Title: Dreaming of Sunshine

Summary: Life as a ninja. It starts with confusion and terror and doesn't get any better from there. OC Self-insert

Authors note: There are links on my profile page to Fanart for this story if anyone is interested. FFNet won't let me put them here for you. And just a side note regarding the missions, I based the information on Kabuto's nin cards which, if I recall rightly, stated that Team 7 had done 1 A-rank and 7 D-rank missions. It doesn't seem like very many, but I try not to contradict canon overtly. Also, I thought I'd get up to the Wave Mission this chapter, but it wasn't to be.

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Chapter 7

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One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.~ Marie Curie

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It was easy to fall into a routine with Team Seven. The day after the bell test, after my oath, we met at the Training Grounds ready to go for a mission. Kakashi-sensei had said nine o'clock, but that came and went without a sighting of him.

I felt strangely pensive. I had known the Oath before, but saying it, having it witnessed by the Clan Head… was strangely final.

I swear, that to protect my team mates, the clan, those allied with us and Konoha itself, I will become one with the shadows.

More so than simply becoming a Genin, there was no turning back now. The Oath meant everything to the Clan.

I looked over to my team mates. Sasuke was frowning into the distance and Naruto was throwing pebbles into the lake. They were bored. I could have pulled out a book and started reading but I wanted to connect with them.

"Hey," I started, clearing my throat. It wasn't particularly loud but Sasuke looked up. "Do you two want to spar?"

He looked intrigued. "Hn. Not sure the dead last has much to add to a fight."

Naruto was very hard to put down in a fight, but that didn't help if he couldn't contribute much. I wasn't really sure what his fighting was like at this stage anyway but in a free for all, he'd probably be outclassed. That wasn't arrogance but if I threw a genjutsu at him, I doubt he'd be able to break it. I bit my lip.

"Me and Naruto against you?"

Sasuke looked intrigued. "Rules?"

I thought about it. "No injuries. We have to do a mission after, and I don't know what we'll have to do. Stop before exhaustion and we can call a timeout at any time? And we stay in the clearing." No point getting lost before Kakashi-sensei showed up.

Sasuke stood and brushed off his pants. "Oi, dead last!" He called. Naruto popped up like some demented jack-in-the-box shouting back at him. "We're going to spar. You and Shikako against me!"

"Prepare to go down, bastard!" Naruto shouted at the challenge. I didn't really engage in trash talk, but I didn't like to lose either. Of course, winning might to terrible things to Naruto's ego. That could be squashed later.

We squared off across the clearing. I stood slightly behind Naruto. He'd probably start off with a straight charge, shadow clones optional. Sasuke would meet him; he didn't like to run from fights. Probably taijutsu, since he was screeds better at it than Naruto. He was a decent all rounder, but his focus was definitely in the nin-tai area.

It was early morning, so the shadows were pretty long. That gave me a fair bit to work with. I hadn't used any of my Earth Style techniques fighting Kakashi-sensei and I wasn't sure either of the boys had picked up on my genjutsu so both of those would come as a surprise. My taijutsu was good, and if I could keep my shadow active during it could be positively deadly (I was still working on that, to be honest) but I'd probably try and avoid getting that close to Sasuke - with space to manoeuvre and access to weapons he'd probably be harder to take down than in the Academy sparring ring. Which had never been particularly easy anyway.

"Ready?" I asked.

Sasuke nodded.

Naruto charged forward with a yell, a line of clones popping into existence beside him.

Game on.

I ran through the seals for the Vertigo genjutsu. Genjutsu was difficult to use, it required a lot of concentration and attention to detail - particularly if you were going to try and use visual genjutsu - and precise chakra control to form Yin Release chakra. For most techniques, chakra was a mix of spiritual and physical chakra in equal proportion. When you didn't have equal amounts, the excess was just wasted, unless you formed Yin or Yang chakra which was unbalanced chakra. Yin had more spiritual than physical while Yang was the exact opposite. It takes a lot of control to hold unbalanced chakra, and even more to use both concurrently in the Yin-Yang Release while preventing them from mixing back to normal balanced chakra. I couldn't do that yet, but I could form them separately. Yin Release chakra is characterised as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse and passive (and, strangely, feminine which is why there are more female medics and genjutsu users than male) and is the basis for both genjutsu and most medical ninjutsu techniques.

The Vertigo genjutsu was one of my favourites really; it was simple and effective. It targeted the semi-circular canals in the inner ear and disrupted the fluid inside them, causing the nerve endings to send contradictory signals to the brain about how the body was moving. The end result was dizziness and, if left long enough, nausea and vomiting. The amount of chakra taken to stir the fluid was miniscule and all the symptoms were actual signals by the body, making it difficult to cancel. Since it affected only a very, very small area, if you could isolate your genjutsu probe from the host chakra system, you might even be able to make it impossible to cancel.

