Lost: Three Servings of Respect. If Found, Please Return to Following Addresses…
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto and I make no profit with this work of fiction.
Umino Iruka's mother was a Kirigakure refugee or a defector, whichever way one preferred to see it.
Mizuno Ushio was a young, talented chunin and the last member of a clan older than their hidden village by over two hundred years. She was average ninjutsu and taijutsu user and very talented at genjutsu, as well as beautiful like a porcelain doll with oval face and large, velvet eyes, moon-pale complexion and inky black hair – all which went well with her particular Kekkei Genkai. Ushio's spit was venomous and she specialized in assassinations from the moment she could halfway decently pass for a pubescent. She also had a mind like a steel trap, nerves like sharp glass and she managed to discover the truth of what would later be known as the First Blood Purge three months before it actually happened.
She had never thought she would one day become a missing-nin, but she had her limits and when her own village sentenced her to death for a weapon used in its defense and babies yet to be born she took her ovum to friendlier pastures. She joined Konoha, became a jounin, met a career chunin named Umino Isamu and fell for him like a ton of bricks. Ushio married him and went on to have a happy marriage and healthy sex life, if one completely devoid of kisses. She gave him one son, a beautiful boy they named Iruka. She became pregnant again, after several years, but didn't have time to find out she had conceived before the Kyuubi razed the village and killed both her and Isamu, leaving Iruka with his father's house and his mother's Kekkei Genkai Dokuseppun.
Iruka often thought he could have done without the latter, really, and then felt guilty for betraying the memory of his mother. But while poison kisses were all well and good for kunoichi, when you were a boy they earned you a lot of ridicule.
The first time he spoke to Mitarashi Anko it was a gray, moist spring day and Iruka was on foul mood even before his three main tormentors approached him in a corridor after his last class that day. Satoshi-sensei had spoken of calculating the kunai trajectory like using the highest-level jutsu and the three Academy jutsu like mathematics; this had failed to inspire not only him, but the whole class. His mood was often dark and the climate itself appeared to reflect it, to honor Konoha's tragedy; the winter had been long and cold, and far from, joyous, sunny and delicately green, the spring was cold and brown and plain wet.
"What is it?" he snapped, hoping without hope that the idiots might take their clue this time. Of course it was too much to ask.
"Why so cold, Iruka-chan? We just want to talk with you," Mamoru scolded him with a faux-hurt voice. He was pretty bad student, much, much worse than Iruka, but he had a way of attaching himself to stronger students. Even his nose made Iruka think of a rat.
"Nice spar today, Iruka-hime," Saburo mocked. He was the number one at every taijutsu spar and never hesitated to lord it over his unlucky fellow students; since they only learned three jutsu in the Academy he pretty much lorded over the rest of them.
This was when Iruka saw Anko approach the group from behind their backs, on her own way to home no doubt. He didn't really know Anko, though of course he knew of her. She was his age, but had been transferred to the upper class for being talented. It was clear that Mitarashi Anko was going to places, as young as she was – even though her Kekkei Genkai had earned her some snickers as well. Her unkempt-looking, coarse hair, left open yet never getting in the way, hung down to her waist and everybody in the Academy knew she was trying to grow it out to her knees. Like in a dream Iruka just knew what would come to pass now. It was like watching a coach wreck happen, if you happened to be the sort who enjoyed watching people die by dozen.
"You fought like a girl," Seiji, the brain of the three-men operation, mocked – proving they didn't have that much brains even as a whole because those were the five words you should never, ever utter when kunoichi or kunoichi-hopeful were at present and bad situational awareness was bad for a reason.
"Ah, you have some problem with girls engaging you in combat?" Anko whispered with a sweet, sweet voice to Seiji's ear. Iruka could just read oh crap from the three faces before Anko threw the first punch and downed Seiji in half-second flat. Never one to leave a comrade fight alone, he threw the second punch at Saburo.
