Disclaimer: Naruto isn't mine. If it was then... I'm running out of things to say, so it just isn't mine
Author's note: Sorry. I've rewritten this four times already, and then started on the next chapter to make sure that it would actually work out.
Beta-ed by ECDL
It had been four days since their fight, and the group was now walking back towards Konoha after completing their mission.
Despite the medic's warning, Minato had deemed it safer for them to hurry and return to Konoha.
That wasn't to say that Kakashi was up and walking around. The chuunin could barely move due to all of the strain he'd placed on his muscles, and needed to be carried.
The sannin, Jiraiya, was still with the group even though the man was fairly certain that their attackers were no longer in the area. At first it had been to look after Kakashi. They had left the chuunin behind so that he could at least get some rest while they delivered the scroll.
Apparently the sannin also needed to report to the Hokage about some of his findings and needed to return to Konoha to do so. Obito knew that they might actually need his help if any more S-ranked nin showed up, and so he hadn't complained when the man offered to stick with the group. Obito was starting to hate the toad summoner though.
Jiraiya seemed suspicious of Rin, and had questioned her in an almost harsh manner about what had occurred. When Obito had voiced his assumption to Minato though, the blonde had assured him that the sannin just wanted to make sure he had gotten the entire story.
However, since then the white-haired man had been keeping a close eye on Rin, and it unnerved Obito.
It didn't help that Jiraiya had a connection to Kakashi.
Minato had explained a bit about the sannin, and it turned out that the toad summoner had been Kakashi's honorary uncle when the chuunin had been younger. He had seemed annoyed when Obito had asked why Jiraiya wasn't still considered as such, and had refused to explain further, saying that it was between Jiraiya and Kakashi.
Jiraiya did care about Kakashi though, and that had translated into a dislike for Obito.
He completely blamed Obito for the burns covering the gray-haired nin, and while Obito blamed himself as well, he really didn't like how the sannin was treating him.
Whenever the man spoke to Obito, he was extremely condescending, and had given the impression that anyone who didn't know the end result of superheating water was a complete idiot.
Obito hadn't tried to defend himself though. It was completely obvious that Kakashi would have been burned from his actions after he'd had a moment to think about it, but he hadn't been thinking about anything other than surviving during the fight.
At the moment, Kakashi was being carried by Minato.
Right now he was half-asleep, and forcing himself to stay awake as he scanned their surroundings.
It wasn't as if he would be able to fight if anyone did attack them. An Academy student could probably take him out in his current state.
While Obito didn't know much about chakra exhaustion, from what he was seeing he was completely certain that he never wanted to experience it. Not only had they been forced to leave Kakashi behind with Jiraiya in order to deliver the scroll, but after four days Kakashi didn't seem to be doing much better.
According to Rin, the main symptoms of chakra exhaustion were a severe headache, lethargy, confusion, nausea, and general weakness.
The medic that had looked over Kakashi's injuries had said that the chuunin could have caused a lot of damage, considering how he had forced chakra into his muscles during combat, and was lucky that he was going to recover. Until then though, he would be extremely weak and in a lot of pain.
Had Kakashi had access to constant medical attention after the fight, then he would be doing much better, he might even be able to walk along with them.
As it was now, Kakashi was supposed to be eating to keep his energy up, and resting as much as possible in order to recover. Both of those things were easier said than done.
Kakashi had very little appetite, and for the first two days he hadn't been able to keep anything down.
As for sleep, he hadn't been getting much of that either.
When they had first set out from Konoha, Kakashi had been too jumpy to get much sleep. Now though, he fell asleep easily.
Unfortunately, that didn't last for long. The chuunin hadn't been able to sleep for more than an hour or two before the nightmares forced him awake. Each time he woke up, they made sure to keep their distance from him, otherwise he lashed out.
Despite the fact unspoken rule never to wake a ninja, their sensei was stronger than Kakashi, and the first time he'd begun screaming in his sleep Minato had tried to wake him.
The blond had been lucky that they had removed all of Kakashi's weapons. Even so, Kakashi had nearly broken the blonde's hand before his short burst of energy ran out, and he'd nearly passed out after he'd unconsciously tried to draw out his chakra.
Even with all of that though, according to Minato, Kakashi was extremely lucky.
The end result of chakra exhaustion, and what would have been the outcome for Kakashi had he used even a little more chakra, was death.
So, over these last four days, Obito had done a lot of thinking.
During the fight, Obito would have died within a second had Kakashi not been there.
He hadn't been able to protect Rin either. Hell, she was even making more progress than he was. Even if she didn't have any medical training yet, their sensei insisted that she would make a great medic based on her current abilities.
Therefore, Obito had made several promises to himself.
The first was that he wasn't going to wait for a bloodline that may not ever activate. There were plenty of powerful ninja without the sharingan after all.
Next, he would start doing whatever he could to improve himself. He would accept help from their sensei, and even ask his teammates to train with him, provided Kakashi wasn't angry that Obito had been completely useless in the fight and refused to help.
And finally, he was no longer going to try and impress his clan. They had obviously never cared about him, and never would. Not even that, they treated him like dirt. Even if he somehow managed to become an elite ninja, he sure as hell didn't want to think of them as his motivation anymore.
He felt like he was going to collapse soon, but he couldn't give up now.
All five of them had been up since early that morning to start training, and he was completely exhausted. The greyhound had given up about an hour ago, which seemed about right considering he was less experienced than Urushi.