That was basically the holy grail of genjutsu use.

I was no where near that stage yet but that didn't mean it wasn't useful. It was, as any Nara knew, all about timing.

"Yin Release: Vestibular Disruption!" I chanted just as Naruto reached Sasuke to attack. Sasuke stumbled, trying desperately to block a multitude of attacks and release the genjutsu at the same time. I launched my shadow forward, bouncing from clone to tree to clone in an attempt to bind him.

Naruto had got in a few good attacks and knowing he was overwhelmed Sasuke retreated, using a replacement to cross the clearing. The break gave him enough time to muster his chakra for a 'kai', even as I pelted his new location with kunai and shuriken. He was running now and I intended to keep him that way. I preferred my fights to be quick, with a sudden explosion of overwhelming force.

Sasuke knocked away the kunai and homed in on me. I was, in his eyes, the true threat right now. I abandoned the part of my shadow that was sneaking through the trees, and focused on what was pooling around my feet. We didn't 'use up' our shadows during the jutsu, just stretched them, and it was more than possible to hold multiple opponents with it. He was fast, dodging the lancing attacks of my shadow even as his hands worked through hand signs I had seen once before.

Shit. I quickly ran through my own set of hand signs, grateful that this technique only had four.

"Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique!"

"Earth Release: Earth-Style Wall!" The wall barely came up to chest height and I ducked down into the lee behind it.

The fireball impacted against the wall, blowing smoke up into the air, but Sasuke was leaping through it, up over top of the wall, dropping with a heel kick where I was crouching. I rolled out of the way, coming to my feet beside him.

"Transformation Technique: Ten Thousand Fists!" When we were learning the basic clone and transformation techniques at the Academy, I had been constantly surprised at how many different ways my classmates could get it wrong. I'd manage both of them the first time and had been a little … scornful, maybe, of how slow everyone else was. Then I noticed how very spectacular some of those 'failures' were. One of the most common ways to spot a poorly formed clone was when it moved; not all the pieces moved together at the same time. There would be a lag blur.

I had applied that to my transformation technique. I was punching at Sasuke, but my real hand was obscured by illusions of dozens of other fists at different angles, distances and speeds. He had no idea which one to block. I slammed my fists into him, once in the stomach and a follow up to the chin, dropping my transformation to lash out with my shadow. I couldn't hold two techniques concurrently, yet, but I was working on it. Sasuke backflipped out of range, using my Earth Wall as a spring board to get height and distance.

And landed straight in a group of Naruto's that had been waiting for him on the other side. His expression was priceless.

"Get him!" Came their rallying cry. Naruto definitely had a brawler style. One on one, he lost to Sasuke every time. Five on one, ten on one… it was a little more even.

Sasuke weaved and dodged and lashed out, but for every clone he took out there was another to take it's place. Added to that, he had to keep an eye out for my shadow, which was darting from Naruto to Naruto, hemming him in and cutting off his choices of movement.

He was falling back, away from the Earth Wall towards the trees, where he'd replaced to before, and coincidentally, I had sent my shadow before I'd had to change tactics. It was still there, lying in wait like a long black snake.

He retreated some more, then jumped, landing safely on a branch above our heads. Naruto was less agile and couldn't follow him up there. But…

"Shadow Possession Complete," I said, hands in rat seal. I'd abandoned the shadow 'tail' that had been chasing him and reused the first that circled nearly half the clearing. I bent my neck to let Sasuke see the black trail that squirmed up the tree trunk to his feet. "Surrender?" I asked.

"Or?" He queried.

Good question. Shadow Possession didn't automatically end the fight. "I step backwards," I said. A fall from that height wouldn't really hurt much, but being paralysed he wouldn't be able to roll with it, and Naruto was waiting for him below. I wasn't entirely sure that I'd be able to hold the Possession through a change in height like that though. I made a note to investigate later; I obviously needed more work in a 3D environment.

Sasuke considered, then nodded. "I surrender."

I let the jutsu go. Naruto cheered. "Good fight," I offered with a small uncertain smile. Now that we had won, I wasn't really sure how Sasuke would take it.

Sasuke nodded, jumping down from the tree branch and landing lightly on his feet. There was something like satisfaction, or maybe respect, in his eyes.

"Aren't you going to say anything, bastard?" Naruto crowed. "We won. You lost. We won!"

I cringed. "Please stop that, Naruto."