All five spent that afternoon in detention. For Iruka and Anko it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that was cemented when they teamed to sneak itching powder into the Three Stooges' report cards; Anko came by the name, Iruka offered the powder. And Anko was the one to teach him to find humour in the world turned upside-down just for him. The blood hounds prowled Konoha's streets and while most preferred their prospective sons-in-law loaded with tomoe (because the Hyuuga were just a little too screwed-up for the normal and the marginally sane) but Iruka caught looks as well.
"A pity about his gender," a man who could have been his father told another. "But give it a few years. I'm sure he can beget many healthy daughters." And Iruka laughed because the irony was exquisite and what else was he going to do, scream? Cry?
He liked to think he would have been respectful towards the kunoichi anyway, but this encouraged him to become the biggest equalist in Konoha; he had walked his mile in their shoes and the high heels sucked.
Mitarashi Anko didn't know the exact degree, but she was a distant cousin of Tsunade of the Sannin. Senju Sumire had been the result of a wild love affair and an accidental cross between the Mokuton and an Earth Country originated self-regenerating Kekkei Genkai. Usually when two lines were so crossed the result was one, the other or in the rare, exceptionally successful cases both.
No-one ever figured out why this particular cross resulted in prehensile hair.
It was surprisingly useful; no-one expected their enemies' hair to grab them as a rule. Most in fact tried to grab their enemies' hair instead and the fact was that hair was pretty strong stuff. If hair were to be made into one big clump of fused-together hair, it would be stronger than most rocks. One strand of healthy human hair could carry about a hundred grams of weight on its own and an entire head of hair could hold twelve tons of weight in the entirely hypothetical case the head and neck could handle it. Haganekami saw to it that the hair was rather more tightly attached to the head than was normal and it was harder to cut as well, though the latter gave the hair a rather coarse look.
It was really too bad that someone soon likened the Haganekami hair to combat tentacles. It was even worse that someone else referred to the sort of magazines you bought in brown paper bags (unless your name was Hatake Kakashi) and tentacle porn soon after. Not that Anko had to hear about that before she started filling out at the age of thirteen – an early bloomer, said the adults; the girls her age said something much less kind. Not that anyone said those things to Anko's face twice, but she knew they were snickering behind her back. It was easy to not care too much when she was still Orochimaru's genin student. She was happy then, cheerful and boisterous even.
But really, no-one made puns about the Kaguya and boners so why why why?
She met Hayate in the chunin exams, the first for both of them. Their teams clashed in the Forest of Death and she picked Hayate from the bunch without even knowing his name. He was two years older than she and had been one class higher in the Academy. The fight soon took them a good ways apart from the rest of their teams. They ended up to their waist in holy-shit-isn't-it-summer-now cold water after Anko lost her footing, grabbed Hayate's shirt and there just happened to be a brook well hidden by some twisted mutant creeper with serrated leaves. Hayate's lips immediately turned purplish and he had a cough attack and Anko was already congratulating herself for the victory. She had heard his health was poor.
"Want to give up now before you get pneumonia on top of the bruises?" she asked cockily, silently praising Orochimaru-sensei for his temperature desensitization training.
"In your dreams," the floppy-haired chunin-hopeful quipped and screamed.
The pain that struck through her head was a silvery flash, sudden, sharp and jolting, and Anko only realized she had fallen when she sucked water to the wrong pipe. She only won that fight because her opponent underestimated the degree of the pain and nausea she was in and tried to save her from drowning – and Orochimaru-sensei had taught her to fight under great deal of physical discomfort indeed. Her eardrums still burst and she had to go through the preliminary round with silly cottonwood wads in her bleeding ears, almost completely deaf. She cursed her unknown opponent's name seven ways to Sunday then.
"IT WAS A PRETTY COOL ABILITY, THOUGH!" her teammate Kuzuri shouted at her ear. They were walking back to Konoha and Anko kicked small clouds of dust off the road as she marched on. The day was hot at least and the sun had dried her long ago.
"Iruka's cooler," she grumbled and hoped their team had at least one medic, but no. That was usually the kunoichi's fare and she was more the brute force than careful chakra control type – and of course neither Kuzuri nor Darui had patience for such delayed gratification.