Pakkun wasn't participating in this exercise today, in charge of training Shiba and Bull.
Urushi's eyes brightened when he caught sight of the Inuzuka Clinic in front of him, and he made the last few bounds before flopping down on his belly, completely exhausted.
"Could be faster," he glanced to his right to see Kuromaru sitting there.
He growled half-heartedly.
The half-wolf didn't seem the least bit tired even though he had run thirty laps around the village, just like Urushi, but at a much quicker pace.
Urushi wanted to argue that Kuromaru was used to such things. The Inuzuka ninken were also specifically bred for speed, strength, and stamina.
Right now though, he would much rather curl up on Kakashi's bed and sleep for possibly the next week. He wasn't averse to just falling asleep right here either. Tsume would carry him somewhere else if he was in the way.
Urushi had already been tired from their training the day before when they had started.
The door to the clinic opened a moment later, and he shakily rose to his feet, ignoring his body's protests, when he saw Uuhei walking towards him, carefully carrying a bowl, water spilling out over the top with each step.
Water was definitely more important than sleep at the moment.
Urushi moved forward quickly, and began lapping at it, even as Uuhei lowered it to the ground.
"Damn. You pups are definitely serious about this," he glanced up to see Tsume standing in the doorway looking down at him.
"You didn't see Kakashi," Pakkun pushed his way past her to get outside, looking annoyingly awake. It was a challenge to keep Bull and Shiba on task, but it wasn't near as hard as the training Urushi and Uuhei had just gone through.
They couldn't neglect the puppies' training though, and while Tsume usually helped out, she hadn't had the time today. Not only had her father given her several more responsibilities after the death of Isamaru, but Tsume's husband had dropped off her daughter Hana early that morning.
"Like hell we're going to let him get that injured again if we can help it. He's going to start relying on us more. He has to. We won't take no for an answer," the pug told her firmly.
Urushi and Uuhei nodded in agreement.
"Who exactly is 'we'?" Tsume asked, glancing down at the pug with a raised brow.
"As far as I know, you haven't done any training whatsoever," she teased. Pakkun huffed and looked away from her.
"Someone has to train the pups, and we can't put it off anymore. Once Kakashi's back and training them I'll train just as hard," he told her, and then shook his head.
"No. I'll train even harder," Pakkun insisted.
A second later, the pug yelped as he was pounced on, legs giving out in his surprise.
"Puppy," Hana had somehow managed to sneak up on Pakkun, and squealed excitedly as she smothered him.
"Stop that. I'm a ninken, not some pet. This is degrading," Pakkun whined, though he wasn't struggling very hard to get out from under her, not wanting to hurt the toddler.
Both Urushi and Uuhei watched in amusement at their pack mate's treatment, and Kuromaru snorted.
The half-wolf didn't have to worry about the girl doing that to him, and neither did the other two. Hana was nervous around larger dogs.
Unfortunately, their short break didn't last long.
Later, both Urushi and Uuhei would swear that they didn't whimper as Bull and Shiba came running out of the clinic from behind Tsume to greet them excitedly, ready to play now that their pack mates' training was over.
It had been a little over a month since he had officially been given the title of clan head and moved into the house designated for the position.
Already he despised the job.
Despite giving him a very active role in increasing the Uchiha clan's power, there were a lot of consequences.
When Mikoto had gotten pregnant, two plans had been put into place which the clan advisors had planned on implementing during the ceremony. He had put a stop to both of them, and now his new advisors, who were still loyal to Homare, thought Fugaku was too soft, and were scrutinizing his every move.
While they couldn't outright remove him from the position, if they managed to discredit him enough with the other clan members then the position would be taken from him, and he could no longer protect his family.
A knock on the front door made him curse as he smudged ink across the paper he had been working on.
Looking to his left, he saw that his one-year-old son, Itachi, was still sleeping soundly in the playpen on the floor next to him.
So he rose, moving from the room and pressing his thumb to the seal on the doorway. He felt the seal activate as soon as he poured a bit of chakra into it, and then continued to the door.
When he answered it, he resisted the urge to attack the two.
It was the clan advisors once again, and this time they wasted no time in pushing past him.
They had been growing more and more impatient with him for a while now, and it seemed that he couldn't hold them off for much longer. He would have to take care of them if this continued.
"Where is he?" Kurako, one of his advisors demanded, looking around the entryway as though her quarry would magically appear.
"I was under the impression that, as clan head, this is my home. You are trespassing. Get out," he ordered.
"We're growing impatient Fugaku," Shiro, the other advisor told him, entering the house as well, ignoring his orders completely.
Obviously Homare had given them too much free reign. The two acted as though they were actually the clan heads, and he was just an unruly pawn.
He suppressed a growl, turning to them both angrily.
"And I told you that this plan is no longer a viable option. Any action at this time would have dangerous consequences," Fugaku argued angrily.
He wasn't worried about them reaching Itachi at the moment. The seal had been designed by Uzumaki Mito herself, and he had paid a great deal for it, and several like it, to place around his new home. Only he could activate and disable them, and he would have extended the ability to Mikoto, but as it was now he feared that her father might force her to undo them.
"And when you became clan head you swore that you would do what was best for the clan," Kurako told him sternly.
She was no longer looking around, but had settled for scolding him as though he were a child.
