an: now with line breaks mmmmn gurl yea
Anko scowls and notes that, yes, her old sensei has a base she wasn't, in her younger years, privy to. Maybe a small part of her is annoyed, even hurt by that realization- but that part of her would vanish soon. She knows that much, and soon too, that Orochimaru will have no labs left under Konoha's cover. She sends a mud clone to pop the steel flap of a trapdoor, and when no explosion shakes the earth sends another inside, the first, purpose accomplished, dissolves as she follows her clone through the vent.
Her first observation: the lights are out. Anko pulls a flashlight from her belt and pads down the last steps of the ladder.
Her second observation: clean. The floors may have a thin sheen of dust but the lack of debris is unmistakable. A bit unsettling, even. Anko pulls a second flashlight and merges the beams. Her eyes and ears are strained, her nose finds nothing but age. The air is stuffy, thick.
Anko finally comes to the end of the entryway, finding a long row of doorway after doorway on either side of the hall. She crouches and peers inside the first on her left. A row of cots sits empty; unattended. The door across the hall yields the same. Anko exits and pads down the hall, her shoes echoing eerily. She turns her head left and right and finds more empty rooms; empty cots and more empty cots. Anko reaches the end of the hall and pauses. She observes the doorway deeper into the facility, noting the lack of a door but presence of a three-inch strip of metal circling floor-to-ceiling. Anko checks her back and steps over the remains of an airlock, and, berating herself, pulls a rebreather from a side pocket and straps it over her face as she continues.
She walks fifty feet down a long hall, easing over several more lips of metal as they arise. The walkway splits in two; Anko stabs a kunai into the hall and takes the right, sending a casual beam of light down the left and finding, to her relief, no abominations of nature quite yet. Anko finds another room of empty cots, around 200 total in an arrangement of four by fifty. No doubt where the trials were held. She backs out and continues along; her eyes narrow as the wall begins to honeycomb, with each segment baring its own protruding handle. Anko does not need to open one to know what they hold. She pulls a kunai and scribbles down 'morgue,' on a hanging tag, stabbing it down into the floor before turning back. She passes her first kunai soon enough and continues on down the walkway.
A minute of frayed nerves later, Anko sees clearly, three more doors, the first on her far left, the other two on the right, one five or so feet from her and the other farther off. She breathes deep and takes the first door on the right – she finds the research lab. It is orderly; tables line the walls and a quartet of rolling chairs sits in the middle, as if all four had been, at one time, occupied and simultaneously rolled back to point of collision. The tabletops are empty, no machinery and no jars of baby-soul, Anko is relieved to see. However, in the far corner, a clipboard rests.
Anko checks down the hall habitually and pads over to it, taking it up with a negligent hand. The bottom page shows, the others flipped over the top clip and previously held under by gravity. She twirls the clipboard and the few pages flop back into a manageable packet. Anko checks the room once more and walks from the room; out of curiosity, reading the first page as her shoes clack along the tile;
Tsukushi's log: 12-05-1723 – 21:54
Anesthetic is no longer a viable alternative, subject developed immunity to new cocktail in .072 seconds, we have been forced to take more proactive measures. Current restraints rated at 5000 pounds, straps must be circulated every thirty-six hours from strain. Doctor Fuzushi claimed we must use anti-psychotics, patient showed no reaction. Analysis found blood compromised, attending physician sustained severe injuries from sample.
Steroid strain - active
Regeneration gene - active
Chakra conversion - active
Organ bank - active
Patients 1-5 received synthetic steroid strain 12Ba. Patients 1-4 experienced total-muscular dystrophy; deceased. If estimates are correct patient 5 will expire at 01:00. No promising results.
Patients 6-10 received isolated regeneration gene. Patients 6, 8, and 9; deceased. Patients 7 and 10 experienced uncontrolled cellular growth – internal defenses activated, patients liquefied.
Patients 11-15 received chakra transfer. Patients 11-15, deceased.
Patients 16-20 received left eye, right hand, left leg, left arm, and right lung respectively. Patients 16-20; deceased. Subject 014 not a viable organ bank.
The words 'internal defenses' catch her eye slightly more than 'organ bank'; Anko promptly pauses her stroll and summons a mud clone, thankfully her old sensei still left the walls as bedrock so she is not short with materials. Her clone prances off down the hall into the door on the left, oblivious to the soul crushing darkness permeating the entire lab. Anko waits five seconds and follows, stashing the clipboard under her arm and aiming both flashlights in front of her. She pauses at the doorway and, after another deep breath, enters in a crouch –
She finds a second hallway parallel with the main, around forty feet wide with ten doors along the far wall. Each heavy looking metallic door bares a number: 01 on the far left, 10 on the far right. The #03 door is missing, and in a single cursory glance Anko knows that the door was removed against its will. She pulls the clipboard from under her arm and flips through the pages looking for a mention:
Tsukushi's log: 12-12-1723 – 07:28
Restraints no longer a viable alternative. Doctors: Rajin, Kuahara, Toshiri, deceased. Orderlies: Kakujo, Surahara; deceased. Subject confined in airlock station 03, repression seals must be replaced every twelve hours and prior to entry, Doctors: Baruka, Haino; deceased. Limited vivisection shows subject's internal structure has mutated, Doctors: Makuzi, Saruko; deceased. Doctor Fuzushi proposes the patient has overgrown in-house limitations and must be transferred to a larger facility.
Steroid strain - active
Regeneration gene - active
Chakra conversion - active
Organ bank - dropped
Patients 21-25 received modified chakra transfer. Patients 21-25; deceased.
Patients 26-30 received modified regeneration gene. Patients 26, 29 and 30; deceased. Patients 27 and 28 experienced uncontrolled cellular division; deceased.
Patients 31-35 received modified steroid strain 24Ca. Patients 31-34; deceased. Patient 35 experienced uncontrolled muscular growth; deceased. Doctors: Haruna; deceased.
"Well shit." Anko thinks dryly, straining her ears even more for the barest hint of a sound. She hears nothing and it unsettles her more than if she did. Anko pulls a kunai and a flare gun from a side pocket, training both on station 03 as she stalks over, flashlight rolled against the wall aimed down the hall. The lighting could not be more eerie and she doesn't want to use the flare gun, because god knows what a red tint would do to the already poor atmosphere. Also she is unaware of the oxygen concentration, and it might just be a plain old 'bad idea.'
She stands before the doorframe and, now feet from it, observes with a grimace the state of the door. It had been peeled open, three great slashes on either side, as if a beast had casually parted the steel plating as she would a crowd.
Anko now knows two things: "Fuck." and "This." She backpedals to her flashlight and flips another page in the clipboard, glancing around every other word:
Tsukushi's log: 12-17-1723 – 12:18
Repression seals no longer a viable alternative, projected renewal rate: 413.7 per second. However, subject has become inert. Doctors Fuzushi and myself unable to pierce skin, no further data available.
Steroid strain - active
Regeneration gene - dropped
Chakra conversion - active
Organ bank - dropped
Patients 36-50 received chakra infusion. Patients 36-50; deceased.
Patients 51-100 received modified steroid strain 24Cc. Patients 51-100; deceased.
The word 'inert' comforts her more than 'dango' ever has. Anko sighs out a bit of tension and rests her back on the wall. She flips the page:
Tsukushi's log: 12-25-1723 – 13:44
Subject 014 remains inert. No further data.
Steroid strain - active
Regeneration gene - dropped
Chakra conversion - dropped
Organ bank - dropped
Patients 101-200 received modified steroid strain 26Ac. Patients 101-155, 157-200; deceased. Patient 156 developed homicidal psychosis, Doctors: Fuzushi; deceased. Internal defenses activated, patient terminated.
Anko wonders where Orochimaru got all his 'patients.' She flips the page and hopes that backup had finally arrived on the surface, knowing that when they did Ibiki would spend a few minutes having his ceremonial hissy-fit about her ignoring protocol while his escorting squad would chortle silently into their masks. She tilts her head fondly.
Anko flips the page:
Tsukushi's log: 01-05-1724 – 09:05
Subject 014 remains inert. No further data. Orders from above, experiments terminated. Subject 014 is to be transfe
Tsukushi's log cuts off partway through the word 'transferred,' with a sharp line trailing from the letter 'e' to well off the bottom of the page. "This does not bode well for me." Anko thinks dryly, eyes traveling up and noting that the date of entry was… seventeen minutes ago?
"Fuck!" Anko's brain shouts.
"Fuck!" Anko's mouth shouts. Flashlights are now not nearly enough - she pulls the flaregun, and, heedless of inevitable demonic tint and possible explosion, fires wildly into the hall.
Morino Ibiki is not a fairy princess. He was never and will never be a fairy princess, and it can be said with little doubt that in broad daylight his face alone is enough to frighten small children. Anko is not a small child. She never was and never will be a small child, and she has, on more than one occasion laughed in the face of death, and, while it stared at her heaving breasts, stabbed it in the face. However, in the muffled darkness, surrounded by stuffy air and a loose homicidal experiment, the effect a red signal flare has on the scars and crevices of Ibiki's face causes such an unholy abomination of a sight that Anko near shits herself.
Ibiki glares down at the flare that had pinged off his chest, grunts, turns to her, and says one word:
Anko's reply comes in the form of a dry rasp. She hurls the clipboard to him and burrows into the corner, wildly flailing her flashlights at door 03 as he catches it.
Ibiki flips through the pages as he pads over to station 03, glancing up after a long moment to inspect the remains of the door and comment needlessly, Anko squirming the whole time.
"Same metal as the cuffs we use." He vanishes into the room and out of Anko's vision, she wields the left flashlight like a bat and starts after him, but makes three steps before he pops back out.
"Room's in order. The thing must have just really hated-"
A groan fills the facility, the sound of a tree corkscrewing into a knot, resonating so deep that her ribcage rattles in her chest. Ibiki goes stalk still and turns to her with a sharp look. He flashes a hand towards the door in the universal code for 'let's go' and bolts out, pausing with one foot past the doorframe for Anko to catch her wits.
A piercingly sharp metallic tear echoes down the hall and Anko is out. Ibiki frowns and starts after her, picking up speed as he hears thudding footfalls behind him – but he doesn't glance back, only idiots gander at death.
Anko hasn't stopped bellowing "Shitshitshitshit!" since she started running. She is an idiot. Always has been, always will be. She knows this, and she also knows that if she's gonna' get eaten she's gonna' hurt like all hell on the way out. She casts a glance back as Ibiki sidles beside her –
Red death is after them; burning like her signal flare but brighter, hotter. It rears back - and Anko tackles Ibiki down as a guillotine swipe bludgeons overhead, taloned claws tearing into the bedrock walls like wet clay. She tumbles to a stop, glances once again and rolls backward, Ibiki in tow as an overhead flare smashes a fissure into the floor – Anko pushes Ibiki away from her as a second extremity bludgeons the new space between them. A kunai leaves her hand faster than she can blink, faster than she thought she could throw.
It glows white and splashes the floor and in that moment, with serrated teeth baring down on her Anko knows she will die. Same as she knows she's an idiot, that dango is good and hot sauce is bad and Orochimaru even with his obsessions and faults is bastard enough to kill her with his failure.
Then - red death evaporates like a rising mist, a form falls over her and cracks her head against the tile with the sudden weight- but the form is soft; a curtain of velvet draped over her neck and she sighs just a bit, making a note to add another tally to the chart on her wall entitled 'times I escaped death by an asshair.'
Ibiki sets himself against the wall; he takes up one of flashlights sprawled around them, aiming it at Anko's prone form.
"You alive?" He asks momentarily, almost sounding concerned.
Anko flashes a thumbs up.
"… Good work."
Anko knows that's the best and only 'thank you' she will receive from Ibiki for saving him; she flashes another thumbs up.
He trains the beam of light down a bit - Anko sitting up against the opposite wall to examine whatever had landed on her. She finds a girl – curled around her waist and sleeping peacefully.
"… Huh…" Anko says.
"… Huh…" Ibiki responds.
"Say Ibiki…" She pauses to thoroughly inspect several inappropriate places, "there a naked chick on me?"
"Yes." He replies succinctly, "yes there is."
"I'm not playing this game with you." Ibiki says flatly.
"C'mon! You jump in first, I come in after and land on your shoulders. It'll be fun. You'll like it. You know you'll like it. Look, I think I see a smile!" Anko leers at Ibiki's face, pointedly at the so-not curling ends of his lips. "Ah – there it is. Ah – yeah, I see it! The smile train's entering the station! Whoo Whoo! All aboard the smile train! Whoo Whoo! Next stop, Sugarcane Junction! Whoo Whoo!"
Ibiki's scowl couldn't be grumpier.
"…With intermittent stops to Fairy Princess Island, Butterscotch Rainbow Resort and Ibiki's Buttcrack! All aboard - Whoo Whoo!"
"Alright fine… Missing out though…"
"Just… don't do anything stupid. From what I understand Hokage still respects me and I don't want you defecating all over it."
Ibiki knocks on the door twice before she can indignantly respond, and hearing a muffled something he opens the door and pads in, Anko following close behind.
Sarutobi glances up from his paperwork and Ibiki snaps to attention. Anko sniffs and rubs under her nose, offering a weak wave in place of a salute.
"Ibiki, Anko." He says, "anything useful?"
Anko responds before Ibiki can stop her; she goes into a halfspin, whipping Ibiki's coat off her back dramatically and proclaiming "… Uh Oh."
The Sandaime frowns.
Anko only stares at the coat that should have been occupied by a busty teenager.
"Something wrong Anko?"
"Oh." Says Anko, enlightened, "no wonder I felt lighter all the sudden."
Sarutobi tries the other occupant. "Ibiki?"
Ibiki says nothing in response, only stares at Anko with his mouth slightly agape, tongue lashing over the insides of his teeth; looking in that moment as though he had never seen something so alienly strange and repulsive as the woman before him.
The scarred man shakes out his head and withholds a sigh. "We found a doctor's records," he hands over a clipboard he pulls from a scroll, "and a…bloodline subject."
"It was alive?" Sarutobi quips with little pause.
"She, was alive. And in Anko's custody… "
"Until now." Anko contributes helpfully.
"Was she dangerous?"
"Anko." Sarutobi says in a manner as if he was clarifying for a small child, "you loosed an extremely dangerous experimental subject in my village?"
"… Uh… Well, yeah. That is an accurate summary."
"Tora." He calls to the ceiling, "get all the trackers we have available. Anko." She snaps off an incorrect salute and he takes what he can get. "I need a physical description, abilities, weaknesses, anything with relevance."
Anko begins to speak but is interrupted with little aplomb.
"Write it up at the front desk, hand it to the secretary. I'll take care of the rest. Dismissed."
Time past: twenty-six minutes.
Time spent searching: eleven seconds.
Anko finds the subject; lazily flipping through the air several stories above her, coated in a thin layer of red that wisps along behind her like bubbles of gelatin. Anko quirks her head at the sight, spending a moment coming to terms with the fact that a person was hovering overhead. She then sighs and shoots up a flare, a squad of mixed jounin appearing nearby as if legitimately summoned.
"Found her." Anko proclaims, pointing up at the spectacle.
Kakashi, Daijimu, and Tera glance up. Daijimu and Tera both wear masks, but Kakashi's reaction Anko can see clearly. His right eye widens and his eyebrow vanishes behind his headband.
"Is that…" He asks, disbelieving.
"Yep," Says Anko, completely misreading his question, "it's a floating naked chick."
Kakashi frowns at her response and shakes off his intuition. "Well… Now what?"
"Now we get her down." Anko says, breaking into a slight walk to keep up with the subject. The others follow suit with little encouragement.
"… Got any wire?" Kakashi asks.
"You know I do." Anko replies flatly, pulling a spool from god knows where and handing it to him. Kakashi takes it and pauses for a moment.
"Why is it sticky?"
"Just use the damn wire."
He sighs and pulls a pair of kunai from his thigh holster, using one to forcefully blunt the other before looping the wire through the ring and tying the most complicated knot he can think of.
"Don't tie a bow you retard."
"Hm?" he asks, glancing to her and back down at the kunai, expression as though he, at that moment, fully and irrevocably realized he didn't know how to tie a knot. "… Ooooh... Oh, right." Kakashi pulls the bow loose and ties a knot better placed on the fingers of a captured ninja than a blunted kunai intended for purposes as dull as its edge. He hands the completed product off to Anko, who he knows has excellent aim for all the wrong reasons.
Anko unravels a good length of wire and hands the spool off to Daijimu and Tera, both of which hadn't said a word yet. She then takes the kunai in one hand and whirls it around by the wire. Kakashi, not at all surprised that she would choose the least professional and least accurate means of throwing a lined kunai, calmly pauses for a second and continues pacing with the group slightly behind Tera; who, it seemed, was confident enough in either Anko's skills to throw or his crotch to block to not toss up a single means of defense.
Anko swishes the blunted but still adequately dangerous grappling-hook of a thing around faster and faster, the ghosting wire appearing less like a string of tempered metal and more like the blades of a high-powered ceiling fan. Anko digs her feet down and releases: the kunai thunks straight down into the dirt in the most anticlimactic toss Kakashi has ever seen. It rests there, casually, mockingly. Anko sighs, hunkers down to grab the handle, and hands the kunai – blade first – to Kakashi, proclaiming:
Kakashi ganders up at the form majestically twirling through the air, an effervescent slipstream trailing behind and glowing in the sunlight like beads of frozen honey. He looks down at the kunai, dirty, dull, with sticky wire tied through the ring. Such interesting contrast, he thinks as he accepts her offer.
"Ya' gotta spin it though." Anko interrupts sagely as he rears back for his throw, "it's more fun that way."
Kakashi sighs and gestures to the civilians in their path to step aside for their own safety, a moment after taking the wire in his right hand and swishing it around lazily.
"Just to be clear, am I trying to go through her or over and loop around her."
"Good question." Anko replies, "dunno, old guy wasn't clear. Dealer's choice, I suppose."
Kakashi nods and goes back to his spinning. He takes a few moment, slowing to a stop and gauging the distance between them, the arc it will take, wind resistance and proper release timing. He considers pulling up his headband but dismisses the thought, as Anko would probably declare it cheating. He inhales… and exhales… and releases:
The kunai rockets forwards as if fired from a cannon; promptly bludgeoning through a nearby window in a shower of glass and into the relative darkness of the shop. A man hobbles out of the door shortly and begins raving at him from across the street while Anko snickers into her palm. Kakashi notes that if he had only released the wire a moment after, it would have looped straight over her. He reels back in the kunai and passes it off to Tera, who seems entirely uncertain of how to act with it in his grasp.
Anko will have none of that.
"Same rules, ya' gotta' spin it. Spin it like a dog's shit covered ass."
Tera heaves a great sigh, looking at Kakashi as if expecting the man to take a stand and grandly deplore her for being so rudely crass. Kakashi shrugs and gestures, as if saying, 'just do it.'
Tera looks over at Daijimu, who also shrugs. Tera sags, hands the spool to Daijimu and begins whishing it around, taking perhaps one half of a second to get a feel for the timing before releasing:
The kunai thwaps straight into Daijimu's foot. The woman goes perfectly still and glances down, along with everyone else in the group. Silence hangs over them, complete and utter silence. Tera weakly points at the supposedly dulled weapon, attempting to convey a shocked apology but the general interpretation of his gesture is 'there is a kunai in your foot, Daijimu.'
"There is a kunai in your foot, Daijimu." Kakashi offers, as if pointing out a landmark for a group of children.
"That thing is really in there." Anko comments objectively, helpful as ever as she crouches down to prod what shows of the handle with her index finger. She makes an assessment of the damage and glances up for a moment, her hand taking a solid grasp of the kunai as she says,
"I'm just gonna yank this bad-boy out." At this point, Daijimu's mouth opens behind her mask. Anko does not see her lips move to shape the words 'hold on a second,' and, in absence of wavering temperament she tugs.
The only indication of pain in Daijimu's body is a quick tremor in her fingers. Anko rises to her feet and holds out the kunai, offering it to her and ignoring the few drops of blood sliding off the blade.
"Your turn." She says, denying the existence of the pool of dark brown spreading near her feet.
Kakashi puts a hand over hers and says "you can go again, Anko." He covertly swishes a hand at Tera, the man seeing the implied request and tending to Daijimu as Anko begins twirling on once again. Kakashi pries the spool out of Daijimu's hands and shoo's her off.
"It's gonna work this time." She proclaims, for some reason breaking into a slight jog. The wire leaves her hand; the kunai rises up in a graceful curve, up over the airborne figure where it relaxes into gravity and loops around her once, twice, three times before momentum is lost and it swishes back and forth beneath like a pendulum. "Oh hells yeah!" Anko bellows, taking strong hold of the wire and giving a great tug:
The wire gives nothing, not a single inch and Anko lets out a startled noise as she is forcefully dragged along. Kakashi, wanting none of being dragged, releases the mostly unraveled spool of wire and pads alongside Anko as the woman is pulled through the dirt.
"Kakashi!" She shouts, "Help me out here!"
Kakashi, for his part, nods as if he understood her request and eyes the wire thoughtfully. He takes action, swiftly stomping a foot down on the wire trailing behind her.
"Goddammit Kakashi! Tie it to something!"
That was actually a pretty reasonable request, Kakashi notes, glancing around for a suitable anchoring point. He finds nothing.
"What's there to tie it to?" He asks, jogging for a moment to regain lost ground and continuing on with a lazy gait, not pointing out that her keeping hold of the wire wasn't accomplishing anything, and that letting go would neither speed nor slow the flying object's speed.
"There's a shitload of people watching this," Anko says hurriedly, "you might as well make them useful."
Kakashi sighs and ganders back at the crowd they'd gathered. It takes less than a moment to pick out his anchor.
"Oi, Chōza, can you help me out?" He knows Chōza the same way he knows Tera: that being, 'name' and 'general appearance.'
Akimichi Chōza appears startled for a moment but nods and plows his way through the gathering of bystanders.
"Kakashi… What are you up to, exactly?"
"Something ridiculous, I'm sure. Can I borrow you for a moment?"
Chōza nods again. Kakashi nods back, as though conveying a shared secret before taking up the spool of wire previously dragging along the ground and walking around the large man in a circle, ducking under the portion that grows slowly taut. He walks around twice more and ties the most elaborate knot he can think of.
"If you're tying a bow again I'm gonna fucking murder you!" Anko bellows from quite a distance. "Oh, right." Kakashi says, redoing it thoroughly.
He steps back a bit farther than necessary. "It will pull you pretty good," Kakashi comments, "be ready."
The Akimichi affirms with a third nod and crouches down, weight held solidly on his rear leg. Kakashi doubts a hurricane tossed tree could move the man.
The wire slowly goes taut:
"Fuck!" Anko shouts down the road, flat on her back and clutching at nothing.
"You wanna call it quits, Anko?" Kakashi calls to her, "I'm getting bored. And, I mean… we found her. Mission accomplished, technically."
"Fuck that and fuck you!"
"Look - you go get the old guy, tell him what's up: I'm getting her down!"
"Help me Kakashiiiiiii!"
Kakashi peers up through his fingers, observing the red and Anko-colored dot glowing in the distance. He turns to Sarutobi, who, as he finds, had has face buried in his hands – embarrassed or what, he isn't sure.
"… Sir?" He ventures, faintly concerned.
"How long would you say you left her unattended?" The Hokage asks, sounding mortified.
"Maybe a few minutes or so." Kakashi says honestly.
"A minute passes and this happens." The aged man sighs, "how did this happen, exactly?"
"Reportedly, she recruited Choza into throwing her… I don't know why."
"…And that… that red thing, that is the experiment?"
"More of a 'subject' than an experiment, but yes."
Sarutobi is at a loss for words. "What do we do?"
"I was hoping you would know, sir."
"… I… I can't deal with this right now." The god of shinobi says, "Anko is unharmed?"
Kakashi unveils his sharingan and spies upwards, "Far as I can tell."
"Then we wait it out."
"The… subject is bound to come down eventually. We cannot reach her safely or accurately and even if we could, from what you told me of your experience, if high-tensile strength wire is not enough than there is little we can do but wait."
"That makes sense… I guess…" he cups his mouth and bellows "sit tight, Anko!" at slightly louder than his normal speaking voice. Defying all logic his words travel the mile or so to her.
"Help me Kakashi!" Anko shouts, holding to the other girl a bit tighter. The wind eats at her words and the low air pressure makes her head spin, but she has strength enough to mesh their legs and swear at herself violently. She notes that, 'tackling' was not her best idea, and that, should the opportunity arise again in the future, she would bail before exceeding safe landing distances.
Anko goes through several lazy spins as the girl flips through the air, her stomach churns but she is made of tougher things than motion sickness, and fear of plummeting to her untimely death or not (and if possible, she will be adding another tally to her 'times I defied death by an asshair chart') the sight is gorgeous enough to pull at what little air remains in her lungs. She feels substantial, looking down at the forest-green of Konoha; and also lightheaded.
"Sit tight, Anko." She hears vaguely, and knows in her chest that she has just been screwed over. Anko resists the urge to sigh because the more air in her, the better. She wonders what she can do in her situation.
A moment passes: Anko waits until the girl is flat in her rotation, parallel with the ground, and loosens her grip just enough to get a glance –
The girl is sleeping, peacefully.
Conclusion: wake her the hell up.
Reservation: waking her the hell up may result in red death popping off her skull.
Taken Action: stare at her breasts; wonder how they can be so perfect. Become annoyed, slap one of them. Shake out hand, examine for breaks.
Conclusion: girl is heavy sleeper. Breasts are super awesome, also very resilient.
Reservation: want food. Wonder if there is dango in hell. Irrelevant, if there is no dango in hell start mass riot until there is dango in hell.
Taken Action: focus on problem at hand.
Anko scoots upwards once they are in the flat portion of rotating. She looks long and hard at the relaxed face, and when she feels comfortable with it, takes one hand and shakes the girls head gently. Then not so gently. Then borderline homicidally.
The girl cracks an eye – red death, like a slit throat centered in her retina – she sees the clouds. Amazement, bewilderment, joy, a flurry of emotions pass over her face and the other eye cracks open as well. Anko would interject but they have stopped spinning and she does not want to press her luck. The girl blinks and yawns, stretching her arms over her head and brushing the clouds with her fingertips. She notices Anko, finally.
"… Hello." Says Anko, as though she wasn't wrapped around the girl's waist.
Red death blinks but says nothing.
"Look, can you take me down, or something?" Anko tries, keeping the desperation out of her voice.
Anko once tried hot sauce on dango. It was not her intention. It was no one's intention. It was a bottle mix-up, because her sugar-syrup bottle happened to look the same, but she didn't consider it an 'oops' or 'bad luck,' it was her fault, her mistake. Anko knows mistakes very well, she was born by mistake, raised by a mistake, and will likely die by mistake and she knows it. She knows she has made mistakes, she will make mistakes and if she ever begins to regret them she will lose herself, so she never will. But the words that leave her mouth, 'can you take me down, or something?' she regrets.
Her stomach jumps into her throat and they drop, spinning and flipping and plummeting through the air because they are not one bit aerodynamic. Anko shouts 'slowly! Slowly!" but they had built speed too fast, the air screaming by sucks the words right out of her lungs and she only hears them in her mind. Ground approaches, slow and fast, the curvature once laid bare in the clouds draws closed like a jaw twenty thousand miles wide. She doesn't scream, and though her air-dried eyes water she doesn't cry because she will meet death standing, resolute. She is not afraid.
Clarity, she sees her apartment, sees her futon hanging over the banister, sees a crowd gathered in attendance of her grand splatter. Anko hopes that at the very least she will splash the children.
Pause – they slow, no arresting of momentum to let her know; it is the sensation of standing on her own two feet – even though her eyes were open the comprehension returns slowly. Anko shakes the cobwebs in her head, looks at the sleeping girl in her arms and realizes that some things are more trouble than they're worth.
Anko drops down from the sky like a brown and boobalicious meteor, Subject 14 landing feet first with enough force to create a shockwave that shatters every window within twenty feet; the girl plops Anko down, immediately falling asleep and leaving the woman standing there, dazed and confused and annoyed at the amount of people staring at her.
"Hi Anko." Kakashi offers offhandedly, brushing off his vest, nonchalant as always.
"Yo Kakashi." Anko shoots back, enough presence of mind to raise a hand in greeting. "Oh, and hey old guy."
"Anko," the god of shinobi returns flatly, a thin sheen of dirt covering him head to toe, "come with me. Now."
"Like, right now?"
"Right now." He says, starting off towered the Hokage tower in the distance. Anko sighs and follows after him, hoisting the unconscious Subject 14 up with an arm over her shoulder, Kakashi appears, from somewhere, to toss a blanket he'd gotten from god knows where over the sleeping form to preserve whatever semblance of modesty he knew he was obliged to. Anko thanks him - sort of but not sincerely - and he (unnecessarily) takes the other arm over his shoulder, loudly proclaiming himself a good samaritan while getting a good dosage of side boob. Anko, now traveling at roughly two miles an hour sighs and spends the next fifteen minutes of unbalanced hobbling trying to covertly trip Kakashi with her right foot. She is largely unsuccessful.
They soon pass by a spot of bloody dirt, a broken window, an angry shopkeeper and a kunai sized hole in the ground. With the red tower looming overhead. Anko turns to Kakashi and says: "I can take it from here."
Kakashi, probably looking forward to the stairwell, pauses and sends her a long hard glance.
"...I'm sorry, what?
Anko frowns. "Kakashi, stop doing what you're doing."
"I - I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention… What were you sayi-"
Anko plants a foot in his side and pries him off, maneuvering the girl into a stable position and starting into the tower.
"Uncalled for." Kakashi calls out, staring after her, then down at his hands and sighing. He pads after her with a resigned expression.
Two thirds of the way up the stairwell:
"Where's the girl?"
Anko cranks her head down thirty degrees and looks at the empty blanket in her hand. "Wow. Really?"
"Did you seriously not notice that?" Kakashi asks as he takes the last few stairs to her and leans on the bannister at his side.
"Nope, not really. You?"
"Yeah," He says, nodding absently, "A minute ago she… poofed…" He makes a vague gesture with his hands that Anko doesn't understand.
"What do you mean poofed – waitafuckingminute- you knew a minute ago and didn't tell me?"
Kakashi shakes his head back and forth morbidly and swipes a hand across his crotch.
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"Alright, calm down, calm down." He says soothingly, "she's right up there, see?" Kakashi points up and Anko follows his finger, spying the girl floating a few stories up in the empty space of the center of the stairwell.
"… Oh… well, cool. I guess. Let's go get her." Anko starts up the stairs again and Kakashi lags behind long enough to ask:
"You wanna' do the wire thing again?"
"No." Anko says halfheartedly, Kakashi nodding to himself and starting after her.
"How do you think she's doing that?" She asks a few moment later, tone of idle curiosity. He shrugs one shoulder and yawns.
They continue up the stairwell, Anko halfassing smalltalk and Kakashi giving equally poor responses until they reach the floating girl's level, an arm's reach apart.
"I just realized, how are we gonna stop her?" Anko asks, understandably hesitant.
"You could jump on ag-"
"...You could molest her, sexually. That would be fun to watch."
"Just… Shut up, Kakashi." Anko flaps a hand at him and jumps up a few stairs to keep up with the subject. "If you don't have non-retarded suggestions then don't say anything."
Kakashi is silent. Anko continues padding up the stairs at a leisurely pace, considering a way to make the girl stop floating off without her consent. She glances up, sighing as she notes that the top of the stairwell is only a few stories away.
"Fuck it." She proclaims, shaking out her arms and hopping from foot to foot. "I'm just gonna' tackle her again."
"Cool." Says Kakashi, stepping back and allowing her enough room to take a halfstep and leap into the center of the stairwell, curling around the girl's waist bonelessly, the force of her leap enough to make the girl drift back a few feet, but continue upwards lazily.
"Try kissing her." Kakashi calls out, helpful as ever. Anko releases one hand long enough to flash him a finger, immediately curling it around the other girl as they jarringly rebound off of the far wall. She maneuvers underneath and tugs down as best she can, knees pinging off of a banister and sending them careening away.
"Not even going to buy her dinner?"
"Goddamnit Kakashi, shut the hell up!" The girl begins to spin and Anko clamps down on her waist once again. Kakashi hops up a few stairs at a time until level with her. Anko then realizes she's an idiot, presses herself close enough to hold with her legs, and lifts a hand to shake the girl's head.
"Oooi. Wake up." They continue to rise, catching underneath the second to last segment of stairs. "Wake uuuup."
The sound of groaning metal echoes down the stairwell, then a moment later the staircase buckles from underneath, unzipping itself from the wall with a series of harsh snaps strong enough to make the entire stairwell rumble.
"Well that's not very good." Kakashi comments.
A beat passes: the girl continues up though the metal holds fast; twisted over her and a "fuck!" shouting Anko like a metal blanket. It is pulled along with them, slowly tearing the stairs from the wall all the way down the building. Kakashi reacts a moment before being tossed down the stairwell, leaping to them and taking hold of Anko's ankle as his footing pulls loose and hovers below them like a massive slinky.
"Shut the fuck up Kakashi!"
They reach the ceiling, a moment of silence hangs before it caves to rubble and spits them out of the top of the Hokage tower, pulling the staircase behind them. Anko, in the center of the leading mass of metal, has not stopped cursing and vigorously trying to shake Kakashi off of her leg. Kakashi casually avoids her kicking and pulls an orange book from his front pocket with a free hand.
"This is sort of awesome." Kakashi observes over the wind, glancing down at the landscape over his book, splayed out far below in splashes of green and brown and one mass of bulbous red. He swings back and forth for a moment; launching himself forwards enough to take hold of the nearby banister and sit on the hanging staircase casually, as though it weren't twirling through the air like a levitating drill.
"I can see my apartment from here…" He points out, raising his book-hand to wave at it softly for a moment. A boot pings off the back of his head and he cranes his neck around to take a look. He can see most of Anko's scowling face through the crumpled metal surrounding her.
"What?" He asks innocently.
"Maa, you're the one who told me to keep my suggestions to myself."
"Because they were stupid." She growls.
"… Have you tried groping her?"
Kakashi shrugs helplessly and turns back to his book, flipping the page with the thumb of his rail-grabbing hand. A second boot flies over his shoulder and he waves at it as it plummets down to the ground.
