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Kiba took a heavy laboured breath as he smashed a fist into Shino's head. The Aburame attempted to dodge but was no match for the swift change of course that Kiba's fist took as it implanted itself squarely in the bug boy's stomach.
They had been at it for the better part of the day, figuring that it was best to get the majority of their 'training' done now so as to avoid injuring each other when the next part of the exams were closer. Being only four days away, if Kiba's count was correct, they couldn't afford to waste anytime... especially when Hinata was in the state that she was.
They had heard back from Kurenai a little while back, that Hinata's sealing had gone successfully and that the girl had been placed in her own room - close to theirs but still a different one just in case the girl began screaming again. That particular bit had been extremely unnerving... Hinata, screaming?
In essence, the Hyuga was a more flustered, slightly emotional, feminine version of Shino. She was too shy or embarrassed to be overly emotional yet at the same time she was hardly as withdrawn as he was. But still, Hinata didn't scream. She didn't shout either, so the fact that this sealing process had made her do so meant that yet another thing was his fault. All because he was too weak...
Despite what others thought, Kiba was no fool. He knew that Orochimaru's fangs could have just as easily been laced with venom as opposed to the creepy sealing thing, in the ten minutes it had taken for the rest of them to finally get to their feet, Hinata could have easily fallen into cardiac arrest or something even worse. He knew and Shino clearly did too, there was a certain strength behind his punches that Kiba hadn't seen ever before.
It was as if it was fueled by the frustration of the events that had taken place in the last two days, it was rare to see the alienated boy as emotional.
Kiba snapped his head to the right, his senses all turned on since he was in the middle of an intensive fight, to hear Akamaru's barking. It wasn't the happy or relaxed barking that Kiba was accustomed to, it was more one that was warning him of something. Not alarmed but slightly on edge. Shino paused his assault too, probably somewhat curious as he cocked his head in Akamaru's direction.
Following Akamaru's gaze, Kiba blinked a few times in rapid succession at the form in front of him. His jaw fell open in surprise, it wasn't that he didn't want to see Hinata standing boldly a few metres to the right of him, rather that he had expected the girl to be sound asleep.
"H-Hinata?" stuttered Kiba, unable to believe what his eyes were telling him. "W-what're you doing here?"
"Fight me," she whispered quietly, almost like a ghost.
"W-what?" asked Kiba once again as he noticed Shino tense beside him.
"I said... fight me!" snapped Hinata with a firmness about her that Kiba had never before witnessed.
"F-Fight you?" Kiba asked once again, unbelievingly as he looked at Hinata's body from top to bottom. The bags under her eyes clearly contrasted her pale skin, allowing Kiba to quickly realise that she must've not gotten much sleep. "I can't! You're still not fit to do anything yet!"
At this, the girl grit her teeth in anger. Watching with fearful yet curious eyes, Kiba's heart almost skipped a beat as a shrouded aura began to overcome the girl as she clenched her fists with a grunt. Akamaru's loud barking fell on deaf ears as the two male Genin slowly backed away, scared of the normally timid girl.
With another grunt, the girl had her Byakugan activated, the dark aura subsiding as strange black marks began to race all around her skin. A slightly twisted smirk on her face, Hinata slowly began to advance towards Kiba and Shino; also ignoring the panicked barks of Kiba's alarmed canine companion. "Fight me or I'll fight you, whether you like it or not!"
"T-That would be unwise," Shino cleared his throat. "Hinata, I beg you to reconsider, attempting to fight anyone while you're still in your condition would surely be detrimental."
The girl ignored the normally-collected boy's pleas as she advanced towards him, however Kiba's eyes weren't drawn towards her. Instead they were wide and large as they watched Akamaru make a wild charge for the young Hyuga, intent on biting off a piece of her skin in order to save his master from the threat in front of him.
As Akamaru jumped in the air, he was met with a swift jyuken strike to his chest, instantly causing him to crumble onto the ground as his rough barking turned into slow whimpering. A few seconds later, the black marks on Hinata's body receded as she joined her teammate's injured dog, cradling the pup in her arms. "What... have I done?"
