Mirror and Image
Whoever decided Hatake Kakashi would make an excellent Hokage needed to be killed. Slowly. And painfully. Many people had tried to put out contracts to that exact effect, but the sad fact of the matter was nobody remembered who had first suggested the travesty. To anyone's best recollection, the first time Kakashi had been suggested for Hokage had been when Sandaime had passed, there had been a quick and dirty fight over who would take the job, but someone had suggested tracking down Tsunade - older, more experienced, a Legendary Sannin, and everything fell neatly into place. But the seed had been planted. When she died in a coma the heated conversation came up again, someone remembered the suggestion of Kakashi, and everyone uproariously agreed.
Well, everyone except Danzo, but more on him in a minute.
Of course it had to be Kakashi, he was the son of the great White Fang, on the same league as the Sannin, he held the Sharingan - a precious commodity lost to Konoha - and was the master of a thousand jutsu. He was the student of the god-like Yondaime, as well, and often scuttled as his assistant when he was recovering from various ANBU missions, so he must already know a little of the expectations of the Hokage, and he was a genius. It was a win-win situation! Any thought about how his famous father had been shunned into committing suicide was quickly forgotten, any memories of scrutinizing Kakashi's every mission to ascertain if he had thrown it for teammates were cast aside, and the vicious debate over his keeping the Sharingan were summarily dismissed. It was just too good to be true, and soon everyone was patting each other's backs over what a wise decision it was, praising their cunning and abilities to pick out an appropriate public face for the hidden village.
Of course, it never occurred to any of them to ask people who actually knew Kakashi whether or not he would make a good Hokage - and even then that list was very short. But two former students, had they been consulted, would have blanched and run for the hills.
Later, much, much later, they lamented not taking that initiative.
In point of fact, said students found out Kakashi had been made Hokage the same way everybody else did: in the public ceremony. It had taken a full hour of badgering the Copy Nin, using words like "duty" and "obligation" and the required "there's no one else after all that's happened," and Kakashi had listened to all of it with an utterly blank face - a true mask that made everyone further agree that this was the perfect idea. In the end, Kakashi had simply asked,
"Are you sure there isn't anyone else?"
"Are you sure you want me to do it?"
And he capitulated with nothing more than a shrug of his shoulders and a melodic hum. He was escorted by two ANBU to prepare for the ceremony, and everyone threw up cheers at their decision-making skills.
The ceremony was held the next day, all the shinobi and civilians left gathering to see who could possibly take over after Sandaime, Yondaime, and now Tsunade-hime. Rumors abounded, everyone had a theory, and, in the end, were all open-mouthed in shock when a certain white-haired nin was introduced to the crowd.
Kakashi had arrived in his traditional jounin attire with only one small and emotionally evocative change: he wore a white haori. It was not his sensei's, there was no fire patterns adorning the lower half of it, it was sleevless, but blazened on his back was a stylized flame reminiscent of the ANBU symbol, and the kanji of fire stamped into the print. Pale hair, white haori, it was like a ghost of the Fourth, and the crowd reacted uproariously, making certain people even happier over the instant popularity. Kakashi looked out over the crowd and offered a lazy, two-finger salute.
"I wish I could say I was late, but unfortunately this shindig wouldn't start until I arrived. It was tragic."
Those that knew Kakashi chuckled warmly, and several elite jounin were wondering just what to expect with this particular twist on events.
They got their answer when Kakashi smiled under his mask, his eye winking closed and he slouched forward, leaning out over the crowd. "Well, now you all know what I look like. If you don't mind, I have work to do."
And then the clone disappeared in a puff of smoke.
For a full three minutes everyone, everyone, just stared.
It was the first sign of things to come, but more on that in a minute.
Maito Gai wept tears of Springtime Youth for days, days, after that "hip and cool" introduction and proclaimed to anyone who would listen that His Rival was now Hokage! Sakura and Naruto could be seen moaning and groaning, muttering about lateness and perversion and craziness and swooning over the fate of the village; this alternated with a stupefied awe that their sensei had made Hokage and weren't sure exactly what that meant. Their moods switched seemingly at random as different thoughts hit them, and others couldn't decide how the two bipolar reactions would bide for their latest Shadow of Fire. Certain jounin, Ibiki for one, Yamato for another, grinned and summarily decided to sit back and enjoy the show. A betting pool was quickly established, on anything and everything regarding new policies, decisions, or even just how long Kakashi would last as Hokage. The civilians were generally just confused, Kakashi was famous, certainly, but they didn't quite get why the shinobi reaction was so varied at his nomination, and frankly were too busy trying to build their lives back up from scratch.
The ANBU were furious, because after the Kakashi clone had disappeared they couldn't find him, and it drove them nuts. They were ANBU, for crying out loud, and they couldn't find the Hokage! Even those that knew Kakashi from the old days, those that knew of his haunts and his habits and his traits, could not find him. Even stalking the Memorial yielded no results, even using tracking jutsu and deploying their most chakra-sensitive nin, even the Inuzuka and the Hyuga and the Aburame, could not find the missing Hokage, and the people who had nominated him wondered if it was just stress. The village had been nearly destroyed after all; Kakashi himself had been one of the many to suffer a near-death experience, so perhaps they should have waited before springing this on him?