"Damnit Kakashi, do something!"
"… Hm?" He grunts, sliding his headband up for a moment and sighing as his covered eye gets some much needed air. He looks down at the landscape once again, noting that it was getting… bigger, at a fair rate.
"Anko?" He calls out.
"You should hurry up."
The Sandaime Hokage flips the sheet in his hand and checks it over once more, nodding to himself and placing it in the 'out' bin. He dips his pen again and pulls another paper from the 'in' pile. He notes that timely prudence is not one of Anko's most prominent characteristics and that he should have known better than to leave her to her own devices. He wonders, still, how she could manage to possibly screw up escorting an unconscious minor to his office.
In his years he has seen many things: most of them bad. Most of them jarring and horrible in their time but with his experience, as the former and arguably current god of shinobi there is little capable of surprising him. He has sent good men and women to their deaths, seen a good friend die and a cruel opponent fall, his grandson smile and his daughter laugh. blood and tears and pale lips stretched wide: but he has not seen a staircase bludgeon through the honeycombed window across from him, and he believes that he can be excused for the surprised sound that leaves his lips. He leaps to the side well before danger, plenty of time for him to stand back and watch the column of spiraling metal shatter its way through the glass and carve through his office, ceiling to floor. He can leisurely watch Kakashi step off of the staircase and onto the remaining portion of his floor, so casually and smoothly it is as though flying staircases were his chief method of transportation. He can very easily hear Anko curse herself hoarse well after the metal monstrosity grinds to a stop.
"Yo." Kakashi waves.
Anko flops down out of the crumpled metal, cracks over a section of stairs and lands on her chest, what he assumes to be the subject beneath her. She turns her head up and flashes a hand in greeting. "'Sup old guy."
Sarutobi isn't quite sure what the bubbling in his gut indicates. He works his jaw from side to side, tongue lashing over the insides of his teeth as if forming angry, angry words not meant for him to speak. He observes the carnage that was once his office: what can only be a stairwell lying on its side, his window gone, his ceiling: mostly gone, his floor: Kakashi hops a bit closer as another chunk peels away. He can vaguely hear frenzied words from the story beneath.
"Why?" He speaks, finally.
Anko rises to her feet, climbs out of the wreckage and glances over at him just long enough to catch his eye once. She averts her gaze immediately and holds out the naked teen like a shield.
"I uh – I brought her. See?"
The reigning Hokage opens his mouth and gestures dazedly for one, two, three seconds and buries his face in his palms. He hides his eyes for five seconds more and when he raises his head he looks decidedly more lucid.
"I can see that."
"Are you going to kill me?"
"A valid question." Sarutobi replies genially, pausing in silent contemplation for slightly longer than Anko is comfortable with. "No. No, I'm not going to kill you."
"… So you brought her."
"Yeah." Anko glances down and promptly covers the girls modesty as best she can. "I brought her."
"And Iiiii helped." Kakashi chimes from his recline against the stable portion of the wall. He pockets the kunai Anko tries to kill him with.
"Alright. Alrightalrightalright. Anko."
She snaps to attention, correctly for once: the girl once held stable falls forwards onto her face and he doesn't sigh.
"That is her." He points at the nude form on the remains of his floor.
"Yep." She nods, crouching down to help the girl to her feet.
"The unstable experimental bloodline subject Ibiki informed me of?"
"The very same."
"Why is she naked."
"Found 'er like that."
"Why is she still naked?"
"I've been sort of… Busy…"
"Whatever. Being that my office is no longer… an office… " He grimaces for a moment. "Take her to interrogation. Isolation room six. now."
He glances up from his book. "…I'm sorry, what?"
"Get out of my office."
Kakashi gets out of his office.
The Sandaime waits until his and Anko's footsteps fade into nothing. "Tora, Ushi; you alive?... Hello?"
Anko and Kakashi walk out of the remains of Sarutobi's office and continue down the hall, and pause at the entrance to the stairwell.
"Now what?" Anko asks, not really expecting an answer.
"… We jump down, I suppose." Kakashi responds, sounding in that moment as though he actually gave two shits about the world around him. Anko nods to herself absently, working the unconscious and still naked girl into a better grip, kicking open the door and hopping down the stairwell. Kakashi waits two beats and pads forwards enough to peer down into the darkness.
"There's another set of stairs, Anko!" He cups his mouth and calls down into the infrastructure, noting the startled fluttering as a bird settled on the brim of the roof-hole takes off in surprise.
"Fuck you Kakashiiiiii." He hears though only barely.
Anko sets the girl on a cot in the corner and swats the marker out of Kakashi's hand, taking another moment to pull the sheets up to her neck and pat herself on the back.
"Two birds one stone." She proclaims proudly.
"Two breasts one sheet." Kakashi amends softly, flipping the page of the book in his hand.
"Whatever." Anko says, hands on her hips as she glances around the isolation room and nods to herself. "Point is, we got her here safe and sound, no more problems."
"No more problems."
A soft groan emanates from the cot and Anko bolts from the room, slamming the door behind her and locking it out of reflex. She takes a moment to control her breathing and straightens to peer through the viewing port. Kakashi stares through the other end blandly, expression as if he were at that moment thinking 'wow, really?'
"You weren't there Kakashi." Anko justifies hotly. Kakashi shrugs with his hands and points at his ears.
"What? Oh, right. Soundproof… soundproof…" She holds her hands in view and points at him, then crosses them, then fumbles trying to figure out how one would mime 'there.' She settles for pointing emphatically behind her. Kakashi is decidedly unimpressed, he stuffs his book under an armpit, raises his hands, makes a circle with his thumb and index and thrusts a finger through it.
Anko snorts before she can control herself and promptly glares at him.
"What the hell are you doing?" A voice asks conversationally. Anko starts violently and cranes her neck around to see none other than the Hokage standing there, disappointed. She turns back to Kakashi as if expecting him to back her up verbally only to find him looking on stupidly, still making lewd hand gestures through the window.
"Did you lock Kakashi in with the experiment?"
"No." Anko replies, slapping the glass in the hopes that he would stop, "well, maybe."
"Just get him out of there." He replies, walking away to the observation deck. Anko waits until he rounds the corner and turns to the door, seriously considering pressing the panic button to her left and gassing the shit out of the room. The moment passes, however, and Anko unlocks the door and lets a droll Kakashi exit before closing it again.
"She's gone, by the way." Kakashi says. Anko immediately presses her face to the viewing window and sees the girl asleep not ten feet away.
"No she's not." Anko declares, annoyed.
Kakashi doesn't look the least bit perturbed. "… Hm? Oh… oops."
"Don't you have somewhere to be?" She growls, starting down the hall with him trailing behind.
"No. Not really." He says innocently, noting silently to himself that she still needed a new pair of boots. "I'm on medical leave or something."
"I don't know." He offers carelessly, "I'm off duty, but I can't remember why… probably nothing important."
Anko nods, noting to herself that anything involving Kakashi was probably unimportant. She opens the door to the observation deck and shuts the door after he enters. Sarutobi stands with Ibiki at his side, peering at one of the many screens lining the wall. After a few moments of silence she clears her throat.
"I know you're there, Anko. And Kakashi," He says, glancing over at the man, "you were supposed to meet your genin team three hours ago."
Kakashi looks up and to the left for a moment. "… Oh, right."
Sarutobi keeps on staring expectantly until it becomes apparent that Kakashi is not going anywhere. "Go get your genin team, Kakashi."
"… I'm sorry, what?"
"Fine, fine…" He sighs forlornly and shuffles out, softly closing the door behind him.
"Ibiki, make sure he's not just standing outside."
"Explain how you found her."
She does. Sarutobi stands a bit closer to the screen on the wall, as if proximity would increase proportionally with picture quality. He squints and frowns. "Is she asleep?"
Anko peers over his shoulder. The camera shows a mostly empty room with a form nestled into the cot in the corner. "Probably."
He nods and mutters something unintelligible to himself. "You are dismissed."
"Cool." She says, snapping off a quick salute and exiting the room.
Sarutobi waits a minute or so and exits as well, turning right and padding down the corridor to the isolation room. He reaches it, unlocks the door and steps inside. A weight settles in his chest, filling up his ribcage and making his feet heavy. His eyes shine and he blinks it away, shoes clacking against the floor as he pulls a chair to her bedside. His bones creak as he reclines down, resting his hands on his knees and leaning forwards in his seat. A weathered hand reaches out and pulls down the sheets just enough to see her face.
He sees her jawline with three soft lines on each cheek, he sees her golden blond hair… He sees enough.
"Can it be you, Naruto?" He mutters to himself, denying the hind of hope lacing his voice. He shakes her shoulder gently.
The girl shudders and her eyes open, lashes fluttering over deep blue as they adjust to the fluorescent light. A groan fills the silent air, and she glances over at him.
"Hello." He says, pausing and continuing without interruption. "My name is Sarutobi Hiruzen… What is your name?"
She blinks, an air of grogginess settling down. "Fourteen."
Sarutobi crushes the anger from his reply. "Fourteen... Can you tell me how old you are?"
She blinks slowly and shakes her head back and forth. A thing called guilt builds behind his eyes.
"That's alright," he says consolingly, "that's alright." There is no other way to phrase it and he is short for time. "Could you show me your stomach?"
She sits up, hair sliding over her shoulder as she props herself against the wall and drops the sheet with no hesitation. Sarutobi reaches out slowly and flattens his hand on her navel, channeling chakra out through his fingertips. What flares to life is not Minato's seal. The flesh of her stomach glows deep red from within, and his hand burns as if thrust in an open flame. He recoils slowly as to not spook her, hiding his smoking palm behind his back and forcing a smile.
"Alright… you can… cover up." She doesn't and he continues on anyways. "I will be back for you tomorrow, and I'll take you out of this place. I'll have someone look after you until then…"
He stands and returns the chair to the desk in the middle of the room, exiting without another glance in her direction. Once outside he locks the door and presses his head against the metal.
"I found you, Naruto… I finally found you…"
Anko is the type of person that enjoys watching cream slowly diffuse into coffee as she teases the surface with a spoon, and, sitting in a chair for then until the near future she has time and coffee and cream and a spoon, and there are precious little things she values more than ordered down-time. She pours the cream a drop at a time and holds the cup under her nose, eyes fogging up as off-white clouds whirl the liquid light brown. A small grin quirks her lips and she places the coffee on the table before her, because there are precious little things Anko hates more than the taste of coffee.
Her eyes quirk up, noting that the girl is still asleep soundly and peacefully and still naked. She wonders where the set of clothing she asked for is as she stands and straightens the sheets that the girl had tousled in her dreams.
"Just so you know, the old guy asked me to keep an eye on you until tomorrow." She says with no small bit of pride, "probably because I'm so awesome."
"He doesn't trust you to keep out of trouble." Buzzes over the intercom and Anko flashes a finger at the camera in the top corner of the room.
"Not only are you full of shit," Anko retorts, padding over, rising on her toes and placing her mouth three inches from the microphone, "where the hell are those clothes I asked for?"
"You didn't ask for clothes, you asked for coffee."
"I asked for clothes too!" She says quickly, rattling the camera for emphasis.
"… Ah, really? I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't listening... It gets pretty dull in here."
"What the- Kakashi? Is that you?"
"… No." the intercom denies lamely.
"What the hell? I thought you had that genin team thing." Anko rattles hotly, lifting herself up by the camera and pressing her left eye to the lens.
"I sent a Kage Bunshin."
"You lazy prick." She says with a scowl, "you know what I'd do for a genin team?"
"Softcore porn?" He offers.
"That the one with no sex?"
"The very same."
"Hmm…" Anko drops down from the camera and tilts her head from side to side for a moment. "Yeah. Yeah I would."
"Now get me a set of clothes, dango, sake, and a more comfortable chair."
"There's a bed right there." The intercom replies, "That looks pretty comfortable."
"I'll share my team with you."
"No! Maybe! You get permission first, we'll talk."
[::Time elapsed: 2 hours::]
"Hey Kakashi, what time is it?" Anko asks the camera, eight empty skewers laying on the right of the table and three boxes of dango on the left. Three bottles of Sake in the middle and an empty bottle shattered in the far corner.
"… half passed." He replies after a moment pause.
"Half passed what?"
"You're telling me it's three in the afternoon?"
"Half passed three in the afternoon, yes."
"Bullshit!" Anko says, smacking a bottle on the table for emphasis. "there's a clock right behind you, just read the damn thing!"
"Maa… six forty-seven."
Anko sighs and bites another mouthful of dango. "twenty-two hours to go… yay."
"You know what could pass the time?"
"I swear to god, Kakashi." She growls, "you make another sex joke and I will kill you in your sleep!"
"I was going to suggest a card game." The intercom replies, sounding hurt, "but now you can just forget it miss grumpypants."
[::Time elapsed: 4 hours::]
Kakashi flips the page and sags deeper into the rolling chair, heaving a burdened sigh, as though it pained his very essence to spend his time doing nothing but sitting and reading. The pile of books on the counter underneath the wall of screens calls to him, but he is resolute, and will read the book in his hand front to back before taking the next in the series.
He pulls a cup of something, probably water since he found it in the observation deck and it is a serious offense to watch dangerous criminals while drunk, and brings it to his lips, not taking his eyes off the text in his other hand. The mystery liquid enters his lips and his first and only thought is what the fuck is this as he reflexively gags and spews the stuff back out in a harsh spray, dumping the rest down his shirt in the process and -against his will- squawking loudly. Kakashi then does what he always does in those types of situations: he pretends it was on purpose.
"That feels better." He proclaims grandly, as if the liquid wasn't burning the shit out of his chest, "it was pretty toasty in here." He then returns to his reading.
[::Time elapsed: 7 hours::]
"Oi, Kakashi. You still there?"
Anko sighs and downs another gulp of sake, noting to herself that Kakashi was the type of person to avoid a menial task out of principal by occupying himself with even menialier tasks.
"I am seriously so bored right now I could… I could uh…" She tilts her head down, grimaces, and belches loudly, "I'm too drunk to think of anything."
"… You could make out." Kakashi suggests distractedly, the sound of him flipping a page passing through the intercom as well.
"I guess that counts." Anko agrees dully, "it'd be more fun at least."
"You know how to treat chemical burns?"
[::Time elapsed: 12 hours::]
"She's been sleeping like - for like, all day. I'm – I'm like… should I be concerned?" Anko scratches her head stupidly.
"I don't know." The intercom says, "check her pulse or something."
Anko presses a hand to the girl's neck, readjusting her two fingers several times. She then freezes for a few seconds and shouts "Ohshitohshitohshit there's no pulse! There's no pulse!"
"Is she warm?"
"Uh – yeah, yeah she's still warm! Does that help?"
"Well, if she's warm you can still-"
Anko's hands shake, "Not the time for sex jokes Kakashi!"
"Maa... Do CPR or something, I don't know… "
Anko, still with shaky hands, positions the girl on her back, straddles her waist and presses down hard where her sternum curves. The girl's torso heaves up with Anko's efforts and on Anko's third compression the girl's mouth opens, saliva leaves her mouth along with air and sprays dead center on Anko's left retina. Anko, a giant bundle of nerves and demotions, shrieks like the little girl that she never was and falls off the cot sideways, rolling around and screaming "She spit in my fucking eye! She spit in my eye!"
"Maa…" Kakashi says, as though he were offering sage advice. Anko spasms and knocks over the table with her foot, sending dango, alcohol, and a cup of ice cold coffee all over the floor.
"Why does it burn!" Anko bellows, hands over her eyes as though a rabid animal were clawing at her face, and her hands were the only thing between great slashes marring her perfect skin.
"I'm sure it doesn't, Anko." Says Kakashi as though she were a child woken from a nightmare, no doubt still sitting in his chair reading sedately, "you're just scared because she died on your watch and Hokage will probably kill you."
"Don't say that!" Anko says painfully, sitting up and ignoring the various floor-liquids seeping into her skirt and shorts, a hand still over her eye. "She can't be dead!" She stands quickly and jittery and paces over to the girl, grabbing her by the shoulders and lifting her to the camera. "She looks so goddamn alive!" And the girl does, skin flushed and warm and soft… very soft. It sort of pisses her off.
Anko shakes her a bit for emphasis. "Help me goddamnit! I don't know what to do!"
"Mnn…" the girl groans, and Anko, registering the noise a moment later, collapses, stumbling back with the last of her strength and landing on the cot in the corner. Her heart pounds in her chest still, heaving itself raw and barely slowing. Anko blows out a breath through her lips and cracks her head against the wall, holding her potential demotion close to her chest as though afraid the girl would vanish. A few minutes pass and Anko, though still weak, has strength enough to speak again. "Oi." She says softly, cupping the girls cheek pressing her close, "wake up... wake up so I can murder you."
The girl sighs out, the breath tingling across Anko's skin. She blinks awake and she glances up, eyes the bluest Anko has ever seen and still bleary from sleep.
"You alive?" Anko asks unnecessarily, feeling a wave of exhaustion wash over her. The girl blinks twice, eyelids drawing closer each blink until she peers out through a crack. "Nn."
"Good. Good." Anko says, nodding and pressing the girls face into her chest and resting her chin on her head. "You scared the shit out of me." Anko presses her hand to the girls neck, noting that there was still no pulse to be found. The girl is alive enough, though, and nuzzles into her for a moment before drifting off. Anko is very confused.
"This is nice." Kakashi comments, "warm and fuzzy, even... Try stroking her hair a little."
Anko looks up with a beaming smile and quietly responds, "You're a dead man, Kakashi."
[::Time elapsed: 16 hours::]
"Oh the hell 'miss' you cheating sonovabitch!"
[::Time elapsed: 19 hours::]
"Hey, Kakashi." Anko says drowsily, standing from her chair and plopping down on the cot. "I'm goin' to bed… turn off the light would you?"
"… Hm? Oh, sure."
An ear piercing screech sounds off in her cell, accompanied by noxious looking smoke pouring in through the vent in the ceiling. Anko claps both hands over her ears and bellows "turnitoffturnitoff!" because she has seen what the gas does.
"My bad." Comes over the intercom at ten times its previous sound level. The light overhead starts flashing on and off disorientingly as well. Anko chokes on her breath and stumbles to the door, trying the handle for a moment and screaming "Oh - fuck!... Un-" cough "-Unlock the door!" The room spins and she falls on her knees, a one-way flow of air establishing in her lungs as she empties them further and further with each retch and despite her attempts they don't refill again. Her eyes water and her nostrils burn. A hand snags her by the scruff of her trench coat and drags her out, a metallic slam signaling the door behind her.
She blinks; and she's on her back, Kakashi looking down at her sheepishly as though he hadn't almost killed her.
"Sorry 'bout that." He offers, hands up in the universal sign of 'hold on,' "I don't really know what the buttons do, so…"
Anko rasps for a moment and adopts a murderous expression but doesn't say much. He offers her the pump he used to inflate her lungs and she takes it quickly. Kakashi stands and leans against the wall across from the door, no noise or fumes escaping but, judging by the viewing port, it was loud and wheezy in there.
Anko spends a minute or so cleaning out her lungs and stands sluggishly, resting her back against the same wall and slapping him across the face with what energy she can spare. Not much energy, as it turns out, because her slap is less of a slap and more of a fond caress.
"She's still in there, by the way." Kakashi comments after a minute of Anko's labored breathing.
Anko cranks her head over at him mechanically. "You… left… her in… there?"
"Yeah." He responds dully, "It was pretty nasty in there."
"You left her in there?"
"I don't like holding my breath." He offers weakly.
Anko staggers off down the hall, Kakashi appearing from nowhere to catch her when she falls and helping her to the observation deck. Anko flips off two switches, smacks the 'all clear' button and activates the ventilation. Kakashi hobbles her back to the room and opens it for her. They find the girl soundly asleep.
"Wow. really?" Kakashi mutters. Anko is inclined to agree with him, but she is tired and pissed but mostly tired.
"Toss me on the bed." She says breathlessly, and he does. "She okay?"
He checks. "Probably."
Anko nods. "Good. Third down from the top, white switch, says 'lights' underneath."
Kakashi nods though she can't see him.
"You screw up again and I'll haunt you forever."
"Sure, sure. Nightie night." Kakashi closes the door behind him and twenty seconds later the lights flicker out and Anko falls dead asleep.
Sarutobi prepares for the worst.
"Naruto Uzumaki was found today at roughly 09:10."
His council says nothing. Shikaku, half-asleep at the middle of the table, shakes his head a bit and asks what everyone is wondering. "Who?"
The Hokage sighs. "The Kyuubi vessel."
Danzo, also drifting off at the other end of the table, sits straighter along with a few others. "The vessel has been missing for over ten years, Hiruzen. Why and where did she suddenly… turn up?" He asks, resting the non-bandaged half of his face on an open palm.
"She was found in another of my wayward student's labs. Out in the southern forest, past the barrier limits."
"So the snake was the one who got a hold of our jinchuuriki, eh?" Danzo muses, seeming introspective but Sarutobi knows the man just loves bringing up his mistakes. "It isn't like him to get sloppy, though."
Sarutobi reads the obvious question and shakes his head, "It was not through Orochimaru's actions that the base was discovered. The barrier picked up an unusual chakra signature, strong enough to get a bead on the location. I sent a group to investigate, they discovered the entrance." He pauses for a moment, "Consider, what could Orochimaru gain from losing Naruto? If she was a threat to his facilities, peace of mind at most, but even then he has dabbled in more dangerous things."
The council goes silent for a moment. "Unusual chakra signature…" Shikaku mutters, just like him to focus on the most damning evidence. He breathes in deep and straightens in his chair as well. "Don't like the sound of that."
"Shikaku raises a valid point, Hiruzen." Danzo says with little hesitation, evidently wondering the same thing, "care to elaborate?"
"A trace of demonic chakra-" he frowns at the sudden humming parallel conversation and continues with a slightly raised voice, "contacted the southern hemisphere, just a faint pulse, not strong enough to cause any damage before anyone becomes faint." He focuses on the mandatory civilian representative at the other end of the table for a moment, the man slightly pale, "The exact coordinates are on the barrier team's official report, but I doubt they are all too relevant."
"So the vessel is responsible for the discovery of the base and by extension itself." Danzo replies down his nose. Tsume, about to speak, shuts her mouth with an audible click. "You don't find that… suspicious?"
"You do not know Orochimaru as I do, Danzo." Sarutobi replies harshly, "he would not purposefully relinquish…" though it pains him to phrase at is he does he knows the words are true, "he would not relinquish a weapon with such power, not for some internal attack like you no doubt are considering, no matter the damage Naruto could potentially cause, he would not risk her being compromised, not still on the run as he is."
"You misunderstand." Says Danzo, the corner of his mouth quirked up though it fades quickly, "I doubt she was found with ulterior motives in mind, that is not my concern. I only wonder, what if the vessel rebelled out of his control? Razed his facility to the ground as it were, where would that leave us? With a potential Kyuubi unleashed right in the middle of our village?"
"This isn't a pissing contest." Tsume finally snaps at the man, sharp teeth poking past her lips, "we all have somewhere to be, you got something to say, say in and save your petty bullshit for someone willing to listen." She turns to Sarutobi who tries not to smile. "Out with it, why did you call us here?"
"…What I'm sure Tsume means," the Hokage replies softly, "is that your concerns are valid - but believe it or not I have some experience in the matter. I inspected the vessel myself. She is inert." He says, solid and knowing on the inside that he could not be more wrong, but he is allowed to defend the little girl he remembers from all those years ago on her behalf. "Not a threat. Jiraiya is on his way to confirm my diagnosis, Inoichi is performing an examination tomorrow, you needn't worry yourself about your safety. And," He continues as he glances over at silently fuming Tsume, "the reason I called you all here is because I wish to reinstate Naruto as a citizen, or place her in a genin team if she so desires since she was declared legally dead five years back. Given her situation this action requires majority consent so, do you so consent?" He pauses, partly for said consent but mostly for breath.
Danzo very much consents. "Be certain that old feelings aren't clouding your judgment, Hiruzen." He says knowingly, seeming absorbed with the way he rattles his own fingernails against the table. "Are you sure this course of action is wise? The vessel has been with that snake for, what, ten years now? and you want to just, take her back? Have her mingle with the population? I know you were fond of her-"
"What did I tell you about petty bullshit." Tsume growls and he holds his hand up passively. She takes a deep breath and turns to the Hokage who just can't help but smile. "I trust your decision, Sarutobi." She faces the rest of the council, "Who else consents?"
"Aye." The ninja portion of the council sounds unanimously, the civilian representative chimes in after a moment's hesitation. "Aye."
Sarutobi nods. "You are dismissed."
"Anko. Wake up."
Anko groans and swats at the air uselessly, burying her face deeper into the futon. She hopes that she is in some sort of alternate dimension where people let her sleep for five more minutes.
"You aren't supposed to be sleeping in the first place, Anko. And why is she still naked?"
"M'tired… an…sllz..." Anko almost falls back asleep but for the sudden hand on her shoulder.
"In case you were wondering this is the Hokage speaking. You know, your boss? You're making me look bad in front of my minions."
"Uuun… Fine… Fine… M'up." Anko is sort of up. Her eyes won't open more than halfway but she still props herself against the wall long enough to slide into the offered chair.
"So this is Naruto, huh?" A new voice says. "How old's she supposed to be, exactly?" Anko glances over but all she sees is a fuzzy stick-shaped thing with yellow on top.
"Dango… " She enunciates slowly, almost fearfully and blinking a bit, "Have you gained human form?"
Sarutobi pauses and glances over at her long enough to ask "Anko, are you feeling alright?"
"…No. No I'm not." She slurs, nodding to herself, "An' it's all Kakashi's fault. I wanna make a complaint. Kakashi was entirely less than helpful yesterday."
"He in that rebellious phase again?" The new voice asks though sounding as though they already knew the answer.
"Yeah." Sarutobi says with no small bit of disappointment. "Every year I assign him a genin team, and he shirks duty and generally makes an ass of himself to everyone around him until I force him to meet them… And to answer your question, Inoichi, Naruto turns fourteen this year."
"… Huh… I was not expecting that answer… Well whatever, let's get to work."
The tall yellow-topped blob slides over to the bed and weird blob things shoot out of its sides. Anko shakes herself a bit and peels her eyes open with her fingers.
"Oh. Hey Inoichi. It that time of the year again?"
"Anko…" He says, turning back to flash a barely sincere smile, "always a pleasure. And no, I'm not here for you." He turns to Sarutobi who stands near the door. "You want a full dive or just a basic?"
"If you think you can risk it a dive, if not just a basic."
"Basic it is, then."
"Pansy." Anko chortles into her hand weakly.
Inoichi shakes out his hands for a moment, raising them to his forehead and inhaling, and on the exhale he lowers them, gently placing a hand over sleeping Naruto's head. He frowns not a moment later, the expression switching to confused to disturbed and back to annoyed. A minute of silence passes before Inoichi pulls his hand back and grimaces.
"I uh… I'm not really sure how to say this." He turns around and faces a grim Sarutobi. "Naruto doesn't have a brain."
"… What did you just say?" Sarutobi mutters with a very perturbed scowl. "I thought I heard you say Naruto has no brain - could you kindly reiterate for me?"
"Yeah I'm pretty confused too." Anko adds.
"I suppose I didn't phrase that as well as I should have…" Inoichi admits, mulling it over in his head for a bit, "Naruto has no 'mind' in the sense that I am familiar with. I didn't find any thoughts, any memories… feelings." He pauses in silent contemplation for another long moment. "She isn't 'braindead' because if she was I'd still find a blank slate – it's the difference between a blank piece of paper and no paper at all. There's nothing in this skull of hers. Just nothing." The man sounds almost pleased. "It's quite amazing, really. I've never found anything like this before. She can talk, and react and interact, correct?"
Sarutobi is still frowning. "Correct."
"Then we should wake her up before jumping to any more conclusions. My technique works better on conscious subjects, so I might be able to find something if there is something to be found."
The Hokage nods and turns to Anko. "Wake her up, would you?"
Anko sniffs. "Okay." She takes a deep breath and stands, padding over and plopping down on the cot. "Wake up." She says, clapping the girls cheeks softly. Blue eyes slide open and Anko wobbles back over to her chair as Naruto sits up on the futon, glancing around curiously.
"Hello there." Inoichi says, waving a hand to get her attention. "My name's Inoichi." He holds up said hand, "I'm going to set this on your head and read your mind, okay?"
"You don't screw around, do you."
Naruto blinks and nods and Inoichi ruffles her hair. He then frowns and tilts his head and becomes angry, then curious then perfectly confused and back to frowning.
"Well… I can't find anything." He says regretfully, "not a damn thing… Anko, get her to say something."
"She's right there, Inoichi. You get off your ass and make her say something." Anko's eyes drift closed for a moment.
Inoichi sighs and forces his best smile. "Right. Naruto, is it? Would you say your name for me?"
"Naruto?" Naruto says with some confusion.
Inoichi goes right back to frowning. "Unless you want to make her solve logic puzzles, I think we're done here."
"Nothing?" Sarutobi questions exasperatedly, picturing the council staring at him stupidly, spouting 'we have a brainless demon vessel?' and all sorts of things he doesn't want to hear while Danzo cackles himself hoarse.
"Nothing that I can find." Inoichi clarifies, sounding decidedly offput. "I could dive to be sure, but… I'd really rather not… "
"Understandable." Sarutobi agrees absently, staring long and hard at the floor before turning his eyes up. "Thank you for your time, Inoichi. You are dismissed."
"Anko." He says suddenly, turning to her as she snorts awake. "I have an assignment for you if you're willing to accept. One you're perfect for."
"It pay?" She asks dazedly, still half asleep.
"Alright, hell. Shoot."
"So I guess I'll be lookin' after you for a while." Anko explains to the girl dressed in full AnBu gear, plopped down in her only chair in the kitchen. For the girl's part, she appears absorbed, eyes following Anko as the woman paces around the room rifling through her cabinets for food and talking over her shoulder.
"See, I'm what they call 'a political nightmare.'" Anko continues with no small bit of pride, pulling a large bag of rice and dumping a portion into the pot on her dual-burner stove. "Old guy said everyone worth more than two shits is gonna try and grab you up somehow once he tells 'em about yer'… empty-headedness, an' to do that without losing their ass in the process they'll have to involve me now."
She dumps a few cups of water in the pot and ignites the burner, moving on to grab other edibles from the nearby fridge. "bribes, extortion, funny hats, point is they'll need to convince me to trade over guardianship er' whatever." Anko pulls a chunk of raw meat from the appliance, barehanded and showing nothing beyond hunger as she pulls a knife and slices it into strips over a smoking pan. "And to do that they need to talk to me somehow, and political hunk a' shit that I am… not gonna' happen. It'd defeat the purpose or something, he said some other shit about me being relatable to you blah blah blah but I wasn't really listening." She pads to the sink to wash off her hands and afterwards hops up and sits on the counter. Naruto continues to blankly stare at her and Anko is slightly unsettled.
"You got any questions? You've been movin' around a lot last few days."
Naruto blinks and shakes her head.
Anko much prefers it that way. "Cool." She nods and stands, gesturing around grandly at her single-bedroom apartment. "Kitchen. Bathroom. Bedroom. That's the whole tour." Anko pulls a kunai from a sidepouch to stir the rice and flip the strips of meat. "I got you a bed comin' tomorrow, 'til then we can share mine, cool?"
Twelve some odd minutes pass in silence. Anko tends to the pot and pan on her stove and eventually creates two plates of food. She plops Naruto's down before her and glances around for a moment.
"I need another chair, I guess." She comments to herself, shrugging and setting her plate across the table and dropping to her knees, leaving her at slightly lower than a comfortable height but she doesn't care too much. "Eat up."
Anko then begins shoveling food into her mouth with another kunai. Naruto picks up her plate and tilts it back before her face, the action followed by Anko resisting the urge to chuckle.
She gestures to the kunai by the girls elbow. "Use the-"
Naruto sets the dish back down on the table, resting it so carefully it was as though she feared it would break. The plate is empty.
Anko pauses mid-chew. "-…utensils…" She is at a momentary loss for words. "… Uh… You okay?"
Naruto nods, eyes focused on her with unusual intensity.
Anko chews once. "… alright… " she chews again, "uh… You can go… Do whatever. Then."
Naruto nods. Anko chews again.
"…Why're you lookin' at me like that?"
"Maa, maa… Is this really necessary?" Kakashi asks absently. His full AnBu escort remains silent for a moment before the squad's Captain replies with noticeable conviction:
"What if I told you I was only a Kage Bunshin?" He points to the roof of a nearby building and no one looks.
"Fool me once, Kakashi." The Captain says. "You're meeting your team. That's final."
"They're probably not at the academy." Kakashi notes as he glances at the structure looming in the distance. "I was supposed to get them yesterday. Children aren't that patient."
"I had them called in."
"They might have gotten lost." He says, sounding legitimately concerned. "Alone and afraid on this winding road we call life."
"What if we've gotten lost?" He goes on, spooked, "what if we're lost, alone and afraid on this road called life? Quick, find a map."
"We're not lost, the academy is right there. Stop spouting nonsense."
Kakashi heaves a great sigh as they enter the building and start down the hall; he is completely boxed in. "How do you know this is the academy?" He says in a manner as though he had, at that moment, stumbled by chance upon a revelation so massive it sparked his very soul, "What is sight but your interpretation of the world around you? What's to say this isn't all a dream… A dream you can't wake up from?"
"Quiet Kakashi." Captain reiterates boredly, gesturing to the uniform at his side for a moment, "You're spooking the new guy."
"How do you know that's the new guy?" Kakashi retorts immediately, "What proves that he exists? His appearance? His voice? What can you know for sure when your senses are subjective? What if he's not even there... What if you're not even there."
"A – I'm freakin' out!" Says the uniform, clapping himself on the head and jittering around, "I'm freakin' out!"
"Be quiet Kakashi!" The Captain snaps, "He's in the middle of conditioning – you know how vulnerable that makes you - I won't have you screwing up my recruits!"
"What recruits?" He replies softly, knowingly, leaning in close to the spasmodic uniform before anyone can stop him. "I don't see anyone."
The man dead faints, flopping bonelessly to the floor with a dull whump. Someone smacks Kakashi over the back of the head and he is not the least bit mollified.