He either didn't hear me or ignored me. "Naruto!" I snapped.

He stopped in his tracks, blinking at me, startled. "Shikako?" He said uncertainly. "Aren't you happy? We won."

I took a calming breath. It wasn't news that Naruto was a poorly socialised idiot. I just had to explain, that was all. "It isn't polite to act like that, Naruto. When you win, you have to be gracious about it, otherwise all you do is create enemies. Not just the people you beat, but everyone who sees you acting like that."

"What? But I won! Everyone has totally got to see how awesome I am now!" Naruto shouted.

Sasuke's hands were clenching into fists at his side was starting to glare. I needed to diffuse this. Fast.

Pity I didn't know how. "Do you see the Hokage shouting about how many fights he's won? Or Iruka-sensei?" I asked quickly, naming people I knew Naruto respected. "Iruka-sensei didn't even tell us how he got hurt after graduation. I bet he didn't act like that then."

Naruto stopped jumping and stared down at the ground. I felt a little guilty about bringing that up since he had actually told me how Iruka-sensei got hurt.

"That was… different," he said, unconsciously touching his headband. "Iruka-sensei was awesome."

"Exactly," I agreed. "And when you do something awesome people will know it too. You don't have to tell them. Besides… doesn't it mean something more when other people say it?"

He looked up, eyes unfocused, like I'd just explained the entire universe to him. "Yeah. Yeah, it does."

I nodded, and let go of the tension that was building in my shoulders. "So. Good fight." I nodded to him.

He smiled back, something that was softer and calmer and more grateful than his usual grins. "It was a good fight."

I tilted my head towards Sasuke, the implication clear.

Naruto scowled. "And… you too. It was a good fight. Bastard."

"Hn. You did alright. Dead last."

Naruto might have scowled harder, but that off hand comment clearly meant to world to him, even if he didn't acknowledge it.

I sighed, rolled my shoulders and checked my chakra levels. They were astonishingly depleted. Nearly half gone from that little half hour spar. I'd used what, three, four techniques? Not good. We didn't do a lot of sparring at home, even though I worked on the technical details of my jutsu a fair bit. Sparring with Shika was just an exercise in frustration and my older shinobi cousins were too busy for any kind of regular training.

We collected all our weapons and headed back to the bridge to sit down and wait.

"Did you want to talk about the match?" I asked, fumbling with the words slightly.

"What for?" Naruto blinked at me, still in an introspective mood. At least it was quieter.

"So that next time we can do better," I answered.

"Hn. You caught me off guard with that genjutsu," Sasuke offered after a pause. "What was it?"

It sort of went against my nature to explain my techniques, but this was my team. However, if I ever started doing a battle monologue helpfully entitled 'how to beat me' I'd ask someone to stab me.

"Yin Release: Vestibular Disruption induces vertigo," I explained. "It's a targeted genjutsu - that means you use it on an opponent not on your surroundings -" I clarified for Naruto at his confused expression. "It disrupts balance mostly, but if you leave it long enough it can make you nauseous and vomit."

"Gross!" Naruto exclaimed looking delighted.

"I didn't expect you to have anything but your shadow jutsu," Sasuke admitted.

"Most Nara don't," I agreed with a grimace. "I like to have a little variety though. You need to be really smart to succeed with only one kind of jutsu."

"What do you mean?" Naruto asked. "Your shadow jutsu is awesome! Not as cool as my Shadow Clones, though."

I grinned. "But your Shadow Clones can't do everything. They pop easily. And you couldn't get at Sasuke once he was up the tree, could you? Although the tree walking technique will fix that, I guess. But. Each jutsu has limitations."

Sasuke grunted in agreement. We kept talking about the match until sensei got there. It was nice. Companionable. Sasuke and Naruto weren't exactly getting on but their comments were still mostly constructive.

"Well good morning, my cute little Genin." Sensei perched on top of the railing and waved at us.

"You're late!" Naruto shouted, jumping to his feet and pointing.

"Well you see," Kakashi-sensei began. "There was a spider in my bathroom so I couldn't get dressed until it left."

There was a beat of stunned silence.

"Liar!" Naruto hollered. It was hard to tell, but I think Kakashi was amused by our reactions. He'd have to be, to keep using excuses like that.

"So, today we're going to take a mission. Let's go to the Hokage's Tower."

Naruto cheered. That boy had way too much energy. I pulled myself to my feet and flushed chakra through my body to dispel any lingering aches and pains. It wasn't quite a healing technique but it was still damned useful. More so than the instantaneous pain of getting hit, I hated the lingering ache of overexertion.