"IRUKA BITES PEOPLE!" Kuzuri mocked and rolled his eyes, conveying his utter disregard for such strategy.
"Bites can be made a viable attack," Anko protested, though it was more out of loyalty to her friend than any real conviction of her own words. Oh, the irony.
A month later when the exams were over and she had been made a chunin proper matrons scoffed at the tasteless jokes and nudged their sons when they walked past Anko on the street because a Kekkei Genkai was a Kekkei Genkai , even if it wasn't eyes, and who wouldn't want to snatch it from the Mitarashi family? The sons leered, but got fidgety when Anko talked to them because ages fifteen through seventeen could be so immature and insecure and even at the tender age of fourteen Anko could be so intimidating. Only Hayate introduced himself like it was nothing and bought her celebratory dango. Anko was so very unused to good losers that this one action impressed her more than Hayate would have had he actually made chunin.
"Don't you mind you lost your chance to me? Not even a little bit?" she asked. They were sitting under a red and white awning and the sun was shining into her eyes. Orochimaru-sensei had praised her performance and the day couldn't have been better.
"Don't flatter yourself, hair-girl, it was a team effort for you too. And nah, there's always the next time." He called him names, but it was amiable and the t-word never made the banter. They were friends from that day on and while they were both pretty busy, but they spent what time they could scavenge together until one day the irony had taken its time and struck, changing everything. Anko had forgotten her words on the day of her prelims.
The fate wasn't kind, nor so forgetful.
Gekko Hayate's father never activated his Kekkei Genkai, as his father hadn't before him, and for the longest time Hayate was thought to be a sickly child with constantly sore throat and cough that was painful to just listen to. When it turned out to be something quite different Hideki and Hideaki both were over the moon and threw a huge party to what seemed like half the village to the young genin. Hayate was excited over this new rise in status in a village where the moniker gold digger was rarely heard, but everybody knew what calling kunoichi a blood hound meant and catching an eye was to get pregnant. His jounin-sensei was less than enthusiastic, however. Himeiwoageru, he knew, was a tricky one.
Himeiwoageru was a sonic technique. When used the high-power sound waves disrupted and, at the highest volume, even burst the eardrums of a target and caused severe pain and disorientation. There was just one catch to it: the effect couldn't be aimed at all.
When the Kekkei Genkai was activated it had the secondary power of protecting the user's own ears. For a high-class jounin who could work solo against even the toughest opponents it could be a devastating addition to their skill set, but first you had to get there. A genin who couldn't be sent to fight alone and who had no-one who could help him to master the technique was working under a severe handicap. Mori Akito knew he could turn Hayate into a solid jounin if given enough time, but he was at a complete loss at how to help him with this.
In Hayate's case it wasn't the Kekkei Genkai that got dissed. He just wasn't thought to be very talented with it.
After he made a chunin Hayate ended up as the queen of spades in a game of Old Maid. It wasn't that he was bad, precisely, but they tried to maximize his screaming opportunities. A team where two members were really good at shunshin, a team with one deaf member, a team with a Byakugan user who could see well in advance when they needed to get away from him, sometimes Hayate wondered if people would try to find the ideal solution until the day he died. When he was shuffled to Iruka's team to replace an injured teammate it wasn't an attempt to fit him in, though, but a temporary fix. The mission was to protect a merchant from bandits throughout his journey to the land of Iron, a C-rank but a long one due to the slow pace of the ox carts and the sleet the sky kept pouring on them – and the latter didn't do any favours to his throat.
"I just want to get a team of my own again, you know?" he told Iruka when they finally reached their destination. They were sleeping in an inn, his feet were warm and dry and he had a jar of sake; it all made him awfully chatty. He didn't usually fish for pity and he wanted to kick himself immediately after. But to his relief Iruka didn't seem to pity him at all, just giving a soft, self-deprecating smile. The glow of the fireplace behind him softened the edges of his figure and made him look soft and wavy.