"I have not forgotten. However, I fail to see how this is in the best interest of the clan. He is-,"
"He is the clan heir Fugaku. And you are young. Mikoto is young. There will be time for you to have another heir, but this cannot wait. The Hyuuga clan isn't the only threat to us anymore. A member of the Nara clan will soon have the most influential position in the village. When Homare dies, we will lose our member on the war council, and despite the fact that war is coming the Hokage has not approached us about adding a replacement. Do you not see what is happening?" Shiro asked him, and Fugaku didn't bother to suppress the twitch in his eye.
This man's tone was probably the most condescending thing he'd ever heard, at least, directed towards him.
Unfortunately, outright killing both of them was not an option at this point. He had just taken the position, and it would look bad if, just after he'd become clan head, two of their strongest ninja turned up dead.
He couldn't take their positions from them either. Most of the Uchiha clan would never condone their plan, but because most knew nothing about it, they gave the two a great deal of support.
Fugaku growled, sharingan coming to life as he took a threatening step forward.
"All I see is two desperate people trying to force my hand. Maybe I haven't made myself clear, but neither this plan, nor your other will be carried out. And if they are, then I will personally explain everything to Hokage-sama," he warned.
Behind the two, Itachi had woken up, and his cries had alerted them to his location.
Kurako turned quickly and moved down the hallway towards Fugaku's office.
"Know your place Fugaku. Do you think we don't understand what you're doing? Placing your child above the needs of this clan is-,"
"Is not what I'm doing," he cut the man off again, taking a small bit of satisfaction from the offense clear on Shiro's face at his interruption.
"Killing my son will in no way change the way that things are run. You've said it yourself, he is young, and his death will only force our clan to grieve his loss," he explained.
That was completely true. Though only a year old, the toddler had endeared himself to the entire clan. Unfortunately, that was exactly the reason why he had been chosen. None of his clan members would be willing to let things rest if they thought a Hyuuga killed Itachi, and the Hokage would have no choice but to take some sort of disciplinary action against the byakugan users should the plan succeed.
"It is time that you is you learned your place. I am clan head, and had Homare-sama wished for these plans to continue then he should have appointed one of you to the position. Now remove yourselves from my home," he ordered.
Itachi was crying much louder now.
"We will allow you to think this over for now, but if you're going to put the needs of an infant over those of our clan then Homare clearly made a mistake in choosing you," Kurako finally stated, leaving a moment later with Shiro following after her.
Once they were gone, Fugaku let out a sigh of relief.
They had been more and more persistent as time went on, and that had been the main reason for the seal. There was one on his and Mikoto's room, as well as Itachi's room, though the boy was frequently in their room for added protection, just in case.
The plan had been decided long before by the two advisors as a way to discredit the Hyuuga clan and Fugaku hadn't given his opinion one way or the other at first.
It was only after Itachi had been born that he started having doubts, and as the date for their plan drew nearer, Fugaku knew that there was no way he could allow anything to harm his son.
The two advisors, as well as Homare, had been convinced that the Hyuuga clan was attempting to undermine them.
While Fugaku agreed that they were slowly gaining seats of power, and even receiving positions that had previously belonged to members of the Uchiha clan, he insisted, to no avail, that they find a better way to take care of the threat than by murdering his son.
They had approached him the second night of the ceremony, which they had held for an extended period of time in order to make it look as though their security had been greatly reduced. Even the normal guards that surrounded the place had been taken off duty.
Phase two of the plan had been for him to "accidentally," walk in during his son's murder, and state that he had seen a Hyuuga commit the crime.
Killing someone of their own blood wasn't something that they wished to do, but the three conspirators considered Itachi's death a necessary evil in order for the Uchiha to maintain their hold in the village. Itachi was so young that the clan hadn't invested any time in training him. He was currently considered expendable.
Somehow Kurako had obtained hairs from Hyuuga Hiashi, and the plan had been to make it look as though the man had been trying to prove himself to his clan by taking the newly confirmed Uchiha heir.
Such an act would not only likely force the Hyuuga clan to choose a new heir, but an heir's actions would cause the entire clan to undergo scrutiny from the Hokage as well. All clans held secrets, and with enough digging, it was unlikely that the Hyuuga's reputation would remain unscathed.
Even if they were unable to discredit the Hyuuga much, it would cause enough questions to discourage the Third from giving them much more power.
The plan would have happened too, had Fugaku not sent Mikoto away with their son for the duration of the event. Their absence had been noticed, but because only five individuals, including himself and his wife, had been in on the plan, the advisors hadn't been able to make a scene.
Their other plan had been ruined as well, after he'd sent away their most problematic clan member.
It was a well-known fact that Fugaku disliked the boy, and nobody else had questioned why he'd been kicked out. He definitely couldn't allow that plan to succeed either, but there was a much greater chance that he would fail to stop that one.
Deactivating his sharingan as he noticed that they were far enough away now, he took down the seal, and then reactivated it after stepping into his office, just in case.
He moved to the playpen to see Itachi holding himself up with one hand and reaching towards him with the other as he came closer.
"Dada up," Itachi whimpered. With a sigh, Fugaku lifted his son, and settled back in his chair with him. He allowed the toddler to snuggle closer as he calmed down.
They were right about one thing, if he continued to defy the two as he had, the clan would start to lose faith in his ability as a leader. While he hated to do so, as long as he was focused on his clan, he was in danger of losing his son, his position, or both.