... No, he was a shinobi; born to do his duty for his village, ninja showed no emotion, so it was of course impossible for Kakashi to have a nervous breakdown. He... just needed time to adjust, that was understandable - not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination, but at least understandable, and he would be talked to appropriately when ANBU got around to finding him. Kakashi had to realize who was really in charge, after all.
After the third day, however, and no sign of Kakashi, and worry began to truly assert itself. Everyone who voted for him were now being stared at by the tiny number of delegates (Danzo most notably, but more on him in a minute) who didn't and were furiously trying to justify why the Hokage was still missing when there was a quick puff of smoke and the man in question had appeared.
"Where have you been?" they all demanded.
Kakashi stared at them, his white haori still fluttering down, and cocked his head to the side.
"That's not what you're supposed to say," he said, his voice sounding suspiciously petulant.
"What?" This was also said in unison.
"You're supposed to say, 'You're late!' That's the tradition. If you don't say that then I can't tell you why I was late."
"What difference does that make?" one person demanded.
"Tradition," Kakashi explained like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "The council follows a routine, a series of rituals and traditions. So do I. So when I'm late you're supposed to shout, 'You're late!' and then I can explain what I've been up to."
"But you're not supposed to be late! You're the Hokage now!"
"... 'SO?' "
Kakashi studied them for a long time, his single eye once more blank and perfectly masked, before he shrugged his shoulders, slouching forward. "Well, if you're not ready to hear what I have to say, I guess I'll come back later."
And Kakashi teleported away. The various ANBU in the room immediately went to work tracking him, tracing his reappearance to his apartment and then on a jaunty chase through the village - most notably through an adult movie theatre, a twenty minute wait in line for the final Icha Icha volume as it was released, an invasion of Iruka's classroom (which he did not cotton to, thank you very much), the obligatory trip to the memorial, to a kennel, and then the trail simply... disappeared.
Is should be noted at this point that ANBU had not been given this hearty a chase since the time when Naruto was the village's greatest prankster, but nobody could see the grins under the porcelain masks, and however enjoyable it was it was grossly inappropriate for the Hokage to do this kind of thing, especially with the village in ruins and the upcoming Kage Summit looming on the horizon.
After three more days of fruitless searching, several rumored sightings of Kakashi being seen by elite jounin and several complaints by chuunin by being bothered by the new Hokage as they were doing their jobs to ask random and irrelevant questions (each lead once more led to a dead trail, and ANBU just couldn't figure it), Kakashi once more appeared before the council in a puff of smoke.
Half the council shouted, "What's wrong with you!" but the other half was, to their credit, slightly smarter and shouted, "You're late!"
Kakashi studied the collection of advisors, and everyone held their breath, hoping he wouldn't disappear again. Many ANBU were preparing for another athletic chase with equal parts anticipation and apprehension.
But, at length, he leaned back and crossed one foot over the other.
"I guess that will do for now," he hummed. Then he rubbed a hand along the back of his head, slouching forward and blushing. "Sorry I'm late. I've been asleep."
The reaction after that broke the tradition of his two students, but it was a reaction well worth watching. There were seventeen seconds of unadorned gaping before the council unanimously shouted: "SLEEPING!"
"Well, yes," Kakashi said, an embarrassed smile under his mask visible in the florescent lighting. "I had a lot to do after the ceremony, and it tuckered me out so much that I just fell asleep. If you really needed to get a hold of me, you should have just dropped by the apartment."
"We did!" an ANBU bodyguard, perhaps a rookie, said. "Several times! You weren't there!"
Kakashi stared at the masked elite and had the audacity to look surprised. "Yes I was," he said calmly.
"In my room."
"You were not!"
And for a brief moment Kakashi stood to his full height and looked at the ANBU in the eye. "You specifically came to my apartment four times - triggered five alarms, I might add - and never once thought to look under the bed. Of course you didn't see me. But then, you've only been in ANBU for about as long as I've been Hokage, right? You probably haven't been fully trained yet." And then Kakashi smiled, adding, "So I'll forgive you this one time. Talk to your captain. Tell him you've been properly hazed."
Everyone in the room could hear the blush even if they couldn't see it.
One council member, not particularly bright, managed to string together a confused, " 'Under the bed?' "
"Yes, of course under my bed," Kakashi happily supplied. "It's suicide to sleep where people expect you to sleep, isn't it? Sometimes I sleep in the cabinets or in the attic crawlspace above the apartment; I'll never sleep in the closet because that's the first place amateurs look, and sometimes I don't even sleep in my apartment."
"But you're in Konoha!"
"So?" Kakashi asked, glib and utterly unrepentant.
"Oh, never mind!" a new council member said. "Now that you're hear we have a lot to discuss."
"Yes, we do!"
"Yes, we do!" several people chimed in.
Kakashi said nothing for a long moment, and the council once again found themselves holding their breath, but he smiled again and said simply, "Okay."
