AN: Hello again my dears, and welcome to the newest chap! A little scene setting first methinks. The wave mission has been completed, and the team have just got home, each with different thoughts.
I'm very sorry it's taken so long to write this, but I had a period of time where I was unwell, and I've had difficulties piecing together the ideas that I have, both on paper and on here.
Now for the reviews;
SSJ3 Kyuubi Gohan: Thank you!
foggraven: Thank you very much! Hehe, yeah Kakashi openly admits he's a perv, (PERVY SENSEIS UNITE!) and there will be more KakAnko in the future. And Don't worry, his new jutsu will play an important role soon.
Maclinar: Muhahahaaa! Yes, and you shall see how he uses them soon!
Shadowprice: Thank you very much! And Tayuya should be appearing within the next three chapters, should the plot allow it.
Conoga: Thankyou! I'm very glad that my grammar doesn't cause bleeding eyes.
ARealBloodDrinker: Thanks! I'm glad you like how he's turning out ^_^ Enjoy!
polarbear257: Not yet! Just having trouble with the ideas.

Chapter four: C rank mission and Déjà vu.

Team 7 walked back through the village gates, their minds heavy with thoughts of their last mission. Their encounter with the psychopathic ninja, Zabuza Momochi and his companion Haku had affected them in ways that none of them had expected. Sasuke now had access to his Sharingan, Sakura had realised that she needed to get stronger, Naruto had developed a new ninja way for himself, and Kakashi? Kakashi realised just how much his team had grown. And just how much they still needed to grow.

The chūnin exams were coming up, and so far they only had 13 D ranks, and one C-turned-A rank missions. While he had confidence that his team would do well if he entered them, he wanted them to have more experience. He sighed, and turned to his students. "Okay guys, we meet up on the bridge at 9 tomorrow, so go home and get some rest. You did well." Kakashi watched the three walk away, before sighing and moving towards his house. The mission had made him remember something he hadn't seen since his early Anbu years. Returning home, he immediately went to his scrolls, and found the one he was looking for. He activated the storage seal, and looked at the item it revealed.

"Well…it looks like it's time to get you fixed." He muttered, before sealing the item away again.

Naruto sat on the swing outside the academy, thinking deeply. "Naruto? What are you doing here?" He looked up with a start, and saw Iruka standing infront of him.

"Oh, hi Iruka sensei…I was just thinking." Iruka smiled softly, before sitting on the ground next to the boy.

"Well, there's a first time for everything…" he glanced over at Naruto thoughtfully. "Anything I can help with?" Naruto was silent for a while.

"Does it ever get easier?" Iruka closed his eyes and sighed.

"It's different for everybody. There are Shinobi like myself, who never fully get over a kill, but still do so to protect our village. Then there are the Shinobi who have coping mechanisms that allow them to continue doing their jobs, some smoke heavily, some gamble, some write, there's all sorts. And there are those who wear masks…they have a mask that they hide behind, to fool people to think they are fine." Iruka looked at Naruto intently with that last bit, causing the genin to flinch. "…The fourth Hokage was like that, or so I've heard. He would take out enemy ninja's, and walk around the village with a smile on his face. His team of genin were some of the only people to ever have seen what he was like under the mask. It might not be the truth, but it's a nice tale." Naruto nodded thoughtfully. After a moment of silence, he spoke again.

"We met two ninja's on our mission, a guy called Zabuza Momochi, and another guy called Haku. They were on a whole other level…Kakashi sensei only just managed to defeat Zabuza when we met them, but was out of action for a whole week." Iruka raised an eyebrow at that, wondering where this was going. "When we fought them again…I thought that Haku had killed Sasuke. I lost it, and somehow broke us out of this weird jutsu he was trapping us in. I almost beat the crap out of him, but stopped when this mask he was wearing broke and I saw who he was…I'd met him earlier that week, and helped him pick herbs. Haku told me his story and then begged me to kill him." Iruka reached up and placed a comforting hand on Naruto's shoulder.

