A/N: Characters of Naruto obviously not mine. Just borrowing them to have some fun. Phantom of the Opera also not mine, and borrowing the story to have lots of fun. :-)

Act 1: Scene 2: Overture and Hannibal

Kakashi sighed as he took his place in the rafters as the whole introduction began to play below. To think a mere few weeks ago, it would have been Ibiki standing here. But as fate would have it, he got his chance and took it quickly having realized a few things.

One being the brunette below dancing next to the blonde, as well as the brunette working behind the scenes, and the brunette that would soon make his appearance as his younger self…

As he waited for his cue, he thought back to maybe three weeks ago, when the fittings for the costumes were taking place and he first got to hear one of the more pleasant surprises in what had seemed to be a wretched plot.

By the time the male ninjas realized what had happened, roles had already been provided and Tsunade had made it mandatory for all named to participate. There was no backing out as she was making sure any missions needed were provided to other able ninjas not playing a big role. Only a select few happened to have understudies.

And what a field day some the women had in choosing roles.

A few of the ninjas actually had no problems with their roles, including the few who were cross dressing. Naratu and Konohamu accepted their roles with dignity and… well there was no real dignity. It was a shouting match of who would be the best looking girl between Konohamaru and Naruto without using their sexy no jutsu.

Shikamaru and Choji didn't care either way, they had the roles of men, and Yamato was grateful his particular skill allowed him not to play a real role but be a stage developer.

Kakashi didn't care as much. He was an understudy only because his skill set kept him up in the air about whether he really needed to go on a mission or not. Watching all the others working and building the sets together, he felt he was one of the lucky ones. He got to lounge around and read his book.

What did surprise him, however, was that Ibiki, the one he was to replace should something keep him from performing, seemed willing to play the role.

Kakashi had to admit it was perfect. He got to wear a mask, and when exposed, had some scarring.

He wasn't ashamed of it and thought it best since it meant very little make up and chakra usage was going to be needed.

And if Kakashi did need to play the role, a mask was a mask. He would be comfortable in that role. Maybe not performing, but he wouldn't feel naked and that was all that mattered.

Neji, in his opinions, was one of the unlucky bastards. His role was that of Carlotta. An opera diva used to getting her way. Personality wise, it came pretty close to being a match.

Four weeks away from the performance night, during one of the rehearsals, Kakashi was greeted with the sight of watching Neji being outfitted with an elaborate dress. His emotionless face remained stiff while he stood there with arms raised.

Naruto was dressed as a dance girl and he was trying out the little bells his outfit had. Konohamaru was chasing Udon with a scary looking rag doll, wearing his usual outfit except for the black mary jane shoes he had on. Sasuke wasn't wearing an outfit, but Kakashi has seen that he had tried on a simple black dress and wig the day before. Despite all that, at the moment, he was the most interesting to observe.

Naruto was talking to Sai, discussing wardrobe he assumed, and then Tsunade came up to him, asking about how dance lessons were coming along.

Naruto nodded and then grinned mischievously as he suddenly did some quick successions of thrusts from his hips and chest like a professional belly dancer, setting off a soft tinkling of bells. Sasuke's head whipped so hard Kakashi was positive that his head could have fallen right off.

Off to one side, Kiba let out a wolf whistle and then blushed when Hinata tugged at his pant leg, giving him a frown and waving the pins in her hand.

Jiraya gave Naruto a thumbs up and then went back to the Orchestra, shouting how terrible they were doing.

"You're not a real director! You're just acting one!" Tsunade yelled as she made her way to the orchestra pit.

"Where's Iruka?" Yamato called out. "I thought he was in today?"

Kakashi realized out of all the practices and meetings he had seen – three of them - he always missed Iruka. But he had heard that he was going to practice his singing this day. He mentally snickered.

Iruka was another one that was selected to play the role of a girl, and the protagonist at that. And his co-actor was Genma. Considering how much he liked to tease the chuunin and see him turn red, he was looking forward to seeing him in a costume to tease him some more.

Kiba, now out of his outfit so that Hinata could make the necessary adjustments, approached Sasuke, Sai, and Naruto. "I thought you were gonna cheat and use your Sexy no Jutsu for the actual performance?"