We ambled to the Hokage's Tower, our pace set by Kakashi-sensei who seemed to be going just slightly faster than the speed of a blind, geriatric cripple. Hmm… that actually sounded like Kakashi-sensei anyway.

Regardless, the pace seemed to be really irritating my team mates if Sasuke's hunched posture was any indication. You didn't even need to guess to know Naruto was annoyed, since he was very vocally proclaiming it.

"We're finally going to get a super cool mission and you're being all slow! Hurry up!"

Really, I think Kakashi-sensei just liked winding Naruto up.

Of course, given that I knew what D-ranks were Naruto wasn't going to be very happy when we got there, either. D-ranks were chores, or maybe community service type missions. They were funded, or at the least subsidised by the village itself and so were usually for either the clans or other important figures. As far as I was aware, clearing and restructuring the Training Fields after they get demolished is one of the most common D-rank missions in Konoha.

Although, Naruto's utterly stunned face when the Hokage read out the possible mission assignments was kind of amusing. Sasuke seemed equally unimpressed. Kakashi-sensei gave a very good impression of not paying any attention at all.

I looked back and forth between them, wondering if any of them were going to answer the Hokage. Surely Kakashi-sensei should?

He turned a page. The scraping of paper was very loud in the silence of the Mission Assignment room.

"Uh, babysitting?" I offered uncertainly as the Hokage raised an eyebrow at us.

"Very well," he said, picking up a scroll off the table and making a mark on his list. "Team Seven accepts the mission to baby sit the Chief Councillors three year old."

"What kind of mission is that?" Naruto shouted suddenly, arms pin wheeling.

"A D-rank mission, Naruto!" Iruka-sensei shouted back. "As new Genin, these are the kinds of missions you'll be doing until you gain some experience!"

Naruto pouted.

"Ahem," the Hokage cut in. Iruka sunk back into his seat, slightly flustered. "Team Seven. Your mission scroll."

Kakashi-sensei caught the scroll lazily as it arched through the air. It might have seemed strange to throw important paperwork but properly rolled scrolls were strangely aerodynamic. That was probably the reason people still used them instead of books or files. It certainly can't have been for storage purposes.

"Alright, ducklings," Sensei said. "Let's mosey."

Shinji Hideaki was a sweet kid that was entirely too used to having ninja teams baby sit him while his father was off in important meetings. The influx of strange people into his house bothered him not at all. We were rostered on for five hours, which included lunch, and had a whole schedule included. The missions scroll was amazingly well prepared for a D-rank which just emphasised the fact that this must be a commonly reoccurring mission.

"Read me a story, please?" He asked, grabbing onto my pants and tugging. In one sticky hand he held a very battered and beloved copy of 'The Yellow Flash' which was possibly the most adored children's book in all of Konoha.

"Sure thing, sweetheart," I said, picking him up and carrying him to the couch where he eagerly squirmed into my lap. It was at least an hour before we had to start cooking lunch - of which we had strict instructions as to what he would and would not eat and how to prepare it - and the others were just standing around awkwardly. Well, four people was probably overkill for a mission like this. If there had been more than one child, maybe, but even then I'm not sure the three of them would have known what to do. I wasn't exactly big on kids, but there were several younger Nara cousins and I had been an older sister once.

"… And the Yellow Flash went Flash! Flash! Flash!" I finished, performing the required flicking finger movements, the ones that always reminded me of light bulbs or flicking water.

"Flash! Flash! Flash!" Shinji giggled and clapped. "Again?"

I looked at the clock. "Maybe not, sweetheart. Do you want to do some drawing?" I asked, spying the crayons and paper on the floor. "We'll get Naruto to sit with you." I wasn't really sure what the others were up to, but tracking chakra signals was easy enough. He was just down the hallway.

"Naruto? Can you watch Shinji while I make lunch?" I called. I wasn't entirely sure that either of my team mates could cook. I could probably ask, but it was just as easy for me to make lunch.

"Sure!" he shouted back. I waited for him to make his appearance in the living room before I left.

The kitchen was ultra organised. I pulled out the instructions for dinner and found that they had included enough food for us which was actually very kind. Many clients seemed to forget that ninja needed to eat which was why we were advised to bring enough food for the mission duration whenever we went on long distance missions. In Konoha it wasn't so bad, since we could have easily sent one of us off to buy lunch, but it was still nice. Thoughtful.

I wasn't the best cook in the world; I was too easily bored, impatient with waiting for things to simmer or fry or whatever, and not fussy enough about what I ate to fix either of those things. But I had learnt to cook from my mum, who was a great cook, and that almost meant that cooking dinner was 'girl time' and that offset the boredom.