To make up for the six days that were lost the council threw everything at Kakashi, explaining How Things Worked, What He was to Do, the Great Expectations (at which point Kakashi pulled out a book of a similar name. Many demanded that he put it away, but he calmly informed them that he could multitask and that the book was helping him gain insight into leadership. Everyone took a silent vote and allowed it. For now.), and most importantly, that They were In Charge. Kakashi took it all in stride, nodding at all the appropriate points even though he was reading a book, giving the occasion "Ah," or "I understand," and seeming to agree to everything they said. This reassured the council anew that they had made the right decision. The last three Hokage had been terribly independent - Sandaime had been the only one to understand the balance and make concessions; Tsunade followed the plan only when she felt like it, and Yondaime ignored them wholesale - proclaiming passionately that as leader of the village he had a duty to its people, not to a council making money off of the people.
There had been concern about having Yondaime's student as Hokage, but the agreeable nature mollified all of them, and they were once more patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves on what a fine puppet they had in the seat of Fire, now. Between him and the daimyo, things would go much smoother now.
At least, that's what they thought.
It didn't occur to them until much later to ask how Kakashi had been asleep in his apartment for three days and still be seen by several members of the village. It never even entered into their heads to ask what he had been doing his first three days of absence.
So it was on the seventh day, a week after the ceremony, that Kakashi entered the Hokage office for the first time. The first thing he did was examine the floor-to-ceiling windows in great detail before announcing that he was going shopping. He disappeared from his two ANBU guards - a fact that was becoming less and less amusing - and reappeared three hours later with a handful of Yamanaka civilian clan members who immediately got to work setting up a veritable greenhouse of plants: ivies, flora, mushrooms, small bushes and even a potted tree, all arranged around the panoramic windows to absorb all the delicious sunlight the plants could ever want, with a much coveted place reserved for a plant Kakashi himself brought in, placing "Mr. Ukki" there and turning to his bodyguard explaining that said Mr. Ukki was to be protected with their very lives if push came to shove.
The rookie that had been assigned to him couldn't understand what the hell was going on, but his partner snorted and agreed happily, and actually nodded in approval with Kakashi's sudden spurt of interior design.
After the window was taken care of the entire office was rearranged, and only then did the rookie begin to understand what was happening, and he, too, nodded in approval as the Hokage desk was put in a less obvious corner and hidden further by a bookshelf while a convenient mirror was place to make anybody who entered visible from the desk. The plants still eluded him, but his partner explained it later, that the plants would obscure the inside of the office to outside observers, and provide resources for earth, wood, and water jutsu if necessary.
"They also," Kakashi happily supplied, "Make the place look much more inviting, don't you think?"
... Never mind, the rookie still had a lot to learn.
For the next week, the new Hokage took many Influential Visitors, who more often than not left somewhere on the gamut of confused ("What does product efficiency have to do with taxes?") to bemused ("He'll be an interesting one,") to the most common reaction: Outraged.
"He just sat there! Reading porn!"
"Didn't even say a word, just stared at me! Me!"
"I was forced to wait for two hours! Is that how unimportant I am?"
"He just disappeared! I spent forty-five minutes talking to some ninja clone!"
And so on and so forth.
Naturally, the Council called Kakashi for a meeting.
Naturally, Kakashi showed up three hours late.
"You're late!" many of them shouted, this time in honest outrage.
"Sorry I'm late," Kakashi said, "I was in an important meeting with the Education Department, and Iruka spent most of the time yelling at me until he realized I'd promoted him to the head of the Academy and told him he'd have a blank check to make any changes he thought necessary."
"He didn't believe me either. He has such a low opinion of the Hokage; that hardly seems fair, don't you agree?"
"We don't have that kind of funding...!"
"We're still rebuilding...!"
"Oh, don't worry about that," Kakashi said, dismissing the anger with a blithe wave of the hand. "I talked to Naruto and he saw fit to teach some of his friends the forbidden Multiple Shadow Clone jutsu, so manpower for the reconstruction has just quintupled. After a few days of teaching from the construction workers, the Konoha Eleven minus Neji are working right now to rebuild. Haven't you noticed how many structures have been framed in the last week? Or the number of Naruto's running around?"
Several strangling noises started to erupt from the council as numbers and economics started filling heads, to say nothing of all the other things they still had to address.
"A blank check...!"
"How can you possibly-"
"Yes I can," Kakashi said, standing straight for a moment. "I'm Hokage."
"But you have to answer to us!"
And the voice dropped any sense of levity. "No," he said simply. "I don't."
... The Fourth all over again!
"The overriding priority is to get the village up and running, and you've decided that I'm the best chance at doing that. So I'm going to do that. Unless you have something important to say, stop bothering me and let me do my work."
Then he teleported back to his office.
That was the first time someone suggested putting a contract out on whoever offered up Kakashi as Hokage.
But, then the Kage Summit was coming up, and Amegakura absolutely would not wait for Konoha to fire Hatake and then find another Hokage. Kakashi was right that the overriding priority was getting Konoha back into fighting form, and many of them cursed openly when the realized this, leaving most of them to swallow their pride and allow the son of the White Fang a loose hand. For now.
But there would be absolute hell to pay once they were back in power again.
As it was, Kakashi had sought out Naruto and Sakura and told them they were coming with him to the Kage Summit; when asked why he simply smiled and said, "You're my new assistants!"