"Haku sacrificed to save Zabuza from one of Kakashi sensei's jutsus, and Zabuza acted as if he didn't care. Kakashi-sensei took out Zabuza's arms, and would have killed him, if Gato hadn't shown up." Naruto spat the name as if it left a foul taste in his mouth. "He had an army of people with him…I shouted at Zabuza for discarding Haku like a broken weapon, and kinda made him cry" Iruka chuckled at the thought of a tough missing nin crying because of a genin shouted at him. "Zabuza took a kunai, and ran into the army of thugs. He killed a load of people, including Gato, with just a kunai in his mouth…Kakashi carried him over to Haku, where he died." He was silent once more.

"Is that what we're heading for?" Iruka looked at him in confusion. "Am I going to become a ninja like Zabuza, acting cold to everyone and calling the person closest to you a tool, or a weapon like Haku?" Iruka silently stood up, and stretched. He raised his arms up above his head, and crashed a fist down into the top of Naruto's skull. "OOOWWWW!" Iruka-sensei!? What the hell was that for?" He looked up at the man, and froze. Iruka's face was more serious than he'd ever seen it.

"Naruto. You contain a burden that makes you hated by most of the village, and yet you are able to mask that pain behind a smile and a laugh instead of hatred and anger. You learnt a technique that only a few ninja in our village can actually perform, and can produce more shadow clones than even the Hokage can. You are the most unpredictable ninja in our village, you are the Ichiraku ramen stand's main source of income, and what's more," Iruka grabbed Naruto into a hug. "You are like a little brother to me. So don't you dare think that you'll become like them. You are Naruto Uzumaki, and you are your own ninja." Naruto tried to sniff back the tears that were forming in his eyes, and was failing. "Come on…let's get some ramen, my treat." Naruto rubbed his eyes on his jumpsuit jacket sleeve to get rid of the tears, and grinned broadly.


Team seven meeting point, next morning.

Two hours late.

"YOU'RE LATE!" Kakashi chuckled nervously as Sakura and Naruto yelled at him angrily.

"Sorry guys, I stopped to help an old man get his shopping into his house, then had to escape a woman who I owe some dango." He rubbed his neck, wincing slightly as he touched the small cut one of Anko's kunai had left.

"LIAR!" he sighed at Sakura's loud yell. Naruto on the other hand, was nodding thoughtfully. He'd met the woman a while ago and currently harboured a healthy fear of her.

"Anyway, I think it's time to do some more training, don't you?" He eye smiled at them, before creating two shadow clones. "Sakura, you will be working on your stamina and taijutsu, Sasuke, you will be working on controlling your sharingan and chakra control, and Naruto, you'll be working on your chakra control and tactics." The three genin nodded thoughtfully before being led away by a Kakashi. Naruto's Kakashi studied him for a moment. "Naruto…why didn't you use the jutsu I taught you during the mission?" Naruto flinched, before looking down at the floor sheepishly.

"I er…can't do it right yet." Kakashi's eyebrow rose up. "Well, every time I do it, it just blows up!"

"…that's kind of the point Naruto. It is an exploding clone after all." Naruto chuckled nervously.

"Yeah, but when you do it, you can make the clone walk around…mine just blows up." Kakashi looked at the blond boy expectantly. Naruto sighed and made the necessary handsigns. "Ninja art: Great Clone Explosion!" A Naruto clone appeared, and suddenly exploded. Kakashi blinked a couple of times, before sighing.

"Too much chakra." Naruto blinked in confusion. "You're trying to put as much chakra into this jutsu as you do into the shadow clone. The variation I've shown you is for one clone, not several. Keep practicing that jutsu until you can create one that doesn't blow up immediately." Naruto nodded and started his training.

Five hours later

"I DID IT!" Kakashi smiled at Naruto's excited yell.

"Good job. The others should be coming back now, so brush yourself off and let's get ready to see the Hokage for missions, alright?" Naruto cheered and started brushing off his orange jumpsuit. 'I really must talk to him about getting rid of that monstrosity at some point.' Kakashi was brought out of his thoughts by the appearance of Sasuke, who was limping slightly, and Sakura, who was being supported by the Kakashi clone. "All right team, let's take a twenty minute break, and then head on over to get a mission or two, eh?" His answer was Sakura collapsing to the ground in relief. He chuckled, and dispelled his clones, and sat down, leaning against a tree and taking out his infamous book. Naruto plopped himself down and grinned up at the sky. Sasuke sat down and brooded.