"So how are we meant to go about this again?" questioned Naruto as he eyed Kakashi, the Jounin too occupied with his book to bother responding.
"Just follow the instructions on the scrolls, Naruto... it's not that hard," said Sakura.
"I don't get it though, do we follow the hand seals from left to right or up to down or-"
"You start from the right side of the scroll and go down like any normal scroll dobe," Sasuke sighed, not in the mood to deal with Naruto's idiocy.
"And what about chakra, how much chakra do we pump into the technique?" Naruto asked his teammates.
"Didn't you listen to this stuff at the academy?" asked Sakura wearily, "It's why learning techniques isn't as easy as just catching the hand seals, since everyone has different coils that respond differently each time you push out chakra with a hand seal you need to find the right amount for you. Some people just can't get certain techniques to work for them while others can take years to master one."
"So what happens if I just pump a shit load of chakra into a technique, wouldn't that make it stronger?"
"Yes and no," Sakura said almost as though she were a lecturer. "More chakra will make it more potent but at the same time, it becomes more unstable. And hand seals can only stabilise your chakra so much before it blows up in your face."
"So in other words that chakra control crap is important?" Naruto's eyes squinted as Sakura firmly nodded her head, "That sucks... I'm really bad at it. But I guess it's not that bad because everyone has to go through the same pro-"
"Except for me," Sasuke interjected smugly. "The Sharingan automatically tells my coils how much chakra to produce when replicating a technique, provided I've seen it before hand."
"Yes," Kakashi shut his book with a thud before he pulled his headband up, revealing a dark, glowing-red eye, "it does. The Sharingan is an excellent shortcut in battle, it allows you to flip techniques on opponents and learn thousands of jutsu as I myself have done. However it's a shortcut and the long way is always more beneficial in the long run... there's a secret to this Dojutsu."
"A secret?" Sasuke's eyes widened as the three Genin almost collectively gasped.
"It doesn't master the technique for you. In order to not spill a lot of chakra and maximize its potency while keeping it at a high level of stability, you need to practice. And practice hard. The way of the ninja is not an easy one; things will blow up in your face, as Sakura said, but a true ninja does not let scars deter him."
"Where are your scars then, Kakashi-sensei?" questioned Naruto, avidly listening to his the man's teachings. They were as valuable as they were rare.
"Mine?" Kakashi chuckled slightly, "A few of them are visible physically. You can sometimes see the ones on my face, but the biggest type of scarring a ninja is prone to, the type of scarring I most heavily suffer from, is mental scarring. Emotional scarring, the wounds that never fade... the ones the average bystander can't see. Ninja are those who stand up despite them, that is what separates ninja from men."
"Emotional scarring..." Sakura trailed of curiously, "like the kind where a loved one stops loving you? Did your girlfriend dump you or something once?"
"She's dead," stated Kakashi with all the bluntness of a bullet. "My greatest friend died as I watched, unable to help; my teacher sacrificed his life for thousands of people without once hesitating and my father committed suicide when I was a boy."
"That's a nice sob story," remarked Sasuke coldy. "But none of you know what it's like to have people ripped away from you, almost everyone you ever knew, cut down mercilessly by the person you most looked up to."
"S-Sasuke..." Sakura bit her lip as her blood ran cold. Was this why he was so bitter to everyone? Was this the reason why Kakashi always seemed so aloof, so disturbed?
"Well I've never really had a best friend," said Naruto almost sadly, "I don't know the pain of losing someone because I've not been all that close to anyone. But I guess that's my story, the entire village spits upon me for being something I never asked to be in the first place."
'Is this somehow related to why he was kicked out of the Chunin exams?' thought Sakura, a frown appearing upon her face. She didn't have a sad story, the most horrible day of her life had been when her pet bunny had passed away when she was eight years old. Her parents loved her and she loved them, and they lived happily in a wealthy middle-class house. Did that make her unsuitable ninja material?
"You guys..." Sakura stuttered, as tears began to slowly well up in her eyes, "Your lives sound so horrible... mine must be a piece of cake in comparison." She wiped her eyes with an arm, "But I'm here for anyone of you. Kakashi-sensei, Sasuke-kun... Naruto, maybe I'm not worthy to be a ninja but I want to be a worthy friend to all of you."