Of course, cooking for other people meant I at least tried to cook well. I might not be fussy but there was something slightly embarrassing about serving other people charcoal. I hummed as I chopped the vegetables and brought a pot of water to boil on the stove. The rice cooker was already going, since that took longer to cook properly.

The kitchen was very nice, I mused, as I grabbed spices from one of the upper cupboards. Surprisingly modern, but it made very efficient use of space.

"What're you making?" A curious voice asked.

I spun around and nearly froze in horror. Shinji peeked up at the counter grabbing a hold of the bench to see up, his other hand reaching towards the pot on the stove. His hand was balanced on the cutting board that I'd just abandoned and was tilting precariously. I could see it happening. He'd pull, the board would tilt, the knife would fall on him, and likely, the pot of boiling water on the stove would fall on him as well.

Shit.

My shadow lashed out, freezing him in place, but that wouldn't stop events already in motion. Chakra strings uncoiled from my fingers, attaching to board, knife and pot and pulling them back away from the edges. I couldn't do fine manipulation with them, and I couldn't move while holding all these different things.

Where was Naruto? Who was closest?

Naruto was down the hall in the bathroom. But Sasuke was only out on the veranda.

"Sasuke!" My voice may have been slightly panicked, because he appeared with a flicker of boosted speed, one hand already reaching for a kunai. He took the scene in and grabbed Shinji, hoisting him up and retreating out of the kitchen to the hallway.

It had taken maybe a few seconds, but my heart was pounding worse than at the spar this morning. I shakily set the chopping board and knife in the sink and made sure to turn the handle of the pot towards the back. I should have had it like that to start with, but I hadn't thought about it.

Stupid oversight. I hadn't sensed him come in either, because children that young barely had any chakra at all. I should have at least heard him. The only explanation was that I hadn't been paying enough attention.

Which was really, really dumb. And it just proved, not all the danger in the world was bandits or missing nin. Everyday life had it's own troubles.

Of course, Naruto shouldn't have goddamn left the kid alone. Not even for a bathroom break. There were four of us here, ferchrissakes! I stowed that thought. I'd talk to him once the mission was over.

I threw together lunch and carted it out to the dinning room table before making sure that everything was safely put away in the kitchen. The last thing I wanted was a repeat occurrence.

"Lunch is ready," I said softly moving into the lounge. Naruto was sulking on the couch and Sasuke was kneeling awkwardly on the ground, obviously being lectured on the intricacies of playing with action figures. He was so obviously out of his comfort zone that it was almost funny.

Action figures which got quickly abandoned at the call to food. "Lunch!" Shinji echoed looking delighted. Sasuke looked deeply relieved to have escaped.

The rest of the afternoon went much more smoothly. Councillor Hideaki came home right on time and looked pleased to find his son down for his afternoon nap. He did mutter something about the wisdom of hiring ninja under his breath, which we politely ignored, but it did make me wonder if he'd had problems before.

We were on the way back to the Hokage's Tower to collect our mission pay when Naruto exploded. I was surprised he'd stayed quiet so long; Sasuke must have said something serious to get him to stay quiet. Sensei was still mostly ignoring us.

"Alright! Now you have to explain, bastard! Where the hell do you think you get off telling me what to do, huh?"

Sasuke sneered. "The client was almost injured because of your incompetence!"

Naruto looked taken back and slightly hurt. "What the hell are you talking about?" He barked. "The kid was fine. I only left him alone for a minute!"

"Which you shouldn't have!" Sasuke shot back.

"Naruto, Shinij wandered into the kitchen and nearly tipped a pot of boiling water on himself. He could have been seriously hurt," I explained, trying to stay calm. "It's true that I should have been paying more attention myself, but I thought I could trust you to keep an eye on him. If you needed to leave, you should have called Sasuke."

Naruto deflated like a popped balloon. I ignored the stab of guilt that that caused in favour of my anger at his carelessness. We didn't speak again; it seemed like all our progress from the morning had been erased.

When I went home I grabbed my sealing book, found Shika - watching clouds, no surprise - and curled up into his side.

"What's up?" he asked casually.

"What makes you think something is up?" I queried.

"You're only this touchy feely when you're upset," he answered. "And, it's troublesome, but if there's something…"

I smiled softly. "Just a team argument," I said, going back to my book. The morning had shown me that my chakra reserves, in proportion to what I actually used in a fight, weren't all that great. I knew if was possible to make a chakra storage seal, but of course, possible didn't mean easy. They were almost the very opposite of easy. It would take me years to actually create one. Until then, I'd have to build my reserves the old fashioned way. I sighed.

So much to do.