"I'm sorry about this Itachi. They're more persistent than I thought possible," he murmured as Itachi sniffled a bit, gripping his shirt.
"Your mother and I won't let anything happen to you, but I'm afraid you're not going to have a very good life," he told his son sadly.
In response, Itachi sneezed.
Fugaku raised an eyebrow at the snot now covering his shirt.
"That is fairly disgusting," he commented. Itachi just chewed on his fingers.
All of them had checked in at the hospital upon their arrival late the night before. Obito and her sensei had been released quickly after that.
Obito had healed nicely, and they'd given him instructions not to do any physical training for the next three days.
Minato had only received a few scratches here and there which they had looked over for signs of any infection before allowing him to leave.
Rin had been there for a lot longer because they were still confused about what had happened to her when she'd been separated from the others. They had done a very thorough check of her chakra and her body.
The entire process had been unnerving. There had been both doctors and ANBU present. After she'd answered some questions from the masked ninja, they had been almost completely silent for the exam which had lasted nearly an hour, only speaking to give her orders.
Apparently, this procedure was routine.
It was now early the next morning, and while right now she wanted nothing more than to take a long shower and climb into bed, they still hadn't completed their mission.
She was nervous because, on top of everything, she would be verbally reporting everything directly to the Hokage himself.
For now, Minato had sent her home to get cleaned up before she reported in.
The Third would be speaking to each of them individually according to her sensei, and would have a few ANBU with him as well as his lead strategist.
The sannin was giving all of his reports now, and her sensei would be next.
Kakashi was the only one that they wouldn't be talking to tonight. Though her silver-haired teammate had fought and insisted that he was fine, Minato had requested that his doctor sedate him since he hadn't been getting much, if any, rest because of his nightmares.
Taking a shaky breath, she forced herself to calm down. She didn't want to worry her mother, and she would need to keep a smile on her face for this.
She pulled open the door to her house, only to freeze as she nearly ran into a man who seemed to have just been leaving. He had black hair that reached his shoulders, and dark eyes. His clothing was a basic white t-shirt and jeans. Overall his features were very plain.
He looked surprised at her presence as well.
"Shin-san, you forgot…," her mom trailed off as she stepped around the corner holding what Rin guessed was probably the man's jacket. She flushed brightly when she met Rin's gaze.
"Oh, um, Rin, you're back," her mother said, flustered, looking between the two nervously.
Finally, after a bit of hesitation, she moved past the man to hug Rin tightly.
"Welcome home," she greeted before pulling away.
"Now I want to hear all about your mission of course, but I want to introduce you to Mandou Shin," she said, moving aside so that Rin could have a clear view of him.
This was the man her mother was dating? She hadn't been expecting to meet him so soon.
"Shin-san, this is my daughter, Rin," she introduced.
Remembering her manners, Rin bowed.
"It's very nice to meet you Mandou-san," she said politely.
He gave a smile and short bow back.
"The pleasure is mine Rin-chan. Your mother has told me a lot about you," he replied, accepting the jacket from her mother and putting it on.
"Unfortunately I have to get going. I've got a meeting across the village. I do hope we can talk again," he told her, and gave another bow as he left.
Her mother was now looking at her uncertainly.
"I know I should have talked to you before inviting him into our home, but…" Rin shook her head.
"It's fine Mom, I don't mind. He seems nice. I have to get cleaned up and report to Hokage-sama though, so I'll have to wait to tell you about everything," she told her mother.
Besides, while most C-ranks weren't considered worthy of a classified status, she had the feeling that hers would be. There would be little that she could reveal, even if given permission, anyway. She didn't want her mother to know that she'd been in that much danger on a C-rank mission.
Her mother's eyes widened in surprise, but she nodded. After all, a genin reporting directly to the Hokage was a very big deal.
"Of course. That comes first, but hurry back. I'll be making your favorite breakfast," she bribed.
Rin grinned at that.
"Okay, I will," she promised, before hurrying to take a quick shower.
Hokage's POV (that night)
He, along with Nara Shikata, and two ANBU codenamed Rat and Eagle had been present during each of the four reports.
Tsunade had sedated the Hatake, and so they would have to wait to question him, but between the reports from Jiraiya, Minato, the two genin, and what they had gleaned from their prisoner, they had a lot to think about already. Besides, it was doubtful that the report Jiraiya had already taken from Kakashi had anything missing. The young chuunin had always been extremely thorough.
Hiruzen only wished that the two genin had more experience in these types of situations. It was extremely possible that both had missed details that were important when they had been separated from their teammates.
As it was, the information they had received presented two major problems.
From the reception the groups had received in Iriguchi Village, it was starting to look as though Konoha might not be able to count on the Land of Tea during the upcoming war. Though the country had no ninja, they provided a great deal of resources and were the best entry point into the Land of Fire for Suna since Konoha didn't control the waterway between the two locations.
The second problem, and the purpose of this meeting, was that someone seemed to be after Nohara Rin.
Whoever it was had carried out their objective in a strange manner. They hadn't tried to misdirect everyone's attention to make them assume that the scroll or Minato's seal was the target, as would have been the best option. However, they had covered their tracks. Most of the ninja had likely been hired missing nin, like Satori Jin.
Aside from their prisoner, and the blood drops from one of their ninja, nothing else had been recovered.