"Don't talk nonsense, Sakura." Naruto's head snapped up, causing Sakura to hesitate as she went to rub her eyes. "Of course you'll be a worthy ninja!"
Sakura could only watch in amazement as Sasuke and Kakashi both nodded slightly, the young girl's eyes filling with even more tears as Naruto continued. "You're smart, you've got a strong will and you always know what to say."
"T-Thanks," Sakura sniffed slightly. "I guess you're the one I should apologise to the most, I've been a horrible teammate and an even worse friend for the past few years."
"Don't worry about it, now let's get back to learning these jutsu. We're gonna be the most kick-ass team in Konoha in a few weeks!" Naruto threw a fist up in the air in celebration.
"Hang on," Sasuke held up a hand for emphasis. "About what Kakashi-sensei was saying... I want to know more about your team."
"Well," Kakashi sighed before figuring it would be best to let out what he had been holding in for so long. "We weren't just your regular Genin team, I for one was a Chunin when I joined. Rin, the girl I was talking about, she was pretty strong for a Genin and really hot-headed too. Obito, who would later become my best friend, and I never really got along till the very end. I was strong, he was weak. I was quiet, he was loud. I lived by the rule book, he lived to break them."
"Sounds suspiciously li-" Kakashi shot a look at Sakura, cutting her off.
"I know, I know. But what happened in the end was, long story short, during the last battle we fought as a full team I damaged my eye. Obito's dying gift to me was his Sharingan..."
"Hmph... so that's where you got it from," Sasuke said indifferently as he crossed his arms, although it wasn't hard to hear the approving tone in the Uchiha's voice. His eye shifted towards Naruto momentarily and he wondered if he ever found himself in such a situation would he be willing to pass on his legacy to the blonde. Such thoughts were pushed to the side as Kakashi continued.
"So things crumbled afterwards. Believe it or not, we started off as Team 7 as well but after Obito's death we dismantled. It wasn't too long later that Rin passed away on the battlefield and I don't particularly feel like going into details about how that happened. So that's my life story kids, I hope you learn from it," said Kakashi, his former emotionless tone returning as he opened up his book again.
"Wait... this sensei you were talking about, you said that he sacrificed himself for thousands of other people without hesitating. Who was he?" Sasuke said, not quite satisfied.
"Yeah, if he did something that big I'm sure he'd be plastered all over the textbooks!" added Sakura.
"Oh but he is," Kakashi chuckled as he covered up his Sharingan eye once more. "His name was... Minato Namikaze."
The second proctor of the exam wasn't quite sure how she had gotten roped into babysitting the latest victim of her former sensei's seal but now found herself in somewhat of a predicament. While Kurenai had gone to explain to her other two students that Hinata had not fully been in control of her actions, Anko had been given the task of telling the young Hyuga that there would be times when worse things could occur if Hinata wasn't able to keep control of her emotions.
Having lived with the cursed seal for sometime, Anko was well aware of what it could and would do to a person. She knew it was a horrible thing, something equivalent to a mark which branded you as having been corrupted with something from the lowest circle of hell and while that description wasn't exactly inaccurate, it wasn't that bad a thing if you could control it. Frankly, Anko still couldn't nor did she ever plan to. To harness the power of such a dark and twisted man's gift wasn't just asking for trouble, it also meant that you had no respect for your own power. Your own ability to train, your own ability to become strong... it had been years since Anko had willingly tapped into the seal's power.
The ways in which it twisted you made death a better fate. And Anko was fairly certain that if it ever came to a choice between death and letting the seal consume her, she would choose the former option. It wasn't that it wasn't honourable, they were ninja so naturally nothing was dishonourable, rather that it was dangerous... and scary. It literally turned you into a monster, physically and mentally.
Thus the dilemma was how she went about telling this petite young girl that her ninja career as she knew it was going to be completely rewritten. Sighing, Anko looked at the girl almost-motionless form, her lilac eyes still wide with horror.