"Damnit Kakashi!" The Captain moves to help the man up but pauses mid step, turning to face him slowly. "Hold his fingers." He tells the two remaining AnBu, "I don't want him running off on me." Both uniforms grab his hands with little hesitation and the Captain nods to himself, turns his back to Kakashi just long enough to toss the unconscious recruit over his shoulder. He turns back and Kakashi is still there, looking bored.
He starts down the hall and pauses at the last door, quickly looking over his shoulder to make sure Kakashi is still there. He opens the door and beckons them in, the others enter though they have to slide in sideways.
The classroom is dominantly empty. Four or five rows of desks on an incline and a wide chalkboard and larger desk at the front. Two chairs and one desktop are full, two of those promptly vacate.
"There's the bastard!" Growls one of them, wearing an oddly thick jacket with an even larger fur-trimmed hood pulled over his head, empty space filled with –of all things- a puppy, which looked bored. The girl glances over at the boy long enough to drop him with a dead-leg, shouting "Language!" The last student, with black hair and a blank look, gives him one glance and turns back to the front of the room, noting with a droll voice "What's with the hand-holding? You get lost?"
The first boy rubs his leg for a moment and straightens. "Asshole is right" he receives a dead-arm, "Ouch! Goddamnit woman stop hitting me!"
The girl with –of all colors- vibrant pink hair, turns equally distinguished green eyes to him and voices "Are you our sensei?"
"Yes." Says the captain smugly.
"Uhm…" The girl continues uncertainly, turning to the three conscious and one unconscious AnBu members. "What are you here for?"
"Just making sure he gets here."
"What? Like an escort?" the jacket-boy asks, and, ignoring Kakashi's soft reply of 'we prefer the term 'life partners,'' smirks at him. "Did you actually get lost?"
Kakashi ignores him completely, looking up and to the left for a moment and speaking oddly to the two AnBu at his sides. "By the way, before you found me, I was… entertaining myself, if you will… I'm not sure I remember which hand." He trails of in contemplation. The two recruits holding his fingers let go as if stung and the AnBu captain's eyes go wide behind his mask. He bellows "nnnOOOO!" glancing around in that split second for something to stop the man from escaping before hurling the unconscious recruit at Kakashi like a frisbee.
Kakashi, just a bit faster, has already transformed from 'bored man too lazy for cardiovascular activity' to 'man running from death itself' as he full sprints and leaps from the far window in a shower of glass, vanishing in a plume of smoke once outside.
"God-DAMNIT!" The Captain fumes, smashing a fist on a nearby desk and splitting it right down the middle. He turns on his noticeably quailed recruits. "Why did you let him go! We talked about this!"
"Dude - did he just jump out the window?" Jacket asks in disbelief. "Awesome!"
'Green and pink' nods thoughtfully to herself. "So that's why you were there."
'Bored' grunts with just a hint of 'amused'. "…Hn."
"We're finding this sonnovabitch! Move out!" Captain bellows, the others (startled 'Green and Pink' included) sound off and vanish, he angrily strides over to the recruit lodged in the wall and pries him out.
"You three!" He says to the students, still in shouting mode, "Stay put! I'll bring him back if I have to kill him!" and he vanishes.
"…Well this sucks." Jacket mutters, kicking a nearby desk idly. "You guys wanna go get some food?"
Pink and Green frowns for a moment but, once 'bored' replies "… Hn." She immediately chirps "Okay. You buying?"
"Why are you lookin' at me like that?"
Anko is mid eyebrow-raise when her door clicks open. She immediately pulls a kunai from somewhere and hurls it over her shoulder.
"Hey Anko," the voice that can only be Kakashi says, "You mind if I hide out here for a bit?"
Anko pockets the kunai he returns to her. "Yes. Why are you here?" She turns back to her food and notes from the corners of her eyes that Naruto is still staring at her.
"Hiding from my genin team." He says with no shame, "I figure you're the only person I know who won't rat me out."
True, Anko admits to herself. "Alright whatever, just don't be a pain and don't touch my food."
The man nods, walks over and hops up on her counter, pulling a little orange book from his thigh-pouch and flipping it open. "What's she doing here?" He questions absently, not bothering to gesture.
"I'm her guardian from now until question mark." Anko comments over a mouthful of rice. Kakashi tilts his head though doesn't raise his eyes.
"You have been trusted with the upkeep of a life?"
"Yeah." She replies plainly.
"… Why is she staring at you like that?"
"I dunno." Anko mutters, glancing over her shoulder to ask something not completely formed in her head. "-Oi! What did I tell you about not touching my food!"
Kakashi hides the bottle of sake behind his back, flipping the page with his thumb in a movement must have taken quite a bit of practice to accomplish. "Hm?"
"You stole my sake! That shit was from Kusa, you know how long it took me to get that?"
"Not that long - but that's not the point!" She calms and continues. "You broke the rules. Get out."
Kakashi sighs and sets the mostly full bottle by the sink. "Do-over?"
"No!" She says petulantly, "I'm still pissed at you for gassing me! Out!"
A sound like screeching metal on metal fills the room and a red blob the size of Anko's fist screams into Kakashi's stomach (Anko can see clearly, his visible eye going wide as his arms and legs curl in) and smashes him through the wall at his back, forcing him along, over the neighboring apartment building and two-hundred feet more before the red whirls itself out and drops him down five stories through the roof of a far-off building. Anko's mouth opens and half-chewed meat falls out. Her head turns slowly and sees Naruto sitting there, straight backed and arms folded in her lap, prim and proper, with red death eyes intense and focused solely on her.
Anko recoils harshly, falls and scuttles back on all fours, mind mottled with visions of claws splitting her head to toe. She remembers fires, burning tall under midnight black and helpless wails echoing clear; she remembers fear. Anko remembers wanting to hide in those flames because she knew – knew as she knows that dango is good and hot sauce is bad and her sensei is just bastard enough to kill her with failure - deep in her gut she knew that there were fates worse than being burned alive, and it was waiting for her beyond the treeline, decked in red death and treading corpses like water. She remembers a hand-
Anko blinks, visions of flames gone, a hand on her shoulder and blue eyes staring back with not a hint of strife but maybe a hint of regret. It vanishes before she is sure and what remains is wordless concern. Anko blinks and shakes off the hand, sliding away from the cabinet she had backed against to rise to her feet and look at the structural damage waiting for her.
She takes a deep breath and clenches the jitters from her hands – wondering 'what the fuck' but unwilling and unable to say anything more than "Kakashi you bastard! You're paying to fix this!"
Anko turns to a somewhat regretful Naruto, still kneeling on the floor as if awaiting permission to rise. Anko swallows her hesitation. "Did you do that?" she asks, pointing at the man sized hole over her sink.
The girl nods.
"… You wanted him out." she murmurs as if that alone was reason enough.
Anko frowns. "Alright… Alright, don't do that again unless I specifically tell you to, okay?"
"… Cool…" Anko picks the girl up by the shoulders and plops her down on her feet, clapping her on the back softly. She then grimaces as if remembering something unpleasant and starts towards the door. "C'mon, let's see if he's still alive."
"This isn't bad." Sakura hesitantly comments over her stir fry. Kiba shrugs if only to be contradictory.
"Not bad, not that good either. You know which place has good food? That one weird place by the park. 'K' something, you know, that restaurant thing."
Sakura grimaces but doesn't strike him. "Two things: one, it's a stand, not a restaurant. And two, they only sell those gross spicy things."
"Pheh." Kiba chortles knowingly, "One, they don't only sell spicy things, and two, getting hiccoughs is not enough reason to bitch out my favorite food."
"For days!" She growls at him, unfamiliarity overwhelmed by anger. "After just a bite! It was horrible!"
"I guess that's what you get for trying new things." He comments, turning back to his food dismissively. Sakura plants a heel in his shin through some awkward positioning and returns to eating herself.
"…And how are you doing, Superstar?" Kiba cranes his head over his shoulder to project better. "Haven't heard a word out of you yet. We're supposed to be a team, you know?"
It is just as Kiba begins to snort despite his distaste for the boy that the ceiling makes the most awful creaking noise he's ever heard. He about-faces and watches in equal parts disbelief and amusement as the wooden panels splinter apart and spit their sensei through Iruka's desk in a plume of shame, pain, and wood fragments.
"… Oooouuuch." The man wheezes, lying still for a long moment before attempting to sit up. He tries his best but ends up rolling off the wreckage and landing heavily on his side, moaning pathetically.
"Um…" Sakura begins, the first of their team to regain their voice, "… Sensei?"
Kakashi starts, cranks his head around to look and almost weeps. "I give up… I give up." He groans, clutching his stomach and standing on wobbly legs long enough to stagger to a nearby desk and flop himself over it. A deep breath stops his head from woozing around quite so profoundly as it was. He blinks and seems to notice his team again, several rows up and still blankly staring at him.
"You my team?" He slurs, shaking out his head a bit and pressing a hand to his neck.
"I… I can't remember." Kiba says. "Did you just fall through the ceiling?"
"Are you alright?" Sakura gushes, paling a bit at the line of blood trailing down his face.
"I want a new sensei." Sasuke comments, so quietly he could have been talking to himself.
"Yeah." Kakashi replies as if in response to their observations. "Yeah, you're my team. Congrats." He waves a hand around in an attempt to remain aloofly sarcastic but he immediately winces and holds it close. "First assignment: carry me to the hospital. Think of it as a… a teamwork building… exercise." He loses consciousness and flops face first onto the floor.
"… Alright, I'll say it. I'm still pissed at him. I say we just leave." Kiba hurriedly finishes off the last of his takeout and hurls it in the general direction of the trash can.
"We can't just leave him here!" Sakura says shakily, "He could die!"
"He won't die." Kiba responds with little conviction.
"Even if he doesn't die," The girl replies angrily, "I don't want him to hate us! He's our sensei – we need to get along!"
"… I gotta give you that. Superstar, what do you think?"
"He can't teach us if he's hurt." Sasuke answers, the beginning of a scowl on his face.
"Alright, fine." Kiba hops off of the table. "Superstar, you 'an me'll get the arms, Sakura, you get the legs. Which way's the hospital?"
Sasuke scowls. "It's up your ass if you call me superstar again."
"Ooi! Kakashi! You better not be dead!" A feminine voice calls, shortly afterwards the door to the room opens and admits a woman no older than twenty wearing a trench coat and a miniskirt and not much else, followed by a second woman no older than eighteen, dressed in full AnBu gear – over-the-shoulder ninjato and porcelain mask hung on hip included - with waist length blond hair poking up in every which direction and soft yet oddly vacant blue eyes. The first takes note of the trio, then Kakashi as Kiba, somewhat startled and thinking 'boobs' releases his hold and cracks the man's head against the floor, throwing both Sasuke and Sakura off balance.
"You his team?" The trench coat woman asks though sounding completely disinterested in any response they should produce. She doesn't wait for an answer. "Honestly, what are the odds. Nice shot, Naruto."
What must be Naruto lights up and nods in response.
"Alright, anyways. He alive?"
"… I think so." Kiba replies, looking over at Sakura for confirmation and the girl nods emphatically.
"How long he been out?"
"Like, ten seconds."
The woman cracks a grin. "Cool. He doesn't wake up in two minutes, take him to the hospital…" She pauses, Kiba assumes (boobs) that she is debating on whether or not to take the man herself, but she snaps out of her introspective look, 'dismissive' all over her face. "Carry on then." And she leaves. The second woman tilts her head at them for a moment and flounces out after her.
"… Dude… Boobs…"
[::Time past – around a week::]
"I need you out of the village for a while."
"What?" Anko replies, heavily emphasizing the 'wh' and somehow sounding both outraged and curious. Sarutobi glances up long enough to waggle his hand at her dismissively.
"You are not the problem here, Anko." He signs and stamps something and moves on to another form. "I have been putting off reporting Naruto's evaluations and the council is getting anxious. I want her nowhere near when I tell them."
"Oh…" Anko deflates, "You talkin' about the whole 'brainless' thing?" She faces Naruto for a moment and they share a meaningless glance and nod conspiratorially.
"Yes, the whole brainless… seal-less… thing." She can tell from the dull atmosphere in his newly-repaired office that he would very much like to sigh. "I'm sure you remember how well the meeting with Jiraiya went."
"He the guy that shit himself?"
"You know who he is – stop bringing that up – the point is, you and Naruto need to vanish for a while."
"Is this like a 'paid vacation' sort of deal?" She asks excitedly, "Because that hole in my wall gets pretty drafty at night… And we've been having some… Owl problems…"
Sarutobi actually glances up, "Wild owls have been roosting in your apartment?"
"Oh- no, I mean… I mean AnBu Owl… " She frowns grumpily. "Bastard's been trying to steal Naruto's clothes."
Sarutobi doesn't even want to know. "I don't even want to know. And no, not a paid vacation. You will accompany Kakashi-"
"Don't pair me with goddamn Kakashi!" Anko interrupts him whiningly.
"Kakashi!" Naruto adds in the same tone. Anko pats her head without looking.
"This is not up for debate." Sarutobi growls in response and Anko folds her arms poutily. "You will accompany Kakashi and his team on their assigned mission – escorting…" He consults a document he pulls from somewhere, "Tazuna, a… Bridge-builder, to his nearly-completed bridge in wave."
"What the hell?"
"The hell?" Anko pats her head.
"No. No 'the hell.'" Sarutobi replies, pointing a stern finger at both of them in turn, "You will be traveling - by foot – civilian pace."
"What? That'll take weeks!"
"Quiet. Go pack, you meet with Kakashi at the eastern gates in one hour. Dismissed."
"Oh this is bullshit!" Anko raves.
"Bullshit!" Fond hair ruffle.
"And stop teaching her to curse!"
"C'mon!" She begs (angrily), "Gimme' – us - a – a – a food tasting mission! A hot-springs testing mission! A five-star hotel using mission!"
"My decision is final Anko. You will act as backup should it be needed. Dismissed."
Anko draws back, inhaling to full capacity and fully prepared to chew and or spit his ass out. But then Sarutobi looks at her, grumpily, and she remembers that the man is her boss and fully capable of literally chewing and or spitting her ass out.
"This isn't over!" She vows, pointing a furious finger at his decidedly un-cowed face and storming out.
"Over!" Naruto pauses for a moment. "… Hi."
"Hello Naruto." He replies with a tired but genuine smile.
"Naruto! Come be angry with me!"
Naruto grins, turns and follows the voice.
[::Time passed – slightly less than around a week::]
"Okay, I'm pissed off." Kiba comments, pausing his tense pacing for a moment to ease himself back against the railing. Sakura, legs meshed through the railing and idly swishing over the stream running beneath them, chimes in "he's late" in an attempt to build unity, or something, but the sun was up in the clouds and the air was warm and the water was rustling beautifully and she was having a hard time staying annoyed. Sasuke, leaning against the bridge's opposite railing nods his concurrence and leaves it at that.
"Two hours late!" Kiba wrings out his hands tersely and goes back to pacing, cementing Sakura's impression that he was entirely too energetic for his own good. "Two goddamn hours!"
"… It's a nice day out at least." Sakura mutters softly, easing her forehead against the vertical wooden bars and staring down at the impossibly blue water.
Kiba waggles his fingers at her for a moment that she doesn't see. "Sure it's a nice day but I'm angry as shit! He doesn't get here soon I'm gonna- I'm gonna-" He opens and closes his mouth for a moment, fumbling for an action that sufficiently illustrated his anger though a few seconds later he comes up empty and settles for viciously throttling the air.
"Superstar!" He growls suddenly, turning on the boy, "Take over my angry rant for a sec, I need to cool down!"
Sasuke scowls at being called superstar, and as Kiba turns his back to him and flops down next to Sakura he picks up a thumbnail sized rock from the dirt road beside the bridge and tosses it up and down contemplatively.
"This actually isn't that bad." Kiba notes, taking a glance over at slightly dazed Sakura and timing his swishing feet to match her pace. He pulls back his hood and eases a sleeping Akamaru down next to him, the dog slowly rolling down the curved bridge as Kiba turns to face the water.
Kiba opens his mouth to say something half-thought of when Sakura lets out a startled shriek and wretches her feet back up, as she does the hand around her ankle releases and the body attached stands.
"Hey there kiddies." Kakashi greets airily from the water, tilting his head to avoid a thrown rock. Sakura's whole body still vibrates in surprise and she leaps back a bit, clutching her heart and half glaring half frowning at the man that appeared from under the bridge like some sort of one eyed bridge-goblin.
"Where have you been!"
"Why did you do that?"
In response to the three sort-of questions Kakashi eases himself up and over the railing, plopping down feet-first on the bridge as his team stands before him.
"I got us a mission." He chirps, visible eye curving into what had quickly become recognized as his version of a smile.
All three of his team frown. "This another one of those lame 'paint the fence' ones?" Kiba asks while Sakura fumes silently.
"No." Kakashi returns, still smiling goofily. "I called in a favor and got us a C-class escort."
Sakura shocks out of her annoyance. "W-what?"
"Sweet!" Kiba pumps an arm in the air while Sasuke just nods and scowls slightly less. "When do we start?"
"Meet me at the eastern gates in two hours." Kakashi answers, "Pack for a month and a half of wilderness."
"W-we'll be gone for a month!" Sakura shrieks, almost swooning.
Kakashi holds out his hands soothingly. "No, no. Calm down. Oh- wait…" He tilts his head side to side for a moment. "Yeah, about a month."
She stumbles back against the opposite bannister, deathly pale. Kiba pumps his arm again and Sasuke stops scowling completely.
"Will you be training us?" Sasuke asks, noting in his head with no small bit of frustration that the man had yet to teach them a single thing.
Kakashi nods brightly… then blinks, shaking his head. "Oh- wait… I mean no. Well, maybe. You remember that conversation we had a while back?"
"You mean your 'I can't stand any of you' speech?" Kiba inquires absently, halfway through his victory dance.
"Yeah, that's the one. If you have any more questions, just refer to that, okay?" Kakashi, apparently satisfied with himself, nods and continues a moment later. "Pack enough to get you by for a month. It should take a week and a half both ways and we can restock in wave, but it pays to be prepared."
He almost walks away but pauses. "Remember, you'll be carrying your bag the entire way there, pack as light as you can. Only necessities." He looks long and hard in Sakura's general direction and continues in a better mood. "Alright, off you go now. And always remember, sensei hates you." He grins cheerfully and wanders off, only to turn on his heels mid-step and jab a finger at Kiba. "Especially you." He spins back and flounces off.
Kiba continues dancing, Sakura slides down the railing a bit and Sasuke just frowns as the man fades into the distance.
"I hate that man." Sasuke mutters and he starts back to the Uchiha complex to pack. Kiba spends another minute popping and locking and helps Sakura home.
[::Time past – two hours more than slightly less than around a week::]
"So you're the people escorting me back, huh?" Tazuna grouses, gesturing wildly with his bottle of sake, "You don' look like much." He leans in to inspect Sakura and the girl recoils back from his miasmous stench as if physically struck. "'Specially you."
Anko, still annoyed at being stuck with Kakashi and his team and a stinking drunk for a month in the wilderness, hurls a kunai ring first that pings off his head – inadvertently coming to the girl's rescue. "You ain't worth much, old man," She grouches, "She'll be plenty for whatever hunk'a shit comes after you."
Kiba chortles into his palm plenty loud for everyone to hear. Tazuna, as opposed to the drunken, maybe even sexist rebuttal Anko expected, clutches at his forehead pathetically and begins weeping.
"This is gonna' be just a load a fun, I can tell already." Anko eases her pack off her shoulders and tosses it against the towering village wall, the open gates twenty feet from their group. "And where the hell's Kakashi? He's usually not late for missions."
"Yo boobs. I mean Anko." Kakashi appears from nowhere, glaringly orange book in hand and pack over his shoulder, looking bored as usual.
"…Kakashi." Anko sighs and sags her shoulders, the weight of the situation finally setting in with his appearance. Sakura, essentially the only girl of the group, wanders over and pats Tazuna on the back awkwardly as the man breaks down into heaving sobs. Kakashi finally takes note of him and glances over at Anko expectantly.
"I don't even care." Anko says in complete honesty.
"… Me neither." He replies flatly, ignoring Tazuna's cry of 'she - she threw a t-thing at my he-he-heeeaaad!' moves on to ask broadly," Everyone set?" In absence of negatives he continues, "Let's get going then."
Sakura's first attempt at conversation: "So, are there any ninja in wave?"
"No." Kakashi replies after a lengthy bit of time, not even looking up from his book.
"… Oh…" Sakura grimaces.
Sakura's second attempt at conversation: "Why aren't there any ninja in wave?"
"Because wave is a shithole." Anko chimes grumpily, biting dango from a skewer as though the sweets were particularly tough bits of steak.
Sakura's final attempt at conversation: "… wave is a shithole?"
"Don't ask stupid questions." Kakashi drolls over his book.
"Yeah, kid." She scowls over at the girl's obtrusively pink hair, "what are you, a parrot?"
"Yeah!" Anko ruffles Naruto's hair fondly. The girl beams and continues. "What's a parrot?"
"A parrot," Kakashi says the very moment Anko's mouth opens, "also known as a 'psittacine,' is a bird typically found in tropical regions with colorful plumage and a curved beak, some species of which have the ability to mimic human speech."
"What the fuck Kakashi!" Anko blusters, tossing an arm over the enlightened girl's shoulders and pulling her close, "Naruto's mine!"
"I am seriously so bored right now." Anko complains, wringing out her hands in the air. "How long's it been so far?"
"Like, four hours." Kiba says, sounding equally as unsatisfied.
"This is all your fault." She crinkles her nose and shoots a glare over at suddenly-occupied-with-drinking from-a-long-empty-bottle Tazuna. "We'd be there in what, two days if you weren't moving so damn slow!"
Tazuna keeps drinking and not fooling anyone.
"Well? What have you got to say for yourself?"
"Stop harassing the client, Anko." Kakashi intervenes halfheartedly.
Tazuna trips over a moderately sized rock and drops his bottle from shock. "I'm old and drunk!" He snaps in response to her look, "What do you want from me?"
Anko grimaces. "I want you to move faster than you currently are. I can still see the goddamned village from here." She jabs behind her with an equally perturbed finger at the hint of an earthen colored wall in the distance.
"I'm movin' as fast as I can!" He slurs, staggering and suddenly twice as intoxicated.
She sighs. "Kakashi, can't you just carry him? It'd be better for everyone."
She sighs again because she knows that she will not be touching the man either. "You could make your team carry him."
He seems to mull it over for a bit. "I don't think they're capable."
Kiba opens his mouth to object but Sakura whacks him over the back of his head.
"… Hey you… Uh – T something," She gestures at the bottle he dropped, around twenty feet back and not gaining distance very quickly. "Got any more?"
"You shouldn't drink on a mission, Anko." Kakashi chides.
"You're Copycat Kakashi and he's a turd." Anko declares, "What's gonna happen?"
Tazuna pulls a bottle from somewhere and regretfully hands it over, Anko eyes it skeptically. She then shrugs, pops the cork with her thumb and takes a swig.
"Augh!" She coughs, spluttering a mouthful down the back of Sakura's neck and setting the girl off shrieking something about spiders. She turns on the man angrily. "You trying to poison me you bridge-building bastard!"
"I'm poor!" He replies heatedly, "Poor and old and drunk! What do you want from me!"
"I want a bottle of goddamn sake! Not this little turdling!" She waves the bottle around furiously, "cough it up or this goes straight back up your ass!"
"That's all I've got!" He splutters, just as annoyed and nearing tears. "You don't like it - I'll take it back!"
"I've got some water…" Sakura adds hesitantly.
"Oh my god!" Anko explodes, turning to Kakashi lividly. "Kakashi! I fucking hate your team!"
"What?" the girl squeaks, wide eyed.
"… Don't say any more, Anko…" He sniffs and turns his head away, continuing in a suspiciously thick voice. "I know…"
"I was excited at first but now…" Kiba trails off for a moment and sighs. "This is pretty dull."
Sakura, while in no way desiring what 'non dull' would entail and still unable to look either Anko or Kakashi in the eye, sighs as well. "Yeah… This is going to be a long week and a half…"
Kiba pats her on the back, and then himself on the back for being a good unity builder, and cranks his head over to check on a silently brooding Sasuke. "How 'bout you Superstar? How are you doing?"
Sasuke, already in a bad mood, grimaces over at Kiba and doesn't say much.
"That bad huh? You know what would cheer you up?"
Sasuke's grimace has little grimace children.
"My 'cheer up superstar the sun will come up tomorrow' dance!" Kiba then initiates said dance, falling into long, deep strides with a pelvic thrust every step, arms flailing about stupidly. Tazuna and Anko both squirt sake out their noses and spend the next minute choking and not crying. Sakura sniggers for a moment - but takes one look as the abomination that Sasuke's expression had become and plants a foot in Kiba's spine.
"Am I drunk or is it night allathesudden?" Anko slurs while still walking in a perfectly straight line. Kakashi blinks and the thought occurs to him that his book was in fact suddenly difficult to read. He glances up for a moment, noting the conspicuous lack of a sun in the sky. "Night, I'd guess."
"… Oh…" Anko stumbles harshly and is suddenly sitting on Naruto's shoulders. She grins and pats the head between her legs and notices from her peripheral vision the conspicuous lack of several key people. "Where's yer' team and that Tazubla-somethin' guy, Kakashi?"
"I can't believe you packed raw meat." Sakura comments, taking another bite from the skewer and scooting just a bit closer to the fire before her.
"I can't believe you didn't." Kiba replies simply, resting his back against a tree and warming his bare feet, Akamaru lazing about at his side. "You gotta think ahead, Sakura. Use that head a' yours."
Sakura frowns playfully and resists the urge to hurl her food at him.
"'Welcome for sharing by the way."
"Thanks kid." Tazuna says promptly, on his back and probably half-asleep.
"Thank you Kiba." Sakura indulges.
"Superstar? There's still some left if you want it." Kiba gestures to the skewer warming by the fire. Sasuke, back to the fire and not invested in the conversation one bit, replies:
"Don't want it."
"…They'll be back, you know?" Kiba reassures, "can't go on without the client."
"We shouldn't have stopped." Sasuke mutters, the barest hint of frustration lacing his tone. "I could have gone on."
"You're not the only one here." Kiba replies. "We were tired, we stopped to rest and they ignored the shit out of us. Not our fault."
"I could have kept going."
Kiba realizes they are not the problem and turns to the fire, shifting his feet back as the soles start to burn. Sakura's eyes drift closed a bit and she glances over at Sasuke, hand reaching out but pulling back after a moment's hesitation. She turns back to the fire as well and Tazuna snores loudly.
"This is unfair!"
"Irrelevant. Keep walking."
"Why are we even doing this!" Sakura screeches, tripping over a rock and repositioning the two packs on her shoulders.
"Because you crapped out without saying anything." Anko growls from Naruto's shoulders. "That's insubordination, maybe even treason. Now keep walking."
"We did say something!" Kiba growls, shouldering two packs as well, "We yelled at you for like five minutes straight!"
"I would have heard something." Kakashi justifies dismissively.
"I threw my shoes at you!" Kiba shouts, "haven't you wondered why I'm barefoot right now?"
Kiba splutters for a moment. "I can see them! They're in your pocket! Proof!"
"I'm sure I would have noticed." Kakashi says, covertly glancing down for a moment and finally understanding why his hip-pouch was bulging so profoundly. He makes a mental note to stop indiscriminately pocketing everything that gets thrown at him. "And stop complaining so much, you're giving me a headache."
"You have a headache because I threw them at your fucking head!"
"You – brooding kid, give annoying kid one of your packs."
"You don't even know our names, do you!"
"Anko, can you shut him up?"
"Nah," she flaps her hand at him haughtily, "watching this is sorta' fun. Hey Tazubla, you got any more of that crap you call sake?"
Tazuna frowns but rummages through his pack for a moment and tosses her a bottle. She pops the cork, downs half and doesn't thank him.
"Naruto, want a sip?" She offers, waggling the bottle in the girl's field of vision.
"Underage drinking." Kakashi chides.
"She doesn't have a brain, Kakashi." Anko replies, hopping down off the girl and tossing an arm over her shoulder, "What's gonna happen?"
Something occurs to Sakura. "…Naruto has no brain?" She asks, understandably hesitant.
"What did I tell you about stupid questions, Kiba." Kakashi frowns at her and shakes his head, disappointed.
"Kakashi, you have a freaking parrot genin."
Naruto blinks and raises an eyebrow, glancing over at the slightly taller woman. "I have no brain?"
Anko grins, giggles and rubs their cheeks together, face flushed. "Nope." Kakashi wanders over and gently knocks a fist on her head, making a hollow clicking noise with his tongue and nodding fondly, as if at that moment thinking 'you little rascal you' while Sakura gapes.
"What the fruck!" She bellows, jabbing a righteous finger at them. "Unfair!"
"Brooding kid, give annoying girl your pack."
"Ohmygod I hate all of you!"
"You suck sensei!"
"Naruto has no brain. And the dead-demon-consuming-seal is gone."
Sarutobi has never heard anything as quiet as his council in that moment. His eyes glaze over as he eases back into his seat, drifting off mentally as the council regains their wits. Danzo speaks first, though the Hokage is tired and completely out of it and as such the something that passes through the man's mouth flows in one ear and out the other.
"Rassumfrassum!" Danzo stands and hollers (while the civilian representative pales and slides from his seat) smashing his remaining fist on the table for emphasis. "Rassum - fassum - rassumfrassum!"
"Chimchiri chiri Pii!" Inoichi shouts, jabbing a finger at the one-eyed man and smashing both of his fists on the table in a clear show of dominance.
Shikaku steeples his fingers. "Mnenemen… Menumanu." He mutters as Tsume tenses in her seat, stands, and hurls her chair at a still shouting Danzo.
"Ramalama-ding-dong!" She growls as Danzo ducks and her seat sticks legs-first into the wall. Next she points over at Sarutobi. "Hokage blah blah blah shut the hell up!"
"… bugs…" Shibi Aburame mumbles. "… bugs?"
"Bugs." Sarutobi confirms dazedly and nods and everyone looks at him funny.
Anko wonders how the Hokage's council meeting is going. Then she remembers that she doesn't care and lifts Naruto onto her shoulders. The girl flounders and giggles and is generally bubbly. Kakashi pads along beside her, face buried in a glaringly orange covered book. His team trudges along behind them, sullen, downtrodden, two staggering along complaining with three packs and one with none taking up the rear, Tazuna is at Kakashi's side and showing a profound inversely proportional relationship between the amount of alcohol in his system and the amount of noise leaving it. Sasuke appreciates the silence. It helps his internal frustrations simmer.
"Oh shit." Says Anko suddenly, walking sideways to eye Kakashi from between Naruto's thighs. "I just realized something," She jaunts, "I can run ahead."
"No you can't." Kakashi takes a cold needle to her happiness, "Hokage told me you were emergency reinforcements."
"Oh bullshit." She retorts, "like you need me, anyways."
"Of course I need you, Anko. And you too, Naruto." Kakashi admits softly, "Otherwise the breasts-to-me ratio would be unacceptably low."
"I actually felt that one coming." Anko grunts, "Besides, you got a… well, you got a chick… I guess."
"Naruto alone is worth three Sarukas."
"… My name is Sakura."
"Yes, yes." Kakashi swishes his hand at her distractedly and continues flapping his jaw at steadily more and more annoyed Anko.
"I know you're Sakura." Kiba says, patting her shoulder. "And you have breasts. They aren't as bombtastic as theirs, but in time… In time… You too, will become a beautiful breasterfly." He sniffs and wipes his eye and Sakura snorts before she can stop herself. Then she socks him in the arm.
"I don't even care." Anko assures Kakashi, "Screw you, I'm going ahead, gonna find that damn bridge or whatever, and an onsen, and some dango, and some other shit that I don't need but might want if it looks good when I see it!" She lifts Naruto from her shoulders, wraps her arms around the girl and grandly proclaims:
Naruto nods, expression determined. She rises to her toes, skin suddenly coated with a sheen of red smoke as one foot leaves the ground. Anko repositions herself, quickly tosses an arm over the girl's shoulder as the other foot leaves the ground as well. They hover for a moment, Anko's heart quickening with anticipation. The moment of idleness passes, they rise up above the tree-line, whirling in a gentle spin before leveling out. Then they drift forwards, building speed and humming into the distance though even then Kakashi can still hear Anko cackling.
"… Well." Kiba says. "That happened."
"This is so awesome!" Anko bellows to the wind, sprawled out over Naruto's back and arms around her neck, holding on for dear life as they rocket forwards at speeds perfectly unattainable by herself. If there ever was a thing called 'exhilaration' Anko feels it now, glancing down at the treetops speeding below them as tingles like high-voltage electricity shock in from her fingers, shouts bubble up in her throat and heart pounds in her chest. Naruto's arms bend backwards and her fingers mesh over Anko's lower back though Anko doesn't feel it one bit.
She muses, as Naruto hurls into a barrel-roll, that the only thing that could improve her experience would be nothing. Anko also muses as they level out once again, that the air is cold but Naruto is warm. The air in the distance is heavy with mist, and they enter the cloud not a minute later and vision cuts out.
Anko assumes that Naruto remembers where they are going and as such doesn't open her mouth. A few minutes pass, her heart slowing down as she becomes accustomed.
Anko understands the concept of 'sudden' very well. The callouses on her fingers speak louder than she ever could. Her taijutsu may depend on speed but her old sensei vanished faster than her hands have ever moved – she was surprised. And she remembers intimately the adrenaline holding ice to her spine – but as a structure extending both above and below her field of vision casually appears twenty feet from her it is an entirely unfamiliar jolt that shocks her system.
Naruto did not know where she was going, Anko finds shortly, she also finds that Naruto's head is made of tougher things than reinforced concrete. 'Reinforced concrete?' Naruto's head chortles, 'Pheh, more like reinforced shmonfrete.'
Anko fears for her life but they speed on, and she will remember for years to come the feeling of being attached to a human-cannonball as it bludgeons through a support beam much, much wider than she is tall. They don't slow, and a groan deeper and louder than anything Anko has ever heard echoes past the clouds. Rock crumbles and metal peels and they spit out the other side, unscathed and still flying as the outermost portion of wave's colossal bridge twists sideways uneasily.
Naruto glides down to the edge of the island and plops on a dock just as a bone-breaking crack fills the air. And then rumbling, vibrating deep and rattling Anko's heart around in her ribcage. The woman detaches herself dazedly and glances out at the ocean, the mist growing dark and her eyes growing wide.