Sakura, having known Shizune and what she went through, blanched while Naruto wondered loudly what being an assistant entailed. Kakashi blithely evaded the questions by informing Naruto of Iruka's promotion and subsequent increase in pay and then putting a bowl of Ichiraku ramen in front of him, and all curiosity was forgotten in favor of pride for a father figure and fondness for food. Sakura was not so easily quelled, not until the next day when Kakashi showed her the tiny amount of paperwork to file. She looked at him in wide-eyed wonder before he explained that unlike Tsunade, he didn't wait to do the paperwork at the last moment. Her swell of relief was palpable and soon they were off packing to the summit.
More than a few heads turned to see Hatake Kakashi as the new Hokage of Konoha (and inconceivably, he was only twenty minutes late). Gaara, seeing Naruto and having heard the stories, immediately warmed to him. Others ranged from dubious to respectful, but politics had little to do with the fact that Uchiha Sasuke had invaded Lightning and kidnapped Raikage's brother, that the Akatsuki were out of control, and that Something Needed to Be Done.
To that, Kakashi had this to say:
"I think it's very important that we ally ourselves to defeat the Akatsuki, that much should be obvious; and that all members of the Akatsuki, including Sasuke, should be stopped. I will ask, though, that how Sasuke's handled be left to Konoha."
"What good would that do? It's not like you've had much success in handling him!"
Naruto and Sakura tensed, that blow had been personal for them.
"Your right," Kakashi said in his singsong voice, still smiling. "His leaving was entirely my fault."
The two stared openly at their former sensei, and several Kage blinked at such an honest admission.
"Sasuke was kidnapped by Orochimaru while I was away on a mission instead of screwing his head back on straight. It is no one else's failure but mine, and I came to terms with that a long time ago. But don't think that means I've been sitting in a corner feeling sorry for myself. I've been very busy in the interim, and have already taken several steps since I became Hokage to make sure that another Sasuke will never be created."
"When the hell did you do that?" Naruto had asked, knowing Kakashi had been sleeping the first week and locked in back-to-back meetings for the second.
Without answering Naruto, Kakashi pulled out a file and glibly shared it with the other Kage.
Gaara let out a small, "Oh," as he read it.
"I don't get it, what's on it?" Naruto asked.
"It's a report I've been making," Kakashi said brightly, "On a man named Danzo."
"You don't know him Naruto, but he knows you, and he knows Sasuke, and he knows the Akatsuki; and most importantly, he knows 'Tobi'."
The jinchuuriki stiffened, both his and Sakura's eyes doubling in size. That was how they learned about the Uchiha massacre's origin, and Itachi's true role in it; they learned of the Chuunin invasion and Danzo's role in it to supplant Sandaime, thwarted by Naruto's finding Tsunade.
"I think we all agree that this is very thorough," Gaara said softly, "but how does this help with Sasuke?"
And Kakashi grinned. "Well, why don't we ask him?"
And that was when the guards burst in saying Sasuke was attacking the summit. Tobi appeared soon after, arrogantly ordering the last two jinchuuriki - which was of great relief to the Raikage to learn his brother was still safe. When the Akatsuki member saw Naruto, he demanded the blond be turned over immediately.
Kakashi stepped forward. "I'd strongly suggest you think that over very carefully, given the people in this room."
Neither Tobi nor Sasuke seemed to particularly care, and Tobi even snorted, saying, "Perhaps you should think this over carefully, given the two people in this room."
"Oh," Kakashi said brightly, "I have. Sasuke, I want you to return to Konoha."
"But you haven't even heard my proposal."
"I'll destroy the village that created the tragedy of my brother," Sasuke growled.
"No," Kakashi said, "You won't. Everyone in this room knows what happened, now; and everyone knows who's responsible. What no one completely understands is that I'm the Hokage now, and things are going to go just a little bit differently. Danzo is going to be taken care of, and it would go even better if you were in Konoha to further exacerbate things."
"By killing him?" Sasuke asked in honest question.
"Of course not," Kakashi hummed, "By hugging him tightly and declaring your love for him."
Total. Unadulterated. Heavy. Silence.
Even Tobi joined the shocked chorus of "... What?"
"Sasuke," Kakashi said, his tone suddenly serious, "You of all people should know that there are worse things than death. You've lived it. I've lived it. When you hear what I have planned I think you'll take more than a little enjoyment from it, we'll both get what we want, and the innocent people of the village get to be spared."
"No one in that village is innocent," Sasuke growled.
"You don't believe that."
"Yes, I do!"
"No, you don't." Kakashi's eyes hardened. "Everyone here knows your file. We know what you've done and whom you've killed. That's what they see. What I see is all the people you could have killed, all the people who should have been killed, but were spared. Those numbers say more than the number you've killed. Whether you believe it or not, whether you know it or not, you choose to spare the innocent people. What I'm asking is no different."
The silence was long and profound. Nobody dared to breathe as they waited for some kind of decision that would dictate their actions.
"I want free reign of the village."
"I can't give you that. Not at first, anyway. You're still a S-class missing nin, that won't go away and even if I could I wouldn't take it away. But that gives you more time to screw with Danzo, so in the end it doesn't matter."