Naruto frowned. "Tsunade banned it." He stuck his tongue out at the hokage when she wasn't looking.

Choji singing out his lines as an opera singer named Piangi caught everyone's attention. They listened for a few minutes until he intentionally messed up his pronunciation. Jiraya fumbled about with his line despite how simple it was. "Roma! I mean, Rome! We say Rome, not Roma. Er. Yeah, that."

Choji, clearly in the zone, executed his line flawlessly, accent and all. "Si, si. Rome, not Roma. Is very hard for me."

"Yo!" Genma called out, coming in from the side. "I'm here for my fitting! And damn Choji has a powerful voice. Who knew? Is Iruka here yet? I hear no one has actually heard him sing yet."

"I have."

Kakashi straightened up from his position as Ibiki strolled onto the stage, dressed in black.

"He's pretty good considering we have to adjust the octaves due to him being a man. But his notes still get pretty high."

Kiba, Sai, Naruto and Sasuke moved off and began to practice some of their lines. Kakashi, focused on them, seeing that the others moved off their topic of Iruka. Pity. He would just have to wait a little longer to see the academy ninja.

He watched as Kiba and Sai snickered and elbowed each other in the ribs as Sasuke went, somewhat emotionless, through his lines of offering a tour of the opera house. While Naruto performed some of his dance moves, Kiba, feeling rather bold it seemed, reached For Naruto's ass as he was saying "And who's that girl?"

A resounding smack was heard as Sasuke brought down his script on Kiba's hand.

"Ow!"

"My daughter, Monsieur. Promising dancer."

Kakashi laughed. There was a tiny bit of force behind that line and Naruto, having not seen what Kiba had been about to do, stood up bewildered.

Kakashi decided he had enough of looking and dropped down to where Genma and Ibiki stood.

Ibiki gave him a sideways glance. "Enjoying the view?"

Kakashi shrugged.

"It's a good way to pass the time."

"I hope you're learning you lines in case something happens to me."

"I have my sharingan."

"You are a cheater."

"I just know how to use all my assets."

Genma chuckled. "And I know how to use my opportunities. Lucky bastard." Genma poked Ibiki. "I hear you've been spending some time at Iruka's going over some of the lines. Is he really a good cook?"

Ibiki grinned. "Why so interested?"

Genma grinned in return. "I've always been interested. Just never had the opportunity to spend some time with him for a legitimate reason. He turns down my requests for hanging out."

"That's cuz you always invite him to go to strip joints. That's not his cup of tea."

Kakashi looked at them, confused.

"Hang out?" he asked. He never knew Genma wanted to be friends with Iruka.

"Iruka's slow to warm up. But I hear he can be a wild cat once he's hot."

Now Kakashi didn't just look confused. He was baffled.

"You mean you're trying to date him?"

Genma blushed. "Just curious, you know?"

Ibiki rolled his eyes. "Leave him alone, Genma. If you aren't serious, leave him alone. Besides, there are a couple others who are interested in getting to know him first."

"I am serious!" claimed Genma. "Well, serious enough to try to get an in. Think I can convince him for private practice sessions?"

Ibiki grunted and turned to walk away. "Good luck with that. He knows you're a perv. Why do you think he's turned you down?"

"You just said it was because I invited him to strip joints!"

"Because you're a perv."

"Kakashi reads porn in public!"

"Ma, don't bring me into this."

"Kakashi's just weird," Ibiki called back.

Before either one could respond, the ground shook underneath them and both moved out of the way as a wooden elephant began to emerge from the ground.

"Beautiful!" they could hear Anko crying out. She was wearing an elaborate dress. One that was meant for a later act in the musical.

"What are you doing in my… costume?" asked Neji.

"Oh, I just wanted to see what it was like dressing up in one of these," she said, twirling herself about.

"Yeah, well, you're stretching out the top of my dress… I mean, my costume."

"Hahaha! Let me do your makeup and stretched out tops will not be a problem!"

Genma took her hand and twirled her around one more time. "Looking fine, there. So how do you like it?"

"I hate it. Sucks to be you, Neji."

Neji frowned.