"Kid, you know staring at your legs all day's not going to do much good to anyone," said Anko breaking the silence. If she had been hoping for a response however, she wasn't going to go home disappointed as Hinata continued to avoid the gaze of the higher ranked shinobi. A slight scowl crossed Anko's face as she figured that she'd need to try a different tactic with the young girl. Moving from her position, Anko closed the gap between the two of them and knelt down by her side, placing a comforting hand on Hinata's shoulder. "Look, what happened today was a mistake and like all mistakes you learn from it and move on."
"But...but what if it happens again?" asked Hinata in a petite voice.
"The seal that the Hokage put on you is a prevention seal, meaning that it will do its best to prevent you from unwillingly tapping into that bitemark Orochimaru gave you," explained Anko. "There's no way to shut it off completely, every so often it will try to seep in and it will take effect like a drug. Every time you have some you'll want more and trying to fight without it is almost harder than not tapping into the energy source. No matter what though, if you can avoid it, never willingly use that power."
"Yes," said Hinata meekly, her voice barely more than a whisper.
"If it starts acting up, the only person who can make it stop is yourself," stated Anko. "From what I've been told it was having an effect on you last night and since you didn't know how to stop it, it managed to get a grip on you, hence why you wanted to 'spar' with your teammates. That is only the beginning though unless you can prevent yourself from using it. Nobody can help you fight it so you have to be strong. Your willpower is what keeps that evil seal in place, if your will falters then you will find yourself under the seal's curse once more."
"I understand," said Hinata still not willing to make eye contact.
"Good," said Anko as she got to her feet. "Now, I've got to get me so-"
Anko suddenly stopped talking, looking curiously as the timid girl... something wasn't right. "Kid, you know if something's bothering you, now's probably the best time to let it out."
"It's nothing," murmured Hinata, looking to the ground in an attempt to brush Anko's words away.
"Look, I know you didn't ask for this... believe me, I didn't ask for the bastard to try and give me a love bite either, but you've got to keep your head held high. There was a nine in ten chance that you would die when he branded you with the seal and you survived, but that's still only half the battle. You've gotta be strong, people will make fun of you and avoid you like the plague because of the seal, but don't give in or you're letting Orochimaru win." Anko massaged her temples gently, she hadn't asked to be giving inspirational speeches to a young girl that had the personality of a mouse. Silently she prayed that there weren't any recording devices in the room, otherwise her reputation would be at stake.
"Okay," Hinata nodded slightly. Normally the words that Anko had said would've reminded her of a certain blond boy who liked to keep his head held high, but something entirely different was bothering her at the moment.
"Okay?" repeated Anko, having none of it. "You know, the two of us are kinda unique... no-one else in all of Konoha has ever been in such a predicament, even if it's not a good one. That means I've got a responsibility to make sure that you, as someone who'll go through similar things to what only I have been through, are alright. Now are you going to tell me what's wrong or am I going to have to resort to my own methods?"
"It's just... I'm not sure... how my family is going to react to this."
"M-Minato N-Namikaze?" trembled Sakura in awe, "the Minato Namikaze?"
"Last I checked there was only one but then again with all the people in Konoha, you never know," Kakashi casually flipped another page of his book.
"You can't be serious..." Naruto's mouth was agape from surprise and for once, Sasuke's full attention was on the masked teacher in front of him.
"What, you thought I got this strong by reading books?" Kakashi asked humorously as he gestured towards the book in his hand.
"Something like that," Sasuke spoke up. "I assumed you were born into a strong family or something, but if you had the Yondaime as your teacher that about explains everything."
"I was born into a strong family," corrected Kakashi as if he had just uttered the most common statement in the world. "My father was probably just a little below on-par with the Sannin when he was alive."
"Your father?" asked Naruto, his eyes shimmering with curiosity while Sakura's eyes widened slightly, the pink-haired girl rapidly starting to put two and two together.
"... I might as well write an autobiography at this point," sighed Kakashi. "Sakumo Hatake, he was the-"
"White Fang of Konoha," Sakura cut him off, remembering the numerous lessons they had had on famous Konoha ninja. "So I guess that means you can only really get as strong as you if you've got an amazing teacher and have a strong genetic ninja history." Her face lowered into a small frown.