"If you still want to live there I can arrange it."
"I want Itachi's name cleared."
"Done. I'll even put his name on the memorial stone. You can come with me the next time I visit there."
"... What?" That was Tobi. "... What?"
"Now then," Kakashi said glibly, turning to the masked Akatsuki member, "Are you sure you still want to fight everyone here for Naruto? Including his teammate Sasuke?"
Tobi's retreat was noticeably hasty.
"Any other business?" Kakashi asked, still smiling.
Of course the village was in an absolute uproar to see Sasuke returned, and the uproar doubled in size when Kakashi, in a public announcement, iterated every one of Danzo's deeds to the public. That was when Sasuke, just as Kakashi suggested, threw his arms around the man (stiffly of course, Kakashi's brand of torture - while appealing on every level imaginable - was not exactly natural for Sasuke) and droned, "I think I like you. I'm going to make sure you stay alive for a very long time."
Danzo, of course, didn't like that idea one little bit. All of his political machinations had gone up in smoke with just a few choice words from that Hatake whelp - the entire village now wanted to kill him and Sasuke had declared himself Danzo's unofficial bodyguard. It was not long that Sasuke was named such officially, out of concern for one of Konoha's oldest and most respected elders of course. A "measly D-rank mission" to reintroduce Sasuke to village life, punish him by "doing nothing challenging" while he waited for his trials, and to of course subject Danzo to unblinking red eyes all day, every day. Several contracts were put out at this point by Danzo, to kill Kakashi, to kill Sasuke, and to kill the damn idiot who suggested Kakashi would make an excellent Hokage.
What confused Danzo to no end, however, was that none of his ROOT members seemed to be responding to him in the normal way. Oh, the brainwashing was still in place, the absolute loyalty was there, but sometimes the response was a little long in coming, or a reply was overly wordy. He realized what was happening when one of his subordinates actually said the word "ROOT" without his sealing jutsu activating, and that was when he realized at least in part what Kakashi had been up to in those six days of absence.
Kakashi had explained it to his newly reunited Team 7 during the journey back to Konoha. The first three days that no one had yet to ask about he had spent locked away reading files: hand written classified files from the last three Hokage, accounting files, classified ANBU files, money trails, policy proposals - both inducted and rejected - hospital files, etc. Sakura, being the only one to truly understand how much paperwork that was, staggered and wondered how he could do it all in just three days before he patted her head and explained he had used five clones in order to get it all done. The next three days, while organizing in the reconstruction of the village, he had also tracked down Sai and asked, simply, "Can you say 'ROOT'?"
When the boy shook his head, Kakashi went back to the files, this time to Yondaime's research on seals, and some of his own secret files on the Thousand Jutsu had copied, dragged Yamato along, and eventually figured out how to break the seal. Yamato did the work for that while Kakashi distracted everyone by talking to everyone and leaving ANBU - specifically the ROOT members who had yet to be unsealed - on a merry chase. Naruto wanted to know how he could avoid ANBU for so long, but Kakashi waved it off saying he had to keep some of his secrets.
"But, Danzo's hold on them is still very strong."
"Why?" Naruto demanded. "They're free now."
Kakashi pulled out another file and handed to Sasuke first, saying: "Remember what the plan is before you go missing again."
Sasuke nearly burned the file to a crisp as he read it, and Naruto needed Sakura's help to translate all the kanji - it was an autopsy report on several members of the Uchiha after the clan massacre. Specifically that several sets of eyes were missing, and that the one who performed the autopsy was Kabuto, and that Danzo oversaw them.
Naruto shredded the file into pieces. "I want to kill him," he growled. "He's a member of the village and I want to kill him!"
"... And now you know how Sasuke feels," Kakashi said softly, leaving both Naruto and Sakura wide-eyed, the pair looking to Sasuke as if for the first time, and the Hokage knew that at least one thing in his plan was going to go partially right.
The people who were once clapping themselves on the back, meanwhile, had taken a good long look at the financial report Kakashi had left them to chew on when he had left and were still choking. They demanded he show himself immediately upon his return, but were forced to wait as he made his public announcement of Sasuke's return and Danzo's past... activities. They council wanted desperately to salvage something, things were quickly getting out of hand, and they all said as much when Kakashi, white haori fluttering from his teleportation jutsu, finally arrived.
"Oh, did you not like the budget?" he asked.
"How can you possible expect this budget to work?" they demanded. "A literal blank check to the academy? And the infrastructure department? And the housing department? We'll be bankrupt in a month!"
"No, we won't," Kakashi said in a singsong voice.
"Yes we will!"
"You didn't read the fine print," the Hokage pointed out.
"What fine print?"
Kakashi cocked his head to the side, the picture of confusion. The council may not have figured it out, but ANBU did, and several broke protocol to hold their head in their hands for what was about to happen next.
"Did I not attach it?" Kakashi asked, rubbing the back of his head and flushing slightly in embarrassment. "I don't know how I could have missed it, but I was getting ready for the Kage Summit, so I suppose I forgot to attach the tax reform budget to the document."
Everyone sucked in a desperate shock of air. The two most deadly words the council could ever hear had just been spoken.
"T... tax reform?"