"Miss Anko, please," Hinata pleaded as she followed after Anko who was making her way backstage.

"Iruka!" he heard Yamato call out.

"Sorry I'm late, everyone!" Iruka called out, grinning as he waved at all who were waving to him.

"Iruka!" Tsunade barked out. "Front and center. You promised to sing your part so we can evaluate, remember?"

"Ah, y-yes, ma'am."

Kakashi smirked. He couldn't wait to hear this. He wondered if Iruka would sound bad enough that they would need to find another singer to sing his parts. Another thing to tease him on.

Iruka nervously stood center stage, dropping his duffle bag. Everyone close by stopped what they were doing to watch, adding more stress to the tense tan man.

He cleared his throat.

"Jiraya!"

"Orchestra!"

The band began to play and Iruka cleared his throat. He took in a deep breath and opened his mouth and began to sing.

Kakashi snapped himself out of his trip down memory lane and he leaned forward to watch as the act was to give way to when the opera members began their dress rehearsal.

A play within a play.

He still found it amusing.

The people all reacted with giggles as Neji began to sing his part, stopping for a moment to complain when an actor stepped on his dress. And then they all made sounds of amazement as the elaborate wooden elephant rolled onto stage and everyone else sang.

As the bit continued towards when Kiba and Sai would be shown around, Kakashi couldn't help but remember when he had heard about their roles. It had peeked his interest because that was also when he had heard about Iruka's role.

"Yes!" Kiba crowed as he pulled out his paper. "I'm a dude!"

Shikamaru rolled his eyes as he pulled out his own role.

"People may dispute that," Sai said as he took his turn. Glancing at his paper, he grunted. "How disappointing," he said with a wistful sigh.

"Did you get a girl part?" Kiba asked, smirking.

"No. Dickless did though."

"Bastard!" Naruto cried out, hiding his paper. "You peeked before I could swap it with someone!"

Sakura came up behind Naruto and knocked a fist into the back of his head.

"No swapping."

"What did Uchiha get?"

Sasuke glared at Kiba. "Madam Giry," he said in a monotone voice.

Kiba busted out laughing as did Naruto.

"Oh Sasuke… I can probably get you a different part."

"No way! No swapping!" Naruto shouted. "Besides, I'm sure he won't mind playing my mother," he said, holding out his paper that read Meg Giry.

"You're the dancing girl? I was thinking you'd be Carlotta!"

"Boss! So you're playing a girl, too?"

Konohamaru stood next to his idol, clutching his paper.

"What did you get?"

"I got Young Madam Giry."

"Oh?"

"And Udon got Young Eric."

The sniffling genin wiped his nose as he nodded.

"I bet I'll make a better girl than you, Boss!"

"You're on!" Naruto shouted. "And not only will I beat you, but I'll do it without using Sexy no Jutso!"

"Being dickless helps," added Sai, earning a shout and a punch from Naruto.

Kakashi smirked as he spotted how disgruntled Sasuke looked. Too bad he couldn't tell whether it was from the role he had picked or if it was seeing how Sai quietly demanded Naruto's full attention. A fine time to be welcomed back to Konoha. After he had essentially been replaced and reduced to genin status by limiting his chakra, part of his probation.

Kakashi briefly frowned. Sasuke's arrival to Konoha was still not fully explained. All he knew was that for a traitor, the sentencing had been awfully light. But it kept Naruto happy that his friend was back. And although it was hard to tell, he supposed Sasuke was content with Naruto's presence. They were practically joined by their hips.

Their squabble was interrupted by the arrival of Iruka.

"Iruka sensei!" most of them greeted, some with politeness, others with exuberance.

Kakashi rolled his eyes. How childish to still look up to their former teacher.

"Did you come to pick your role?" Udon asked.

Iruka blushed an interesting shade of red that was not on his normal face of rage, and Kakashi couldn't help but focus fully on the conversation.

"I was assigned a role," he said. "As was Ibiki, Genma, and Kakashi."

"What did Kakashi get? I bet he got the Phantom, sneaky bastard."

Kakashi decided he had enough of the tree he was in and dropped down, startling Naruto and the two younger ninjas.

"I'm an understudy to Ibiki."

"What does that mean?"