Just as the bridge was sudden so is the wave, towering over her, above the trees and slicing across the ocean like a massive scythe. A fisherman, formerly preoccupied with staring at them, scampers back in shock but Anko doesn't. She remembers in that moment every jutsu she knows and knows that none of them will do her any good.
… And then she remembers something else. "Naruto!" She shouts, trying her best to keep her tone level but she shouts anyways, "Shoot that fucking wave in the face!"
Naruto glances over at her, the wave closing in the blink of an eye, cresting over their heads – and in that instant, Naruto nods. She holds out a palm. If the wave is fast then Naruto is faster, vibrant red electricity warbles in her hand, flickering over a marble of black that soon forms in the center.
Anko, slightly behind Naruto, can now reach out and touch the water, the murky-blue wave stretching up over her head and down behind her:
A pellet of energy screams through the water, the liquid pulling back an inordinate amount relative to its size – pulling back enough for the wave to glide over and past them on either side in a cylinder of empty space and not graze them. Anko could reach out and touch both sides of the hole.
A second smaller wave is upon them, and Naruto blasts a hole through it too, then the third one, then she turns and shoots the water closing from behind. She shoots again and again, in every direction at every bit of water capable of catching them until Anko and Naruto stand on an islanded piece of dock surrounded violently rippling water and downed trees.
"…I gotta say." Anko rasps after a long moment of silence. "Whole… bridge destruction and flood aside, that was pretty legit… Hey, look, it's the fisherman – ah… wait… he's dead."
Kakashi stops walking and glances down at the perfectly blue puddle, lying on the side of the road, casual like, as if saying, 'yeah, I'm a puddle, what of it?'
His team and Tazuna stop as well, vaguely confused as to why their sensei / only competent escort had stopped to gander at a shallow pool of water.
"… Hey, Kiba." Kakashi says, gesturing him closer with a hand but not turning his back to the water. "You see that puddle there?"
"Uh… Yeah?" Akamaru tilts his head as well.
"Why don't you go… splash in it."
"Go on." Kakashi says, eyes still trained on the innocent puddle. "Splash in it."
"Oh, just because."
"… I uh… " Kiba frowns and steps back. "Don't wanna."
"Sarubla? Up for some splashing?"
"Don't do it! It's a trap!"
"Oh nonsense," Kakashi chides in his poppycock tone, "just some good fun's what it is."
Sakura blinks and grimaces. "I'm not doing that – and it's Sakura."
"Whatever. Sas… Uh – third teamlet, up for some fun in the sun?"
Sasuke only glares balefully over at him.
"… Oh my god," Kakashi sighs, "I hate you guys so much – Tazura, you up for some perfectly harmless splashing? Guarantee you'll feel like you're ninety-eight again."
"I'm old and drunk!" Tazuna cries in what had quickly become his default response to any and all questions, no matter how harmless, "What do you want from me!"
Kakashi heaves a second great sigh. "I'm sorry puddle, for my awful team especially Kiba. And also for Tazubla who's a gross old drunk and also stinky."
"I'm old and drunk! What do you want from me!"
Suddenly the air fills with shrieks, hundreds of piercing sounds like a mass flock of calling birds. Kakashi is no longer standing idle, and in a flash of piercing white and a rolling hiss there are two cloaked and masked and gauntleted assailants, smoking and unconscious on the ground.
"What just happened?" Kiba asks.
"Oh nothing." Kakashi replies forlornly, brushing off his hand on his pants while Sasuke scowls and Sakura blinks, "just a couple of missing-nin waiting in ambush…" He crouches down and rifles through their probably-corpses, pulling back a minute later with a photograph of Tazuna in his hand.
"Alright then." Kakashi says, facing the suddenly very sweaty man, "it's splainin' time."
"Stop squirming, Naruto." Anko grouches, resorting to holding the girl down with one hand while the other furiously scrubs at her back. Naruto giggles and flails her arms and legs, flopping off the bath stool in the process. Anko sighs and straddles the girl's hips.
"It tickles!" Naruto complains.
"I'll bet." Anko replies, "But apparently, you are a literal dirt magnet. Now hold still." She pulls the scrub back, holds it under the nearby showerhead and coaxes off another layer of dirt with her fingers. She then pulls yet another twig from Naruto's hair and tosses it into a nearby pile that included other twigs, leaves and of all things a left shoe.
"Where's my left shoe you shoe-hoarding bastard!"
Kakashi shrugs indifferently while Kiba cringes and pulls yet another sharp rock from his sole.
Anko eases back in to the steaming water with a long-pent sigh, tensions and worries like 'we just killed a bridge and a bunch of fish-mongers' flying out with the air, and as she dunks her head under the water and pulls up, she forgets entirely. She slicks back her hair and blinks away the few clinging droplets to glance over at an uncertain Naruto.
Anko slides back and curls her legs, gesturing to the empty space across from her. Naruto beams and walks the three feet to her, only to slip on the first step and crack her head against the plaster bath – splitting it down the middle and leaking water everywhere while Anko squawks indignantly.
Tazuna wields a photo of his grandson like a weapon, "My grandson Inari will starve. Left alone on the streets, alone, alone and afraid." He mourns is his best sad old man voice while trying his damndest to spontaneously weep, but he tries too hard and ends up just reddening his face and looking constipated. "Would you curse my adorable little grandson to live alone on the streets? Alone? Alone and afraid? Al-"
"Alone and afraid, we get it." Kiba snaps.
"I'm old and drunk - what do you want from me! – I – I mean," He switches back to sad old man voice and flips the picture of his grandson, a picture of his daughter on the back, "and my beautiful daughter Tsunami, forced to do naughty things to pay for food. Alone an-"
"Shut the fuck up old man, we're thinking!"
"Now, now, Kiba," Kakashi chides for a moment, ignoring Tazuna's cry of "I'm old and drunk, what do you want from me!" he turns back to the picture with an odd look on his face. "I'd like tooooo… meet, this daughter of yours."
[Time passed: a week]
"So… Where's the bridge, old man." Kiba grouches, "Was that a lie too?"
"Kiba…" Sakura admonishes softly but the way she peers into the thickening mist shows that she is curious as well.
"You'll see." Tazuna preens haughtily, "You'll see."
"It's misty as shit you tard, what're we gonna see?" Sakura frowns at him but doesn't comment.
"Keep it down," The man at the rear of the boat pleas, "mist carries sound."
"This puny mist is no match for my super bridge." Tazuna declares, "You'll know when you see it."
And indeed soon the bridge does come in to view, and after a few moments of awkward silence the bridge builder realizes that his bridge is a lot shorter than he remembers. The sound that leaves his lips is not a human noise – it is abrupt, piercing and high, less a cry of grief and more the screech of a fatally wounded pterodactyl. He continues to shriek and flail about - Kakashi and team covering their ears and wondering how on earth a man could produce such a noise - until the man at the rear thwacks him over the head with his oar.
The most peculiar swishing noise fills the air, gradually gaining pace from swoosh… swoosh… swoosh to swishswishswish and then suddenly, …thunk.
Kakashi stops abruptly, finding his right leg unable to move. He furrows his eyebrows, lowers his book and gazes down at the offending leg, noting the massive sword (taller than him, half a foot-wide blade with a circular notch near the tip, the other half a bandaged handle) piercing handle-first straight through his thigh pocket and stabbing into the dirt. His mouth opens and closes.
"How did that get there?" He mutters, genuinely confused.
"…You uh… caught it." Kiba replies dazedly, "caught it and pocketed it… without even lookin'… I… I love you. "
Up ahead a man drops down from the tree's canopy, straight to the dirt and stumbling off balance for about a second before he spins on his heels and peers over at them.
"Wha -where the fuck is my sword!" The man grouches, craning his head about furiously and finally settling on Kakashi - the man, apparently bored with the situation, reading his book once again.
"Oi! You stole my sword!" He bellows, jabbing a finger at them, drawing Kiba's attention to his black-and-grey arm warmers.
Kakashi glances up from his glaringly orange book and frowns right back at him. "Your sword ruined my hip-pouch."
"How is that even relevant!" He bellows in return, "Who goes around shoving fucking swords in their pockets! Give her here or I'm cramming my boot straight up your ass!"
"Look," Kakashi returns, palms out passively, "If you don't want people stealing your stuff you probably shouldn't be tossing it around so carelessly." Tazuna and Kakashi's team notice a second Kakashi sneaking up behind the fuming man and try their best to not react.
"T-toss!" He blusters, and Kakashi's entire team imagines that were it not for the bandages around his face he would by spraying as well. "Toss? I – I!" His face flushes in anger and he seems entirely at a loss for words.
Kakashi's double crouches down behind the raging man, hands together with both index and middle fingers extended.
Three needles jab into the man's neck and his eyes glaze over; from the trees a small form, dressed in formal kimono and a porcelain mask drops down and –
The second Kakashi rockets his hands forward just as the man begins to keel over, launching him into a floppy, graceless arc that end with him crunching face first into the dirt and sliding bonelessly for ten more feet.
Second Kakashi flashes First Kakashi a salute and vanishes in a plume of smoke. Kiba glances around, wide eyed and promptly starts cackling.
"… Thank you for dis- urk…" A decidedly feminine emanates from the mask, "…for dis – for distr – mnnn… " They take a deep breath and continue shakily. "Thank you f – for distracting him – f – for me… I've been on his taaail for some time now."
Kiba falls to his knees, completely red-faced and begins choking and smashing his fist on the dirt. Kakashi tilts his head at the (he assumes) girl. "You a hunter-nin?" He wonders aloud.
They nod vivaciously. "Yes. If you'll excuse me…" They start towards the body.
Kakashi pulls the sword from his pocket tosses it, it jabs into the dirt near them and they sling it over a shoulder. "You going to dispose of the body?" He asks casually.
"Yes." They reply calmly, and reach towards the corpse.
"You mind if the kidlings watch?"
They stop. "… What?"
"Well, they've been getting on my nerves." He admits, gesturing to Kiba, who is now on all fours and gurgling, red down to the collarbone as gravity pulls and Akamaru plops down out of his hood. "I figure desecrating a corpse will shut them up for a bit."
"Sorry ninja-san." They amend softly, "that's against policy."
"Ah." He nods, "Would you be willing to dispose of Kiba, at least?"
"… Um… No."
"You sure?" Kakashi goads, "there's a hole in my pocket… who knows what might fall out…" He trails off meaningfully.
The girl raises a brow behind her mask. "No, thank you."
He heaves a burdened sigh. "Well, good day, then." And starts ahead carelessly, nose in his book. Kiba crawls after him for a bit but finally faints and Sakura helps him up. She makes it two steps before she collapses under the combined weight of her two packs and Kiba and his two packs, and Sasuke ignores them.
"… " The hunter-nin grabs the body and vanishes into a shunshin and Kakashi starts humming a jaunty little tune.
"Breakfast!" A voice calls. Anko snorts awake and scratches her head, making to sit up but stopping at the familiar weight on her chest.
She grins sleepily and rubs the girl's back. "Naruto, wake up… Food's on."
Naruto burrows her face into Anko's neck and the woman laughs chokingly and flails her arms as velvet blond hair tickles her skin. "C'mon, Naruto. Up."
"… Why do you hate us, sensei?"
"Oh, Kiba… Kiba, Kiba, Kiba…" Kakashi shakes his head, clucks his tongue and sighs. "Kiba… Kiba Kiba Kiba…"
"Breakfast!" Tsunami calls again, and at no response she pads into the living room and finds Anko and Naruto curled up on her couch sleeping.
"Kiba… Kiba Kiba Kiba…" Kakashi sighs again and shakes his head, "Kiba, Kiba, Kiba… "
"Breakfast." Tsunami prods Anko, but the woman's head only lulls off to the side in response. She furrows her brow. "Breakfast!"
"Oh, poor, poor Kiba… Kira – Kira?... Kiba…" Kakashi sighs. "Kiba Kiba Kiba-"
"Just – stop! If you aren't gonna tell me then just shut up!"
"If I stop then you won't learn anything." Kakashi scowls over at them, but his frown turns soon regretful and he looks away, shaking his head mournfully. "Oh Kiba…" He clucks his tongue shamefully, "Kiba Kiba Kiba… "
"Breakfast!" Tsunami pinches Anko's cheeks and the woman blink awake.
"…I 'all 'areep 'a'ain?"
Tsunami nods, releases her and stalks off to the kitchen.
Anko glances down and smiles as Naruto unconsciously nuzzles into her neck. She presses a hand to her cheek and curls an arm over her back. "Food's up, Naruto."
"… Food's up, Naruto."
"Poor, stupid Kiba…"
"Food's up Naruto!"
"Stupid, stupid Kiba… "
"Why did you do that!" Zabuza gruffly roars the very moment Haku pulls the needles from his neck. He makes to sit up but she holds him down as best she can. "Why did you do that!"
"I'm sorry!" Haku hurriedly justifies over his rage, "I thought he was going to hurt you – you didn't see him! He was behind you and I-"
"Poor, poor Kiba!" Kakashi screams to the skies, falling to his knees and weeping pathetically. "Poor! Stupid! Kibaaaa!"
"Nn… Hm?" Naruto blinks up at her, blue eyes peering through dark lashes and Anko immediately hugs her.
"Food's up, Naruto." She says as she rubs her cheek against Naruto's sleep-tousled hair.
"POOR!... POOR!... KIBAAAAA-"
"HE POKED ME IN THE ASS, HAKU!"
Tsunami giggles into her palm as Naruto drops her fork for the third time. Anko smiles at her fondly and hands hers over.
"IN THE ASS, HAKU!"
Anko leans in close to Naruto's ear and mumbles something.
"Thank you for the food, Tsunami." The girl says quietly. Tsunami claps her own cheeks and tries not to hug the girl.
"-AAAAAAAAI'm done." Kakashi rises to his feet and continues on walking as though he had never stopped; his team and Tazuna obediently follow after him.
"… My name's Sakura, by the way."
Kakashi tilts his head back and sighs, sagging his shoulders forlornly. "Oh… Sakura… " He mourns, stashing his book once again. "Sakura, Sakura, Sakura…"
"God damnit Sakura!" the actual Kiba growls at her.
"Quiet Sasuke!" Kakashi snaps at him, "This is Sakura's lesson now!… Oh Sakura… Sakura, Sakura, Sakura… Poor, poor Sakura…"
Zabuza quiets down. He now breathes like a racehorse, eyes wide and bloodshot.
"Better?" Haku asks, hands on her hips.
"Ngggg... Sakura…" Kakashi snores, "Zzzzakura… mmpoor… sa…"
"… So," Haku starts uncertainly, "… How is it?"
Zabuza grimaces. "… It stings." He tenses and slowly looks at her, eyebrow quirked.
"… No." She declares firmly and he just keeps looking at her. "I am not rubbing ointment on it!"
"My house is up ahead."
"Oh thank god!" Sakura and Kiba explode, running ahead and desperately pounding on the door.
"Yo' Kakashi." Anko greets airily from the couch, paying no mind as the girl of his team sprints past her in tears. "Have a good trip?"
Kakashi plods in and rests hers and Naruto's packs by the couch, plopping down next to her with little aplomb. "Not bad."
"I miss anything good?" She asks though sounding completely disinterested.
"Got the Demon of the Mist with ten-thousand-years-of-pain."
Anko frowns and her mouth opens and closes. "Wait - that the uh – the ass poke one?"
He nods sagely and she snickers for a moment.
"You kill him?"
"No." Kakashi replies shortly, reclining back with a sigh and pulling his book from his repaired thigh-pouch. "Some fake hunter-nin ran off with him."
"Cool…" Anko nods and sips her glass of something sour. "Cool…"
"…I could really use a drink."
She wordlessly hands him her glass and he downs it.
"Anything happen with you?" He asks, resting the empty glass on the coffee table at their feet.
Anko mulls it over. "… Well, we flew here… And we uh…" She grimaces and continues softly, "We sort of hit the bridge-"
"Ah. I saw that."
"-Yeah. Uh… I really don't need the old guy finding out about this… Don't tell anyone?"
"Sure. Sure." He agrees amiably.
"So, now what?" Anko asks after a long moment of 'no one cares to speak' silence. Naruto enters from the dining room and plops down next to her.
"Hm?" Kakashi grunts.
"What do we do now?" Anko reiterates, "Aren't we like, done?"
"I sorta promised I'd keep Taruza safe until he finishes the bridge." He admits regretfully. "But you're free to leave if you want."
"Naruto!" Tsunami's voice calls from the kitchen, "Help me with lunch?"
The girl glances over, and as Anko smiles and flicks her head she stands and flounces to the kitchen. "Why would you promise something stupid like that, Kakashi? – and his name's Tazuna."
"I…" he blinks and tilts his head. "…I can't remember."
"That giant sword guy is still alive." Kakashi says conversationally, the first words from his mouth since they'd left the house and entered the forest. "And you all suck something terrible, so… I'm gonna' have to teach you something… I guess…"
"… Ah." Kiba says, pointedly ignoring the maniacal expression on Sasuke's face. "I wondered why we were out here."
Kakashi nods and considers for a few moments what he could teach them that would require the least amount of effort on his part, and yet leave them with a sense of accomplishment enough to not harass him for a few days. He immediately rules out a jutsu, and anything involving the suffix 'jutsu.'
The man thinks for a few more moments while his team squirms for varying reasons, and wakes from his apparent daze with a sudden enlightened snap of his fingers, brightly proclaiming: "I'll be teaching you how to climb trees."
"What." Sakura growls.
"…" Sasuke grimaces.
"The fuck!" Kiba shouts, jabbing a finger at the unimpressed man, "you got me all worked up over goddamn trees!"
"See, that attitude, right there," Kakashi replies absently, "that's why no one likes you." He looks up from his book to eye the boy with a noticeably repulsed expression. "Ugh… Just… Anyways, you won't be climbing them with your hands… your filthy… filthy hands…" He lurches just a bit, covers his mouth, then turns to Sakura as he continues, "you will only use your feet."
"Oh - cool." Kiba interrupts, "Let me just go get my tree boots and we can start this bitch."
"Quiet Sasuke." Kakashi chides halfheartedly, and pulls three kunai from his thigh holster, his intent is to throw them nonchalantly and have them land at his team's feet – or in his team's feet – in quick succession. But he is barely paying attention and his three kunai slip from his fingers and clink to the ground at his own feet lamely.
"Use these kunai to mark your progress," He instructs loftily, "first person to the top of a tree will receive a moderately valuable prize."
His team blinks.
"…Well, hop to it." He goads with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. His team walks over to him, picks up their respective kunai, and each turns to face a different tree contemplatively.
"What do we do, sensei?" Sakura finally asks.
"… Oh, right." Kakashi notices, "Well, you run really, really fast – and then go up the tree."
"I call bullshit." Kiba intrudes.
"But." Kakashi continues at the rude interruption, somewhat irked and in a conspiratorial voice, "you have to believe you can do it."
"… Could we get a demonstration?" Sakura asks hesitantly, hands fidgeting together while Kiba snorts at the mental image of the man sprinting headlong into a fullgrown tree.
Kakashi, though in no mood to run anywhere, ever, sees the potential of the situation he has created out of spite. He mulls it over for a few moments and replies. "I don't see why not."
Then the man runs towards the nearest three and straight up it, all the way up to the canopy where he rests on a branch and ganders down at his baffled team.
Kiba, eyes wide, makes a strangled noise and with no warning sprints towards his own tree. He leaps up, plants one foot on the bark and makes it two steps before he falls straight on his back with a thump that makes Sakura wince.
"Believe harder!" Kakashi crows down from the treetop.
"… How are you doing, Zabuza?" Haku asks hesitantly, slightly perturbed at the manic expression on his face. The man turns his head and somehow bares his sharklike teeth even more.
"Better." He rasps from his bed in a manner clearly indicating the opposite.
"… Good." She replies, and tosses him an apple she had purchased from the floundering market nearby, "I got you an apple."
Zabuza catches it and eyes it eerily, promptly clenching his fist and reducing the fruit to a pulpy froth of a mess. "My strength is almost back." He confirms, bloodshot eyes stretching wide and nostrils flaring, expression such that the fruit could have been replaced with a still-beating heart and not looked out of place.
"Did you just crush my apple?"
"Alright, stop, stop." Kakashi calls from his tree, and hops down while his bruised and out-of-breath team shambles before him. "I was gonna' let you keep up, but… well, Sasu… Sa… Saru… Name?"
"Sure. You pretty much almost died, there. So… " Kakashi grimaces at the thought of the shit that would rain down on him had his teamlet been impaled while in his care. "So yeah, you just – just shouldn't be handling kunai… at all… In fact, no kunai for any of you, hand them over."
"No questions, all stabbing implements, in my hands, now." He waggles his fingers expectantly and his team regretfully hands over their respective pouches. Kakashi considers them for a bit before tossing them over his shoulder and continuing. "I lied. Believing is not enough to traverse the humble tree."
"Fucking knew it!"
"You lying son of a bitch!"
"Yes, yes, charming. You must also channel chakra through the soles of your feet, and it - sticks to the tree, or something… Too much or too little chakra and somewhere a kitten dies." He frowns and gestures vaguely with his hands.
"What the hell are you talking about."
"Quiet Sasuke." Kakashi shushes Kiba distractedly, "the moderately valuable prize remains for the first to the top of their tree. Now hop to it... Go on… Shoo."
"I call bullshit."
"Hey, this isn't that hard." Sakura calls down from a nearby treetop. Kiba gapes, Sasuke grimaces and Kakashi sighs because now he needs to find a prize.
"Good work, Sa… Saaaaku… ra? Sakura. Good work, Sakura. You get the priiiizzzzzeeeee – your kunai." He finishes lamely, and wanders back to retrieve a pouch and hurl the thing up at her. "Now run up and down for a while." She grimaces and starts off at it while Kiba and Sasuke just glower over at him. Kakashi can only ignore their glares for a few minutes, he is only human.
"The second person up the tree will get a slightly less moderately valuable prize." He tempts in a lame attempt to foster a competition.
"Why did you crush my apple!"
"Ah, apples," Zabuza muses indifferently, "the perfect index for human flesh."
"You're not getting out of this!" She fumes and stomps her foot, "that was the only apple that wasn't rotten, and you go and - and crush it! Why did you crush my apple?"
"Apples killed my father," He mutters darkly, "and raped my mother."
"You are going to answer my question!" Haku jabs a finger in his chest and picks up the apple-corpse from the wooden floor. "And you're eating this!"
"I'm not eating that." Zabuza states flatly, "not happening."
"Then tell me why you crushed it!"
"Oh – I don't know," the man shrugs about with his hands, which was coincidentally the peak amount of motion he was capable of, "boredom? Impulse? Anger problems? I can't feel my junk here, cut me a break."
Haku flushes red and inflates her chest. "Fine." She huffs, "I just won't buy you food anymore."
"What!" He squawks as loud as he can manage, "I was serious! It's not like I go around crushin' fruit indiscriminately or anything! It was a one-time deal, I swear!"
"I wish I could believe you," Haku replies forlornly, "you and your - your non-fruit-crushing fantasies…" she sighs out and glances down at the apple-corpse with half lidded eyes, "But I've seen too much… Now - if you'll excuse me… I need to dig this a grave."
Haku shuffles out forlornly and he roars after her "Wait Haku! What if Gato comes back - and – and tries to touch my face again! Who will save me, Haku!"
"No one tried to molest you, Zabuza! You were just dreaming!" Haku calls back, and closes the shack's door behind her.
"I! Wasn't! Dreaming!" Zabuza screeches, then curls into a banana-shaped ball and weeps.
"Alright." Kakashi calls, resting his back against a tree, an air of serenity around him. "Kiba, you get the prize… Your kunai." Kakashi hurls the kid's pouch at him and turns to the remaining member. "Sasuke, you get the consolation prize."
"Oh boy." Kiba cheers bitterly, not even bothering to correct the switched name, "My kunai?"
Kakashi scowls. "My disappointment. Oh wait, you already have that." Kiba sags his head in shame and Kakashi continues sourly. "You see? You see how that feels? Take your kunai, you rude little child." He pings the pouch off of Kiba's head and turns to his less disappointing team members. "You two, return to Taruza's house. Sakura, wash the vomit out of your hair. Kiba, wake Sakura up and help her walk."
He turns back to Kiba and sighs as his eyes fall on the boy. "I'm gonna' go. Keep at it Sasuke. You can have dinner when you can walk to the very top and back."
"I'm barely halfway up." Kiba complains, but keeps his head level enough to not raise his voice, "What happens if I'm still out here an' the sun comes down? Or if I'm too tired to find my way back?"
"Then you get eaten by wolves." Kakashi says, immediately continuing before Kiba can interject. "Also Akamaru gets eaten by wolves, slightly sadder." Kiba stares at him blankly, slightly annoyed that the man remembered his dog's name and not his. "The moral of the story, in case you were wondering? Be better than you currently are. Now hop to it."
Kiba heaves a great sigh. "I hate you so much."
Kakashi scowls. "Literally. hop to your tree. Right now."
"Yo Anko." Kakashi eases through the doorway and waves a hand at her, ignoring his two palest genin stumbling in after him.
"Yo Kakashi." Anko replies with the same amount of enthusiasm. He pads over and flops down on the couch beside her. "How was yer' day an' shit." She asks and doesn't look in his direction, raising the bottle in her hand to take a lazy sip.
He doesn't look at her either. "Disappointing." He says as he sinks back into the cushioning. "You?"
Anko quirks a satisfied corner of her lips. "Not bad. Me an' Naruto fixed the bath. Found the guy's stash. Got drunk in the bath…" She takes a deep breath and flops her head back. "Pretty relaxing, honestly. Almost don' wanna' go back." Naruto flounces into the room from the kitchen, plops down next to Anko and hands her another bottle. She tosses an arm over the girl's shoulders, hands her half-empty to Kakashi and pops the new cork with her thumb.
Kakashi tosses it back and rests the bottle down on the coffee table. "How's the bridge coming?" He wonders aloud.
"Dunno." She mutters, "Old guy's been all sulky n' shit. I'd ask but…"
"Yeah." Kakashi admits, "I don't really care either, to be honest." He pulls the book he'd been reading for the past couple of days from his vest and promptly returns it to the pocket when he realizes that he knows word-for-word what happens. "What's there to do, anyways."
"Get drunk." Anko says, and rests her head on Naruto's shoulders. "Get drunk an' – an' eat… I guess. That's why I'm drinkin'."
"Careful you don't turn into a lush." He warns indifferently, then tilts his head. "Unless you're handsy and there's another woman involved. Then do turn into a lush."
Anko snorts. "Classic Kakashi."
"You're all going to die." What can only be Inari warns as the child emerges from underneath the coffee table. Anko tenses and almost pulls a kunai but for the fact that the kid had been pulling the same stunt all day.
Anko smacks the kid upside the head. "I almost stabbed you in the fucking face. Again. Leave."
Inari clutches at his barely bruised cheek and storms out of the room, Anko sighs as he turns the corner. "Kid's been pulling that shit all day. Showed up in the bath while we were in it - I swear he popped up outa the goddamned drain. Scared the crap outa me, killed the mood – it was horrible. Hell, he just killed my buzz just now."
"I know what you mean." Kakashi agrees, "Woke up last night and he was standing over me, muttering."
Anko glances over at him. "That's legitimately creepy."
"Well, he said he just wanted to know how my hair stands up." Kakashi clarifies and preens his gravity-defying hair a few times, "Could have been more tactful about it, but… Still, not a pleasant way to wake up." He sighs and continues preening absently. "Wait that's not right – the pink one was standing over me, and she was holding a cleaver…" He frowns. "I might have been dreaming, now that I think about it… Is she eight feet tall?"
"Your stories are stupid." Anko says, and rests her half-asleep head back down in the crook of half-asleep Naruto's neck. "Next time I ask you something remind me that I hate you."
"Sure." He agrees amiably. "There any food?"
"Fish… An' rice… An' like… Carrots… Roughage an' shit. Not bad, really. Ask Tsu-something if you want any."
Dinner is a dull affair, the cloud of silence only broken by the occasional clink of a fork or knife or unpleasant conversation. "So, father." Tsunami inquires, the man turning to her, slack faced; "How is the bridge coming along?"
"Ah." He mutters and rests his utensils down on his plate, "Well… We got most of the bridge out of the ocean with the crane, reattached it best we could… Filled the cracks with concrete… Not as structurally sound as I'd like, but we're back on schedule…" He grimaces perturbedly, "Lost a few workers, should finish in a week or two if we rush."
"That's… wonderful." Tsunami notes with a very strained smile, and turns to the other people at the table. "Isn't that wonderful?"
"That's wonderful." Kakashi agrees. Another piece of his meal vanishes.
"Wonderful." Naruto chimes.
"It's good enough I guess." Anko says blandly, resting her head on her palm and toying around with the last of her fish idly. "Could be better, but can't complain."
"It's uh… Super?" Sakura lies after a moment's hesitation.
Tsunami's expectant gaze finally settles on an empty chair. "Where is the… dog… boy?"
"You wanna throw down you wolf bastards? Fucking bring it!"
"I don't care." Kakashi replies flatly.
Anko nods. "He's like, my least favorite of your team… Well, not least favorite… I like him the least, is what I mean-"
"Shut up I totally get it." Kakashi says. Sasuke just keeps eating and Sakura, still a little green, doesn't have the energy to complain.
"But…" Tsunami flounders for the words, "It's dark out… Animals…"
"I'm sure he's fine." Kakashi assures her diffidently, "Don't waste your concern on him."
"Trust me, get to know him and you'd understand."
"You're all going to die."
"Eat your vegetables, Inari."
"Huh." Kakashi says as his eyes wander over the scene before him, skipping quickly over the horribly maimed wolf and blood spatters to the prone form of his least favorite student. "What happened here?"
Sakura begins to hyperventilate and passes out. Sasuke also begins to hyperventilate though for slightly different reasons, and he also passes out. Kakashi wanders over and prods at the maybe-corpse with his foot until Kiba spasms awake and squints at the sun overhead.
"You're alive." Kakashi notes while sounding neither concerned nor guilty. "…Yay."
"Nn… Sensei?" Kiba groans, flops onto his back and peers up at the man. "I… What… What's this taste funny… Urk." His eyes go wide. "I killed a fucking wolf."
"Way to state the obvious, Sasuke."
"No, no, you don't understand." Kiba continues, and sits up while clutching at his head. "One of them bit me and I – I bit it back. In the fucking. Face."
"Look, Kiba. If you don't have anything new to say then just don't talk, alright?"
"Are you not hearing me?" He asks and wobbles to his feet, "I bit a fucking wolf's face off!"
"Well I guess you won't be needing breakfast." Kakashi comments flippantly, "And I don't suppose you managed to walk up your tree? I can't leave you alone for five minutes without you completely disregarding my instructions. Way to be professional."
"I killed a wolf with my teeth!" Kiba enunciates slowly, "I fucking killed a goddamn wolf with my teeth - holy shit I can't believe I did that."
"You also ruined a perfectly good jacket," Kakashi mollifies, "which, by the way, I will not be replacing. Expect to be written up, you and your - your hedonistic torn-clothing fetish. And where's Akamaru?"
"He's in my hood – fucking shit killed a wolf with my teeth… I killed a w-"
"Sasuke, stop talking. We're late for a fight with the big sword guy. We were supposed to be on the bridge like, an hour ago."
"A wolf! Okay… " Kiba heaves around for a bit, slightly out of breath, "Okay… I'm okay… Alright, I'm good – wait, we're late?"
"Very late." Kakashi clarifies, sounding extremely disappointed. "Waiting on you now."
"We're late, though? As in, we were supposed to – wait, the big sword guy is waiting for us? Isn't he dead?"
"You need to stop saying stupid things, Sasuke. Seriously." He shakes his head. "Expect to get written up for your stupidity and needless abuse of the human language. Also animal cruelty."
"How do you even know he's waiting and not dead?" Kiba wonders aloud, "…You guys talk?"
"Not much." Kakashi replies, "got a note this morning. Apparently he challenged me to fisticuffs at high-noon, and it would be just impolite to ignore it. Had to find my formal gloves, an hour gone, right there."
"Really?" Kiba sounds hopeful.
"Sasuke…" Kakashi sighs and shakes his head. "Sometimes I wonder…"
"He's late… Did you give him the note?" Zabuza inquires hesitantly; chin resting on hands clasped over the butt-end of his sword, sword resting through the sternum of a long dead construction worker.
Haku sighs. "Yes… Yes, I gave him the note."
"Good." The man replies quickly. "Good… And… Haku?"
"How do I look?"
"I…" She furrows her brow and fumbles for words for a moment while Zabuza wrings out his hands nervously. "What?"
"I mean," He clarifies, "Like – how do I look? Good?"
"I… You look… You look good…"
"Cool… Cool… Imposing?" He adds gruffly, "Do I look imposing? I – should I slouch more?"
"You look fine."
"Should I switch the dead guy? I mean, should I stab a new one when they show up, you know, for impact?"
"I – I just – how are my arm thingies? Are they good? And… Straight?"
"A - are they straight!" He snaps, almost violently, "Like, symmetrical! Aesthetics are important, Haku!"
"They're fine." Haku claims forcefully, ignoring the man as he huffs, tears the things from his arms and hurls them off the bridge. "I'm sure that they'll come soon. After all, we sent them a note, asking them to be here, an hour ago. I'm sure there's nothing suspicious about that."
"Hey, is that – is that sarcasm I detect, there?"
Haku grimaces over at him.
"Look, I'm just doing my job, okay? I don't need you getting snippy with me."
"You sent them a note, Zabuza." She trails off pointedly, "Did I leave the senbon in too long? Is that what happened?"
"Oh that's real nice." He waves his hands around flippantly, "Thank you Haku, for that lovely comment there. How about my shoes, huh? Are my shoes up to your ridiculous standards? Are my laces laced correctly?"
"What – You don't even have laces – Look, I'm just saying that a note isn't exactly the most… subtle plan of action and – put your shoes back on!"
"Oh no - they're not good enough for little miss perfect," Zabuza grouches petulantly, "Well, they've got to go, apparently. How's my shirt? Are the vertical lines slimming enough? No? Well it's got to go."