Twenty minutes later

"Okay guys, it's been twenty minutes. Let's get going." The three genin blinked in surprise at Kakashi's accurate time keeping. "What? It takes me twenty minutes to read a chapter." The three genin face vaulted at their sense's comment. Kakashi chuckled as he stood up. "Come on, if we're lucky, we can get something interesting for tomorrow." The three got up as quickly as they could, and followed their sensei.

For the next week, the team did a veriety of D rank missions, from catching Tora, who had developed a hatred for the Uchiha, to buying groceries for an old woman. Between missions, Kakashi trained them as if they were about to go to war. Sakura was taught greater chakra control exercises as well as the three medical jutsus Kakashi had copied, Sasuke was taught how to activate and deactivate his sharingan at will and was improving his taijutsu, and Naruto was taught a new taijutsu style (one that would actually work) that Kakashi said was 'from one of the strongest women I have ever met.'

This pattern continued until one day…

Mission room

"Aah, Kakashi. I'm glad that you're here." The Hokage smiled when his comment made Kakashi stop mid step, and start eying the doorway he'd just walked through with his team. "I have a mission for your team, a C rank mission of great importance." Kakashi blinked a couple of times.

"Why send us then, and not a team of jonin?" The Hokage chuckled and took a puff on his pipe.

"Because while it may be important, it is also a very low risk mission, and sending a team with a famous ninja at the lead will deter bandits from attacking. With Asuma on a mission, Shikaku, Choza and Inoichi on leave due to injuries, and Anko busy with interrogations with Ibiki, you have the greatest level of fame of any shinobi in the village, baring myself and Danzo." Kakashi nodded and sighed.

"Very well…we'll take the mission. What do we need to do?" The Hokage tossed the scroll to Kakashi, who caught it lazily. He opened the scroll and sighed.

"Hey Kakashi-sensei, what's the mission?" Naruto asked, trying to peak at the contents of the scroll. Kakashi took the opportunity to rub in Naruto's lack of height, by leaning on his head. "Hey!"

"It looks like we're going to be delivering medical supplies to a place called Suzaku town." He eye smiled at the team. "I'm sure we'll get there alright." His team grinned. "Okay then, go home and get ready. We meet at the West gate at 12." Almost as soon as he'd finished talking, the three genin had run off, longing for food and a hot shower. Kakashi shook his head and tucked the scroll into a pocket.

"Kakashi." The jonin sensei looked over at the Hokage with a raised eyebrow. "I read your report…keep an eye on Naruto." Kakashi sighed.

"I'll keep an eye on all of them, Lord Hokage." The jonin nodded respectfully, before disappearing in a swirl of leaves. The Hokage shook his head, and readied the scrolls for other teams to choose.

The Next Day, West gate, 1:00pm

"YOU'RE LATE!" Kakashi sweat dropped and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.

"Sorry guys, I had to pick something up from the weapon's shop, and then I got roped into helping stack the shelves."

"LIAR!" Kakashi winced, partially from the volume, but partially because it had been the truth.

"Maa maa. Calm down." He looked around. "Besides, the supplies haven't arrived yet." As he finished speaking, the Hokage walked up.

"They have now, Kakashi." The trio of genin turned to the Hokage, and raised their eyebrows. He was holding a large scroll.

"You mean you put all the medicines in there?" Sasuke and Sakura turned to Naruto, surprise written across their faces. "What? It's a storage scroll, Iruka-sensei told us about them in class!" more silence. "HEY! I PAID ATTENTION IN CLASS…Most of the time…"

Kakashi chuckled. "Most likely, it's a scroll, holding scrolls, holding medicine and scrolls."

The Hokage nodded and passed it to Kakashi. The jonin sighed before attaching a length of wire from his supply kit to the scroll and hefting it over his shoulder. "I wish you the best of luck on your mission, be careful." With that, the Hokage headed off back to his tower. Kakashi shrugged, and signalled for his team to start following him out of the gate. He half turned to them while walking.

"If we hurry, we should arrive there in about…" He thought for a moment. "Seven hours I think…if we take breaks, it will be considerably longer. So, are we doing this quickly, or slowly?"

The general consent was to get the job done as quickly as possible. Sakura's reasoning was the best ("They need these supplies badly enough that they want a famous ninja to protect them, so we've got to get them there as quickly as possible!" Naruto's had been "They want them don't they? So let's get moving, Believe it!" and Sasuke's was "Hn."), so they headed off, leaping from branch to branch with chakra enhanced bounds, eager to get the mission over as quickly as possible.