"At least you can use yours without resorting to biting people. That always makes me feel like I'm five," he whispered and took a sip from some local clear drink made of potatoes that he had decided to try. His mouth curled into a wiggle of almost-pain and he coughed even more than Hayate had that whole evening.
"What is this thing anyway? It could peel paint and melt copper," he sputtered in between coughing. That one shot glass was already turning his cheeks bright apple red and Hayate had a feeling that Iruka didn't have a whole lot of experience with alcohol. Well, he was two years younger.
"Ever actually kissed anyone?" he asked after remembering how Iruka was called and promptly wanted to kick himself again. Maybe, just maybe he wasn't that good at holding his liquor either. But luckily Iruka didn't seem insulted.
"Nah, the Sandaime likes me," he answered and stared cross-eyed at his glass like trying to decide whether he wanted more or not. Hayate had to admit that kissing was probably pretty… nasty-feeling? Traumatizing? Cold-like? Not-nice way of killing someone anyway. Good for Iruka. He was nice and it was kind of sad he couldn't stay in Iruka's team. He understood and everything.
Maybe he was being a bit too delicate and delicate was one of those things shinobi should never be, but during his father and grandfather's – and his uncles and granduncles' – time the Gekko family became regarded as has-beens, a once prominent clan that now only breeds chunin and just doesn't get smart enough to give up and marry up into more talented families. Never mind that in their family they tended to actually live long enough to retire; the ninja world encourages going out in a blaze of glory and leaving a name on the Memorial Stone. The good die young, they say. (Only, the bad die young as well, Hayate didn't say.) Now he had the hounds at his heels, but that was more embarrassing than it was flattering; they talked of the babies and the future because apparently the present was nothing to write home about.
The village wanted babies, Hayate wanted promotion.
Iruka went on to get over his brooding, graduated and then became chunin on his third try just like his father before him. He remained teamed together with his former genin team, Konoe Masaki and Saehara Misato, but then Misato married an Uchiha and retired to have clan babies and Masaki was promoted to jounin, leaving Iruka to wonder what to do now.
Anko was a student of Orochimaru of the Sannin, became a chunin on her first try and everybody still expected great things of her. When the shit hit the windmill it was all very classified and of course everybody and their nindog heard of it. Anko came back to the village with holes in her memory, a seal at the nape of her neck and no teammates. She was later judged innocent, but no-one expected her to make jounin anymore; after all, it wasn't like she could be trusted anymore, now could she?
When Hayate became a tokubetsu jounin thanks to his skill with blade he was given command of Anko. This was because no-one else wanted her to serve under them and since Hayate was for a little while junior to everyone in both jounin rank advantage was taken and rank got pulled. What his peers didn't know and probably wouldn't have understood was that he actually felt kinship to the kunoichi who was just beginning to regain her boisterous nature – not that he pretended he understood the betrayal she had to get over, that was. Iruka volunteered to serve under him, partly because he was one of the few friends Anko never lost and partly because he shared that feeling of kinship as well. They all had to deal with belittling over something they had no control over.
Hayate wanted to call them Team Kekkei Genkai, but Iruka dubbed them as Team No Respect and that name stuck. They all shared the same dream and goal: to make Konoha and the world at large to acknowledge them as credible users of credible Kekkei Genkai – and loyal ones at that, dammit.
AN: So this chapter was closer to angst than real humour, but the fun will pick up in later chapters. Can Iruka triumph over gender double standards? Can Anko silence the perverts of Konoha? Can Hayate ever become a true team player? Find out in the future chapters of Team No Respect!
I wasn't going to start another story before I finished with How to Win Friends, Influence People and Start Your Very Own Secret Ninja Organization. I am so weak. This project is going to take backseat to the afore-mentioned, but I will make some updates if muses allow. Damn muses.
The return of the Grammar, What Grammar? Doku = poison, seppun = kiss (one of the several kanji for the word, sounded more serious than kisu anyway), hagane = steel, kami = hair (not the same kanji that means god), himeiwoageru = scream (several kanji, the most name-like option to my admittedly untrained eye).