Jiraiya had gone back over the area after ensuring that the group would be safe, and someone had been there after them, getting rid of the bodies and even the blood within the time Jiraiya had caught up to Team Seven. The Hatake's ninken had still been able to scent the enemy in the group's immediate vicinity, but hadn't turned up anything important, and had lost the scent readily.
Unfortunately, Satori Jin wasn't all that knowledgeable, lending more evidence to the assumption that missing nin had been hired as distractions. His interrogators were still attempting to extract information from him, but the chances were slim that they would learn much more than they had.
The description Rin had given of her attackers hadn't matched anyone in the bingo book, or their threat watch records. The two that had spoken to her hadn't given away any signature techniques, though Hiruzen hadn't ruled them out as the source of the flood.
This incident was extremely troubling because they hadn't noticed that Fire Country had been infiltrated, they couldn't even begin to figure out why they had specifically chosen Rin as their target, and none of them could think of a way that the group could have known when Minato's team had left if they were indeed specifically after the girl.
The report from the medic nin had revealed no seals or tampering with her chakra at least, which was the only reason she hadn't been confined for the time being.
"Hokage-sama, orders?" Shikata questioned.
They had met up two hours prior, after taking the time to draw their conclusions. From there they had compiled all of their theories.
"For now we'll continue our research discreetly. Unfortunately, Jiraiya needs to leave immediately to meet with a contact, and cannot pursue this matter further. Minato-kun's team has been instructed to report in if they remember anything more. I wish to speak with Kakashi-kun tomorrow morning if Tsunade will allow it. For now I also want an ANBU trailing Nohara Rin. Only the four in this room and the assigned ANBU will know of this mission. Both Nohara Rin and Uchiha Obito will be restricted to the village until further notice. We don't want to alert her to any of our suspicions if she is somehow a threat," he instructed before dismissing them for the night.
Shimura Danzou dismissed his operative after accepting the folder handed to him, placing it on the table, and setting his tea down as well.
He had requested the information just this morning after he'd received news about a mission in which a chuunin, albeit the prodigy Hatake Kakashi, had gone up against an S-ranked missing nin almost a week before and survived.
The information hadn't been hard to discover.
While the Hokage had suppressed it, one of Danzou's ANBU contacts had informed him of the occurrence. The specifics, including their opponent and the reason behind the fight, were currently missing, but it hadn't been hard to connect Satori Jin, the man in their interrogation department, with Team 7's mission.
Right now though, he was more concerned with the chuunin than anything else, and needed to start planning immediately.
The folder in front of him contained all of the details from the mission that his subordinates were able to find at this point, though there wasn't much there yet, as well as several files related to Hatake Kakashi. The boy had graduated from the Academy at the age of five after all, and made chuunin by the age of six. He was hailed as a prodigy, and might just be the ninja that Danzou was looking for.
Currently, Danzou was working on a very important project which had yet to be approved.
War was coming and they couldn't afford to wait any longer.
With Konoha's standards for the Academy, their village would be in a great deal of danger, and likely even fall. The children in the Academy were being taught by chuunin of all people, and they never had any practical experience before they graduated.
The shinobi rules, which had been so prized in the past, were now overlooked in favor of coddling the children. Konoha's new policy of promoting teamwork was laughable. D-rank missions were nothing more difficult than a child's chore, and he was certain that the only reason the death rates of their ninja weren't any higher was due to the jounin sensei having been taught before the new policy.
Being able to get along wouldn't take out an enemy ninja.
Even with the low standards in place, the Academy graduation rate was also extraordinarily low.
Not only were children graduating at the age of ten on average when the past age had been much younger, those that entered the Academy, particularly civilian children, often times were not cut out to be ninja. They found it too difficult later on, or the curriculum not interesting enough, and dropped out.
While Hiruzen didn't see the harm in allowing children to just try the Academy to see if it was a good fit for them, it made Danzou's blood boil to know that these children were wasting the time of those trying to prepare them, as well as those that were serious about becoming ninja.
With all of that in mind, he had suggested that those entering the Academy sign a contract. That way, they would understand not only what they were getting into, but that they couldn't just leave when they felt it convenient. The Hokage had thrown out the proposal, stating that the children were just that, children.
Hiruzen had insisted that children could not fully understand what a ninja was until they had some education, and that the Academy was there to show them the types of lives they would lead if they chose to continue on that path.
Danzou understood that happening in the first year, but all levels had drop-outs, especially once ninjutsu and taijutsu training started.
Danzou's project, once approved, would give him the capability to weed out those that would be a waste of time to teach. He would allow those that would inevitably drop out or fail to continue with the pathetic charade that was the current Academy as the Hokage wished, but those that showed a clear inclination towards fighting for their village, as well as skills upon which to further build, would be thrown into real training.
Some aspects of the current shinobi education were important, and intellectual teaching would be continued, but a majority of the training would be through combat situations.
He would also do as Hiruzen refused, and mold them into the perfect ninja. A true shinobi belonged to its village, and didn't have time to pursue silly hobbies or form relationships. Those connections would only lead to failure that the village could not afford.
Danzou opened the cover of the file, and looked over the information that had been provided.
He already had a few ninja working for him, and alongside him voluntarily. They would be joining his group in the future, and would still train under him if his proposal was rejected. The proposal was just to ensure that he would have less opposition when he found children showing promise.
The one who had gotten him the folder in front of him, Yakushi Nonou, was extremely thorough at her job, and had brought copies of all files related people that frequently interacted with the boy as well.