"How about my pants? Are they existing properly? No? Fuck. Balls. Shit. Well, they've got to g-"
"Oi, Zabuza, you here?"
"Oh shit!" He whispers harshly, re-fastening his pants with shaking fingers, "Haku, they're here! Quick! Where's my shirt? Where are my shoes!"
Haku takes a deep breath that had stopped being calming five minutes ago. "You threw them off the bridge."
"Quiet!" He hushes her, "They'll hear you!"
"Zabuza? It's Kakashi. I got your note… Sorry I'm late; I had to find Disappointment. I mean Sasuke."
"… Zabuza? Turns out I actually meant Disappointment." Kakashi calls out again.
"H- hold on!" A voice permeates the mist, seemingly coming from every direction at once and making Sakura fold in on herself just a bit. The ominous voice continues in a thick whisper, "Haku, give me your shoes!" The sounds of a small scuffle echoes past.
"Take your time." Kakashi calls into the mist, "No rush."
"…Really?" an exasperated Kiba asks. "Really?"
"Ah – Haku! Give me. Your shoes."
Kakashi frowns at him. "We've been over this, Disappointment. Now quiet. This is serious. People have died." He gestures around vaguely at the handful of dead construction workers close enough to be visible through the heavy mist, most pierced through the middle but for the unfortunate soul over by his left split at the waist, pouring onto the bridge like a tipped glass of spaghetti. Sakura finally realizes that the murky off-brown liquid she is standing in isn't water and keels over bonelessly. Sasuke eyes the corpses and doesn't move much.
"I know it's serious." Kiba continues, "That's why I'm wondering why we're just standing here while big-sword guy is vulnerable."
"Again, we've been over this. Stop being so woefully incompetent."
"Haku! Shoes! Now!"
"Now just stand there and be quiet, adults are talking."
"Oh my god. Sakura, you hearing this?" Sakura gurgles and Kiba flips her on her back with his foot. "Superstar? An opinion?" Sasuke continues to stare intently at the bisected man, evidently in his own world. "Am I the only sane person here?"
"Sasuke. Mouth. Shut. Now."
Zabuza ghosts from the mist, sword slung over his shoulder. "So you came, did you? How foolish." He growls, baring his jagged-lined teeth for just a moment. "This mistake will be your last."
"That's where you're wrong, Zabuza." Kakashi returns without missing a beat, sounding just as serious, "This mistake will by my first… shit, I mean… My first, not in that… in that there will be mistakes after… I swear, I had something for this."
"So you came, did you? Imbecile." Zabuza reiterates indulgently, and cackles menacingly, "This mistake will be your last."
"This coming from a man with no shoes?" Kakashi chortles into his hand haughtily, "hello pot, meet kettle."
"You'll never hear me coming." Zabuza declares in a move that Kakashi has no choice but to respect.
"I'll smell you coming just fine. Mister swamp-foot."
"Again with the feet?" The man grimaces, "Howsabout I make you five feet shorter, then you can look them in the toe-nails and talk about how shitty your hair is."
"How about we talk about your blatant inferiority complex."
"How about shut the hell up."
Kiba snaps. "Are you gonna fight or just keep bitching at each other."
Kakashi turns to him. "Oh my god, Disappointment. We've been over this! You never interrupt a ninja while they're posturing!"
"Seriously, so fucking rude." Zabuza points his sword at him. "You interrupt your mother with that mouth?"
"I've taught you better than that, Disappointment."
"Oh - you're my least favorite. Well… Not my least favorite-"
"Shut up I totally get it."
"Butthead." Zabuza huffs and crosses his arms gruffly. "Kakashi, how the hell do you put up with him?"
Kakashi heaves a great sigh. "Sometimes I wonder."
"Screw this I killed a wolf with my teeth." Kiba storms from the bridge and no one stops him.
"That's what I'm talkin' about." Waruiji declares, removing the hand resting on the hilt of his waist-mounted sword to make a vague gesture in the air, "If they're unconscious you can't get too passionate because-"
"Because you'll look like a damn fool." Oiro replies, scratching at the scar stretching diagonally from hairline to chin, "We've been over this before, and I still prefer unconscious."
"And again," Waruiji says, "I absolutely don't want to screw around with what equates to a piece of warm meat, it's so… unromantic. A total moodkiller."
"Irrelevant." Oiro claims flatly, "if they're awake they do that whole screaming, crying thing and I feel just terrible. Total sadgasm."
"You'd rather tenderize a steak?" Waruiji snaps, almost angrily. His expression then turns sour. "And now I'm hungry. See what you did! Now that's all I'm gonna' be able to think about!"
"Hey - hostile work environment."
Waruiji snorts. "You dropped your purse."
Oiro frowns. "You are a horrible human being and should be ashamed of yourself."
Waruiji waves his hands around flippantly. "I'm not saying it's not horrible, alright? But it's friggen mandatory. I don't pretend to understand that little turd's mental facilities, I just do what he tells me."
"You knew what was up the minute he brought out the girl in the collar – you know what? This conversation is over." The pair closes on the modest house down the road, and pauses before it in silent contemplation. "This the place?"
Waruiji grimaces and glances over at the other man. "Should be. How you wanna' do this."
"In and out, no shenanigans."
"That's what sh-"
"Shut up. Let's get this over with."
"I'll get it!" Anko slurs horribly in response to the loud knocking, and staggers over to the door. She misses the doorknob twice before opening it. She finds two… no, four – no, wait, two. She finds two men standing at the door. One a foot taller than her, hair adding yet another foot to his scarred form in a quartet of ridiculous looking spikes. The second stands a foot shorter than her, with the most distinguishing characteristic being a mangled tattoo underneath his right eye, and the fact that he is reared back as if in preparation to knock the door off its horribly rusted hinges.
The short man makes a face, plants his raised foot down and gruffly proclaims: "It's raping time." The second man bashes him over the head without saying a word.
"…What's up." Anko asks.
"We're here for Tsunami." The tall one says, resting one of his hands on the sword at his waist in unspoken threat.
"Well, whaddo you want with her." She replies, and slips a kunai behind her back.
"A cup of sugar." The tall man glares down at the short man, who amends as if it improved the sentiment, "sensual sugar."
"We got rice. That's kinda' like sugar." Anko palms a second kunai behind her back.
"How is rice anything like s-"
"What did we fucking talk about thirty seconds ago." The tall one snaps and continues before the shorter one can indignantly reply, "that's right, no shenanigans. Take her to the bridge, that's all."
"I don't think I like your tone." The short one replies, "mister hostile work environ-"
Anko shoves a kunai through the shorter one's neck, and as his body collapses she easily ducks the taller one's quick-draw slash and sinks the second kunai up through the hollow of his jaw, all the way to the ring, rising to kick him back as he keels over forwards.
"Naruto." She calls into the house, "Shit's going down. Let's go."
"Alright, so we're agreed." Kakashi states formally, "My hair, while silver and spiked by nature, is in no way lame. And you, while for some reason shirtless and shoeless, are in fact in said state under your own informed and purposeful intentions, and are in no way mentally impaired for choosing aforementioned state over-"
"Kakashi." Anko wades through the mist, Naruto in full AnBu gear at her side as they stop a few feet from him, "Just killed some would-be Tsunami-nappers, what's going on?"
"Oh, hey Anko." He replies distractedly, "Don't know about the Tsunami-nappers part, but we were just having a dignified conversation about our current aesthetic characteristics."
"Shootin' the shit, huh?"
"Well, if you want to degrade the sentiment, sure."
"Wait – what the hell!" Zabuza finally snaps and points at the new arrivals with his sword angrily, "you can't just bring more people, that's cheating!"
"I didn't bring them, Zabuza–" He turns to Anko and Naruto mid-sentence to specify, "-that's Zabuza, by the way. Nice guy, little rough around the edges-" He turns back, "they just showed up. Not my fault."
Zabuza opens his mouth to reply and is promptly interrupted.
"Some 'Demon of the Mist,'" a voice cuts across the bridge, and Zabuza turns to find a large mob of heavily armed mercenaries at the far end, and at the very front a squat little man he instantly recognizes. "more like opinionated shoe-mongrel of the mist."
"When the hell did you get there!" Zabuza snaps indignantly, promptly turning on Kakashi to growl "did you see them get there?"
"Well, yeah." He replies plainly, "they were pretty obvious, once you dropped the mist I could see them climbing up pretty easy."
"And you didn't warn me!"
"I didn't want to spoil their entrance."
"So!" The squat man intrudes once again, "what a situation I find. Arriving here, expecting to find you doing your job, and you're talking. Good thing I didn't pay in advance."
"...What a rude little man." Kakashi notes. Anko has no idea what is going on, and plods over to sit on one of the man's unconscious genin. Naruto joins her shortly.
"Alright, whatever. What do you want, Gato." Zabuza finally asks, shouldering his sword as Haku appears up from a puddle at his side.
"What do I want?" The man replies, gesticulating wildly, "I wanted you to do what I told you to, now, though? I want you-" He calls out the mob at his back, "to bring me the Zabuza and company's heads. Then I want you find the bridgebuilder and bring him to me."
"That's how it is, huh?" Zabuza growls and straightens, "You're dead."
"Oh, a death threat, how clever." Gato dismisses, "my merry band of mercenaries, the one who brings me his head gets quadruple pay and all the women they can carry!"
His proclamation is the final straw, and the band of mercenaries, previously seething in anticipation and doing such mercenary-esque things as licking blades and pulling swords and spinning unwieldy pikes, numbering over five hundred strong, now bursts forth around him like the water from a broken dam. However, the bridge is quite long, and Zabuza has more than time enough to turn to Kakashi and group and say,
"You want to help me kill that turd?"
Kakashi opens his mouth.
"Oh hells yes." Anko says, rising from the prone body of the pink one and cracking her back. "He's the guy that wants the bridge guy dead, yeah?"
"Then, yeah. Kakashi?"
Kakashi glances over at her, then behind him at the mass of sharp bodies surging forth, covering the bridge from edge to edge (some actually jostling others over) and so thickly massed he wonders if they practiced their coordination beforehand. "Sure, I guess."
"Oh this is gonna' be awesome." Anko gushes and quickly turns to a confused Naruto. "Naruto, wait here, shoot any of them that get past… there." She points to a spot five feet in front of her. "Alright, let's go fuck up a short fat man."
Zabuza grins sharply in response. "Haku, wait here. I'll be back."
"Joy." Haku replies blandly.
"Oi, with the sarcasm, really?"
"…We need to talk about this, later, Zabuza."
"Damn right we do." He says back, and scowls over at the mob now fifty feet from them.
Zabuza gives one last suggestion to Anko and Kakashi. "My head-chopper ain't the most accurate thing in the world. Watch yourselves."
"Hey – don't give me attitude, alright? I don't need that."
"You're being defensive." Kakashi says and Anko sighs.
"Look, I'm just trying to be polite, okay? And you go and snap at me, I don't need that attitude right now."
The mob is around twenty feet from them.
"Why are you being so sensitive," Kakashi questions, "I didn't mean to implicate anything with my lackluster response, that's just my personality at work. Deal with it."
"So you're always a dick?"
"Woa, woa. Let's keep off the potty-talk mister grumpy-pants."
"Screw this I'm bored." Anko says flatly, "Naruto – shoot them."
Naruto swipes a hand across, a needlethin beam of intense red flaring forth in a wide sweeping arc, the beam cutting out before and after Anko, Zabuza and Kakashi. The bulk of the mob falls apart through the middle, the taller ones at the legs, the shorter ones at the gut. The mass slops to the ground, silent, and the few saved by blocked pathing spring leaks as a red cannonball blisters forth overhead and screams apart in mid-air, releasing a volley of marbles that honeycomb anyone remaining.
And as the last mercenary keels over Gato drops his cane, and stares in bitter incomprehension at the pool of off-grey oozing out the bridge's drainage as most of his hair drifts down off his head.
"Fucking shit." Zabuza quips eloquently. Kakashi has nothing to add and Anko almost cackles but decides that it would be inappropriate a moment later. She notes nonetheless that what Naruto had just done was infinitely more badass and less clothes-staining than what she would have done.
She gestures: "One fat man, have at him."
"… Alright then." Zabuza says, wading through the corpse mob, closer and closer to Gato who backs away, stumbling and inarticulate. Eventually, Gato reaches the end of construction, and gazes down at the whirling red water. He can't remember his waiting boat.
"Look at that." Zabuza comments, "I guess my clever death threat came true."
"No." Gato pleas hastily, his wits returning, "No – you can't kill me. I'll – I'll give you anything! Money! Women! Fame! Name it and it will be yours!"
"I want you to die." He mutters, stabbing his head-chopping-cleaver into the concrete and pulling a kunai. "think you can hook me up?"
"Please – this is madness!"
"Madness?" Zabuza replies perturbedly, and steps closer to Gato. "You come onto my bridge, call me an opinionated shoe mongrel, use a cane like you're a pimp – you're not a freaking pimp - and you call this madness?"
"Wha – I –" Gato isn't sure whether to be terrified or offended.
"This isn't madness!" Zabuza roars, "This! Is! Sparta!" He rears back and smashes his foot into Gato's chest, launching him from the bridge into the cloudy waters below where he imagines the man will soon be eaten by attracted sharks. Zabuza then scratches his cheek, plucks up his sword, and walks back across the bridge where Haku patiently waits with her arms crossed.
"… We good?" He asks the Konoha group.
"Yeah." Kakashi shrugs.
"Cool. C'mon Haku, let's go."
"See ya' Zabuza." Anko waves at him. Naruto also waves at him and he flinches just a bit.
"Before I go…" The swordsman asks timidly, "who, exactly, is that?" He points at Naruto, who points back at him and he flinches again.
Anko pads over and loops an arm over Naruto's shoulders. "This is Naruto."
"…Ah." He replies. "… Well then… Uh…" Zabuza smacks his lips and walks away.
"Holy shit, Naruto." Anko says, gandering up at the forest of topless trees leading far into the distance, "You are a dangerous girl." Naruto beams at the maybe praise and almost lops another layer off the forest before Anko stops her with a hand. "How far you think it goes?" She aims over at a silently reading Kakashi.
Kakashi couldn't tell back at wave and he has no estimations now. "A mile, tops." He half-guesses.
Anko snorts and tosses an arm over Naruto. "A mile's like a shitload, though. Seriously, Naruto, crazy dangerous."
"A mile is pretty far." He agrees halfheartedly, "… I guess."
"Fucking holy shit, Naruto." Anko notes in all seriousness as she tilts her head at the topless trees trailing out both behind and before her as far as her eyes can see. "I don't even know what to say about this… Kakashi?"
"My mile estimate was off." He muses, "On the bright side, we proved the world is round. The cuts are higher up."
"Or the cut's at an angle."
It is with a slightly relieved conscience that Anko reaches the village gates, Naruto at her side and Kakashi alternating between behind her and beside her, as he gradually focuses more and more on his book and less and less on walking, until he looks up and realizes that he has stopped completely and jogs to keep pace. The treetoplessnes had stopped a few miles back though not from lack of trying; there simply weren't trees tall enough. Anko hopes that the forest of death hasn't collapsed and killed everyone. Sort of.
"Oi, Kakashi…" She says as the guards catch one close look of them, avert their eyes, fall to their knees and bow, "…the fuck?"
"Maybe they're trying to look up your skirt." He replies in all seriousness. "Maybe."
Anko grimaces and takes a deep breath, because something in her gut tells her things are going to suck no end of ass.
After a long, strained silence walk to the Hokage tower, Anko waits outside his office – loud, frantic voices muffled from within and she knows then and there that something is wrong. She looks over at Naruto, the sight of which had sent the Sandaime's secretary into a frothing epileptic fit, and smiles at her, as reassuring as she can manage and pats her arm.
Naruto smiles back at her and throws an arm over her shoulder and Anko jumps as something cracks against the wooden doors to the Hokage's office with enough force to splinter around the hinges. Then the sound of breaking glass.
The doors open and the Sandaime forcefully smiles, the corners of his lips straining back and up as he sees her and Naruto and Kakashi eased back in the waiting room chairs.
"Come on in." He tells Anko.
"Alright." Anko asks, stands and squeezes past the man, Naruto in tow as he slams the door and follows in after her.
Anko looks at the shattered window to her left, the conspicuous lack of a visitor's chair before his desk, the conspicuous lack of childlike delight in his horribly strained smile.
"… We're back." Anko says, "So…" The Hokage pulls something that Anko quickly recognizes as a bingo book from his desk, "…What's up."
"Tell me," The Sandaime instructs as he stands at his full not-that-menacing-old-person-height of five-foot-six before her, expression somehow illustrating how easily he could reach out and snap her neck, "why did I send you out of the village?"
"Cause…" Anko replies hesitantly, "Cause of that… uh… Oh, the brai-"
"I sent you out of the village," He cuts in, tone as though she had interrupted him, "to provide an opportunity to expose Naruto's situation to the council and give them time, away from the source, to come to terms with her condition. That is why I had you leave the village."
"Okay then." She says diplomatically and latches onto Naruto for reassurance.
He holds up his Bingo-Book. "What is this?"
"A uh… a Bingo Book?"
He flips the book open to the first page and shows it to her. "Tell me, what do you see here?"
Anko blinks down at the offered page and sighs forlornly. "Zabuza you… Slut."
"Tell me what you see here."
She sighs again, exasperated. "Naruto's picture… And a bit of my arm-"
"What does it say, this magical picture of yours?"
"Ugh… Red-Death Naruto…"
"Is that so? Hm." He tilts his head contemplatively, "how the bugger did that get in there…"
"…I don't know." Anko denies lamely and Sarutobi snaps and smacks her across the face with the open Bingo-Book.
"Septuple-S-Class!" He raves, "Septuple goddamn S-Class! That's not even a rank! How the hell did this happen! You know how much shit I'm in for this?"
He smacks her with the book again. "You have no lines in this conversation. Naruto, go get Kakashi so I can yell at him too."
Naruto doesn't move.
"Could you go get Kakashi, Naruto?" Anko asks as he looks at her, the girl nods and appears with Kakashi in tow a few moments later.
"I heard you yelling." The man chitters as he stashes his book. "It hurt me, right here." He points at his heart and Sarutobi slaps him with the Bingo-Book.
"Shut up. And dare I ask, where is your team?"
Kakashi glances off to the side suspiciously. "… K.I-"
"Wrong again." Sarutobi snaps, "See, you don't have any lines in this conversation."
"Can I have circles?"
Sarutobi smacks him with the book again. "Not a word out of either of you."
"Can we make affirmative grunts and such?" Kakashi inquires politely, "I only ask because it's difficult for me to express myse-"
"No words. Don't even blink-"
"-Ah. I blinked."
"…Get the hell out of my office."
"Wha-" Anko squawks, "Why does he get to leave!"
"Because shut up. Kakashi. Out. Now."
Kakashi gets the hell out of his office and leaves Anko standing there, slightly more behind Naruto with every passing second.
Sarutobi fumes silently for an uncomfortable minute but sighs after, and shambles over behind his desk to slouch in his high backed chair. He looks small and Anko feels a little bad.
"… What's up boss man?" She prods sympathetically, wandering over to hop up on a corner of his desk and look out his mostly intact window. Naruto hops up on the other corner and almost topples.
Sarutobi exhales. "So many things. So many things I can't stay angry."
"Sad." Anko says before she can stop herself.
He continues on, ignoring her sentiment. "This is the exact opposite of what I wanted to happen. Now… Through what I assume to be some sort of publishing error, Naruto is the first Septuple-S Class Ninja in history." He can't help but sigh again. "Why couldn't things have stayed simple…"
"Yeah, with all that and stuff." Anko dismisses, "but, real quick – explain why this is a bad thing? Cause, like… Isn't it a good thing to have strong people? Like a big – she's not a ninja by the way – like a big sign outside sayin 'don't fuck with me.'"
"It is a good thing, yes." Sarutobi replies quietly, "but not for Naruto. I didn't want this for her. Not now... Not ever, if I could help it." He glances up at her and Anko can't help but notice how out of place his expression is. "Things will change, you know. They will come for her in the night – the life of an S class Ninja is not a quiet one."
"Don't be a butt - and why not? She's got no bounty. According to the books she's tough as hell and not worth a shiny shit dead or alive, and she's with Konoha... Also she's a civilian. That's like… less than zero motivation. Negative motivation. Demotivation... That last one sounds right."
"I wasn't talking about enemy Ninja, not yet at least."
"The fuck are you doing in my house."
"Yo Anko." Kakashi waves at her from a very nice couch she doesn't remember having. "Hiding from people."
Anko grimaces, prods Naruto inside and rummages through the equally unfamiliar fridge. "You can't just hide in my place every time you piss someone off, Kakashi."
"… Why not?"
She pulls a bottle of expensive looking something that she does not remember buying and takes a glug. "It's a goddamn invasion of privacy. How would you like it if I broke into your house and ate your – put down that dango you asshole."
"Maa." Kakashi returns a partially eaten skewer to its box and eases back with a sigh. "You're the only person who condones my sedimentary lifestyle."
"No I'm not."
"Well. You have the biggest-"
"Biggest heart. Why is the cup always half empty with you." He shakes his head at her and she absently flashes a finger.
A weird aftertaste sets in and Anko looks down at the bottle in her hand appraisingly. "The hell is this?"
"Oh." Kakashi replies, enlightened. "Right. There was a Hyuuga here. Had some stuff delivered."
"… Ah." Anko glances around and understands why her apartment had evolved in her absence. "Well that explains that… Sort of."
"Yeah. They said something about keeping Naruto at least 300 feet from the Hyuuga compound at all times. She like… Blinded a bunch of people or something."
Anko remembers the time she had walked near the Hyuuga complex with Naruto and bolted when the place started shrieking. "No idea what they're talking about. But this is like… A bribe, yeah?"
"More like protection money." Kakashi quips and almost grabs the dango skewer from the mahogany coffee table. "Maybe extortion? One of those 'ortion' words."
Anko returns to the fridge and beams as she pulls a box of dango. "I like the sound of extortion… Yeah, that sounds cool. I 'extorted' the Hyuuga."
"Technically Naruto extorted the Hyuuga." Kakashi chides.
"That's not semantics."
"Don't be a butt. I'm just trying to be helpful."
"Hey – that's my noise."
"You know where my team is?"
"Yeah." Anko replies, wandering over to rest back on the other unfamiliar couch forming an 'L' around the coffee table. "They're in Wave, stupid."
"I left them in Wave?" Kakashi mutters, tasting the words. "I left them in Wave… You sure?"
"Well they weren't with us on the run back, so… Pretty sure. And who are you hiding from, by the way."
"Oh I'm not hiding from anyone. I just wanted some free food." Anko frowns at him and he amends after a moment, "Also some company." He sighs. "…It gets lonely."
Anko sighs and Naruto appears next to her, a mystery bottle in hand that she takes absently. "Thank you Naruto – and… Kakashi?" She crooks her head to peer at the man through slits. "… Get the hell out of my apartment."
"Where will I go?" Kakashi asks, trying to sound pathetic but he gives up after an emphatic 'wh.'
"I don't care." Anko stands and plods around, examining her actually pretty nice apartment - ignoring size constraints. Her eyes light up as she finds a newly installed and just a bit too large bath in her bathroom. "Your place. A ditch. Whatever. Seriously though, get out. It's drunk-bath time."
"Drunk bath time…" Kakashi muses. "Get out… Drunk bath time… Hm…"
"This isn't an 'either or' deal, Kakashi. Get out or I have Naruto shoot you." Anko starts the water.
"Can't I just sit on the couch?" Kakashi drones from the couch, putting down a stick of mostly eaten dango that he'd subconsciously picked up once again. "I'll be good."
Anko rummages through the fridge and begins pulling bottles. "Naruto, s-"
"I'm going, I'm going." Kakashi sighs and wanders out, looking back over his shoulder pathetically, but no one watches, and he just sighs again and closes the door behind him.
Maybe she's drunk, Anko notes as Naruto flops over her clumsily for maybe the third time. As such she can maybe blame the alcohol for her arm around Naruto's waist, because a warm body on hers feels better than her perhaps hazy mind can articulate. Warmer and softer than the water, and the conspicuous lack of a heartbeat doesn't bother her as Naruto's chest presses against hers. The lack of breathing is entirely new, though.
"… Naruto?" Anko mutters woozily.
Naruto tries to sit up again but her entirely frictionless body just slides against the sides of the bath. Her silence becomes questioning.
Naruto gives up and flops over Anko bonelessly. "Ah."
"… Do you mean 'yeah?'"
She huffs through her nose and the breath on Anko's neck makes her shiver. It also confuses her even more.
"… Yeah." Naruto lilts and slides down Anko's chest.
"That's cool." Anko replies softly. "Coolie cool… Cool I'm so drunk… Or maybe my brain's not so good. From when – from when you slipped and I pushed… you pushed me cracked head on bath…" Anko smacks her lips. "… Blood?"
[Time passed: 5 days]
Kakashi's door implodes and the man pauses eating his cereal mid-spoonful to smack his lips and quirk a dazed look over his shoulder. "Ah – good. You're here." He says to his noticeably ragged team. "You certainly took your time, though. Way to be professional. I almost gave up waiting."
Kiba catches enough breath to straighten up from his hands on knees posture to point at the man. "… You."
"Me… You see why this conversation isn't progressing?"
Sakura keels over and down the nearby flight of stairs and Sasuke doesn't catch her. Kiba continues to point at the man. "You… You… Fuck. You are a unit of fuck."
Kakashi's eye drifts closed just a bit and he remembers how tired he is. "I see a bit of wilderness hasn't made you any less charming, Sasuke. You can be our ambassador to the Land of Pottymouth – It smells bad too, so you'll feel right at home."
"You never make any fucking sense! – Wait don't change the subject! You fucking left us, in Wave. Fucking Wave – you know, the fucking island?"
"With a bridge." Kakashi mollifies with a yawn. "You know, those things that let you walk over water?"
"Fuck Zabuza Bridge!" Kiba snarls, "fuck you too!"
"You better have a damn good reason for leaving us!" He fumes.
Kakashi glances off to the side suspiciously. "A… training exercise."
Kiba turns and literally vomits from rage while Kakashi raises his hands and makes disgusted gestures at the strange pink gloop splattering all over his floor. Kiba stops retching, wipes his mouth and straightens up. "… You know what? I don't even care anymore."
"Say, Sasuke… I've got a riddle for you." Kakashi says quietly, "if a dog defecates in my house, and I'm around to see it, whose face do I use to clean it up?"
"The dog's I'd imagine." Kiba replies thoughtlessly then realizes how tall Kakashi is as the man rises from his half eaten cereal.
"That's right. Yours. You want to do this the easy way or the hard way."
"…Easy way please." He titters.
"That is the easy way. The hard way is I grind your face into the carpet until that vomit vanishes."
"That's really messed up." Kiba notes and takes a not so subtle step back.
Kakashi huffs and wanders over to the kitchen to toss rag to him. "This is the medium way. I want to be able to see my reflection when you're done."
"I just hate them so much, you know?"
"Yes, I know." Anko replies bitterly, "you told me already. Twice. Right after you popped out of my fridge."
"I just… I don't know what to do…" Kakashi mourns as though his distaste physically pained him, "I… I…"
"Use your words, Kakashi."
"Like… Like Orochimaru and coffee and hot sauce all – all… Just, all that smashed between two crackers and shoved up your ass, that's how much I hate them."
"…Why do you hate them so much, Kakashi?" Anko ventures after a moment of silence, continuing on with her breakfast noisily. "They're not that bad, just a bit annoying. Hell, all kids are annoying."
"You wouldn't understand."
"Wh – You're supposed to go like, 'try me' or something." He stammers, sounding hurt.
Anko shakes her head helplessly. "I don't care that much."
Kakashi turns to Naruto and finds her shaking her head as well. He inflates, mouth agape. "Wh – I – I hate you! I hate this family!"
"I wish I was never born!" Kakashi screeches and bolts from the table, slamming a door behind him.
"Get out of my room!" Anko shouts after him, ignoring his petulant "no!" in response and taking another bite of her mystery Hyuuga breakfast.
"No! I'm never coming out!" Kakashi blusters from her room, "No one understands me!"
"Look – if you hate them that much just have them killed! Or promoted or something!"
Kakashi wanders out of her room and returns to his chair sedately. "That's actually pretty reasonable. If I remember right the Chunin Exams are coming up, assuming it all works out right I'll be rid of them… Or they could live, and then they might get reassigned. Hmm…" He ponders for a minute, stealing various food items from Naruto's plate in silent contemplation until he finally shrugs to himself. "Worth a shot."
"By the way, Kakashi?"
"Knock from now on, yeah?"
"… Alright, fine." He sniffs. Smoke starts pouring into the room. "Also, I broke your bed."
A large bird crashes through the nearby window while Anko fills a pot with water and dashes to her room. Kakashi brushes a few shards of glass off his shoulders and takes the note from the twitching bird's leg.
"What the fuck did you do!" Anko bellows as she reappears long enough to refill the pot.
"Good news," Kakashi says in response, "the nominations are today at 3:00. You wanna tag along?"
A blast shakes the building and Anko shrieks. "What the dick! You put explosives?"
"Yeah you want to tag along." He summarizes assuredly. "Anko, me and Naruto are going to the nominations, you want to tag along too?"
"Goddamnit Kakashi, help me!"
Kakashi glances around looking for something to help with the fire, and after a moment hurls the dazed bird into the other room. A muffled boom follows, along with a plume of feathers.
"Yeah, you totally want to tag along. Come on Naruto, let's go." He pads out and no one follows him.
"Sorry I'm late, I was masturbating and it got everywhere."
Sarutobi sighs and gestures to an empty seat near the middle of the gathered Jounin. Kakashi flashes him a thumbs up, and, acting as though that excused him from any and all personal responsibility, flounces to his seat and plops down. Someone makes a disgruntled noise and Sarutobi clears his throat.
"… Where was I?"
Iruka, seated at a side podium near the front, coughs into his hand. "We were waiting for Kakashi, since we cannot conclude this meeting without him."
"Ah, yes. Thank you Iruka." The man replies genially, "Kakashi, would you like to nominate your… Team?"
Kakashi glances up from Kurenai's cleavage. "… Hmm? Oh, yes."
"Okay then. Everyone," He calls out grandly, "you are excused. Pick up the forms on your way out."
"Question." Kakashi calls as the group angrily disperses around him. "How likely is my team to pass?"
Iruka grimaces. "Not very. I heard that Ibiki is in charge this time around."
Kakashi strokes his mask thoughtfully. "Ibiki, huh… Hmm…"
"Good news." Kakashi appears from somewhere to chirp brightly, "I've nominated you two and Sasuke for the Chuunin Exams."
Kiba smacks his lips. "What are those words you just said. Are they 'sorry I'm three hours late?'"
Kakashi ignores him. "Here are the forms," he hands Sakura and Sasuke each a form, crumples the third into a ball and pings it off Kiba's head. "Sign them and show up where they say."
The man turns to leave but pauses. "You all have to sign them to compete, so…" He tilts his head at Sakura suggestively.
"Hey, Ibiki… Got a second?" Kakashi calls out to the man, who promptly turns to him and cracks a frown.
"Cool." Kakashi replies and holds out a steaming cup. "…Coffee?"
"What are you playing at, Kakashi?"
"Oh you can read me like a book." Kakashi chitters girlishly, "Not. I'm just offering you a cup of innocent coffee… Nothing odd about that."
Ibiki sniffs and takes the proffered cup, swirling it around under a jaundiced eye. "… It's drugged, isn't it."
"Wha?" Kakashi squawks, "I'm offended, Ibiki."
Ibiki holds out the mug. "Take a sip, then."
Kakashi does and passes it back. "Just a friendly cup of coffee, Ibiki. Good luck with the test." The man then wanders off and Ibiki shrugs and downs it.
"I couldn't stop looking at his junk." Kiba says a bit too loudly, taking a seat next to Sakura. "I mean, it was right there… Like, vacuum sealed. Like a… A green…" He inhales and tries to think of a good comparison. "…Penis."
Sakura slowly palms her face. "I know… I know… Did you see, when he blew me a kiss? It-"
"For the love of shit don't finish that sentence."
Sasuke cringes and grabs at his bruised and revolted stomach. He is just about to add to inform them that they didn't have to see vertical split kick when the door slams open and admits the second most frightening man he has ever seen. The man storms to the front of the room and the air instantly goes silent. He stands there for a minute, heatedly glaring at them.
He flares his nostrils. "Get the hell out of my classroom."
"Wh- I sneezed!" The Rain-nin defends indignantly.
"Get. Out." Ibiki grinds.
The ninja stands and angrily gestures themselves to the door. "It's locked." He says plainly.
"Get out!" Ibiki shouts.
"I – It – it's locked." He replies hesitantly. "The door is l-"
No matter how much he jingles the doorknob the door won't open. "I'm trying, It's locked!"
The ninja flattens against the door in fear. Ibiki stomps over to him, grabs him by the lapel and hurls him through the nearby window. He then returns to the front of the class and faces the crowd.
"Those of you remaining, you pass the first test. The test. Of. Silence!"
No one says anything.
Ibiki pulls a sheet of paper from behind his back, sticks a senbon through it and twirls it. "Now the test. Of. Grace!" He bellows. "Spin your head so this doesn't appear to be moving!"
One lightning-quick and apparently shameless grass-nin hops up on the tables and performs some sort of stationary cartwheel, actually managing to keep up for two rotations before he flops over onto the floor.
Ibiki snaps his senbon from anger. He jabs a finger at one of the many frightened assistants lining the walls. "Throw him from my classroom."
"T-throw him? Bu-"
"Throw him!" Ibiki punches through a nearby desk and the assistant proctor dashes over, grabs the genin by the shoulder and drags him to the window only to hesitate. "Um – sir… The windows are-"
"Throw. Him." He enunciates tightly.
"The windows are highly tempered a-"
The woman lets off a startled shriek and heaves the genin into the glass with all her might. A meaty crunch fills the room, a glob of blood dribbles down the pane.
Ibiki, face a rictus fury, takes a heaving step in her direction. The woman hysterically smashes the genin into the glass again and again, the genin squirting with every impact until she finally breaks into tears and falls on her knees. Ibiki kicks them both through the window and returns to the front of the classroom.
"Those of you remaining… Fail!" He pauses and lets his declaration sink in, a moment later pulling a sheet of paper from behind him and holding it up, the word 'deception' written in bold.