"Not necessarily," answered Kakashi. "You need to understand that people who come from strong families are often strong because they work hard and keep attempting to be strong so that they can impress their clan, aside from bloodlines there's not that much of a difference if you come from the street or if you are a direct descendant of the Sage of Six Paths."
"Yeah, I don't even know my parents but that's not going to stop me from being the Leaf's best Hokage!" Naruto threw up an enthusiastic fist.
"Then you've also got to consider the fact that I'm not even that strong in comparison to others. As much as I'd hate to admit it, I'm far from the strongest ninja to live." Kakashi made sure to make eye-contact with the three of them, "Then you also need to consider that the Yondaime wasn't the world's best teacher. Though he was an incredible ninja, the strongest one I have ever come across, that does not always make for the best teacher material."
"You're not the best teacher either," Sasuke countered bluntly.
"I know," Kakashi admitted. "But considering that we're all alive today, I reckon we've done all-"
"Yeah, yeah," Naruto waved a hand around in annoyance. "Tell us more about the Yondaime!"
"Was he really as handsome as they say he was?" Sakura asked as she squeezed her hands together.
"He did have women lining up for him but he was far from a ladies' man," Kakashi chuckled slightly, lost in fond recollection.
"Whatever," Naruto said, impatiently trying to get his own answers. "Did he teach you any of his kick-ass jutsu?"
"Plenty," said Kakashi in a relaxed tone.
"And I don't suppose you intend to teach us any of those?" Sasuke eyes glimmered slightly, playful-but-useless elemental Jutsu were all good and everything but they were a joke next to something like the techniques of the Yondaime.
"Nope," Kakashi said, all too happily.
"That's not fair Kakashi-sensei!" whined Naruto, "How are we ever going to be a badass team if you don't teach us badass Jutsu?"
"Well Naruto, maybe if you managed to learn those elemental Jutsu I so kindly gave you, you words would have some more merit," said Kakashi flatly, figuring it was the only way to get the blond boy to stay quiet.
"Gahh... fine, I'll learn the stupid Jutsu first," Naruto grit his teeth in frustration before sighing a little. The Yondaime had been his hero since he was a little kid and this was the perfect opportunity to get a little more insight into what the man was like and perhaps... what made the Hokage choose him on that fateful night. "So was the Fourth nice?" Well, he had to start somewhere.
"He was so nice that up until he was Hokage, he didn't live in a house. Despite having the large amounts of currency to buy almost any large estate, he donated a lot of that and his earnings from being a ninja towards charity," Kakashi informed his students, hoping that the raven-haired one in particular would take something away from it.
While he could've sworn he heard Sasuke scoff, his attention was turned to Sakura as she asked a question. "What kinds of charity, Kakashi-sensei?"
"Ones dedicated to helping out orphans and street rats mainly," answered Kakashi. "He himself was an orphan, I can't remember if he had any known family, but he saw kids without families as apart of his own. Minato-sensei was always strange like that..."
"Where did he live then?" questioned Naruto, "I mean where else could you live, if you're not living in a house?"
Kakashi merely chuckled, "I'd have expected you to know Naruto. After all, you do live in an apartment too."
The blond boy instantly reddened a little while inwardly he thinking how cool it was that he shared the same type of accommodation as the hero. As he was about to respond, a single black figure dropped down from the treetops above in a blur.
While Naruto had seen the masked guys around before, he was somewhat curious to know what one was doing spying on them. However, the porcelain-mask wearing man spoke before he got a chance to raise his concerns.
"It's nice to see that your students have good reflexes," the ANBU complemented. "However, I come regarding a summons... the Hokage requires the immediate presence of Team 7 for a mission." And with a swirl of leaves, the man vanished, leaving Naruto staring at a somewhat amused Sasuke who looked as though he had been dozing off.
"Your objective is to retrieve a certain white-haired man," Sarutobi took a puff of his pipe. "It's likely that he'll either be hanging around brothels or casinos."
"Sounds like a bum," commented Sakura, a tone of disgust to her voice.
"It doesn't matter," reassured Sarutobi. "His last whereabouts were a village towards the south-west of Konoha, about halfway from here and the southern border. The exact details are in your mission's scroll, but as I'm sure Kakashi will inform you, don't expect him to only be in one place."