The young Hatake's file was encouraging.
His history, with his father's suicide, as well as the short time he spent as victim of attacks from the Yamanaka, Akimichi, and assumedly the Nara, seemed to have left him quite focused on the shinobi rules.
The only problems that Danzou could foresee were his bothersome attachment to his teacher, his bond with the dogs that he had raised, and his age.
Hiruzen seemed to favor Namikaze Minato, and would make approaching the Hatake heir difficult. The jounin was considered a prodigy, as well as a competent teacher. Danzou wholeheartedly disagreed with that sentiment. The Hatake had been a chuunin for almost four years, and compared to most chuunin, he had completed very few high ranking missions. The Namikaze was obviously coddling him. To have him with the blond man was a complete waste of potential.
The Hatake's attachment to his dogs was also undesirable. Those without attachments were the easiest to mold. In fact, he was already planning on recruiting volunteers from the orphanage, even if his proposal was turned down once again.
As for the Hatake's age, the younger an individual, the easier it was to train them correctly. As children aged they developed bad habits, and it would take time to break the boy of any of his. Thankfully, the Hatake already showed remarkable control of his emotions, something that the Academy had marked down as "detrimental."
Turning to another page made him pause, before he smirked.
Someone had accessed the autopsy of Hatake Sakumo, and only a month ago. A copy of that was present, and as he read the initial report his smirk grew, realizing the importance of what he had been given.
This would take looking into, but in the meantime, he would like to see the boy's skills first hand. For the next couple of weeks, while the Hatake recovered, Danzou would finalize his plans.
Now seemed like a good time to reach out to a like-minded individual.
He was feeling much better, and had been released from the hospital early that afternoon.
Right now he was alone in his apartment, waiting restlessly for something to happen. He was always like this after a big mission, but this time it was much worse.
Inoichi had, for a long time now, accepted the fact that he would die early. It was impossible to avoid that fact if one was a ninja.
After what he had learned from Kakashi though, a new set of issues arose.
From what the Hatake had told him, every major village had fallen, and likely most minor villages as well. Not only that, but that had occurred only twenty years from now, and it had to be prevented.
If he died then Kakashi would still be able to do something to change things, but that was only if he survived as well.
The silver-haired nin had been brought to the hospital around midnight two days ago. His condition was stable, but he very well could have died, and then everything that had happened in his future would come to pass.
Before, he had allowed Kakashi to talk him into waiting until they could plan more, but now he was positive that someone else needed to know.
The one drawback was that he couldn't be the one to tell anyone, not without Kakashi's assistance. His claim would sound absolutely insane, even with proof to back it up, and since he had just gotten out of the hospital, he would probably end up in confinement if he tried to tell anyone what he knew.
Another consequence that he hadn't even thought of had been the Hatake's knowledge of the future.
After the last mission, a restriction had been placed on him, and another had been placed on Shikaku.
Shikaku had way too much knowledge of battle strategies and defense for Konoha to risk allowing him into enemy hands.
Inoichi was the same, but regarding secrets of fellow Konoha ninja.
Both would still be taking missions, but their movements would be severely restricted.
Unfortunately, he was the only one that knew that Kakashi held knowledge of a similar variety.
Though he had probably been too low in the ranks to discover much about Konoha's weaknesses during this time, he had been a very high ranking ninja in the future. As an ANBU, Kakashi would have been given missions that required a deep knowledge of things that could destroy Konoha if they ended up in the wrong hands.
And if an enemy found out that Kakashi was from the future it could be a disaster.
Thankfully, both his team and Kakashi's were on medical leave for at least the next week so that they could speak, because this needed to be addressed quickly.
Shikaku shifted in annoyance as he waited for whatever meeting the Hokage was in to end. He'd been out of the hospital for several days, and right now he was being given time to recover. That meant all he could do was sit and wait for something to happen.
However, he hadn't been idle the entire time.
The mission his team had been on shouldn't have ended the way it had. His job as team strategist was to ensure that, not only did they succeed, but that they returned to Konoha as close to injury-free as possible.
He had failed, and for the past week had been using his shougi board to recreate the scenario and find a way that they could have possibly evaded capture. There had to be one.
Unfortunately, every single strategy so far had led to failure.
His search would have continued as planned, but Yoshino had interfered. She'd gone to his mother and together the two of them had kicked him out of the Nara Forest for a few hours, telling him to take some time to try and relax.
He couldn't though. They didn't understand that he had to strategize better, find a way so that his teammates were never forced into that position again.
What he wished to speak with the Hokage about had nothing to do with the mission though.
He'd run into Minato while on his way to see how his teammates were doing, and he'd instantly been reminded about the Hatake Sakumo case.
He knew that in their absence, not much progress had been in locating the man's murderer aside from narrowing down the possible culprits within Leaf Village. Most of their evidence pointed to an internal source, and they currently had nowhere to start if they thought of the case as an infiltration.
That being said, Shikaku was now certain that that was an extremely viable option.
Unfortunately they still had to exercise caution and couldn't announce the case to the village.
The Third had reasoned that the culprit had been lulled into a false sense of security after nobody had noticed anything over the past six years, which was a perfectly reasonable assumption.
A much worse scenario had occurred to Shikaku as he'd walked though, leading him to his current location outside of the Hokage's office.
If he was right then the real culprit was an outsider or a traitor within the village, and their plan was by no means finished.