"… What?" A foolish genin hopeful questions. Ibiki signals and another assistant proctor begins crunching him against an unbroken window. Ibiki, ostensibly satisfied with the amount of blood spattering all over the floor, continues.
"Those of you remaining pass the test! Of! Deception!" He shouts through the crunching and gurgling. "Turn to the person next to you!"
"Now break their heart!"
Someone starts crying.
"Good!" Ibiki roars, progressively louder with every word. "You pass the eighth test. Now. For the test! Of! Tranquility! Relive a childhood memory to advance!"
No one breathes.
"You! Faaaail!" Ibiki grabs one of the genin in the front row and hurls them through one of the three remaining windows. He then faces the remaining crowd again.
"Those of you remaining… Pass!"
"Oh thank god."
"Now, for the final test! The test! Of! Algebra! Hold up seven minus five plus one fingers to advance!"
One poor soul holds up two fingers, and squeaks as Ibiki grabs him by the face and hurls him through one of the two remaining windows.
"You! Paaaaass!" Ibiki vomits all over his shoes, turns, and leaps from the last remaining window. The bloodied assistant proctor drops the slab of meat that was once a genin, curls into a ball and weeps.
The room is quiet but for the grown man's sobs, and the atmosphere rapidly becomes stiflingly uncomfortable. Kiba makes to tap his fingers on the desk but Sakura catches his hand mid-tap. Sasuke chokes off a sneeze, and just as every single eye turns to him the doors explode into the room and clear through the wall, taking out two assistant proctors in the process.
"Thanks… Naruto…" Anko says as the girl beams expectantly, walking in to the front of the deathly quiet room. She scratches the back of her neck, eyes skittering over the crowd for a moment, then over the blood lining the walls, then she notices the aura of morbid anticipation.
"Alright." She says, voice carrying far louder than she intended. "I don't know what happened… But… There was a guy here, and he tested you, yeah?"
No one responds and Anko turns to share a mutual shrug with Naruto.
"Whatever. I'm the second proctor. I think. So…" She sniffs. "C'mon, all of you, up and at 'em. We're going to the Forest of Death. It'll be fun, you'll see."
"Alright. You're all here. That's good." Anko does her best to project despite her crippling apathy. "Now we're gonna start the second test. Uh." She trails off for a moment. "It's something about the forest here. And some scrolls… Maybe I give them to you?" She strokes her chin contemplatively and eyes the table brimming with scrolls, then sneaks a glance at Naruto who shrugs in response.
"Yeah. Alright, all a' you, sign your death forms and trade them for a scroll, one scroll a team. Kakashi's team! Where are you?"
Sakura raises her hand and waves it timidly.
Anko nods and points at them. "You get – uh – sixteen scrolls." She deigns arbitrarily.
"Is that good?" Kiba asks quickly.
"I don't know the rules." Anko replies. "Hopefully not."
Kiba pumps his fist and Anko continues on. "You may have noticed this man next to me." She gestures to Kakashi next to her, on his knees and offering up a box of dango like an Aztec sacrifice. "He is my servant until my room is fixed. That's not really relevant, but. Well, I just wanted to embarrass him for a bit." She gestures to Naruto for a moment. "This is my sex-slave slash chief extorter, Naruto."
"Anyway. Um." She sniffs and tilts her head. "I think it goes like this. You all get a scroll, and there's this huge ass tower in the forest, and you have to get there. And the scrolls play into that somehow. I don't know how, though… Honestly, I wasn't paying attention when it was explained to me, so…"
A Grass-nin raises a hand and Anko shrugs and calls on her. "Do they contain provisions or… directions?"
"Don't know." Anko replies. "But we got two types, maybe there's a thing goin' on."
A Mist-nin is called on. "Maybe you need both for admission?"
"Oh that sounds right. So you each get one… Or… Yeah, and then you have to get both and they maybe do stuff too."
"Oooh oooh! Me-me! Me!" A giddy little Rock-nin hops up and down and Anko indulges her. "Can I open them?"
"Sure I guess. Let's find out." She gestures and Naruto tosses the girl a pair of scrolls.
The girl opens them and vaporizes in a cloud of meat.
"Okay then." Anko claps her hands for attention. "Live and learn. Don't open the scrolls, people! Take – did she sign the death form?"
The proctor handing out scrolls fishes through a stack of paper. "Yep."
"Phew. Close one." She turns to the mildly shell-shocked crowd. "Take your scroll and hop in!"
"Well? What do you think?" The Grass-nin asks, raising each of the many faces in his hand in turn. "This one? Or this one? Or maybe this one… "
"Hmm…" Kabuto grunts and tilts his head. "I like the second one. It brings out your eyes wonderfully."
"I know, right?" She gushes, holding the face up giving it a look-over. "But I don't like the nose. Or the jawline. Too harsh."
"How about the fifth one? The one with the lipstick?"
"Oh – good call." She flattens the third face over hers until the creases all vanish and checks her reflection in a mirror Kabuto holds up indulgently. "I like it. But oh, so many choices. I just can't decide…"
"Then wear all of them." He suggests pragmatically.
"… Kabuto, whatever would I do without you."
"I need to take a dump."
Sakura winces at his proclamation. "That's fine, Kiba. But be quieter next time, please?"
"Oh." Kiba says, just as loud. "Sorry. It's just-"
"And with more consideration for my fragile flower ears."
"-It's just that I really need to shit."
"Again." Sakura reiterates a bit harshly. "Just say 'I need to use the bathroom' or somet-"
"I am not a child, Sakura. I am a man."
"Okay, I have a few things to say in response to that-"
"And I really, really need to shit."
"Alright, whatever. I get it." Sakura assures him, "just go-"
"Probably a two pounder."
"I could name it." Kiba assures her against her will while Sasuke pretends they are not there and he is not holding a pack full of sixteen scrolls. Kiba then pats his gut fondly. "Your name shall be Tiddlywinks. And you shall have the gift of speed."
Sakura very nearly cracks him across the head. "Just go!"
"Fine. I'm going, god." Kiba sighs and looks down at his abdomen. "Can you believe her?" His gut grumbles and he is just about to start spouting babytalk when Sakura plants a foot on his chest and shoves him into the brush.
"Make it fast, we need to keep moving."
"Oh what the f-" Kiba snarls in response to the kunai pressed to his neck. He stops because of the hand over his mouth and just frowns.
"Keep quiet." Mystery assailant hushes. "When I remove my hand, you will tell me where your scrolls are. Ready? Good."
The hand moves and Kiba grimaces. "You know… I am currently engaged in taking a shit. A shit of epic proportions... I named it Tiddlywinks."
"What…" The kunai digs in a bit and he doesn't flinch. "Nevermind. I asked you a question. Don't make me repeat myself."
"Oh my gooooooood!" What appears to be a Rain-nin leaps from the brush, shrieking at the top of his lungs. Sasuke quirks an eye as the Rain-nin dashes straight past him without sparing a glance, and wonders what could have evoked such a peculiar response.
As if in reply to his internal question, Kiba appears from the bush. Ass first and galloping on all fours like a gigantic spider. He cavorts past them at a good clip, firing wildly into the woods as Sakura pales and makes dry, frothing noises and Sasuke just stands there, shaking his head disappointedly.
Kiba ceases his mutant like sprint not nearly soon enough, straightens, pulls up his pants, and roars into the woods. "Yeah you better run, bitch!" He then adds spontaneously, "you've just been Kiba'd!"
Sakura turns and dry heaves while Sasuke continues shaking his head. "Kakashi was right. You are a filthy, filthy person.
Kiba turns and finally recognizes his team standing there. "Oh, Superstar. Didn't see you there. And Sakura too… Huh." He shrugs helplessly. "Oops."
Sasuke sighs. "That's all you have to say for yourself?"
"Well, yeah." Kiba replies matter-of-factly. "He interrupted me, totally had it coming. And hey, it worked, right?"
"…But at what cost, Kiba." Sasuke averts his eyes and sighs again. "At what cost…"
"I bit a wolf's face off." Kiba informs the peculiarly mannish woman peering at him confusedly. "Nothing scares me anymore."
"… Oh…" Self-proclaimed Orochimaru says. "Huh…"
"That was about my reaction, really." Kiba diverts his attention long enough to slap the kunai out of Sasuke's hand.
Orochimaru is far too curious to let that proclamation pass by. "… Why?"
"He started it." Kiba justifies plainly.
"No I get that." Orochimaru replies, hopping down from her high branch and wandering closer. "Buy why bite the face? There are so many easier ways to incapacitate."
"You bite the face off a wolf," Kiba says in all seriousness, "and its wolf friends know what the fuck's up."
"… I'm going to mark Sasuke now."
Orochimaru quirks the corner of her lips in mild amusement and pads around Kiba to a blankly staring Sasuke. She takes him up roughly and chomps down on his neck while Kiba watches, silently judging her.
"Alright." She says, dropping Sasuke carelessly and turning on her heels. "I'm gonna go. Keep an eye on… What was it… Superstar for me."
Kiba snorts. "Sure."
Orochimaru pats him on the head. "I'm liking the attitude. So polite. Your generation must be even more adequate than usual."
"I'm sure that's a compliment. So, thank you, scary woman."
"Oh it must be." Orochimaru replies assuredly and wanders off. She makes three steps before a foot vaporizes through the air, crunches her head straight down through her neck and pops her sternum like an overripe fruit. Naruto follows after that foot, and touches down as her body gurgles to viscous mud.
"Naruto…" Orochimaru greets hesitantly from her new position, a good ways away on a high branch. "I see my assumptions were correct. Good."
"Oh stop blustering." Anko appears from the brush and says with no small bit of contempt. "You aren't bitching your way out of this one."
"Anko dear, you're here too." She chirps and smiles fondly. "My how you've grown."
"Filled out pretty good didn't I." Anko replies harshly. "Nice to see you, by the way. Found a few people without faces. Figured you were in town… Also I got your note… And you're a girl now. Odd."
She chuckles. "Yes, I-"
"I don't actually care. Just stating an observation."
Anko quiets and grimaces for a moment as Orochimaru leers down from her high branch. "Enough talking - ugh. I'm not strong enough to kill you." Anko notes, mostly to herself, "I might never be. But Naruto is."
"What – I can't talk but you can? Double standard. Let's start this up another time, dear. Another less rude time." Orochimaru croons and sinks slowly into the branch beneath her feet.
"Naruto. Kill her dead."
Orochimaru sinks to her knees before Naruto is on her. A hand around her neck yanks her out and cracks her back through the tree in a fluid movement, afterwards hurling her down through the freefalling branch to finally crumple into a pain shaped divot.
Orochimaru makes a gurgling sort of laugh and sits up in her hole, skeleton solidifying and popping back into place. "I really was right. So right. A shame though that you weren't mine." A wistful sigh follows.
Naruto hops down as the tree itself finally falls. Anko frowns and calls out "Naruto! Keep killing him – I mean her!"
Naruto drops on Orochimaru hard enough to squish a hole through her chest. A hand rears back, crackling like fire as it screeches forth, smashing her down and kicking up the ground. Something flies from the dust, slopping over to finally rest. Orochimaru's head, eyes closed mouth open before a red cannonball blasts it to ash.
Anko whoops and hollers for a moment. She stops because Orochimaru's fingers rise up through the low cloud of dirt in an all too familiar sign and suddenly her neck is on fire. Naruto is there to catch her when she falls but Orochimaru is there too, noticeably sticky head a-smiling and that is not okay.
"I'm betting you forgot about this, Anko." Orochimaru gurgles as she staggers over, black ichor dribbling down her slowly forming chin. "You always were forgetful, but to think that you forget my only and most precious gift. For shame, my dear. Shame… Alright, I forgot too, to be honest. Good thing I remembered though, right?"
Anko wheezes out a swear and immediately curls down with a hoarse whine.
"None of that ruffian talk for you, little Anko." She mollifies, pouring just a bit more chakra into her slowly less and less broken fingers. "I know I taught you better than that."
Anko has just enough strength to flash a finger. Then she has just enough to groan. Naruto holds her steady, expression pained.
"Aww, you see how much she loves you?" Orochimaru smiles and crouches down next to her, legs cracking like twigs underfoot. "This, right here, was what I wanted… For me, that is... For me." She reaches out and pats Naruto's head and the girl doesn't notice. "Complete devotion. I'm betting she obeys you without question. She wants what you want. She lives for you. Oh I was so right. A shame you got to her first. Such a waste of talent."
Orochimaru drops the sign and Anko bursts to life, gasping a deep breath with shaking shoulders. Orochimaru clucks her tongue and brushes an errant lock of hair behind Anko's ear and Anko is too weak to brush off her hand. But she can still squint.
"Oh I know, Anko dear. You despise me. But aren't you curious?"
Anko tries her best to frown.
"Always 'I'll kill you,' never 'Orochimaru, what did you do to Naruto?'"
"I know you don't care, but this is too delicious. Ready?"
Anko frowns harder.
"Seriously, are you ready? You're just gonna' freak."
Anko frowns too hard and pulls a muscle.
"I cut off her head."
Anko's mouth opens.
Orochimaru grins with an air of self-satisfaction. "Well more accurately, I cut out her brain. See, my little Anko, Naruto here used to be an adorable little girl. Much like you."
Naruto spares Orochimaru a glance and quickly turns back to tending to Anko.
"However, unlike you, Naruto had an adorable little monster in her. And you know how I can be. Captain stickyfingers, here. But no matter how much I poked it, it didn't want to play nice."
If Anko could sigh, she would.
"Naruto also had adorable little organs. Organs it turns out I couldn't use, but that regrew like magic. Regrew into brand new organs, not gross old organs – eww."
Anko tries to sigh.
"Naruto was also very rude, much like you. All 'let me go!' this and 'oh-my-god-Aaaaaah! Aaah ohmygodwhyyyy!' that. And that got me thinking, how can I make her prim and proper? Of course, I thought. Remove her brain and there'll be a fancy new brain. Nice and blank, ripe for the washing."
"Don't talk, Anko, you sound ridiculous. Anyway. I pop open her head, take out her brain, and – funny story – turns out those new fancy organs were actually just for show. Next thing I know I'm in twelve places. And then you show up at just the right moment, she reboots and you are her everything. You live, she lives. She obeys you. She wants to obey you. Complete devotion. And..."
Orochimaru pulls a kunai and holds it to Anko's neck. "Unfortunately… You die. And she dies… As you've no doubt noticed by now, this devotion also comes with horrendous tunnel vision and attachment issues... Huh, I guess we can do this now after all."
Naruto looks at the blade and frowns.
"My apologies, dear Anko. But I can't have Naruto running around underfoot, you understand don't you?"
A single speck of blood draws beneath the blade and a burning red fist blisters into her chest, Orochimaru crunching around it like bone-filled elastic and squirting black and fleshy pink out her mouth. Then the red explodes and she is flying, bludgeoning back through the forest, through tree after tree, out of the forest and high into the clouds, and plummeting down and down and finally crashing into the dirt miles away.
Naruto turns back to Anko and eases her up, head resting on her hand as the woman blinks away a few vestiges of pain and grins up fondly. Naruto smiles down and pulls her close.
"I bet that hurt like a bitch."
Anko and Naruto turn their heads to find Kiba standing there, peering into the distance.
"… You're still here?" Anko wheezes after a long moment of gathering strength, barely above a whisper. "Forgot all about you…"
"I know." Kiba replies. "I just sort of faded back – figured you three had your own thing going on, didn't want to interrupt or anything."
Naruto holds Anko closer. "… Go away."
"Sorry I'm late." Kakashi says as he wanders out of the brush. "Forgot what I was supposed to do. And then I got real angry, because I was confused. So then I went home, had some tea. Took a nap. Walked by the park, smelled the flowers, remembered I was supposed to do something… And then it's now." He smiles as if all is right with the world. "What I miss?"
Kiba snorts and Anko really, really doesn't. "You were… Supposed to bring… Backup… Stupid."
"…Oh…" Kakashi mutters, wholly unashamed. "Well… I brought tea." He holds out an empty mug. "I drank yours."
Anko chuckles weakly. "I hate you so much."
"This is why I can't have nice things, Kiba."
"That doesn't make any sense." Sasuke complains half-assedly. The mixed name goes unmentioned. "Some woman named Orochimaru bit me. That's what happened."
Kakashi glances over and finally understands why his student is following him. He covertly heads for the dungeon for sealing instead of the break room for waffles. Unfortunately Kakashi's only option for a rebuttal is to claim that Kiba is a 'nice thing.' He realizes this and ignores the boy instead.
"… So where are we going?" Sasuke asks, a little concerned.
"The dungeons. So I can do things to your neck." Kakashi fishes through his pockets and hands the boy a ball-gag. "So you can't scream."
The water drips, drips, and Anko eases back against the bath with a long pent sigh. Her shoulder had stung still, wrought with a steady pulsing that had yet to fade even with topical application of sweets and alcohol, not even internal digestion of said sweets and alcohol helped, and she had feared, back then, that all was lost. But then Anko had warmed a bath and gotten drunk and full of sweets.
Her head lulls back, hair slick with a long-past dunk falling back over the curved rim.
Naruto eases in, resting her head on Anko's chest, eyelashes barely sending shivers through the woman's collarbone. Her arms wrap Anko's back, head just barely above the water.
"Naruto…" Anko mutters softly, letting out a slow breath and tension evaporating like so much steam and silky soft skin. "Next time… If I'm hurt, I want you to focus on what's hurting me… Instead of me me..."
The girl nuzzles and Anko pats her head… and that pat turns to a caress, and that caress trails down to the curve of her back where it settles. And maybe her hips quirk up – just a bit – because she's drunk and full and nothing has felt so good. All of her sensei's old smiles – hollow approval as they were lit up the sky in her youth, but they pale now, shrivel up as the leaves of a dead tree.
"Hm." Naruto hums, and Anko can feel the sound in her chest. She fishes around outside the bath and pulls back with a half-empty bottle of mystery Hyuuga saké and takes a sip. And decides that she would rather stay slightly sober and enjoy this soft little thing curled up against her. The bottle clatters down and another fond caress trails down to rest on Naruto's back, and she smiles. The thing small and intoxicated but when Naruto glances up in that second it is more than enough.
Anko chuckles as Naruto beams. "It'll work out better in the long run, trust me." She assures the girl unnecessarily.
Naruto blinks and nods and rests her head back down, arms holding tighter and Anko holds her back. Anko remembers the forest. her old sensei's ramblings. She wonders what Naruto thinks. If she thinks. How she keeps her skin so soft. Her right hand trails up absently, over the curve of Naruto's spine, up her side to rest on her shoulder protectively.
"Naruto…" Anko muses softly, eyes drifting closes and head easing back once again. "I'm crazy tired… Make sure I don't drown…"
Naruto holds her tighter.
"Let's see… this goes… Here?" Kakashi mutters, drawing a hesitant line and immediately scrubbing it off with Sasuke's shirt. "No. Here maybe?"
"You don't know what you're doing, do you." Sasuke says, less a question and more a plea for help to anyone watching the surveillance monitor attached to the camera in the far corner of the ceiling.
"Quiet Kiba." Kakashi shushes him. "I need silence. Now let me work… let's see… Maybe a swirly here… And an 'X' here… And some kickass flames, here, here… and… here." He straightens up and claps his hands together mildly. "And we're done."
Sasuke glances down at the horrible tattoo his shoulder had become. "I am lacking confidence in your abilities."
"Oh nonsense." Kakashi flaps a hand dismissively. "Ready?"
"Onetwothreego!" Kakashi flashes through a few random seals and socks him in the shoulder.
"Akamaru! Akamaru where are you, boy!"
"Kiba, they're waiting for you." Sakura chides and he frowns over at her.
"I'm not fighting without Akamaru." He turns and shrieks "Akamaru! A-ka-ma-ruuuuuu! Arablarabaruuu!"
"Now you're just being stupid."
"Last call for Inuzuka Kiba!" the slowly dying proctor calls out harshly, staring right at the boy. "Last call! As in, this is the last time I will say this before you are disqualified!"
"Alright. You called my bluff." The proctor admits and coughs into his stylish neckerchief for a moment. "I can't disqualify you. But please hurry up… I don't have a lot of time left."
Kiba falls to his knees, looks to the ceiling and bellows "Akamaaaaruuuuuu!" Sakura snaps and punts him over the railing into the arena. His opponent, an impatient looking rain-nin, snickers a bit and plays it off as a cough.
"Oh- uh." The proctor takes his chance. "Onetwothreego!" And hops back to lean against the wall.
"Hm?" Kiba grunts as he rises and brushes himself off. He glances to his opponent who had at some point pulled an umbrella and was spinning it. He doesn't know why. "Oh, we start? Look, dude. My best friend's sort of missing in action right now, you mind if I shout for him for a bit?"
The Rain-nin sighs, thumps his umbrella down and leans on it. "Knock yourself out… I guess."
"Akamaru!" Kiba shrieks at the very top of his lungs. "Arakamaruuuu!"
"Hey, kid." The rain-nin says, "I'm getting a little antsy, here."
"Now you're just spouting gibberish – look, can we just start this thing?
Kiba sags his shoulders and sighs. "I guess s-" He stops because a muffled bark echoes through the arena. His eyes go wide and he glances around shiftily. "Akamaru? You here, boy?" He forgoes things like tact and dignity and shrieks "Where are you, boy!"
Arf… arf arf…
Kiba glances over at the rain-nin, about to ask him to help look, but instead finds him just standing there, looking oddly stiff.
His mouth opens. No words from his lips, only a dry crackling like an open fire. Then he spews blood. dribbling down his chin, down to twitching fingers. His shoulders arc back and Akamaru explodes out of the Rain-nin's chest, showing the arena with gobbets of meat.
Sakura shrieks like a wounded bat and passes out. A sand genin smiles eerily and a few others offer up some choice expletives.
"What the fuck did I just see."
"What's happening! What's! Happening!"
Kiba glances over at the proctor. "Do I win?"
"Live and learn." Kakashi assures the slightly crispy boy as he goes about his sealing business. "Live-va. And. Learn-na."
"I don't like you."
"Hey. Hey. Hey… Rude." Kakashi declares, sounding hurt. Then he squints and petulantly scribbles in tiny penises wherever they can fit. "Alright, should work this time."
Sasuke harrumphs. "Damn well bett-"
"OnetwothreeGo!" Kakashi flashes though a few random hand signs and slaps the boy on the back.
"Who'sagoodboy! Who'sagoodboy! Whozagoodboy! You are!" Kiba croons to a blood-soaked and happily tail-wagging Akamaru, "You are! That's right! Yes you are! Yyyyes you are!"
"What can I even say." Sakura mutters, still a little woozy. "Don't let him near me ever again, Kiba."
"Who's daddy's little magic dog!"
"That's right! You are!"
"I can't believe that worked." Kakashi muses, looking down at his unconscious student. "Heh, that thing's permanent now… Fun…"
"What have we here?"
Kakashi startles violently and hurls a few kunai, a paper bomb, and Sasuke's unconscious form at the voice. Orochimaru, the voice's owner, dodges the projectiles by standing there calmly and letting the man's horrendous aim do the work.
"Oh." Kakashi notes and throws a few more kunai absently. "Orochimaru, that you?"
"Surprised you recognized me." Orochimaru replies. "Just checking up on Sasuke."
"… Ah." Kakashi says and scratches his neck. "… So… That all?"
"Yes." She says, still a little woozy from Naruto's punch.
"… Cause, I mean… He's right there." Kakashi gestures to the boy. "You could take him. No problem."
"Uh… No." She says, confused. "Just checking up on him. The curse seal has an absolutely horrendous mortality rate –just making sure my investment pays off." Her hesitant frown turns sinister. "He will come to me on his own, soon enough."
"…That's so inefficient, though." Kakashi says. "I mean… He's right there. You could just take him now, save yourself the trouble."
"No." Orochimaru says and chuckles for a moment, fading back into the darkness.
"Please?" Kakashi calls out softly, but no one answers him. His shoulders sag and he sighs out a bit of his happiness. "… Don't leave me here with him…"
Sakura and Ino rear back and knock each other out cold. The medics promptly swarm onto the scene as the slightly deader proctor calls "double knockout."
A gigantic medic approaches Ino's body and kneels down, pressing two fingers to the hollow of her throat. "Oh good lord!" He suddenly shrieks in a display of total unprofessionalism. "I'm not getting a pulse! Quickly, Nurse! We need to operate! Hand me the nipple clamps!"
"Nipple clamps." The nurse confirms quickly, pulling the item from a satchel and passing it over.
"Don't you die on me!" He bellows, fiercely tweaking her nipples through her clothes. "don't you dare die on me! Oh – it's no good! Nurse! The chocolate sauce, stat!"
"Chocolate sauce." She confirms and hands it over.
"Don't give up!" He shouts, wildly squirting chocolate all over the place, "don't go towards the light! Don't go towards the light! Oh no! Nnnnnoooooooo! Quickly, Nurse! More nipple clamps!"
"But sir!" She chitters, "the recommended dosage-"
"Goddamn you woman I said more nipple clamps!"
"Yes doctor. Nipple clamps." She passes them over.
"Don't you dare die on me! You hear?" He shouts, fiercely tweaking his own nipples for some reason and making a good half of the room cringe, "You're still young, you've got so much ahead of you!"
"Wh – Ibiki? What the hell are you doing!" The proctor finally snaps out of his horrified daze. "And where the hell are my medics!"
"Nurse, get him out of my O.R.!" The doctor shouts impatiently, pulling a massive paddle from somewhere and going about his business.
"No." The proctor denies. "No. No. No. Get out. The both of you, get the hell out."
"Get him out of my O.R.!" The doctor shrieks again.
The proctor inflates, ready to literally kick them from the arena when he doubles over in a coughing fit.
"Oh good lord!" Ibiki in a tiny doctor's uniform roars, throwing his hands up in blind rage, "we got another one! Nurse! Twenty feet of rope, stat!"
He takes the rope. "Don't you die on me!" He hollers, tying up the proctor who ineffectually beats him off with a few choice backhands. "Don't you dare die on me!"
"Take it off!" A genin bellows from the stairs.
"Congratulations to those of you who passed." The proctor says with all the sober professionalism of a sales clerk, "You move on to the final test. In a month or so we'll have a battle-royall type thing, it'll be super sweet."
He holds out a box and shakes it, expression noticeably disgruntled. "Take your damn numbers."
Each genin steps up in turn to claim a number and is momentarily overcome by childlike wonder, shouting out their number and promptly feeling foolish. Except for Kiba.
"You're number 17." The proctor says.
"What." Kiba replies, hand hovering just over the box.
"Kakashi called in a favor. You're number 17."
"But…" Kiba mutters, "…there aren't even that many people here."
The proctor sniffs. "He was very specific that you be number 17. Next person!"
The rest of the people get their numbers and line up on cue. "Alright," the proctor calls out bitterly, "look up in wonder at this marvel of modern technology. This will tell you who you fight and in what order, so pay attention… Oh wait… No, nevermind. It's like, one fights two, and three fights four and so on. Got it?"
Kiba raises his hand.
"Good. I need to go wash away the shame." He leaves.
"Cool." Shikamaru notes, stopping and eyeing the jounin before him. The assortment of other genin pause as they catch up and eye the man too.
Kakashi seemingly notices them for the first time and offers up a weak wave. "Yo."
"… Right." Shikamaru mutters slowly, he tries to remember what he can of the man... Nothing at all. "Look, we're after Sasuke right now, our opponents are way over our heads and we could use some assistance."
"That so…" Kakashi muses absently, stashing his orange book in his vest and shoving his hands in his pockets, posture clearly indicating how little of a shit he gives. "… That so…"
"Uh – yeah." Ino contributes hesitantly. "We could use some help. You're Sasuke's Jounin-Sensei right?"
"Indeed I am…"
Shikamaru doesn't like his oddly ominous tone. "You know what, nevermind. The village needs all the elite we can spare right now."
"… That so…"
Shikamaru notes that the man makes no sense. "Yeah. So, we're just gonna' go on, see if we can catch up to him," he says, gesturing vaguely in the hopes that the man would lose interest in their probably imminent demise, "maybe stop him. You should go help the village."
Shikamaru moves to pass him but stops as the man pulls his hands from his pockets and is suddenly every bit the elite jounin he is supposed to be.
"… I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
[=The somewhat distant past=]
"The finals are in a month." Kakashi instructs his team loftily, their expressions illustrating to any passerby's that they were clearly there against their will. Especially Sakura. "You have some dangerous opponents, and it will take every bit of skill and finesse for you to survive, let alone win. Especially you, Sasuke." He says, his team lowering their formerly high expectations back down as the man once again chews on Kiba's pride.
"It is with this in mind that I have decided to train you all for your matches. It will hurt, and you will hate me. But you will win… Except for you, Sasuke."
"Um.. Sensei?" Sakura mumbles timidly, scuffing her foot on the dirt, "I don't actually have a match, so…"
"Hm?" The man grunts, seemingly noticing her there for the first time. His eye sort of lights up a bit. "Oh, Sakura. What are you doing here?"
"You told me to be here." She replies tightly.
"… Did I?" He wonders aloud. "Hm. This bears investigation. Quickly, find my set of magnifying glasses, there's mystery afoot!"
"Nn." Sakura recognizes the slightly patronizing dismissal and quickly leaves. Kakashi seamlessly turns to his remaining members.
"Both of you, wait here. I'm going to go get some training weights from someone."
"So you just left them there?"
"Yep." Kakashi says plainly and takes a sip from his glass of something, then clacks it down on the bar with a relieved sigh.
"… Why even do all that?" Anko wonders aloud, taking a bite from her skewer of dango and chewing contemplatively. "You could'a just ignored them like you usually do… Less work that way."
"Well… I dunno." Kakashi takes another sip. "I guess I was just bored."
"…Oh." Anko offers her dango to Naruto, the girl sitting on the barstool next to her. She takes a bite and Anko leans in and impulsively licks the bit of sugar syrup that dribbles down her chin. A Mist Jounin walks in, takes one look at a slightly flushed Naruto, keels over and crab-walks out slowly.
"… Oh, wait." Kakashi suddenly starts back up again, straightening in his barstool and snapping out a few kinks in his spine. "I found out that pass or fail they're still on my roster. So then I was like... How do I make that not happen?"
"… And?" Anko ventures indulgently over her glass of something sour.
"And then I was like… Oh. Wait." He mutters, scratching his head and trying to remember what he can of his motivation through a haze of laziness and apathy. "No. No, never mind. I guess I was just bored." He takes a sip from his drink and nods assuredly. "Yep. Just bored."
Anko clinks their glasses together lazily. "The hell do I even say to that." she mutters, then smacking her lips and shrugging. "…I dunno. Congrats?"
Kakashi tilts his chin down for a moment. Then he belches. "Thanks."
Anko snorts and takes another sip from her drink. "It is kinda' funny I guess… 'Least when it's not happenin' to me… Think they're still waiting?"
"…Eh." Kakashi shrugs and takes a glug of someone's glass, he isn't too sure whose. "Probably not."
Sasuke doesn't even care anymore. "Hn."
Kiba smacks his lips and takes a breath through his nose. "He's not comin' back is he."
"…No. I'd guess… Probably not."
Kiba nods for a bit. "You know, the two of us together… We could kill him."
Kakashi yawns and takes another sip of someone's drink. "Actually… I don't care…"
"Or do I?" Kakashi muses to himself, taking a bite of someone's dango absently. Then he belches. "Oh – nope. No, just a burp." He chortles to himself for a bit then burps again. "Oh – wow I care even less now… Huh…"
"… You're kind of a dick, Kakashi." Anko informs him.
He crinkles his eye. "Endearing sonnovabitch ain't I."
He raises someone's glass for a toast and Anko clacks hers on it indulgently. "You do grow on people." She admits brightly. "Like a fungus, or a venereal disease capable of hate."
"I'll drink to hate." Kakashi downs someone's glass and cracks it down on the counter. Then he tilts his head as if realizing something for the first time. "I should go before whoever's drink this was comes back."
Anko waves a hand over her shoulder as the man wanders out aimlessly. Then she glances over at Naruto who was formerly preoccupied with stacking coasters. "… I feel like I'm forgetting something."
Naruto blinks and offers her a coaster. Anko takes it and eyes the design on the front. "Cardboard… Condensation shield…Coaster... Coaster?… Coasting!" She shouts abruptly, banging her fist on the counter and startling the man two seats across half to death. "Wait nevermind - that's just nonsense… Maybe I owe someone money?"
"What happened to my drink?" A voice interjects, and Anko cranes her head back to look up at a decidedly unamused Kurenai, the woman crossing her arms under her chest and acting like that didn't make half the bar stare at her cleavage.
Anko snaps her fingers and sits straight. "That's right, I'm here with Kurenai." Then she tilts her head back again. "About your drink: Kakashi was here."
Kurenai raises a brow.
"You really shouldn't need me to elaborate on that."
Kurenai huffs and takes her barstool, then pouts at her empty glass. "Easy come easy go, I guess."
Anko shrugs and slides her half empty mug of something bubbly over, Kurenai grimaces but takes a sip anyway.
"Remind me, what am I doing here again?"
The woman shoots a flat look over at her. "You're here with me and Asuma, remember?"
"Oh…Oooh, right, right. Why?"
"I don't know." Kurenai mutters over Anko's drink, noting from the corner of her vision that Asuma's drink was empty too. She doesn't see Anko's eyes lighting up ominously, or her chambering a punch. "Something about-"
"I said okay." Sasuke reiterates plainly. "After my fight I'll go with you to Orochimaru or… whoever it is."
"…Oh." Kabuto then 'huh's, sounding mildly surprised. "Just like that? I mean, you don't even – Orochimaru is the one who bit you, you know?"
"Aaaand you're okay with that?"
"Have you met Kakashi? If I didn't know he'd somehow stop me through some lazy miracle I'd kill him in his sleep."
"But…" Kabuto replies, barely realizing that he is now doing the opposite of his assignment, "you're just going to trade him off? You don't even know what we want yet."
"Or if we'll even train you."
"You literally know nothing about our intentions."
"I… Okay then… We'll find you after your fight, be ready… I guess…"
Kabuto half shrugs walks out.
"Do you have any idea how irresponsible that was!"