"Don't know how I could have forgotten it..." Kakashi muttered to himself. "You must have known about it... I talked to a lot of people..."
"Well you certainly didn't talk to us!"
And Kakashi shrugged. "I'll go see if I can dig up the document. I'll be right back."
And he once more teleported out of sight. Two ANBU followed him, but he really did go to his office and retrieve a file. One that was, coincidentally, sitting right on top of his empty desk, as if it was ready to be picked up. Sakura was there, doing some minor filing, and she unabashedly flashed a victory sign at her former sensei before going back to work. Kakashi responded with a two-finger salute and went back to the meeting. Everyone was a little too busy yelling, and so he settled back and pulled out the last volume of Icha Icha and started reading.
When it occurred to the council that he was back, all attention turned on him, as one. Kakashi sensed it and, without lifting his gaze from his book, he held up his tax reform plan.
"You'll notice," he said while still reading his book, "that attached is a list of signatures. I thought I had talked to a lot of people. I did. You'll find that seventy-one percent of civilians, eighty-seven percent of the chuunin, and one hundred percent of the jounin who were in the village at the time, agreed to the reform when it was explained to them and signed off that they agreed to it. Since the public at large agrees with the new tax reform, I consider it passed and told all the accountants to enact it as of this quarter."
"But the quarter is over in two weeks!"
"I figured it best to start sooner rather than later."
"You can't do this!"
"You completely bypassed us!"
"You can't just sidestep the council!"
The Hokage at last looked up from his book, once more cocking his head to the side in confusion. "But... you represent the will of the people of the village. If the people of the village agree to this plan, why wouldn't you?" And he actually sounded petulant.
One person was actually reading the document, ignoring the back-and-forth, and then openly squawked. "How can you propose payroll tax-cuts on all ANBU, jounin, and chuunin? Do you know how much income that is?"
"Not as much as where the new taxes will be," Kakashi said brightly, looking up briefly to smile before returning to his book.
The next half hour was spent in (relative) silence as everyone actually bothered to read through the document before denying its validity wholesale. Then the choking sounds started. After forty-five minutes there were sputters of indignation. After fifty-seven minutes they got to the list of names that had signed off on the budget and saw - in addition to the names - some very... colorfully eloquent... comments. Apparently some believed that the council would actually read this. The smarter members started to look at Kakashi suspiciously.
"Before you say anything," Kakashi said, still reading, "Know that in three years time we'll be able to outbid every other hidden village out there by ten percent. Fifteen percent in ten years."
Well, that didn't stop the outrage, and by this point nothing could, and so Kakashi simply kept reading his book while they all moaned and wailed and gnashed their teeth. Then his clone (and indeed, it was a clone, and the ANBU were furious that he had gotten by them again) disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving the council without a focus to voice it's rage.
In point of fact Kakashi had never left his office, and was now happily leaning back in his seat, chatting with Sakura over the new hospital initiatives that the medics wanted to implement.
The first assassination attempt on Kakashi happened soon after, but didn't amount to much. Danzo had tried to use some of his ROOT operatives to slip in and kill the man, but Sai had been keeping an eye out for it and Kakashi once more conveniently disappeared from ANBU when it occurred - as he had with every other assassination attempt that had happened in his life, and as he would for the next several attempts that came from his own village. ANBU found this increasingly frustrating, even irritating, but the ones not associated with ROOT kept their opinions to themselves, knowing what Kakashi was doing and allowing him to disappear when it was necessary. When it wasn't necessary and he did it anyway, that was when the cursing became real.
After that, however, Sasuke proudly proclaimed that he had stopped three assassination attempts on Danzo during his house arrest, and told the old man that he wouldn't allow anyone to hurt him - the only one allowed to was Sasuke himself, and he was going to enjoy it, so much that he was taking his utmost time planning it. Danzo, upon hearing this, immediately tried to start counter-planning, but because Sasuke was with him literally every day, he could not break away to contact his ROOT operatives for a more concise strategy meeting. Oh, his operatives visited him, and he did impart information to them, but with effectively no communication to the outside world, Danzo slowly became aware that many of his operatives were no longer checking in. Once glance at Sasuke's smirk and he came to the conclusion that ROOT was slowly being taken out.
What he didn't know (and was Sasuke enjoyed in never telling him) was that ROOT was not being taken out but rather taken in, back into the proper fold of ANBU. Sai had been an impressive help in this, explaining his entire training regiment to Ibiki at Kakashi's request and said T&I specialist quickly developing a plan to undo the brainwashing. It was a slow progress, to be sure, and trust was not something freely given, but if Sai was any indicator there would be success - and indeed several operatives had utter breakdowns as they began to realize what they had done - with the help of Ibiki and Kakashi's own Sharingan (Sasuke was banned from use of his except in protection of Danzo, which was apparently constantly).
Kakashi was still seeing delegates and operatives and doing actual Hokage duties, but even these took an interesting turn for the general public. For one, everyone had to acclimate themselves to his constant reading of porn. Most took this in stride but impressionable genin fresh out of the academy took a little longer to adjust. Iruka tried to bring this up several times but Kakashi blithely ignored him, leaving the teacher torn between wanting to beat the man to a pulp to being absurdly grateful he was now the head of the academy and could do things he had wanted to do for years, since Naruto first became a student. His decision was made for him when his first check for changes was handed to him by an exhilarated Naruto, and he finally shrugged and allowed a man his quirks.
