen girls naked before."
Then she smirked teasingly. "If my memory serves me right, then you're referring to that female form you used to knock out Sakura in the Chunin Exams."
"Yeah, I did," he admitted, blushing a little. "What about it?"
That was when she pulled her move. "That must mean you think all girls are absolutely furry under their clothes. Well, here's a surprise for you: All girls are differently built."
Torabu raised an eyebrow in curiosity, apparently buying this load of bull. "They are?" he asked.
"Yeah. Some have eyes for nipples, others have a mouth where their navels are, and there are also some who have goat teats right under their breasts."
These lies were convincing enough to scare the troublemaking ninja, and it showed on his extremely-pale face. "…They-they-they-they have?!" he stuttered.
Ino had great satisfaction in seeing that he fell for it hook, line and sinker. "And many other things you'd never imagine."
Disturbed beyond belief, Torabu left the flower shop.
When they left the inn, the only one who was refreshed was Kakashi; the rest of the team members were tired by the stress. By now, they had reached the farm and split up to do their respective tasks. As the jonin had chosen to repair the fence, he was still working when the three genin had regrouped.
"I don't know how much more of this my nerves can handle, you guys," Naruto said.
"I'm getting pretty fed up, myself," Sasuke admitted.
"Yeah, me, too," Sakura agreed.
At this point, Naruto had had it with it all. "I've had enough!" he growled. "Desperate times calls for desperate measures!"
"Desperate measures?" the other two asked.
"We're gonna transform into rogue ninjas and do whatever we can to strip him of that damned mask!"
"I guess we have no choice…" Sasuke shrugged.
"But we can't use any of our techniques, or else we'll give ourselves away," Sakura stated.
With their plan set, the three of them made hand-seals and transformed into adult stereotypical ninja, with black outfits that covered everything but their eyes and all.
As Kakashi blissfully hammered the last couple of nails into the fence, the three disguised genin snuck up on him and attacked. However, in the span of ten seconds, Kakashi easily blocked their attacks, counterattacked with a kick to each of their faces, pulled a rope out of thin air, bound the three of them together, and put them down on the ground. Then, he returned to the fence and finished the job.
Thirty seconds later, when he was finished, he turned back to the three hogtied ninjas. "Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura… what in the world are you doing?" he asked.
With their cover blown, the three genin transformed back to normal, all giving sheepish grins. "Oh, uh, well…" Naruto trailed off, trying to come up with a good lie.
Fortunately for the three, Sakura was quick to come up with a good excuse. "Well, Kakashi-sensei…" she said. "You see, we were just trying to see if we could stand a chance against you if we all attacked you at once without using Jutsu."
The jonin raised an eyebrow. "You were?" he asked.
"Y-Yeah!" Naruto lied. "It was just to see if we've surpassed you!"
"Oh… Well, alright, then," Kakashi said and used a kunai to cut the rope. "But next time you try to do that, come at me without any disguises, otherwise I might not recognize you and murder you in cold blood." The nonchalant tone in his voice unnerved his students.
After finishing up their work, the four of them ventured back to their village. Ten minutes after leaving the farm, Naruto decided to just do the simplest of the option regarding his personal mission: just ask. "Hey, Kakashi-sensei, can we see what's behind your mask?"
Kakashi looked at the three of them. "You want to know what's behind my mask?" he asked.
"Yes, we do," Sakura answered. "So… will you show us?"
"Sure, why not?"
The three genin would have smacked themselves in their faces at the fact that they could have just asked, but refrained from doing so and stared with wide-open eyes at their teacher's face as he slowly reached up to his mask. The suspense made their hearts beat hard. Did he have lips like a blimp? Or did he have huge buck teeth? Or, alternatively, did he have a very, very tiny mouth?
"Behind this mask…" Kakashi grabbed his mask between his index finger and thumb and quickly pulled it down. "…is another mask!" Indeed, there was a second mask to be seen, but this one was of a lighter color than the previous one. "Pretty cool, huh?"
The absolute anticlimax was enough of a shock to knock the three genin off their feet. "Are you kidding me?!" Naruto screamed as his sensei laughed. "What kind of reveal is that?!"
dopliss: You know, I think Kakashi was just trolling his students the entire time.
Mizuki: And I think you won't be able to return to your weekly update schedule.
Dopliss (frowning): …I'll try…