"Dobe. It means they didn't trust him for any role so they gave him Ibiki's to study just in case Ibiki couldn't make it."

"Ouch," Kakashi said, with a strained chuckle. "You wound me with your words."

"Although knowing your penchant for being late, it's probably for the best. Speaking of which, don't you have a report to turn in?" Iruka gave him a pointed look, a small frown on his face.

Kakashi shrugged his shoulders.

"So what were you assigned, Iruka-sensei?" asked Naruto.

"Yes," added Kakashi. "What were you assigned?"

Iruka gave him a tight smile. "Had you been on time for that meeting, you would have known," he said, somewhat coyly. How irritating.

"You're a girl, aren't you?"

Iruka blushed again. He was fortunately, or unfortunately, spared from answering by the arrival of Genma.

"Hey, guys."

"Genma-sempai! Are you part of the play, too?"

Genma nodded as he wrapped an arm around Iruka's shoulder. "Yup! I play the Raul de Chagny and Iruka here plays my sweet heart, Christine Daae."

"So you're a girl, too? Awesome! We'll both show everyone that we can make awesome women!" Naruto cried out.

Kakashi couldn't help but snicker as soon as he heard that, earning a sharp glare from Iruka who pried Genma's arm off of him.

"I'm sure you will do fine, Iruka-sensei," Kakashi drawled out, thinking it fitting that the tempermental chuunin was assigned a role of a woman.

Iruka went red with fury at the mocking tone Kakashi held. Instead of feeling alarmed or amused, Kakashi found himself strangely vindicated. Something about the casual way Genma had placed his arms around Iruka bothered him, and he didn't know why.

Too bad he didn't know at that time that he had set himself up for a hard time when he mocked Iruka. Too bad he couldn't start over again and say something along the lines of believing he would do a great job without the mocking tone, and how the children will adore him, or something that would have put him in Iruka's good graces. But at least he was making some progress. If only it weren't for everyone else.

The sound of Iruka speaking his lines caught his attention. Ah yes, the now much younger Genma introducing himself as the new manager, and a sad Christine sharing her story to her best friend of how she use to know him and how obvious it was that he didn't recognize her.

He had to admit the costumes were well done. They didn't look like men in drag at all. And true to his word, Naruto was doing it without using his sexy no jutsu. And he had made Iruka feel better about his female role.

People snickered as Sasuke coldy stated how Meg was his daughter. Kiba was pouting and rubbing his hand. It seemed that Sasuke was still sore about Kiba's actions even though, and this time he could see that Naruto was aware of something. A suspicious look was sent Sasuke's way, but he continued to perform, little bells jingling. It had become obvious a couple weeks ago that Naruto was one of the main reasons why Sasuke had returned. Shame Naruto hadn't fully caught on to that yet.

Sai jumped in with the following line.

"And that exceptional beauty? No relation I trust."

Exceptional beauty indeed. And Kakashi wished he had realized it long before this performance began its production.

"Christine Daae, promising talent, Monsieur Firmin," Sasuke added, his voice no longer as cold.

Kiba perked up with interest. "Daae, you say? No relation to the famous Swedish violinist?"

"His only child, orphaned at seven when she came to live and train in the ballet dormitories."

Sai grinned lecherously. "An orphan you say?"

Kakashi rolled his eyes, grateful that at least that brat was too young to be an issue. Although even if he were interested, since he was the age as his former pupils, Iruka would not have taken him seriously.

Unlike the others… The others that noticed Iruka long before he did, and almost winning the battle he didn't know existed until it was almost too late.

Kakashi's eyes were wide as Iruka sang his last note. Despite singing lower than what the song was meant to be sung, he had to admit that it was a very good rendition of "Think of me."

He felt the desire to go and congratulate Iruka. Having had limited interactions, he wanted to know him better. And he was suddenly envious about the fact that Ibiki was spending large amounts of time with him.

Genma applauded as did Ibiki, having returned when he heard Iruka had arrived.

"Guys!" Anko cried out, having returned from the dressing rooms, out of the costume she had been parading herself around in. "Have you worked on the important romance scenes?"

Iruka blushed as Genma sneered and Ibiki stared at Anko curiously.

