Naruto didn't choose his bright orange jumpsuit just to get attention, and he didn't fail the Academy because he wasn't trying. Things looked different from his perspective. One-shot.
Kakashi mused about his new team, the first he had ever passed. Although he had eventually let them pass, he wasn't optimistic about their future.
He had sort of expected Sasuke to be as he was, quiet and somber. Given what had happened to that kid, and at such a young age, Kakashi was pretty impressed Sasuke was functional, let alone a excellent genin.
And Sakura was just like her grades had indicated: Book-smart and hard-working, but lacking in practical skills. If she continued to do well, though, she would be in good shape fairly soon.
But that Naruto... he was only going to hold them back. What was wrong with him? His grades were terrible, for the most part; anything with a diagram, a graph, or a chart, and he failed, though the rest of his grades were merely below-average. His practical scores were all over the place. Kakashi half-wondered if the traitor Mizuki had anything to do with that, but decided against it, because Iruka hadn't done any better with him, either. And that jumpsuit, the brightest orange Kakashi had seen in some time, so garish and vibrant it put oranges to shame. But something must be wrong, because Naruto learned far to quickly, given his previous performance.
Kakashi had looked through Naruto's records, and had noticed a conspicuous failure in plant identification. Knowing that Naruto was the kind of person to forget things, Kakashi had taken it upon himself to teach Naruto how to identify edible plants, just in case he should ever find himself out without enough provisions. Kakashi had asked a few questions before starting, and just as the records had indicated, Naruto knew nothing, simply guessing through the long list of every plant in the Academy textbook.
But once Kakashi had taken him around and shown him the plants in question, Naruto got it, almost immediately. To be quite honest, Kakashi was suspicious of how quickly Naruto picked up on the identification, but other than the apparent ease of learning, Naruto acted just as he had before.
Later, Kakashi had decided to get Naruto up to speed on facial recognition, another area in which the Academy records indicated Naruto had failed. Kakashi borrowed a pack of flashcards (each with a face, a mixture of 5 face-types, 4 hair colors, 5 eye-colors, 10 eye shapes, and many other details) from the Academy, and drilled Naruto for several hours. But nothing. To be sure, there were some faces that Naruto would often get correct, but more frequently he would confuse the names and faces of very different-looking people.
Deciding to test whether Naruto was just better at more practical uses, Kakashi had taken Naruto around Konoha, introducing him to various people and asking him to remember their faces. After a day, Kakashi had taken him back to the same people, in a different order, and asked Naruto to identify them.
Naruto identified every single person correctly. Kakashi was confused, since this was exactly the same exercise as with the flash cards, but Naruto did much better in person. Perhaps he wasn't such a visual learner? Or maybe he only performed well when it seemed 'real' to him, was that it? Kakashi wasn't sure what to make of it. Asking Iruka for help resulted only in a helpless shrug, though the chuunin had promised to put some thought into it.
Kakashi had moved on to target practice, in which Academy records indicated Naruto had been consistent, but inaccurate. Grabbing some cheaply made targets, poster boards with big orange and red circles all the way out to the edges, Kakashi had taken Naruto out to a training area and silently watched him practice. Kakashi watched in confusion as Naruto flung kunai after kunai in the 5 targets, every throw in almost exactly the same spot, but not a single throw within the bulls-eye. And his misses were not the same on every target, though every throw at a particular target went at the same spot. Kakashi had Naruto try again, with the same results. Wondering if Naruto just needed more life-like targets, Kakashi had grabbed some larger targets, wooden surfaces with a human outline painted in red, and asked Naruto to try those, aiming for vital points. And again, Naruto was off, often concentrating on areas not even within the outline, though the kid said he was trying as best he could.
After a while, Kakashi was about ready to give up, until on the third day of target practice, he decided to test if Naruto really just needed a more life-like scenario in order to take it seriously. Creating several bunshin, Kakashi asked Naruto to try and hit them. Kakashi paid careful attention, noting where the kunai passed through the insubstantial images. Suddenly, Naruto was deadly accurate.
It was the day after, when Kakashi was thinking about this, that a breathless Iruka ran up to him.
"I've got it, I've got it!"
Kakashi looked up from his book, and gestured for Iruka to explain.
"I was looking at all of Naruto's old assignments, and I couldn't figure anything out, so I thought I would just make some copies and give them to you, to see if you could figure it out, and then I saw it! Here!"
Iruka shoved a large stack of papers into his hands, black-and-white copies of Naruto's old assignments. Kakashi looked at the first two, but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. "Iruka... what am I supposed to be seeing?"
"Look at the particular problems he missed!"
Kakashi looked again, and it was just as the records had indicated, with issues solving problems involving charts and graphs... Kakashi inspected the charts and graphs, but since the originals had been in color, the black and white copies were impossible to decipher. "Hey, could I look at the originals? These are impossible to read."
Iruka smiled strangely, and handed him another sheet of paper. Kakashi glanced down, and saw a black and white copy of a photo of Naruto, apparently soon after graduating, standing by a bush and a nondescript tree. Kakashi smirked. While in real life, Naruto stood out like a sore thumb, in the black and white copy, his jumpsuit seamlessly blended in with the bush behind him, making Naruto look as though he had one especially large pant leg. If only Naruto would try to blend in like that in real life, but real life wasn't in black and white, unless you were colorblind...
Kakashi looked up slowly, as things clicked into place. Naruto could not identify flat pictures of plants, but could identify plants in real life. Naruto couldn't identify stock images made of random, re-used facial features, but could identify real people. Naruto couldn't hit painted-on targets, but could strike with pinpoint accuracy when given something real to look at.
Naruto was colorblind. And now that he knew that, Kakashi was no longer so pessimistic about his team's future.
Just a short piece, with an idea that popped into my head today. I am not colorblind myself, nor do I know anyone who is, so any specifics on colorblindness might be off.
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