Six and 1/2 hours later, outskirts of Suzaku town

"Well, it looks as if my estimate was a little off." Kakashi said, eye-smiling at the genin who lay exhausted at his feet and Naruto, who was bouncing up and down like a caffeinated rabbit. "Come on, let's get going." The two on the ground groaned, but got up. "Were right on the outskirts, so we'll be there in next to no" He was cut off when he caught a kunai an inch away from his face. "hmm…that was unexpected."

Three ninja's jumped down infront of them, wearing blank headbands. "Hand over the supplies leaf scum, and then go home." Kakashi raised an eyebrow and then chuckled.

"You know…I'm beginning to think that the name 'Team 7' is cursed…I don't think I've ever completed a normal C rank mission while I've been on one."

"what are you" the rest of the enemy ninja's question was cut off as the kunai Kakashi held thudded into his head ring first. Kakashi stepped forwards and slammed his fist into the man's throat, effectively taking him out of the fight. The other two attacked at the same time, only to find themselves under fire from the genin. The two attacking ninja split up, one turning on the genin, and the other focusing on Kakashi.

"You brats should have just run away when you had the chance." The ninja snarled before attacking, launching himself at Sakura. The young kunoichi ducked under his attack, and retaliated with a swift punch to the man's side. He stumbled back, and into the path of the Uchiha. Sasuke ran through some handsigns.

"Now Naruto!" The orange clad shinobi grinned, before yelling out his the jutsu that was rapidly becoming his signature move.

"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Ten shadow clones pounced on the hapless Ninja, holding him down as Sasuke finished his handsigns.

"Fire style: Fireball jutsu!" The ball off fire slammed into the man, dispelling the clones. When the smoke cleared, there was nothing there. "Damn it…it was a clone!"

Kakashi heard the exclamation from his charges, and whipped a kunai out of his pouch, quickly snapping it up into his enemy's throat. The man exploded in a cloud of smoke. Kakashi let out a sigh of relief. "Now…let's see why this one didn't vanish." As he moved towards the final attacker, He sprang into action. The hostile ninja pulled something out of his pocket and flung it at Kakashi's legs. Acting purely on instinct, the jonin leapt out of the way. Before he could retaliate, Kakashi heard a shout of pain from behind him. Looking back, Kakashi saw Sasuke, holding his leg in pain. The reason was painfully obvious, as his shin was currently at a very painful looking angle to itself, a heavy metal weight lying on the ground next to the injured genin. Turning back, Kakashi saw a log lying on the ground where the enemy ninja had been moments before. He sighed, and moved over to Sasuke.

"That's going to take some time to heal, and it seems that this place has got an infestation of ninjas…" He sighed. "I wonder if this is a sign…our second C-rank turned A-rank mission. Maybe we should just stick to D-ranks." Kakashi carefully pinched a nerve in Sasuke's neck, rendering the boy unconscious, before he picked him up. "Let's get in there and find somewhere to hide out. A small hotel will do the trick."

Naruto nodded, his expression serious. "Do you think we should be walking around with our headbands showing, Kakashi-sensei?" The jonin thought for a moment, and then nodded.

"Good point Naruto." He pulled Sasuke's head band off, and carefully removed his jonin jacket. He took out a scroll, and had Sakura and Naruto place their headbands on it. After sealing them into the scroll, and taking a conveniently located eyepatch out of his pocket and donning it, he picked up the scroll and carried Sasuke into the town, followed closely by Naruto and Sakura.

AN And that's your lot! Sorry about how long this has taken, I've struggled writing this chapter. On the plus side, I have my ideas (roughly) planned out now, and I'm ahead of schedule (plot-wise). I'm sorry if you don't like Naruto's little monologue, but I don't think he'd just be able to stick to his new nindo without talking to someone about it first. I used Iruka as the shoulder to lean on, because Iruka-sensei is awesome, and is like a bigger brother to Naruto in my mind.
Please note that the next chapter of "Petals of the Fox" and of "Blades of the Byakugan" are coming. One is almost finished (the chapter, not the story) and the other is getting there.
Until next time, intrepid reader…Good Night.