Naruto, meanwhile, was literally everywhere. He put his shadow clone jutsu to impressive work, helping out all the construction crews get their work done in record time. The crews were nervous at first at how the pay grade would go, but Naruto (and successively Kakashi since they couldn't believe it) was doing the work utterly pro-bono, and that any money he did earn he was to be funneled to the workers instead until seventy-five percent of the building was complete - at which point Naruto would be pulled to do something else.
Kakashi had made this decision for one simple reason: the village now was officially proud of Naruto, true, and no longer saw him as The Container, but the had yet to truly know Naruto, his quirks and endearing traits, and the best way for that to happen was to out and out talk to the boy. Seeing him literally all over the place made the villagers feel comfortable in stopping to talk to him, strike up a sometimes-tentative conversation and learn a little bit about the boy who had saved them all.
It was also training for the future in dealing with people, but Kakashi kept that little tidbit for himself.
At the end of two weeks, tax season arrived, and ninja and civilians alike happily filled out their forms while the council moaned and groaned at the enormous inconvenience, (it should be noted, however, that it affected their lifestyle not at all) that this would do nothing but build the destroyed economy. Kakashi blithely ignored them still, the only reply he could bother with was, "Say that again in three years when revenues increase." That left them utterly puzzled and even further convinced that Hatake Kakashi was stark-raving mad.
Education and infrastructure went largely unnoticed by the public at large, changes like that took years to really see the difference and attention spans of the public at large simply didn't last that long. They did notice the buildings popping up, and that made them happy. The ninja, however noticed a marked difference in the administration of missions. Their military strength had been... not gutted but severely traumatized by dying and coming back to life. Even for ninja that was something that shook more than a few cages.
To that end, Kakashi reorganized the chuunin into specific clusters and teams based on their level of trauma and then assigned them to a jounin for six months. This gave the chuunin people of their own level to commune with, or a jounin to talk to if necessary. Concurrently, the restructuring allowed the new teams to take a wider array of missions, and a higher degree of difficulty. It also led to higher success rates, and there was a new updraft in income.
Amazing, having a genius in charge.
Several delegates from the other villages arrived around that time, and Kakashi sent several delegates of his own. Overall the other Kage were more than a little impressed with how Kakashi had managed to fix the Sasuke problem so quickly, but there was still the Akatsuki to deal with, rumors of an alliance with Orochimaru's assistant Kabuto, and, well, war to worry about, and information was more than a little important. Kakashi happily took the delegates on a tour of the village, showing how new construction was going, the civilian's hopeful demeanor, handing out volumes of Jiraiya's Icha Icha series as souvenirs, and showing off his "pet project" Danzo. Said man did not like being stared at like a zoo exhibit, and Sasuke thrilled at the idea of protecting the man even further - well, thrilled as much as a person of his temperament could be.
It was at this point that the next stage of The Plan came to fruition, and Danzo - in a moment completely out of character for him - verbally abused one of the delegates, and when asked to stop by Kakashi the old man tried to attack them. This gave Sasuke the perfect excuse to defend Kakashi and the delegates, and of course to land some decent moves on Danzo.
When all was said and done, the delegates left with their copies of Icha Icha, wondering just what that had been about, but flipping through the porn book and realizing coded messages were in there, the cipher being whatever personal message Kakashi had written in the cover. The useless visit suddenly wasn't so useless, and several hidden villages realized just how sneaky the new Hokage was, and respect for the Land of Fire, waning over the last few years, suddenly spiked.
Danzo had not been part of that particular plan, he really was the "pet project" of Kakashi, Team 7, and a few notable others. Sakura had been in charge of his meals and had been, with her medical knowledge and the help of Sasuke and Anko, slipping Danzo an untraceable, undetectable poison that slowly eroded his faculties. Danzo was becoming more paranoid - justifiably, of course, but let's just say it was "helped along," and a secondary catalyst had been added to his food to release inhibitions and make him attack Kakashi - the source of his paranoia.
This gave the Sasuke the excuse - whenever he wanted - to fight Danzo in order to "prevent him from harming himself or others." It was a duty Sasuke took very seriously and generally timed very appropriately. Danzo began to look crazy and Sasuke actually looked nice for trying to help the man out.
Of course there was the suspicion of poison, but Sakura's particular brand of genius had made the poison genetically specific to a predetermined percent range of Uchiha blood. Saskue, one-hundred percent Uchiha, or Kakashi, less than five percent Uchiha, were not affected by the food, and often filched from Danzo's plate whenever they could to prove the point; but Danzo, approximately twenty-five to thirty-three percent Uchiha, well... The old man knew something and someone was poisoning him; he just didn't know how and it only helped in the torture. Sasuke never realized letting someone live could be so much fun; he occasionally let it show, a manic look entering his spinning Sharingan eyes, and it only drove Danzo further over the edge.
Kakashi suggested telling Danzo he was in love, but Sasuke flatly refused.