He resisted the urge to shout, "Finally," when the door opened and a man and boy stepped out, civilians by their dress.
"Thank you again Hokage-sama," the man was saying gratefully.
The Third stepped out with them.
"Oh, it was no trouble at all. I'm sure Keisuke-kun will make you and our village proud," he stated jovially.
"I will Sandaime-sama. I'll be an awesome ninja," the little boy exclaimed excitedly, earning a chuckle from the village leader.
"I have no doubt you will," he replied as the two moved away.
"New Academy student?" Shikaku asked when they were out of hearing range.
The Hokage nodded.
"Keisuke-kun needs a sponsor. I don't suppose you'd be interested."
It wasn't even a question. Shikaku's clan didn't usually get involved with Academy students, and certainly not with beginners. The drop-out rate was much too high for it to be a good investment.
"I need to speak with you in private," he said instead of responding, earning a frown.
"Well, come on in and have a seat. You look exhausted," the older man moved to sit in his customary seat, gesturing to the chair across from him.
After signaling his ANBU to leave them in peace, he studied the younger man across from him.
Shikaku would definitely benefit from a good night's sleep.
He said nothing further on the subject though, as Shikaku actually accepted the chair offered him. The Nara heir would only be annoyed since that wasn't the reason he was here to talk.
It wasn't rare for Nara Shikaku to seek him out.
While his mother was lead strategist, he was certainly ready to take up the title should it be necessary.
Though he was still training to take over for the woman, the Third had called him in many times so that he could walk him through strategies for missions that had already occurred, and encouraged the Nara heir to re-strategize older missions and find better outcomes for them.
Hiruzen had originally done this with his son, but Asuma didn't share his ideals and had begun to grow distant. Though his son wasn't as skilled as the Nara heir, he was above average.
By this point though, Hiruzen had backed off on trying to force Asuma to keep up with his training. All that would do, he feared, would force his to resent him more and pursue a path that wasn't suitable in order to spite him. After all, his jounin sensei had been reporting in, and Asuma seemed to be doing quite well in his training.
"Is this about the Hatake case?" he questioned, reaching for his pipe.
Shikaku had already finished his last mission strategy, and Hiruzen hadn't wanted to give him another while he was recovering.
Despite his laid-back nature, the Nara heir had a tendency to stress himself out when bored.
Besides, had he wished to revise one of his earlier reports, there would have been no need for a private meeting since none of them had been classified.
Shikaku nodded and got straight to business.
"I think we have a traitor, or the culprit wasn't a Konoha ninja, and I don't think that it was an accident that they were caught. I think whoever did this waited for the boy to notice that they were in the room. Sakumo would have bled out without any interference, and the intruder could have left before the kid even registered that someone else was there. Besides, it would have been so much easier to kill the boy and stage the scene to look as though Sakumo killed his son before killing himself. Even if the investigators had put in their full effort, whoever did this is a shinobi and meticulously planned every detail. It wouldn't be hard to doctor the scene," he explained, getting straight to the point.
The Hokage chewed on his pipe as he thought.
"So why didn't they kill Kakashi-kun?" he asked at last.
He knew that whenever Shikaku came to him, he wasn't just speculating.
Shikaku hated to waste time, and if he didn't have a very strong reason to suspect what he was saying was indeed correct, he wouldn't have shown up.
The implications of what he was saying were worrisome, but Hiruzen didn't say anything, allowing Shikaku to continue to voice his suspicions.
"Whoever did this isn't done with him. Inoichi said it himself. Once the memories were recovered they were completely clear until the boy turned to look at the intruder. They didn't suppress the memories because they were caught. They suppressed them because it was their original goal. When you look at it this way it's likely not a Yamanaka, but an Uchiha makes sense. Whoever did this needed the kid to see them in order to affect his memories. They didn't wish to be caught and made themselves impossible to identify when they could have easily snuck out of the room without being noticed," Shikaku explained, making the Third frown.
"You're saying that eventually Kakashi-kun was supposed to know that his father was murdered. If that's the case then you're implying…" he trailed off.
This was a dangerous theory to have. So far he had been working under the assumption that the original goal was that a Konoha ninja was trying to force Kakashi to be loyal to the village.
"That whoever did this wanted Kakashi to think that he witnessed a Konoha ninja killing his father, yes. Either way you look at it, the kid would break through the suppression on his own and started questioning why a murderer would want him to be completely loyal to his village, or the murderer was waiting for the right time to undo it and convince him that he had caught a Konoha ninja in the act. Even though he would never remember the face, it wouldn't make much difference. Inoichi has said in the past that children's memories aren't reliable and the boy would accept that explanation. Besides, it wouldn't be hard to convince him that you ordered his memories sealed to ensure that he remained loyal to Konoha," Shikaku finished grimly.
The Third sighed. When Shikaku explained it like this it made a lot of sense.
"That only brings up more questions though. Why target Kakashi-kun? He was only four at the time. And was Sakumo just a convenient tool, or was he killed because he knew the person after his son?" He mused.
Shikaku gave a short nod of agreement.
"Not only those. Was Inoichi right about the girl from his clan knocking the tampering loose, or was the kid naturally supposed to remember everything anyway? And if I had gone through all the trouble the killer did and he was supposed to remember eventually then I wouldn't leave him alone. If I was trying to convince the boy that Konoha was his enemy then I obviously have plans for him. He was a prodigy in the Academy even before all of this happened, and if we assume for a moment that someone wanted to take advantage of that fact then he would be constantly monitored," Shikaku explained.