"Talking to me about irresponsible!" Anko raves as Kurenai clutches at her stomach again and a newly arrived Asuma frowns, "I was saving the world from the horrifying mutant offspring that would have been! You're the irresponsible one here – doin' the – the – uh… Damnit! The penis-vagina with this guy!" She jabs a finger at Asuma, who grimaces in response but doesn't say anything.
"We're not doing anything." Kurenai readily admits and Asuma deflates just a bit but keeps on being somewhat imposing. "and even if we were, which we aren't, it wouldn't be any of your business… And the word is 'sex' – how could you not know the word 'sex.'"
Anko cringes at the word 'sex' both times. "Ugh – don't call it that, this is hard enough already… And stop frowning, Asuma, I don't even give a shit about you. Also you're not impressing anyone, you or your ridiculous mutton-chops."
"Is this why you invited us?" Kurenai half-threatens but pulls it back as Naruto catches her eye over Anko's shoulder, "to punch me in the stomach? Was that all you had planned?"
"I don't know." Anko says, for some reason feeling bored with the situation, "I've been sort of drifty today, might've had something else going on… Eh… Also your side-burnie thingies are ridiculous, Asuma. You… Uh…" She squints. "Wait… What's happening?"
Kurenai sort of glowers at her and Anko feels a yawn coming on. She makes a mental note to take a nap and forgets almost immediately. "Honestly, I have no idea." The woman says.
Anko yawns. "Why are we at a bar?"
"You invited us."
"… Us?" Anko inquires, less a question and more an expression of indignant disbelief directed at the word itself, then she glances over her shoulder and makes an affirmative noise at a half-grimacing Asuma. "Oh… Oh that's right, that's right…" Then she recoils at something, moving to glance back and forth between Asuma and Kurenai sharply.
Kurenai only barely blocks the shot to her crotch; nearly falling from the barstool but for Asuma's steadying hand. "Damnit Anko!"
"Don't get mad at me! You're the one doin' the – the… Fuck!" Anko opens and closes her mouth and silently gestures for a bit, then jabs a finger at a resigned looking Asuma. "This guy!"
"What could you possibly have against Asuma?"
Anko rears back in preparation for a verbal lashing, pointer finger cocked and ready for emphasizing. A quick moment passes and Anko realizes she has forgotten the question, promptly slamming her hands down on the bar. Then she works her jaw and gestures for a bit.
Finally she sighs. "You know what I'm really drawing a blank here. Don't know what's up with my head today, I'm actually a little concerned."
"… We're going, Anko." Kurenai says, and starts out of the bar. Asuma trails after her and Anko just waves absently.
Kakashi's spoonful of cereal is halfway to his mouth when his door implodes. He turns and reflexively yawns at the sight of Ibiki clunking in through his doorway, looking a peculiar mix of curious and white-hot rage.
Their eyes meet.
"Yo Ibiki." Kakashi says, noting to himself that he would need yet another door.
Ibiki flares his nostrils in a way that suggests that that particular nose-flare was in fact a horrendous curse in some alien language composed entirely of varying nose flares that only Ibiki knew. Kakashi really tries not to but he yawns again.
"Kakashi." The man says, "you'll never guess where I've been."
"Oh you can read me like a book, Ibiki." Kakashi chortles into his hand but cuts off for yet another yawn. He's a little worried that something is horribly wrong with him.
"I was in isolation." Ibiki replies as though Kakashi had guessed wrong or at all. "For the few days it took to detox, at least." He claps out his hands mildly. "And then I was here. Looking at a dead man."
"What!" Anko squawks and slams a fist down on Sarutobi's desk. Naruto blinks and eyes her own fist, then slowly rests it down next to Anko's.
Sarutobi hands Naruto a distraction-lollypop and tries not to look amused. "You heard me perfectly well, Anko. I'm sure you know of the upcoming… Invasion, I suppose is the word."
"Yeah, yeah, I got the damn note!" She grinds, "But I don't wanna-"
"Wanna?" Sarutobi tastes the word for a bit, "wanna? What is this mystery word you're saying - my feeble old-man brain cannot possibly comprehend it."
"Wha – I"
"In case you don't get it, I am expressing disbelief at your preconception that your 'want' has any relevance in this situation."
"Well yeah I think I got that much, but-"
"But? What on earth is that? A type of food? All this hip lingo is giving me gas."
"Why are you being so bitchy!"
"My back hurts! I can never find anything! Oh, wait a minute - we're being invaded!" He snaps, slamming a fist on his desk and trying not to wince. He notes that his bones are far more brittle than they used to be. "I want you and Naruto, mostly Naruto, proctoring because I want my strongest where we're going to be hit hardest, understand? This isn't just to personally inconvenience you, Anko. There is a reason."
Anko sighs. "Yeah I know there's a reason, but-"
"Also the previous proctor died."
"Okay, two reasons – fucking a' - but I was gonna sleep in, and then go have the Hyuuga make me lunch, and then Naruto was gonna do a sensual massage thing and then we were gonna watch the kiddles fight to the death for our amusement and throw popcorn at them. I had the whole day planned out." She crosses her arms over her chest. "You soiled my plans, old man... Right in front of Naruto." She squints. "You owe me a day off."
"Anko," the man replies immediately, "you haven't had a single day of work in over three months."
Anko snorts. "Heh, yeah… Still, though."
"Anko, you realize that, as a special-jounin, you choose what – if any - missions you take, right? My giving you a day off is literally inconsequential."
"Yeah, I know."
Sarutobi wonders what he has done to deserve Anko. "…You can have tomorrow off."
"Cool. See ya' old man!" She leaps from the formerly unbroken window and Naruto patters after her.
Naruto eased down, another bottle of celebratory sake in her hands. Anko loops an arm around her and holds her current bottle high in victory.
"To my day off!" She crows for just about no reason.
Naruto giggles and scoots closer, smiling for no more reason than because Anko was smiling. Anko, for her part, doesn't think much of the airy, contented expression on Naruto's lips, and nuzzles down into the girls head after a moment of basking in the freedom. Then things get a little blurry, Anko remembers another bottle of sake… then she is kissing Naruto, deep and soft, running her hands over hips, the slope of her neck and holding her close; tasting something sweet like sugar syrup.
Then something moans, a high pitched 'aaahn' of a noise, then more of those, more and more, and something sweet again…
Anko snorts awake and closes her eyes tight as she can as the unholy light streams through her apparently broken windows. A minute, or maybe a few hours later, Anko creaks her eyes open enough to see, and looks down at the soft weight on her chest. She finds Naruto there, curled into her and flushed, a dreamy smile on her lips… Also naked and sticky.
Anko smacks her lips. "… Well then… I raped Naruto…"
"Wait a minute…" She says a moment later. "I raped Naruto?"
"I raped Naruto!"
Kakashi stumbles back as though struck by a physical blow, cracking his head on his low-hanging ceiling fan and keeling over bonelessly. Then he starts weeping onto the carpet.
Anko gestures at him vaguely and Kakashi waves her off, wiping at his tears by stretching his face mask to his eye. "I'm just so happy." He justifies thickly. Then he breaks down into undignified sobs. "So haa-haa-peeee… Also fucking ouch…"
"This is serious!" Anko growls and wrings out her hands, "I totally raped Naruto! Like, just last night! I still can't get her off me!" Anko gestures to the sloppily clothed Naruto hanging around her neck. "She's crazy friggen' strong!"
"Ma – may – maybe if- if you…" Kakashi replies, thoroughly choked up, "if you ki – issed her again s – she'd let go? And seriously, my head – I think I'm bleeding."
"Why did I come here again…" Anko muses to herself, feeling somehow cheated, "Kakashi, I appreciate appropriately timed sex jokes as much as the next - but I could use an actual game plan here. You totally owe me."
"I don't s – see a problemmmm-yep, blood. There's blood on my carpet."
"Kakashi…" She sighs. "How do I put this… Naruto, is like the kid the Old Guy never had, you know, 'cause of his oldness. And he may have trusted me with Naruto so this exact situation wouldn't happen. So… Hey - you getting this?"
"Y – y – y – yeeah."
"Oh for shit's sake Kakashi, stop crying. You're like an enormous girl, only-"
"O – only I h-h-have a p – penis?"
"Damnit you beat me to it. But seriously though, I need a plan. Cause-"
"'C - cause of the rape."
"Well – I - cause of she's crazy strong, and I can't get her off. And al-"
"And also, well, yes."
"… Hmm." Kakashi muses, then stands and wanders around for a bit, briefly forgetting what he is doing and making himself a cup of tea, then he remembers and starts pacing. But then he gets tired and sits down on the couch.
"This might sound weird," Kakashi abruptly steeples his fingers on his coffee table, "but keep with me."
"So then we're standing there, right. Owl's like, dead or something I don't know, I'm not a doctor. And I mean, logically – you know what, screw it, whatever." Anko sighs and nurses her bottle for a bit. "So we're looting him, right? And then he just violently wakes up – And then - I thought I did what anyone would do!"
"Hmm." Kakashi muses for a moment and tries to remember what he knows about Anko. "So you stabbed him, then?"
"In the leg." Anko confirms and takes another sip. "All the way to the bone. So he's screaming, right? And I'm like, okay, loud. And then he starts flailing and I guess he scared Naruto 'cause then she strait up punts him through the wall, it was awesome – we got drunk and started a victory fire. So I mean - we're fixing the wall - and then just the next night, I wake up and he's just rifling through my shit. Just plain rude is what it is."
"You know Owl just wants his sword back, right? It's like an heirloom or something." Kakashi suspects that he is drifting in and out of the conversation.
"Obviously." She did not. "Dumbass. So then we're just stomping the shit out of him, right? But then - outa' nowhere, a – just, a hawk just flies through – a freaking hawk. So then we're stomping the shit out of this punk ass hawk, right?"
"And th – w – damnit Kakashi!" Anko takes an angry sip from her bottle. "The plan! What about the plan!"
Kakashi yawns again. "What plan?"
"The 'I raped Naruto' one." Anko gestures to Naruto, still wrapped around her neck.
"Oh. Yeah. I'm – I don't really see why you need a plan." Kakashi yawns into his drink. "Couldn't you just not tell the old guy?"
Anko opens and closes her mouth. "I'm dumb."
"I guess there's still the 'getting her off' part, though."
Kakashi snorts and then yawns. "I'm scared, Anko."
"Yeah though." Anko starts. "I'm – she really is crazy strong. I've tried like, two things and neither of them worked. I mean – I'd try some more, but it's – have you seen Naruto? Short run this is really nice."
"Hmm…" Kakashi hums appreciatively then strokes his face mask. "Stay with me here, but… Have you tried molesting her?" Kakashi suggests pragmatically, and holds out his hands palms up with an inquiring 'hmm?' sort of noise, "It made her cling, it makes sense that it can make her uncling."
"Okay." Anko takes another sip from her nearly empty bottle. "While that idea is clearly retarded, you might have a point."
"Yes." Kakashi agrees, and nods for a bit. And then he says something stupid. "Wait… You sure she's not just asleep?"
"Kibaaaaa!" Anko roars at the contestant section, "this is your first and last call! Get down here, now!"
"But… I – aren't I number seventeen?" Kiba shouts back, "doesn't that mean last? Or… Never?"
"Are you backtalkin' me boy? I will come up there!"
"Geesh, fine. I'm going." Kiba ambles down the stairs, thoroughly confused, to finally stand to the left of the annoyed-on-principle proctor, and Naruto, who was holding a bag of popcorn and a bottle.
"I'm here, so…" Kiba trails off, looking around the empty arena, "I mean… who do-"
"Begin!" Anko projects, still in shouting mode. Then she takes a handful of popcorn and shoves it in her face.
"What – what do you mean begin? I-" Kiba checks the arena again to be sure, "I'm the only one here, how is this gonna' work?"
"You're not here to talk." Anko gargles as if in response, "start fighting or you're disqualified – on grounds of being boring to look at."
"I… But there's no one here?" Kiba gestures at the lack of a person across from him. "What exactly am I supposed to do?"
"Oh boooooooo! BOOOOOOOOO!" Anko crows, and hurls a handful of popcorn at him. "No talking! Booooo!"
Kiba brushes a bit of popcorn off his shoulders. "I am seriously so confused right now. Can someone tell me what's going on?"
Anko stares at him blankly, then closes her eyes to slits. "…Get the hell out of my arena."
"What – but I-"
"Naruto. Eject him."
"Fine - I'm goinurk-
Kakashi watches as Kiba rises up in a graceful arc, crashing into the contestant's section a few moments later. He takes in the beauty of what he has just seen. And he weeps.
"No words…" He says thickly, and takes another sip of sake, "so beautiful… no words can describe… should have brought a poet…"
"Hey – uh – sand… chick! You're up!"
Temari eyes a twitchy Gaara. "I forfeit!"
"Oh boooo! BOOOOOO! No forfeit!"
"I said I fucking forfeit!" she snaps, hands tense on the railing. Gaara look at her again and she shivers. "Start the next match already!"
"Don't tell me what to do!" Anko replies childishly.
"I – please start the next match!"
"I dunno… My feelings are pretty hurt!"
Gaara's eyes become a bit crazier and Temari shudders deep in her spine. "Please," she pleads despite her burning pride, "just start the next match."
Anko sniffs. "Say… That a nice fan you got there."
Anko unfurls her cool new fan she found and waves it about stupidly. Then she snorts and takes another sip from Naruto's left hand bottle. "Oi – sand… Guy – You're up!"
Kankurou grimaces and notes from the corner of his eyes that Gaara is looking particularly crotchety. "I forfeit!" He pretends that he doesn't shriek for his dignity's sake, but he isn't fooling anyone.
"Oh booooo! BOOOOOOO - no forfeit BOOOOOOOOO!"
"I said I fucking forfeit goddamnit! Start the next match already!"
"… That's a cool puppet you got there."
"Oi – mist… person! You're up!"
The remaining mist ninja eyes Naruto a bit. "I fff… fffffor…Fuh… Forfeit!"
Anko forgoes all pretenses. "I'm gonna' need that umbrella."
"And now, the only match that anyone gives a shit about!" Anko proclaims grandly, her voice echoing around the stadium and Sarutobi very slowly releasing a sigh, "that Uchiha kid and the sand… Kid… I wanna' say Saara." The lack of response from the audience is disappointing, and Anko blows a wet raspberry as the contestants wander into the arena. She munches another handful of popcorn and glances left and right. Then up, shading her eyes with her hand.
"Wait wha-" Sasuke starts and looks over at her, only to catch movement in his peripheral and duck a flurry of suspiciously brown shuriken, then shriekingly dodge a cloud of senbon as Anko gets curious and opens her fancy new umbrella.
"Hey what the f-" He hurriedly ducks a whipcracking tendril stemming from across the arena, and pulls a kunai from his thigh holster to deflect another few senbon as Anko giggles and continues on twirling her fancy new umbrella, apparently oblivious to her surroundings.
Sasuke leaps back to a hopefully safe distance and shouts down the field "stop fucking throwing needles at meaah!" His eyes promptly bug out as he drops flat, ducking a red cannonball by a hairsbreadth, then flinching as the wall behind him explodes a moment later with an earth-rattling boom. Naruto huffs and lowers her hand and Anko ties her fancy new puppet around her neck like a horrifying scarf.
Gaara, slack faced at the sheer amount of damage the little red projectile caused, starts not so covertly eyeing the proctors while Sasuke flounders for words to express the indignant anger he feels.
"What the actual fuck!" Sasuke scuffs his toes in the dirt and spreads his arms wide. "All I did was yell at you and you try to kill me? That sucks! That sucks gigantic sweaty balls!"
Then he flailingly dodges several more shuriken. "And you stop doing that! I am seriously so pissed off right now!"
A handful of buttery popcorn flops down his face, and into his wide collared shirt. "No talking! Boooooo! BOOOOOOOO!"
"I quit." Sasuke says, and eats the popcorn in his collar. "I don't even care anymore. We're done here."
Anko fills her lungs to maximum capacity and things go straight to hell.
The sand kid is on the ground, squeezing at his head and stumbling around roaring drunk. Sand drips off like beads of sweat and Sasuke, apparently incapable of sensing dramatic tension, starts towards the stairs. In the stands, a figure stands up, fumbles through a few handseals, then gives up and shrieks:
"Everybody go to fucking sleep!"
Then there's a decapitated body flopping down into the arena, and Kakashi standing behind it looking as if he'd just sneezed.
And suddenly, as if directly in response to Kakashi standing there scratching his ass, there are a hell of a lot more sand ninja.
Anko flares her nostrils. "Oh it is on!"
"Oi – Kakashi!"
Kakashi sneezes and somehow decapitates three enemy ninja in the process. "Hm?"
Anko hurls delicious popcorn at a few enemy ninja. "I heard something about one of your genin – I think it was the Uchiha one, he like ran off with some guy or something." She ducks a wild swing and chucks a handful of popcorn at the kunoichi's crotch, then sidesteps a kick and lets Naruto launch her back through the fray with a crackling punch, taking out five enemies, three allies and a two story house in the process. "And then your other ones went after him. I think you're supposed to go after them. Popcorn?"
Kakashi somehow manages to bisect a sound ninja with his mouthful of popcorn. "You think I should?" He wonders aloud, and starts looting a few corpses.
"I dunno," Anko takes another gulp of sake and pockets some guy's wallet. "I mean – I figure this is your only chance to get rid of him, if he gets away, yeah?"
Kakashi gets distracted by something shiny, his attacker lopping off another attacker's head as he bends over. It turns out to be a glass eye, which Kakashi doesn't need. He tosses it over his shoulder and coincidentally chokes an enemy Kunoichi to death. "Yeah I guess so." Kakashi's eye goes wide. "Wait – did you say someone's going after him?"
"Yeah, your other ones and some other kids, don't know which."
Kakashi's eye goes bloodshot and a nearby sand ninja turns on his heels and picks someone else.
"I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
"What." Everyone wonders aloud.
"You see," Kakashi pulls back the collar of his vest and reveals a poorly scribbled curse mark on his neck, "I am being controlled by Orochimaru."
"No you're not." Shikamaru says plainly, and scratches at his neck sympathetically. "Look, can we just get past you? We sort of need to do stuff."
"I'm afraid not." Kakashi mourns, "So… No."
Shikamaru forms a seal with his fingers and promptly shakes out his hands as the end of a kunai cracks all his knuckles. "Did you just throw a kunai at me? Ow."
"Can't – can't control myself!" Kakashi grunts and holds his head, "retreat, all of you! I'll hold back as long as I can!"
"Oh my god, yes you can." Ino sounds exasperated if anything. "I can see the marker; it's in your pocket, right there!"
"Don't worry, no matter what - I won't hurt any of you!" Kakashi flashes a reassuring smile and subtly shoves the marker deeper into his vest. "That's the promise of a lifetime!"
"You already threw a kunai at me." Shikamaru continues to massage his wrists.
"Well you were being kind of a dick."
"I'm getting Asuma."
Anko marks her target with a handful of buttery popcorn. "Get that one!"
Naruto weaves through a few stray projectiles and ejects the enemy from the arena.
Anko hollers "yeah take it bitch!" Then trips a nearby sand ninja and starts dumping popcorn and stomping on them. She then blocks a blade with a kunai and kicks the Kunoichi back into Naruto, who at a little gesturing wields the ninja like a bat and hits another one through a nearby wall, then hurls the twitching body at a sound ninja sneaking up behind Anko.
Anko finishes stomping and pockets another wallet. Then spies up on a roof a few blocks away a purple box. And in that box what can only be the old guy and Orochimaru him or herself.
Anko knows exactly what to say.
"Kakashi, get out of the way."
"Can't." He groans, "can't stop myself. Run, hurry…"
"Kakashi the marker fell out of your vest."
"Orochimaru… Made me do it… Can't stop myself."
Asuma sighs. "I will fight you over this, Kakashi."
"Orochimaru… Making me say things… Can't stop." Kakashi pauses mid-tirade and takes a sip from a bottle he pulls from his thigh-holster. "Can't stop myself."
"Seriously, I'm getting out my knives."
"Orochimaru making me say… Ugh – you're a little bitch, and I - agh – I can beat you any day of the week."
Asuma opens his mouth. "Well you can tell Orochimaru that!- Damnit! Kakashi, seriously, we need to go get that Uchiha kid!"
"Go – ah – go suck a… dick… urk."
"It has been a long time, my old student…" Sarutobi can't keep the regret from his tone and he doesn't bother to try.
"Too long." Orochimaru nods and grins sharply, "I was worried you'd forgotten me – you know, because of your age."
"Oh clever. And age joke." Sarutobi tosses his hat off to the side. "Here while you were gone I'd thought I'd only be missing your horrifying genetic experiments, turns out you're some sort of delightful comedic mastermind, the likes of which the world has never seen. If only I had given you a chance to explain yourself, I could have basked in your wit day and night until my ball sack shriveled up and died from laughter."
Tayuya snorts to herself in the far corner of the shield and Orochimaru chuckles despite himself. "And here I had assumed that time had made you into a crotchety old man that would sooner suck the life from a child's neck then amuse them by jingling your turkey-like jowls, but now I see that I was mistaken, and I can rest assured knowing that your youthful demeanor and wonderful unblemished skin stems not from satanic rituals, but from your glowing and optimistic personality."
Tayuya cackles and nearly drops the shield. "Yes."
"Yes, I rather liked it too. How about you, old man?"
"Quite good." Sarutobi says. "I taught you all I know, but it seems that the student has finally become the master."
"Oh you want round two?" Orochimaru wonders aloud and glances around as if for confirmation. "This guy here wants round two? He does? Well, I guess I will have to oblige him."
"Boooo! No talking! Booo! BOOOOOOO!"
"Skank." Orochimaru cocked his/her head.
"Bitch." Sarutobi replied, and smirked at having one upped the man/woman.
"Slut." The man/woman put heavy emphasis on the 's.'
"Whore." Sarutobi put heavy emphasis on everything.
"Seriously." Anko said, and threw the last of her popcorn at the vibrant purple shield, the kernel erupting in an oddly entertaining shower of sparks, "I'm out of popcorn, and you're both really, really boring. Can you just fight each other?"
Orochimaru glanced askance at her, then back at Sarutobi with a 'what can you do' expression. "This is why I left her." He said.
Sarutobi nodded solemnly and turned to her. "Anko, posturing is a tradition far older than myself, it is only right that we exchange the ceremonial pleasantries before battle."
Anko frowned. "See, the problem here is I can't tell if you're joking."
"I would not joke about this." Sarutobi said, eyes dark. Anko threw up her hands, and she and Naruto went to find more things to throw at the shield.
"Alright," Anko explained, "so then we're looking for shit to throw at the shield. And then I'm like boom-" she pantomimed, "Shukaku. I mean, I didn't think she'd be able to do it but Naruto is like cah-razy freaking strong."
Sarutobi looked at her for a bit all disappointed and stuff, but she didn't care so he just shook his head. "Not okay, Anko. Not okay."
"Sorry I'm late, I donkey punched a prostitute and got stuck."
The excuse was said so casually that Sarutobi's bowels clenched. Kakashi then took his seat and had almost enough decency to look ashamed for making them wait.
"You know why you're here." It was a statement, and Sarutobi looked extra grumpy.
Kakashi yawned and scratched his crotch.
Anko looked equal parts annoyed and exasperated if anything. "I already apologized about that block we flattened, you gotta' learn to move on."
Sarutobi glowered at them. Anko held up her hands placatingly and ruined the gesture by mocking him with her face. "You are idiots." Sarutobi said plainly, and Kakashi was mildly surprised with the level of conviction. He did not argue the sentiment. "Especially you, Kakashi."
Kakashi didn't even care a little bit. "Ah." He nodded, enlightened.
"Woah, woah, woah, hey, hey." Anko and Naruto defended, paused, then pointed at the man. "Fuck you." They bumped fists under the desk.
"Anko… So many things. I'll get back to you in a bit." The man folded his hands in silent contemplation for a few moments, looking back and forth between the pair, and once at Naruto, who was looking… satisfied. Then he gestured to half-inch thick stack of paper. "What would you say this is?"
"…I'm sorry, what?" Kakashi supplied helpfully.
"And you, Anko?"
"A bitter old man." She grouched and crossed her arms.
"This is all the paperwork dealing with the invasion. Simple." He said, and then gestured to another stack of paper next to the first, that one noticeably thicker. "This, however, is paperwork dealing with just you two."
Neither Anko nor Kakashi said anything then, Kakashi eased back deeper into his seat and she just sat there, looking bored. Naruto blinked and took the lollipop that Sarutobi abruptly handed her to distract her.
"Kakashi. We'll start with you."
"Okay." He agreed easily.
"First thing's first." Sarutobi looked over something then sighed forlornly. "You groped the Mizukage."
Kakashi perked up. "In my defense, I was trying to loot her."
"The Mizukage is not dead."
Sarutobi pursed his lips. "Neither is money traditionally stored in the crack of one's ass."
"Yeah, well…" He offered weakly, sounding disappointed for some reason, "now I know."
"…Moving on. You assaulted… six genin, two jounin, and roughly seventeen leaf civilians, including an eight year old girl."
Kakashi felt more than saw everyone in the room look at him expectantly. "She insulted me."
"You were trying to rob her."
"I thought she was dead." The man clarified obviously.
Sarutobi sighed. "…Goddamnit Kakashi."
"She called me a doo-doo head."
"Whatever – this leads onto our next topic: you were seen by roughly half the village, and near all of the foreign diplomats, looting corpses."
Kakashi's sniffed and smacked his lips absently. "People have been kicking in my doors a lot lately. Doors are expensive you know, I'm not made of money… Also it's a miracle no one walked in on me mast-"
The word was said with such conviction that Sarutobi couldn't properly snap at him. He emptied his hands and clasped them in front of him. "Ignoring all of this, and some other things I haven't mentioned yet, you aided and abetted the defection of Sasuke Uchiha."
"I… Wait, who?"
"Your genin… The Uchiha."
"Oh... Oh, the crazy one, right. I mean." Kakashi looked to the left suspiciously. "Uh. No I didn't."
"There were no less than twelve eye witnesses."
"…Ah." Kakashi said, sounding resigned.
"All of which are recovering in the hospital."
"Including my son, Asuma."
"In my defense, he was being sort of a dick."
Sarutobi looked at the man for a bit, then shook his head and held out his hands, palms up. "Not okay, Kakashi. Not okay."
"…Heh, c'mon, it's a little funny." Anko said, trying not to smirk, but not very hard, "admit it – without us you'd be bored to death."
"Without you two I'd have a four hour workday." Sarutobi replied straightly. "Sometimes I consider having you assassinated."
"C'moooon, you know you love us." Anko chittered into her hand. "You're just a big ol' softie."
"A squishy Sally." Kakashi added.
"A big, sopping, flaccid co-"
"I mean it." Sarutobi looked like he meant it.
Anko looked off to her left then back. "Oh… Well, if you do, can I kill Kakashi?"
"No. The pleasure will be mine."
"Kakashi," Sarutobi said in an attempt to get back on topic, "how about you see if you can explain what happened without sounding… Treasonous. I suppose is the word."
Kakashi reached for his neck.
"You were not being controlled by Orochimaru." Sarutobi said, then pulled a kunai from somewhere and rested it on the desk.
"Hm." Kakashi replied thoughtfully, "See, what happened was-"
[Kakashi lies: take one]
"Kakashi, get out of the way."
Kakashi pulled his hand back, fingers clenched white at his side. Orochimaru pulled his strings but Kakashi was stronger than most; he fought for control, muscle groups tensing randomly as he resisted movements that could have torn a less attractive man in half.
"Run," Kakashi grunted, lips stretched tight in concentration, "I don't want to hurt anyone – but I can't – can't control myself."
"I need to stop that kid," Asuma said, and pulled his trench knives from his purse, "you won't stop me, no matter how attractive you are." He knit his brows and then spouted compulsively, "Kurenai thinks about you when we have sex."
"I know." Kakashi replied under his breath. His arms felt heavy. The whispers in his mind were sweet, telling him this and that, and why not kill everyone there. "Ah. Sounds reasonable." Kakashi confirmed but caught himself fast, and dropped a second kunai he hadn't consciously pulled.
"Everyone," He called, a bead of sweat running down his temple as he looked at the motley group before him. At Shirimaru, at Roji, at… at Blond-Girl. Then at Kurenai who was running towards them in dark red lingerie, a tattoo of a bored-looking Kakashi gazing out from between her heaving breasts - that she had gotten upon her own insistence, that he might motorboat her to sleep even with miles between them.
The breasts gave him strength. "Run, hurry! I'll hold back as long as I can!"
"I think about you when me and Asuma have sex!" Kurenai proclaimed passionately, and whipped off her top-
"Take me now, Kakashi." Kakashi continued, voice as shrill as he could possible make it, "I'm so moist and-
"Just stop, Kakashi." Sarutobi sighed. "Just – just tell me why."
Kakashi immediately opened his mouth.
"And so help me, if this is just because you don't want a genin team I'll kill you in your sleep!"
Kakashi slowly closed his mouth. "… Hm… "
[Kakashi lies: take two]
"I raped Naruto!" Anko declared the moment he opened his door, and stepped on inside uninvited. Kakashi frowned and followed her deeper into his apartment, resting down in the gentlemen's chair by his fireplace while Anko paced. "It was sweet and delicious." She felt the need to add. "
"You have defiled Sarutobi's trust." Kakashi said after some contemplation, finality in his voice, "he gave you Naruto to protect her, and you violate her? Shame. Fie and shame."
"Wh – hey. I didn't come here to get bitched at." Anko replied heatedly, "I need your help! I don't know what to do!"
"I will not help a rapscallion such as yourself," Kakashi glowered, eyes dark with disapproval as he caught the smell of alcohol on her breath, "especially not in defiance of that fine man Sarutobi – whom I love as a father, and is also handsome and doesn't smell old or crusty at all. I bid you out! Out with you, vile deviant!" Kakashi stood then, hands clenched white at his sides, "I will not raise a team in this degenerate village! I refuse! I shall find them –"
Sarutobi, once Kakashi paused his tale, slowly turned his head to the other occupants.
Anko caught his eyes and held them for a few seconds. Then she understood. "W – you don't actually believe him do you!"
Her voice was an octave or so too high. Sarutobi narrowed his eyes and appeared to chew on his tongue for a moment. "Anko…"
Anko gawked and gestured around for a bit, making baffled noises. "You really – Kakashi? I wouldn't – wouldn't – UP UP AND AWAY!" She sprang from her seat and latched onto Naruto's ankle as the girl rocketed up through the not-even-a-month-old ceiling.
Kakashi, amid the distraction, sprinted to the nearby window and dove headfirst, then bounced off it with a harsh crack. Clutching feebly at his head and neck, Kakashi then tried to jump up and grab a quickly elevating Anko's ankle. However, dazed and in pain, Kakashi misjudged his jump and instead propelled himself into the ceiling headfirst, promptly falling down and through Sarutobi's desk in a plume of wood fragments. Kakashi then, in a barely lucid last ditch attempt, staggered himself towards the window a second time, missing due to double-vision and violently knocking himself unconscious on the wall.
Sarutobi made to stop and or kill them both, but upon standing promptly shattered his hip bone and keeled over in pain.
"Sorry I'm l-"
"Shut up. Sit down."
Kakashi sat down on the linoleum, next to Anko and Naruto. It seemed Sarutobi had removed all chairs from the room to spite them.
Sarutobi messed around with his bed for a bit, prodding the switches on the side until he could look them in the eyes. "I don't even care anymore." He informed them solemnly, "I put in my resignation this morning."
"What." Kakashi said, standing abruptly, "if you quit – then – then we'll need a replacement!"
"Yeah." Sarutobi confirmed, pressing the button for a nurse.
"But – but what if they don't appreciate my youthful shenanigans?" Kakashi wondered aloud, sounding deeply disturbed, "what if they don't like my excuses! What if they're old!"
"This is like, super interesting n'shit, but can I go?" Anko asked, "I was sort of doing stuff."
Sarutobi narrowed his eyes and glanced over at a slightly flushed Naruto.
"I mean – the opposite of that." She yawned. "I was doing nothing, is what I mean… But I want to get back to it, though."
"Just… don't talk, for a while." He feverishly pressed the nurse button for a bit. It seemed that they'd wised up to his game. "I've resigned. That means I need a replacement. I also need you both to not be anywhere near this village ever again, so you're going to go find them and hopefully die in the process. Except for Naruto."
Anko and Kakashi caught each other's eyes. Anko took lead. "That first bit there, though… Since you're all resigned and stuff, don't that mean you can't order us around - wait what am I doing this sounds cool except for Kakashi. I'll do it." She deadlegged Kakashi before he could open his mouth. And also because she hated him. "Fucking Kakashi."
"Good." Sarutobi said, and really pressed the hell out of the nurse button. When would his hot nurse be back, he wondered. Probably never. "Well, you leave right now. As in, get the hell out of this village."
"Question." Kakashi said, and raised his hand, "who're we finding?"
"Tsunade… I guess. Or whoever. I don't care."
"Follow up question." Kakashi announced, feeling proud for some reason, "where is she? Furthermore, is she still boobaliscious?"
"I don't know." Sarutobi said, a profound calm washing over him as he realized that the moment they walked out of the hospital they were no longer his problem. "And yes, probably."
"Sweet." Kakashi replied, "can we get an estimate though? Like… Fire country?"
"I can't remember. Maybe."
"Question." Naruto raised her hand. "Why are you so old?" Anko and Kakashi high fived her and she lit up with pride.
"Follow up question," Anko raised her hand before Sarutobi could justifiably reprimand them, "is this a paid deal? Because I'm gonna need to sleep inside. Also, we're all gonna need to be drunk," She continued, ticking off her fingers professionally, "that's a given, I mean, obviously. I'm gonna' need a net, too. Just your basic net. Kakashi's gonna need tissues and hand lotion."
"No I won't." He denied and held up his smooth and supple hands in case anyone felt like inspecting them. "I buy in bulk, I'm set for years. I will need a door or two, though. I'm going through them like… Uh… Sex joke." He sighed. "Come back to me, I can do better."
Anko nodded a bit. "I'm also gonna' need a body bag for Kakashi. 'Cause, you know, I'm eventually gonna' kill him. It's just gonna happen."
"It's true." Kakashi agreed easily and glanced over at Anko. "Though if you can't find a bag, just dump me on the women's side in the closest Onsen. Or just set me of fire and hurl me into the nearest mass of children."