Kakashi pouted for a long, long time after that, but accepted that it was inappropriate for him to have complete control over the "pet project." Though Danzo had made his early years hell constantly calling into question the young genius' judgment to ensure he didn't repeat his father's mistakes, being one of the driving factors for Kakashi to push to be the perfect shinobi, he understood that his was nothing compared to Sasuke, and the best revenge didn't have to be something he did personally.
But, then, even "pet projects" must come to an end, and Kakashi blithely let Team Seven figure out the endgame for that.
It turned out to be nearly perfect, the Hokage was taking a tour of the freshly rebuild business district, already starting to fill out with owners customizing their shops or even some ambitious few that were already open for business, thanking Kakashi for sending Naruto to help and generally being an awesome individual.
"Clear the way! Get out of the way! Hide!"
Sasuke came running down the street, full tilt, and skid to a halt in front of a suddenly terrified crowd of civilians.
Kakashi openly blinked. "What?"
"Danzo," Sasuke said, utterly serious and deadpan. "He killed some of the ROOT operatives and disappeared. I think he's finally cracked."
Kakashi blinked again, not having quite expected the endgame his team was planning to happen quite so soon. In the end, though, he shrugged and said, "Okay. I'll let ANBU know."
Sasuke, whatever he was planning, had not quite expected that. "Hokage-sama, this guy just killed three ROOT and was raving about you. You should hide."
Kakashi, studying a food cart with intense interest, asked, "Why?" The Hokage was more that slightly pleased when he heard a sputter of indignation. Still got it!
"... 'Why?' The man's a lunatic! Damn it, Kakashi-sensei I don't want him to hurt you!"
"Aww, so you do care!" Kakashi sung happily, turning to his former pupil with a beaming smile visible even through his mask. Sasuke openly flushed, and the look of humanity endeared several citizens who were watching. Kakashi finished his inspection of the food and bought a crate of lemons and finally turned to face his student. "Okay," he said, sighing, "Where did you last see him?"
"It's all your fault, Hatake!"
Many things happened after that: dozens of Naruto clones grabbed civilians and dragged them to safety, Sakura came running down the streets chasing a frothing Danzo (the old man looked positively schizo) with three ANBU hot on her heels as she shouted angry curses, Sasuke boldly stood in front of Kakashi and drew his sword, slashing at Danzo to protect the Hokage.
Danzo jumped up to avoid the strike, exposing a sleeve to see almost a dozen Sharingan eyes implanted in his arm - and let's all get it out of the way: EW! - but Sasuke and Kakashi both had their own Sharingan activated. Danzo's greatest weakness, however, was his age, and he was simply no match for Sasuke's speed, the young man leapt up and swung again at Danzo, distracting the old man as Sakura followed up behind to throw a vicious chakra infused kick, followed by Naruto trying for a Rasengan. Danzo dodge all of these, but they, in the end, were all distractions because Kakashi followed suit and, instead of a fancy jutsu, simply grabbed a lemon from his freshly bought crate and squeezed.
The acidic juice filled four Sharingan, and the old man shrieked in pain like a four-year-old.
This was followed by the three ANBU casting several jutsu at once ranging from techniques that would further protect the civilians to containment jutsu, followed up by Sasuke throwing out a powerful genjutsu that only affected Danzo. Sakura came in next to slap a palm on Danzo's shoulder to sever all nerves to the Sahringan arm, and Kakashi simply stepped forward and squeezed more lemons.
"Mah," he drawled, "I guess house arrest isn't going to be enough for you. Trying to kill the Hokage is punishable by death. Do you mind, Sasuke?"
The former missing nin gave a long, hard stare before simply shaking his head. "It's for the good of Konoha," he droned.
Kakashi looked to the thee ANBU. "Take care of it."
That was when he turned around with some aplomb and smiled at Sasuke. "So Danzo broke free and your first thought, rather than to run off and kill him, was to come warn me?"
"..." Sasuke pouted.
Kakashi leaned forward, almost into personal space. "You thought about your precious people first, before your revenge?"
"I guess that means there's hope for you yet, Sasuke-kun. This little accident will reflect well on your trial."
"That's favoritism, sens... Hokage-sama."
And Kakashi leaned back, one foot crossing the other, hands in his pockets. "I wouldn't know," he said glibly. "I won't be Hokage when that trial starts."
Everyone in the street blinked.
When word got to the council, they literally wept in happiness. At last! At last! No more porn, no more disappearances, no more lateness, no more craziness! They called Kakashi in to a meeting and didn't even mind that he was two days late, they were just overeager to see who the replacement would be and start getting their hooks into him or her before the transition started and-
"I thought my successor would be obvious," Kakashi said, reading his Icha Icha book. "Uzumaki Naruto."
... ... What?
"And you should know," Kakashi added, still reading his book, "When I talked to him about it he said he was going to strive to be even better at it than me."
Exactly forty-six percent of the council had heart attacks at that very moment.
Author's Notes: Inspired by another fic called Accounting no Jutsu. Go read it. While I'm not sure this is quite as funny as that, we entertained ourselves greatly writing this, and our lovely beta Tenshi laughed for an entire planride going over it (and finding no errors! That's a first!). And so we hope you like.