"Nope!" Genma said. "Ru-ru's been a bit shy about practicing those scenes."

"More like wary about practicing any scenes with you alone," Ibiki grunted.

"'ruka!" Anko whined. "How are you going to make the kissing scenes look real if you won't practice?"

Kissing? Kakashi yanked out the script from his back pocket and began to flip through the pages, checking out all the scenes featuring Christine and Raul and Christine and the Phantom.

Sure enough, there were romantic scenes, not necessarily kissing, with the exception of one. At the very end. Even if Iruka and Genma didn't kiss, he and Ibiki were to share at least a chaste kiss near the finale. And now he was no longer just envious. He wanted the part. He had to try and convince Ibiki to give him the part. He wanted to know the chuunin who peaked his interest with his voice just now and what better way than to play one of the characters who is actually meant to share a kiss with him?

Kakashi sighed. Of course after declaring to himself that he would try to get Ibiki to give his part up, he had spent almost two weeks trying to get close to Iruka while noticing how just about everyone seemed interesting in the tanned man. Ibiki, Yamato, Genma, Hirashi, and even the well known lecher Jariya (he felt betrayed at that) all spent time with Iruka under the pretense of practicing.

Especially his kohai.

Damn brat. He had no lines in the damn play and he had spent the most time with Iruka. Reading lines opposite him. Shame something couldn't have happened to him. Although that would also mean the awesome wooden elephant on stage wouldn't be on stage parading about with a large chorus singing around it.

The practice was interrupted by the diva that Neji was playing, upset at the attention the dancing girls were getting.

Kakashi watched as Kiba's and Sai's characters rushed over to grovel and placate the diva. Kakashi couldn't help but smirk. Despite the outrage Neji had when he first learned of his role, and the embarrassment he held during measurements and practices, he really knew how to throw himself into his role.

He supposed he wasn't much different from going undercover in missions. The biggest difference was that other than entertaining a huge crowd of people, there was no purpose for their dress up.

Kakashi reached for the rope that held the curtain, seeing as his "introduction" was about to come up.

He smirked as Kiba and Sai tried to get into "Carlotta's" good graces.

"Princespessa! Bella dive!"

"Si. Si."

"Goddess of song!"

The two tried to convince "her" to sing a part of the Hannibal play they were practicing.

Neji turned his nose upward, his curly wig cascading down his back as he refused to want to sing at that moment. "Because I have not my costume for act because somebody not finish it! And I hate my hat!" Just like Chouji, he spoke with a broken accent.

People giggled as the two implored Carlotta to reconsider and still sing her part.

Neji finally agreed and went to stand in his place as Kiba's character leaned towards Shikamura and asked, "Monsieur Lefevre, why exactly are you retiring?"

"My health," Shikamaru responded, earning another laugh from the crowd.

Another giggle went through the crowd as Izumo and Kotetsum dressed as maids, stopped wiping the ground off to the side to stuff cotton balls in their ears when Jiraiya, as the director, called for everyone to be quiet.

Neji began to sing.

It wasn't horrible, and Kakashi recalled being slightly impressed to hear Neji sing. Of course, the role called for it to be over the top, so Neji forced some notes to sound rather obnoxious.

Kakashi pulled on the rope and froze. The damn thing was stuck! Of all times and practices, it chose now to snag?

The background drop that the rope was holding up began to sway and Kakashi began to sweat as Neji's last singing line came up. He needed to background drop to fall, and so he threw a kunai.

The rope was sliced and the prop fell down.

Right on top of Neji who practically squawked.

The ninjas below reacted accordingly, rushing to help him but staying in character.

Neji glanced up, glaring at Kakashi who just sheepishly grinned and shrugged his shoulders.

Well, not quite what was practiced but still very effective as the audience gasped.

Kakashi darted out of sight, as some spectators caught a glimpse of his cape, adding to the mystery that the opera house people were going to give.

Making his way back stage, he passed Yamato who was leaning against the side, a small smile on his face.

Kakashi frowned.

Of all the rivals he had these past few weeks, Yamato was his number one. But before this night's performance was done, he would convince Iruka that he was completely serious and win the tan chuunin's heart.

TBC….