Between this and Kakashi's teammate Rin, Minato's team seemed to have a lot of secrets, even if the individuals themselves were none-the-wiser.
Hiruzen sighed, leaning back in his chair.
"We don't have any evidence, and based on what you're telling me right now it doesn't seem incredibly urgent if this is indeed what happened. If the killer has waited this long then I doubt anything will occur immediately. I would be interested to know Inoichi's take on the situation in regards to Kakashi-kun though. Regardless of the motives, Kakashi-kun is smart enough to have realized by now that his memories point to a Konoha ninja as the culprit. But even if he hasn't, he may have realized that the investigators did a sloppy job. I've already demoted two of those involved down to chuunin status with probation for their actions," he explained.
One of the two had been the lead on the investigation, and had filled out the report with the altered findings showing that Sakumo had killed himself.
It wasn't even that he had figured out that the man had been murdered and tried to cover it up. He had just considered it a waste of time to find vengeance for a traitor. All that had been afforded to the case had been a cursory examination of the scene and a split-second judgment based on the fact that Sakumo's hand was on the weapon.
The second had been that man's direct superior, who had not only assigned fewer than the minimum number of investigators to the case, but had used inexperienced genin trainees as evidence collectors because he hadn't wanted to "waste his manpower on something so unimportant."
Their actions may have caused severe consequences.
While they may have been unable to catch the perpetrator even with the investigation, they had inadvertently buried evidence of someone that could be a huge threat to Konoha.
Whoever had done this had subdued Sakumo, and even if his skills had weakened considerably after he'd isolated himself at the village's request, he should have at least been able to put up a fight.
And the technique that had been used on Emi Michiko, if he was correct in his assumption that it had been done by the same person that had killed Sakumo, was highly dangerous.
Both of them, in addition to a demotion and probation, were in the Torture and Interrogation cells waiting to complete their investigation, along with everyone else who had worked the case.
The two that had led the case were currently being questioned in order to determine whether or not they may have had any part in the actual murder, and he had authorized harsher methods of questioning for the two.
None of the genin would be penalized. They were merely following orders and had unwittingly helped with a cover-up. However, after six years they were the ones most familiar with the case and the only ones that could bring them closer to finding the killer.
"I'd almost suggest bringing in the police force, if signs weren't heavily pointing to their clan at this point," Shikaku said after a moment.
The Uchiha police force had just been proposed when Sakumo had died, and therefore the Hatake Sakumo Case had been overseen by ANBU who had designated specific ninja to the task.
Now though, the Uchiha oversaw a majority of the domestic cases.
While many looked at it as waste of resources, sending some of their most talented ninja to deal with sometimes civilian cases, Konoha was much safer for it.
After all, it was easier to have just one group dealing with upholding the law than creating both a civilian group and a ninja group for the task.
Shikaku sighed and rose to his feet, breaking Hiruzen out of his thoughts.
"I'll leave you to think about it. I'll talk to Inoichi and ask him to look in on the Hatake brat. Minato-san or Jiraiya-sama might know specific friends that Sakumo had that fit with our list," Shikaku suggested, making his way out of the office after Hiruzen gave him a nod of acknowledgment.
Once he was gone the Hokage sighed, reaching for his pipe again. He'd never imagined they would uncover something like this when Inoichi had first approached him with questions about Hatake Sakumo's death.
So there's the next chapter, and I'm looking for some information.
I've been having a bit of trouble with the timelines. Based on what I've read, the Second Shinobi war took place about five to ten years before this story takes place. However, the third shinobi war seems to take place in the next few years from the current time. So, I'm changing things around a little bit, because that time frame seems almost too short.
If anyone knows when exactly the Third Shinobi War started, I'm curious. It says twenty years before the series, and I'm guessing from first arc. But that would make Kakashi six or seven when it started, meaning it was at least five to six years long which seems unreasonable. If it was from the second arc then he would have been nine to eleven, and mean that it lasted for at least two years, which is more reasonable, but still pushing it considering the techniques available to those involved.
Also, because Dan died in the second shinobi war that would mean Tsunade was about twenty when that happened, but then Shizune wouldn't have even been born yet, or at least would have been an infant when Tsunade left. The timeline doesn't make any sense so in this Dan hasn't died yet and Tsunade hasn't left.
I also wanted to incorporate more of the people around Kakashi's age from other teams into this story, but according to the picture of the first day of the Academy, people like Anko (at least I think it's her) and Genma are there when Anko's supposed to have graduated at the age of ten, but be about four years younger than Kakashi and his teammates. Genma's supposed to be older than them. So unless Anko started really young and failed a couple of years, and unless Genma started really late, everyone in the picture isn't in the same year. Plus, Hayate being on Ibiki's team in the chuunin exams makes no sense because he's eight years younger, meaning he would have been only seven when entering the chuunin exams, but he didn't become a genin until he was 12.
And then for Yamato, does anyone have a rough estimate of when he went missing? It seems weird for a prodigy Academy graduate who becomes a chuunin to disappear without questions being asked, but it's also weird for Danzou to put one of his agents through the Academy.
If anyone could clear any of this up, and maybe provide a timeline of some sort, or know where I can find a list of the discrepancies, then I'd be grateful.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read, and I'd be grateful for your reviews.