"I like that fire one." Anko nodded, "yep, mental image is sticking. We're good." She turned back to Sarutobi. "I'm also gonna need some other stuff that I can't think of right now. Also whatever Naruto wants."
Sarutobi felt light. "Sure whatever." Someone would eventually regret that statement. Not Sarutobi of course, but someone.
Kakashi wandered around his apartment for a bit. He wondered what he was doing there. Was it important? Maybe he started a fire or something.
His door splintered clean off its hinges, skipping on the carpet for a bit before lodging in his wall. He would not be getting that security deposit back. Kiba made a show of stepping in and Sakura edged in behind him. The sight of them was like a dried turd crammed into Kakashi's eye.
"I'm getting good at this door-kicking thing." Kiba said, proud. "Anyway though," he continued on, ignoring Kakashi as the man finally understood the significance of what had just happened, "you owe us a shitton of training, and I know where you live, so. Here we are."
Kakashi nodded for a bit, mulling something over. Then wandered over and pried his door from his wall, heaved the thing onto his shoulder and started towards the doorway.
"Also I hate you, so that's why I kicked in the… door?" He said in a question-voice as Kakashi handed him the door. It was surprisingly heavy.
"That is your door now." Kakashi told him like that door was the best damn door he'd ever owned. "Carry it always." Then he leaned in close and whispered. "Or I will fucking murder you."
Anko rifled through her pack for a last second check. "Alright let's see… Money, net, body bag, snacks… Yup, we got everything. Kakashi, you set?"
Kakashi eyed the strap on his shoulder and weighed the pros and cons of having to check the pack attached to it. He decided not to. "Sure."
"I'm so happy I could shit. But seriously though, we should really go." Anko said and started walking. "We took like, all the money."
Kakashi cared a little. "How much 'all the money'?"
Owl edged into the vault, skirting around the messily removed and evidently not impregnable door. Bills lied here and there, a few gold pieces scattered about, some lodged in the ceiling for some reason, like a poor leprechaun had wandered in and exploded.
Anko gestured to the comically bloated pack on Naruto's back. "That thing is full. Like, 'if it was a person it'd be a fatass' full. Framed the absolute shit out of Owl too. He is gonna be so pissed when he finds out."
"Cool." Kakashi replied, and then considered the ramifications of emptying out the Hokage's personal treasury. "Can I have some?"
"Yeah. I guess." Anko looked up at the sky, eyes easing down through the clouds and to the dirt road in front of her. The trees were starting to grow back, little stems poking out of the stumps like horribly misshapen fingers. For some reason it pissed her off. "You can take whatever when we get to a hotel. I don't want to sleep outside. I need at least two walls between us whenever I'm unconscious."
Kakashi nodded. "A valid precaution."
"Also there are gnats and shit, and they really piss me off."
"Gnats are the Sasukes of the insect kingdom." Kakashi agreed.
"Also, I feel like doing nothing for a while, so I'm ordering room service the second we get there."
"Naruto never complains, but if she did she'd say camping sucks balls."
"I do hate nature." Kakashi mused.
"I'll probably stay like a week, is what I'm saying." Anko heaved her pack higher on her shoulder. "Then maybe start looking for… Uh… Tuaaahh…D-uhhhhmm…"
Kakashi hummed appreciatively. "If you're waiting for me to finish your sentence, I wasn't listening, like, at all, during the brief."
Anko glanced over at Naruto, who shrugged guiltily. "Well shit damn, Kakashi." She realized she was really, really hungry at that moment, and was more concerned about it. "What do we do?"
Kakashi had played this game before. He stopped half-worrying immediately. "We screw around for a while, go back and have whoever's in charge fill in the blank, and then we just bullshit for a while."
Anko mulled it over. "You're the expert here. I'm game."
Six hours of running later and they wound up at Otafuku Gai, standing in front of a four story five-star hotel, with a hotel-ran and operated Onsen nextdoor. Kakashi scratched his ass and they all walked in. Anko went straight for the front desk.
"Give me your best room." Anko demanded forcefully.
"I'm a maid." The maid replied flatly, and walked off to do maid things.
"Then why the fuck were you standing there!" Anko shouted after her, a moment too late, then pursed her lips and glanced over at a snickering Kakashi. She nodded at him. "You first then, butthole."
Kakashi slowly stopped snickering, shrugged, and wandered over to the front desk, then started up a conversation with the female clerk.
Anko padded off and sidled up to Naruto to watch the man work. His chin moved up and down, and he made a few elaborate gestures, the woman paling rapidly.
Anko narrowed her eyes. "I suspect that he is doing something stupid." She said.
The clerk then reached out and slapped him. Kakashi, apparently dissatisfied with the quality of service, raised a foot over the desk and forcefully stomped on her face. Security poured in like a flood and it turned into a standoff. Kakashi standing over the unconscious clerk, wielding one of those beaded chain things they attach to pens to prevent theft.
Anko sighed at this point. Kakashi and the security exchanged some words; Kakashi dropped his weapon, sagged his shoulders and shuffled over to them across the marbled tile. "They said I'm not allowed in the building." He informed them.
"No shit." Anko said, glanced over at Naruto and tilted her head at the desk questioningly.
Naruto nodded, lips pursing into a determined pout, and started towards the front desk, Anko and Kakashi vacantly watching her go. They couldn't see what she said or did, but after about ten seconds of Naruto facing the new clerk the man shakily handed over a pair of keys, then fished his wallet out of his pants and handed it over too.
Naruto flounced back and handed Kakashi and Anko a key, then Anko a wallet, absolutely beaming. Anko hugged her. Kakashi tried to join but Anko elbowed him in the gut and he backed off.
"I don't know what you did and I don't care." Anko said and meant it. "We are gonna' be so lazy." The she took a random amount of money from Naruto's pack and hurled it in the main desk's general direction.
Kakashi glanced over at the clerk, surrounded by security, openly weeping and making emphatic, frightened gestures in their direction. He scratched his ass and looked down at his key. For some reason it pissed him off. "I hate you key" he leaned in and said, feeling genuinely angry, "Now lead me to your cold metal vagina."
"H-here's your f-f-f-f… FffffffffOOD! – food, I mean-" The maid continued to stutter around Naruto while Anko just stared at the three trays full of aesthetically pleasing and probably delicious food. "I brought it here – just like you requested so – I – I – I – I -"
She appeared to be broken. Anko gently led her to the door and closed it behind her. Then turned to look at Naruto, who looked back at her and blinked. Aside from the AnBu gear, there was literally no way she could look more innocent.
Anko and Naruto looked at Kakashi. "Fucking Kakashi." Anko said in summation.
"The door was open." Kakashi replied, and placed his lock picks back into his side pouch. Then he wheeled the first tray towards the couch. "Also I can't find my room."
"I'm not surprised." Anko said while Naruto padded over and flopped onto the four-poster bed. "All those twists and turns – passed two of those damn things on the way here. Good thing there are literally numbers on the doors or I would've gotten lost."
"… You hurt me just now." Kakashi said, and pointed at his heart, "right here." He glanced out the far window, saw the red-orange lanterns of the red light district glowing in the distance. "Also I lost my key."
Anko pointed at his hand. "You're literally holding it right now."
"I like the company." Kakashi defended.
"I dunno…" Anko mused, "you are pretty unbearable…"
"I promise I will not say a word."
"If you're lying." Anko narrowed her eyes. "Well, let's just say I saw a lot of children on the way here."
Kakashi sort of mashed his hand into his face in a no-finger salute. Anko suspected he didn't know how to.
"Good enough." Anko vaulted over the couch and Naruto flopped down next to her. "So. We're eating, then it's Onsen time, then sleep. Then repeat. I guess." She arbitrarily grabbed a bottle from the alcohol tray, popped the cork and took a sip. "Also get drunk. But like, for all of that, and also right now."
Kakashi ate a brown ball covered in creamy yellow sauce. He nodded.
"Also, you can't be here for the sleeping."
His picked up something and dropped it, shocked.
"Those are the rules." Anko replied at his face, and took one of the weird brown things before Kakashi could eat them all. "You just gotta be not here when we're naked and or sleeping."
Kakashi's face was sad and disappointed. He started drinking.
"Also, the onsen isn't co-ed."
Kakashi's eye went bloodshot.
"Furthermore, give me those brown things. They're good shit."
Kakashi started crying.
"Money's by the door, bitch." Anko couldn't help but add.
Kakashi felt violated. He took a few of the plates under his arm and moped out, grabbing a fistful of bills before he left.
Anko laughed at his pain for a bit, then they ate everything that looked sweet. Anko took another bottle from the alcohol tray and passed it to Naruto, looped an arm around her waist, held her own bottle high and declared, "to harmless overindulgence!" They both upended their bottles, glugged the contents, shuddered in perfect synchrony, carelessly tossed the empty bottles over their shoulders.
Anko was promptly overwhelmed with pride and endearment. She grabbed two more random bottles; they popped the corks and repeated. Anko eyed the bead of liquid stuck to the rim before she tossed it. She felt comfortable, a certain brand of irreverence that only alcohol and mild sleep deprivation could provide. Anko also felt that Naruto was really soft. She tilted her head down, cupped Naruto's chin and pressed a clumsy kiss to her lips.
She was so sweet, Anko thought, and then realized she had a hand halfway down Naruto's pants. "Resist." She slurred to herself. "You know what's down that road. Awesomeness and then guilt."
"… Anko." Naruto said in that soft voice of hers, eyes warm, cheeks flushed. A bit of moisture beaded on her bottom lip.
"Urk." It struck like a physical blow. "Resiiiiiist." Anko said hoarsely. She took a deep breath through her nose and sunk back into the couch. Then Naruto caressed her cheek, and eased her head down into a tender kiss.
… It was pretty forceful, actually, Anko noted. And what was that hand doing, she wondered, and why were her pants gone. Also, wasn't she on the couch a second ago?
"… Ooooh now I g-"
Kakashi looked out at the grounds. His team was waiting. He wandered in closer. Sakura's face lit up as she saw him and she stood on her toes, smiling ear to ear.
"Sensei!" She crooned happily. Behind her Kiba stood from the shade of a tree and walked closer, Akamaru on his head out cold. "Sensei." He said, respectful. Sasuke appeared behind him, smirking but genuine warmth in his eyes. "Hn."
Kakashi reached out and ruffled his hair. "Oh you scamps." He said, voice pleasant. Sakura giggled and latched on to him. He looped in Sasuke and Kiba against their will and cried out "Group hug!"
"Augh, sensei…" Sasuke flushed.
Kakashi laughed and spun them around. "I love you guys."
"BRAAAAAAAAGH!" Kakashi shrieked and sat bold upright in bed, so absorbed in his terror he then stumbled to his feet and rampaged about the room like a gorilla. "AAAAAAH! GUUUUUAAAH! AAAAAAUGH!"
"Kakashi." He heard someone say, voice distant, like it was coming from across the room, "I heard you screaming, are you alright?"
He was breathing hard, he realized. Panting even. Like he'd just run for hours. "It was just a dream." He said, and wiped the sweat from his forehead. "Just a dream…" He looked at his hands, flipped them palms up and down, at his fingers. "So why does it feel so real... Why does it feel so fucking real!"
[affinities, take one]
"Today we're testing your elemental affinities." Kakashi said with little prompting, and handed each member of his team a slip of paper. "Just channel your chakra into the paper and it will react according to your chakra type. Sasuke," He said to Kiba, "yours is strong, I can feel it. You should step back a good ways, no telling how strong the reaction will be."
"Fucking yes!" Kiba crooned, and dashed off behind a tree.
Sakura's face screwed up in concentration. Her paper turned to dust around the edges. "What does this mean, sensei?" She asked.
"You have earth." Kakashi said, and snorted derisively. "It even matches your personality. Useless."
A percussive thump sounded, the leaves in all the trees nearby shuddering for a second. "That'd be Sasuke." Kakashi said. Only he would know that Sasuke had gotten an explosive tag. Well, him and Sasuke.
The real Sasuke held up his crumpled paper.
"You have lightning." Kakashi said. "I'm so proud I could shit."
Kiba's face screwed up in concentration. And stayed like that for a good while, while Sakura's and Sasuke's dissolved and crumpled respectively.
"I've never seen this before." Kakashi said, perturbed. And leaned in closer to watch Kiba channel his chakra. "Maybe it can't decide…"
"…Does this mean I have all of them?" Kiba gushed, and held up his paper, amazed.
"All of them?" Kakashi snorted. "What are you, retarded?" He snorted again and continued patronizingly. "Yes Sasuke, you have all the affinities, because you're special." He laughed for a bit. "Dumbass." Only Kakashi would know that Kiba got regular paper.
"What does this mean, sensei?" Kiba asked as he held up his singed paper.
Kakashi stomped on his face. Only he would know that he was wearing cleats.
"Why are you wearing cleats, sensei?" Sakura asked.
"… Oh. Uh…" Kakashi ran away.
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"I – no. No I'm not." Kisame replied, and knew full well he was treading on thin ice over a lake of crazy ass water. "It's just that – the door is over there, and – I mean, I realize that your eyes have deteriorated – and that's nothing to be embarrassed about" he added quickly, "But, well it's-"
"Do you remember what I did to the last person who called me a liar?" Itachi said, like he was asking about the weather.
"Well, you insulted his clothes."
"Oh, and then what?" Itachi was clearly fishing for something.
Kisame knew what he wanted to hear. "He started cry-"
"He started crying." Itachi confirmed. "Now, do you have anything to say about the location of the door?"
Kisame grimaced. "Look, if I don't correct you you're just gonna' feel real stupid. The door's-"
"That cloak makes you look fat."
"I don't even…" He sighed. "Whatever. You win."
"Yes." Itachi said, and moved to calmly knock on the wall in front of him, as was polite. "Hello," he called to it, "might there be a Naruto staying in this room?" He pressed his ear to the wall, waited a few moments for sounds of movement. Knocked again. "I only ask because my associate and I are looking for her, and wish to have a dignified and peaceful conversation."
Kisame didn't know what to say. "… I don't think they're-"
"You're right." Itachi said, implying his obvious sentiment, and stepped back. "They aren't going to answer. We must use force."
Kisame didn't even try to stop him. Itachi reared back and kicked a hole clean through the wall, foot emerging on the other side, covered in dust and drywall. "What sort of sorcery is this!" Itachi howled, strained to pull his foot back through the hole.
"Itachi," Kisame said, "It's a-"
"It's a trap!" Itachi finished his statement with pure, superior logic and reacted accordingly. His eyes spun into the sharingan and belched out a plume of black fire, vaporizing the room and its frightened mini-fridge in one fell swoop. Foot now resting in less of a hole and more of a cradle, Itachi easily retrieved his leg, then dusted himself off with the dignified air of a man who had just been sneezed on.
Kisame noted that the onset of dementia was occurring faster than he'd been warned. "Itachi." He said, and shuffled back away from the still roaring flames, "maybe you should put that out? I think we need her ali-"
"Alimony, of course!" His sharingan logically concluded, "We can use the money to put out wanted posters. Come, Kisame." Itachi shuffled down the hall, hands stretched out like a man in the dark. He knocked over a lamp, was so startled by the noise that his eyes thumped another stream of black fire straight down through the floor. "I made us an exit." Itachi said, and hopped down into the fire-rimmed hole he'd made.
Kisame didn't call him on it. "…Thanks, man."
"What's with all the fire?" A feminine voice asked.
Kisame didn't turn to look. "Yeah. Sorry 'bout that. It'll be gone in a week."
"Oh, well that makes it okay then."
"You know what'll help though? Being a sarcastic bitch." How in the hell was he getting down that hole? Screw touching it. Maybe he could just use the stairs or something.
"I was being serious. See, normally fire just goes out when it's out of fuel, but his stuff goes out in a week. You can see how that'd be a bonus."
"Know what else'd be a bonus? You shutting the hell up."
"Oh fuck that. Naruto, hold my sandwich."
"… Wait a mi-" Kisame started to turn but was cut off by a boot to his lower back, sending him stumbling forwards a bit, and straight into the flame-ringed hole.
"So then I kicked his ass down the hole, and then it's now." Anko felt too lazy to sigh, she went limp into Kakashi's sofa, Naruto flopped over in her lap. "All the money was in there so we're broke as shit."
"Actually, I still have what I took from you." Kakashi held up his money, which, from what Anko could tell from her not-really-paying-attention glance, could buy them close to nothing.
"You're better off literally eating that money, Kakashi, you would get more sustenance from it. Where the hell did it all go? You grabbed like a handful."
Kakashi looked like he thought about something. "It starts with 'P' and rhymes with 'Shmostitute.'" He said cryptically.
"You speak in riddles." Naruto said.
"Heh." Anko snorted. "Stay classy, Kakashi. But seriously, there are turds out there with more money than us, and I refuse to be a poor person."
"We could rob this place." Kakashi suggested, and pulled out his trusty beaded pen-chain that he'd kept for sentimental reasons. "Just saying."
"About that," Anko said, "this place is going to be on fire for a week, so we're better off finding some other place. Seriously, that black fire shit's like napalm on crack, or whatever you put in Ibiki's coffee forever ago."
"That was just anti-psychotics." Kakashi said.
Anko wasn't sure she liked the implications. Also she didn't believe him. "Really?"
"Heh. No." Kakashi chuckled nostalgically, "I put so much drugs in there."
"Oh, fun. But re-"
"It was more a paste than a liquid. I'm still amazed he didn't notice."
"That's super, but really-"
"Seriously, like goddamn cement. He should have died." Kakashi sounded like meant it.
"Kakashi. This place is present-tense on fire. Shit will not go out. We should go."
"Oh okay." The man agreed easily. "Just let me grab my stuff."
Anko watched him wander around the room, pick up a kunai or two, a box of tissues, a spare face-mask. He put the stuff in his pack, and Anko expected him to shoulder it and walk out. She should have known better. Kakashi moved to steal everything not nailed down. He shuffled around, cramming everything into his pack that he could, the tiny shampoo bottles, the shower knobs for some reason, the sofa which he first shooed them off of, then sealed, and some other stuff. Then he wandered over and lifted the bed.
"Kakashi, what are you d…"
She trailed off as the man went into a spin and hurled the bed through the far window like a gigantic shot-put. "And I'm set." Kakashi said, and shouldered his pack. Anko heard a distant crash, someone scream. "Well. Let's go."
They walked out, saw a maid wreathed in black flames come screeching down the hall. Kakashi tripped her, laughed, kicked in the door behind him for shits and giggles and walked off. "Fuck yeah." He said, and knew today was going to be a good day.
"Otafuku Gai, try Fire Country's ballsack!" Anko shouted to the seediest bar they could find, slammed her drink down on the counter for emphasis, "This place smells like wet ass!"
"Now now, Anko." Kakashi said, took a dignified sip of his stolen beverage, "I'm sure this place is very self-conscious of its ass-sweat like odor, no reason to go shouting and hurting its feelings." He tosses the empty glass over his shoulder, nailed a grizzled old man right in the dome, "Though there's not much left we can steal, and I do hate everyone around me." He mused, nodded, poured himself another drink while the bartender wasn't looking. "Hey, it smell like wet ass to you?"
Anko swiveled around on her barstool in response, glowered out at the other patrons. "This fine man here says none a'you has the balls to stand up and fight him!" She proclaimed in a half-assed attempt to alleviate her boredom, "He also had sex with your sister and never talked to her again!"
"You sonnavabitch!" A man near the back stood, took a bottle between the eyes courtesy of Kakashi, sat back down.
"I expected a better reaction than that." Anko said after a moment, looked out over the supremely disinterested/drunk crowd, "I'm disappointed in all of you. You let me down." She swiveled back to her drink and downed it. "Seriously though, we're out of places to rob that haven't already banned us by reputation, and I feel sort of bad about almost-killing those police. What else can we even steal?"
"… Hell if I know." Kakashi said, and didn't feel like thinking. "Who cares?"
"Ah, true." Anko replied, patted her trenchcoat pocket, "not like I need more money."
"No," Kakashi disagreed earnestly, "you can never have enough money."
Anko looked off to the side, then back. "True too." She nodded.
"If you're lookin' for something to steal," The bartender leaned in on his elbows and said, hoping they would leave, "I hear lots of depraved ass shit round here, but I heard today there's a big transfer from the Casino here, going out on a cart in a day or so, don't know where to." He slapped Kakashi's hand as the man tried to steal another round right in front of him, "thing's disguised as a rice cart for security, or something, couldn't hear much of that part either, just know it's heading out in a day or two, from the east entrance."
"… That sounds surprisingly heist worthy." Anko said, and thanked the bartender by not stealing his wallet. "Kakashi, you game?"
Kakashi nodded, stole another drink, looking the bartender right in his eyes while he did, daring him to say something. "Sounds cool. I'm up for it."
Anko swiveled on her barstool, hollered "You're all his bitches now!"
No one even raised their head.
"You're a hack." She said, pointing around, "should be ashamed a'your damn selves. Screw this I'm leaving." She stormed out, pissed that she couldn't even incite a little bar riot. Naruto left her three story glass tower she'd been constructing and trailed after her.
Kakashi picked up his barstool, tucked it under his arm. Looked everyone in the eyes. Walked out.
The three crouched down behind a tree near the edge of Otafuku Gai, eyeing an ox-pulled cart that slowly closed on their position along a smoothed dirt road, sunlight pouring down through the trees lining the sides. The birds were oddly silent.
"Alright." Anko leaned in; hands coned around her mouth as she whispered loudly, "we're all clear, right?"
Kakashi nodded conspiratorially. "I think so." He said, as usual refusing to make any statement that could be interpreted as a sign of competence. He found that it excused him from any personal responsibility.
"Ah." Naruto said, once again distracted by the butterfly that had taken a shine to Kakashi's hair. Her role wasn't all too important so Anko was content to leave her to her own devices.
"Alright, move out." She nodded harshly, went to turn but stopped and leaned in close, "don't fuck this up." She said at Kakashi, then vanished into the trees.
Kakashi scoffed, eyed the cart around fifty feet from his position. It looked like a thing straight out of the Wild West, a grizzled old man hunched over the reins, snap-cracking the pair of oxen and taking huffs off a cob-pipe every few seconds or so. Kakashi felt an alienly strange feeling bubble up in his gut. Something like a tensed muscle hiding behind his diaphragm. Was it guilt? He burped and it went away, so probably not.
He went up into the tree and eyed across the beaten path, saw Anko flash him a thumbs up from another tree and mouth "Seriously, don't fuck this up."
Kakashi nodded back, turned to the cart, nearly beneath him then.
"Cacaaw!" Anko loosed her signal. That or a bird just exploded, she wasn't very good at it.
Kakashi nodded back again, this time at nothing, and furrowed his brow in concentration. He leapt from the tree, graceful and agile like a tiger on the prowl - a tiger that happened to have been on the prowl in a tree, and flung itself from said tree like it had just been electrocuted. He used a low branch as a pivot, swung and dropkicked the frail old man straight off his cart, then immediately took up the reins and cracked them.
Anko thumped down next to him from out of nowhere, checked beneath the canvas cover and made sure there really was something of value.
"It's there." She said, relieved that they hadn't just robbed another old man of all his belongings/dead hookers. Again. Naruto drifted down lazily and flopped over the lumpy canvas, positioned like she'd been fired from cannon and just happened to land there.
"Aaand we're rich again." Anko concluded, the significance finally sinking in. "Third time's the charm I guess."
"Fifth I think." Kakashi said, scratched his leg with his foot, "finally perfected my flying treekick too. Did you see me?"
"Yes I did." Anko said, patted him on the back. "I'm so proud I could shit."
Everyone glanced behind the ambling cart, saw the old man hobbling after them looking like he'd snap in half in a gentle breeze.
"Stop ye' whippersnappers! At's me' cart y'all've gone d'unne stolen!"
"We can't un – der –stand you!" Kakashi enunciated loudly and slowly, cracked the reins again. "Try talking like you're not a thousand!"
"Giv'er back!" The man shouted back hoarsely and shuffled a bit faster, starting to gain on them. "Y'ah giv'er'on back ta'me!"
"Old people." Anko said, snorted. "Am I right?"
The old man pulled a cane, hefted the thing above his head and wheezed along faster still.
"Well spoken." Kakashi agreed, picked up the cob-pipe he'd dropkicked from the old man's mouth and took a curious puff.
"Aaaaaauuuaauu!" The trailing man gave a sound like an extended yawn, whipped his cane around blindly. It happened almost in slow motion. The tip contacted a nearby tree, and given that Anko and Kakashi were already watching him hobble after them with matching hellbound smirks, they both also saw the tree tear out of the ground and go flying like he'd just backhanded a child's toy.
"Holy fucking shit!" Anko roared, "He's like a crusty goddamn Terminator! Faster! Go faster god damn it – It's gaining on us!"
Kakashi cracked the reins hard; the cart lurched up to a blistering three miles an hour.
"I'magonnagetyallwhippersnappers!" The old man howled, shuffling like a motherfucker, whipping his cane around and wheezing up a storm.
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" Anko started shouting, leapt up onto the canvas and started jettisoning things from the cart in the hopes that it would either speed them up or slow It down.
"Go faster fuck damn it!" Anko bellowed, as usual spewing curses at the first sign of potential threat. She saw a hurled crate of gold bars explode to dust around the man's cane, screeched and ducked as a bar flew back and bent around Naruto's face like a still-motion shot of a popped water balloon.
"It's fucking gaining on us! Fucking shit cock!" She tugged the canvas loose and lobbed the thing at him. It wrapped around him like a wayward piece of saran wrap, had an effect like derailing a train as the man shuffled off course, plowed through a few trees before he wheezed the thing off of him and started after them again.
Kakashi cracked the reins so hard they snapped like an overstretched rubber band. He snarled and just kicked the absolute shit out of the oxen, cranking up their speed to a hazardous four miles an hour, the cart rocking like a ship on mildly wavy seas – and he knew if he fell he'd have one serious boo-boo to contend with. "You're playing a dangerous game, Kakashi." Kakashi muttered. "Keep your shit together."
"Uuuuauuu!" The old man wheezed like a zombie as he stumbled on a twig. The cart pulled ahead ten feet while he corrected himself, forgot what he was doing, then remembered and started after them again, hobbling like a madman.
"Yeah, we're down to the last crate." Anko said, her and Naruto sitting on the back of the cart, the thing barren. "And I'm not throwing this one, because, you know, the irony."
Naruto chose them moment to yawn the gold bar off her face, then flopped over backwards, watched the clouds drifting across the sky. Anko eyed the old man shambling after them, guessed the distance to be twenty feet and increasing. "Hell, I guess we're in the clear. Some crazy shit though, yeah?"
"I'magonna… Get… Y'all! Dag… Fernit!" He sounded tired.
"Never would have guessed he'd have super strength." Kakashi agreed, stomped on the complacent oxen for a bit. "Makes sense though."
"Sure does." Anko nodded, flopped on her back, wondered what Naruto found so fascinating, considered asking her but didn't. She looked too peaceful. "Sure fucking does."
An amiable silence set in, Anko and Naruto watched the clouds drift by through the treetops, Kakashi occasionally prodded the oxen, head lolling like he'd been sedated, though it was actually from the motions of the cart, as he couldn't be bothered to tense his neck.
"… You wanna slow down and see if he'll catch up?" Kakashi finally asked, got nothing in response. He glanced over his shoulder, saw they were asleep, sprawled out, smiling stupidly.
"I need a sidekick." Kakashi said, made a mental note to pick one of his genin to make awesome. Then he forgot about it. Fell asleep. Woke up violently. Calmed down. Fell asleep again.
"I was all gung-ho about this a while ago but…" Anko continued to look down into the opened crate, "the fuck can we even do with gold? Do people even take it?"
"I'd take it." Kakashi said like his opinion mattered, "but that's a good point. I'm pretty sure no one uses gold outside of jewelry and just owning it."
"So we need to find a… Gold… Buyer?" Anko wondered aloud, grimacing at just how stupid that combination of words sounded. "Or something."
Kakashi nodded, knowing full well he had no idea either. "Alright, I honestly have no idea how much gold is worth." He kicked the crate for good measure. "But I figure this is either worth a lot, or… Like. Not a lot."
Naruto glanced away from the moon to eye them both, then the crate. She shrugged.
"You've certainly covered all the bases." Anko admitted. "We could just pawn this shit on whoever. Whatever they've got for a bar."
"We could gamble it." Kakashi suggested in turn, assuming they were brainstorming. "Casinos take gold I think. Or we could just exchange the gold for money at a Casino, depends on whether or not we're feeling ballsy."
"Yes." Anko said. "Hell yes." She heaved up the crate and they started to the nearest Casino, a three story building that looked like the unholy offspring of a box and a lightbulb, Kakashi giggling and clapping his hands the whole way, only to be turned back at the entrance by security.
"No shinobi allowed." A large man in a black suit held out his hand. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"We just want to exchange this gold that we totally didn't steal for some money." Anko said reassuringly, and rattled the crate on her shoulder, "In and out."
"And also gamble for a bit." Kakashi added.
"I'm sorry miss," He said politely to her cleavage, "but we no longer cater to shinobi. Period."
"Is this about that big hole in your wall?" Kakashi wondered aloud, and eyed the tarp'ed off tree sized wound on the side of the building.
"Indeed it is."
"If I may," Kakashi continued politely, "What exactly happened to your establishment?"
"The legendary sucker." He said like that explained everything.
"I don't know what that means." Kakashi replied. "Is that slang for sex? Did sex do this? Damn you teenage hormones!" Kakashi bellowed at the hole, "first you taint perfectly usable vaginas and now you make useless house-holes! You'll let in flies you sick bastard!"
"I don't know what he's doing right now." Anko pulled the attention back to her, hopefully convincing the man that they weren't insane, "The point he's probably trying to convey is that we aren't going to start anything, we have money, just want to go in, get drunk, and leave – probably broke as shit."
"I understand the sentiment," The man said, sounding painfully sober, "but we've always been on the ropes about shinobi, tricks and sleight of hand and all that shit." He leaned in and continued under his breath, "We're actually still waiting for funds to arrive from a branch in Otafuku Gai just to fix this damn place and hire some better security, fairness aside you can see why we have a new policy."
"…Ah." Anko said, chuckling awkwardly. She caught Kakashi's eye, hoping the man would be awake and actually care enough to bullshit them out of any potential future shituations, as her negotiation tactics were, in order: curse, start a fire, kill everything. "You don't say."
"We also realized that we just don't have the means to stop a dine-and-dash type scenario. I am sorry about this, but I can't let you in… Of course I also can't stop you… Hmm…" He trailed off as the weight of his own realization settled in, and wondered when that damn money would get there. His bulging muscles could only do so much against a shinobi - that being curl up into a ball more efficiently.
Anko squared her shoulders. She needed to gamble, something about the lights, the cold night air, the vaguely farty smell. It made her want to get drunk and shout at a deck of cards; start a fight with some high-roller and steal their shades; laugh at some idiot that gambled their dreams and then do the same. If she didn't get inside she was going to kill someone. Irrational, red hot anger started bubbling in her gut.
"Look, if this is about us cheating or something, my luck is shit. Seriously, watch this." Anko got a coin from Kakashi, handed him the crate, called out "No, seriously, watch this shit. Heads." And flipped it.
The coin landed in the dirt.
"Fuck! I mean tails!" Anko was well aware he was only humoring her because of her breasts and his inability to make them leave at this point. She picked up the coin, clenched it in her fist, and felt blind rage frothing up her throat. "Alright, two out of three! Heads!"
The coin landed in the dirt.
"Three out of five. Heads!" She snarled, daring that son of a bitch coin to pull that shit again. The rage was on her tongue, twitching and writhing like an insect, biting at the inside of her mouth.
The coin spun up in a graceful arc, plopped on the ground.
"You son of a cocking whore buttfucker!" Anko roared and stomped the coin into the dirt, shouting profanities as loud as she possibly could. Naruto immediately set to helping her, leaving sizable boot-shaped dents in the process.
"You too good for my friend, coin!" Kakashi bellowed, crouched down on his knees and got up in the coin's face, the action made very hazardous from Anko and Naruto's alternating stomps. "Huh? Is she not good enough for you! Huh! Answer me you cocky little fuck!" Kakashi punched the coin right in its coin face. Stood, spat on it. Then he pulled another coin from his pocket and feverishly rubbed it against his crotch. "Look what I'm doing to your friend, coin! Yeah! Oh fuck yeah! You're a dirty coin aren't you!"
Anko, coming to the end of a laundry list of curses, moved on to unpleasant words like 'moist' and 'slurp.' She found the impact less than satisfactory, and instead abruptly turned and snap-kicked the bouncer's two-hundred-and-fifty pound frame through the door and into the bowels of the casino. She then held up a clenched fist, howled to herself and any bystanders too overcome by terror or amusement to move, "Burn this fucker down!"
Anko flashed through seals, kicked down the door that had swung closed after admitting the bouncer, and spat a plume of fire into the Casino. Almost immediately balls of screaming fire formerly known as people came sprinting out the doorway, and Kakashi, with a droll and disinterested look, took to nonchalantly tripping them as they passed. Sort of helping in his own retarded way.
Anko, still tense with rage, thundered into the Casino. Naruto, now unable to reach the coin due to it being a leg's length in the dirt, flounced in after her.
Kakashi wandered back a bit and watched along with a good sized crowd as holes sprouted in the ceiling, plumes of fire exploding through and up in the sky like novicemade fireworks, giving off lazy "ooooh's" and "aaaah's" with everyone else. Eventually Anko and Naruto appeared in the doorway, backlit by roaring flames, each wearing a pair of shades.
"Fuck yeah." Anko said, then removed her shades and tossed them somewhere as the novelty wore off. Naruto looked at her hands through the tinted glass, then around for a bit as they wandered over to Kakashi, and finally took them, eyed them curiously, and tossed them over her shoulder.
Kakashi looked at them both and shrugged. "Happy now?"
"Yeah." Anko replied, sounding satisfied. She turned to Naruto and flashed a grin. "Thanks for helping start those fires."
Naruto beamed. "Mm."
Anko took her up in a hug and span around, giggling on the last of her adrenaline high. Then she plopped Naruto back down on her feet. "I'm tired now." She said. "Let's go get some food."
"Yeah." Kakashi said, and tripped her as she walked away.