"And why are we going all that way to go get some old man?" Naruto asked, "The last old guy we met on a mission was a drunk who was being targeted by a guy with a freakin' massive sword."
"I assure you that this mission has an almost-zero risk factor," Sarutobi smiled warmly. "Unfortunately it won't be nearly adventurous as your last one, as the hard part will be tracking down the man."
"Does he have any specific quirks or personality traits?" asked Sakura.
"Like I said, you're most likely to find him in a brothel, I think that should be enough information," said Sarutobi. "If possible I'd appreciate it if you can get him back here within two days but knowing how difficult he is to track down getting him here as soon as you can will be just fine."
"Don't worry Ji-chan, we'll find this old guy for you no problem," declared Naruto.
"We will return as soon as we can," said Kakashi as he lead Team Seven out of the hall. Once out of the prying ears of other shinobi, Naruto couldn't help but curse out loud.
"Shit, I thought we were going to be training nonstop," he complained.
"That's what I had hoped for, but clearly something's come up if the Hokage issued us with this mission," said Kakashi as he read the fine details on the scroll, memorising the smallest details. "I want the three of you to meet at the front gate with an hour with a light pack. Hopefully we'll be seeing the walls of Konoha again in three days max."
"Yes sensei," they chorused as one before the three Genin rushed off.
A small smile crept across Kakashi's masked face. When he had first met his team all those months ago he seriously doubted that they would have progressed this far so soon. His confidence in them was so great that he would let them fight it out for him in the next challenge between him and Gai... either that or he would simply use them as a distraction as he escaped from the spandex wearing ninja's sight.
The joy of underlings.
Kiba cradled the small form of Akamaru close to his chest, the small pup resting after having received treatment for the injuries he had sustained. While he knew that Hinata had not been fully in control of her actions he couldn't help but be angry at the Hyuga heiress. To have seen his faithful companion injured in such a way hurt him deeply and he knew that he wouldn't be able to look at Hinata the same way.
It was at that moment that the door opened and Kiba found himself looking at the person he had been thinking of. Her eyes were focused on the floorboards as she tugged on her clothes. Kiba was happy that Akamaru was asleep because he wasn't sure how the pup would react to seeing Hinata so soon.
Kiba wanted to scream out at her, tell her how horrible she had been to Akamaru but after having been given the talk from Kurenai while Hinata had been talking to Anko he knew that yelling out at her would have more negative consequences. At the same time however he couldn't find it in him to say something nice or polite, not after what had happened.
Neither of them said anything and for several moments Hinata considered simply walking out without saying a word but her small amount of courage kept her in place. Raising her head, she looked Kiba in the eyes.
Kiba could see the amount of remorse written across her face, her cheeks stained where tears had fallen from her eyes. "Sorry," said Hinata before she stepped out the room and ran down the hallway away from the Inuzuka clan member, her footsteps fading every passing second.
A half moment passed as Kiba contemplated giving chase but he thought against it as he remained seated. He knew how much courage Hinata had displayed having apologised but that was only a small step and he knew better than to force anymore out of her at this time. Come morning he would have breakfast with her and try to communicate with her some more. Deep down though, he knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again.
"There's our destination," said Kakashi as he along with the rest of Team Seven spotted the small town located down in a small clearing underneath the hill they were standing upon. "Let's have something to eat before we have a look around town."
Placing their packs on the ground, Sakura stretched as she rubbed at her shoulder muscles. Reaching into her pack, she pulled out a small mortar and pestle and placed them on the dirt. "Whatcha doing?" asked Naruto as he spotted the equipment.
"I picked up a couple of things along the way," said Sakura as she pulled a couple of wildflowers she had plucked on the walk. "I want to extract the fluid that's located in the stem. It would be easier to slice it open and use a syringe to get it out but I didn't bring anything like that with me."
"Yet you brought that sort of equipment," muttered Sasuke under his breath as he began scavenging through his own pack for some rations.
"If I don't do this now the roots will dry up and the liquid will become useless," said Sakura as she pulled the petals off the flowers and started crushing the stems.
"So what can that stuff do?" asked Naruto as he closely observed the process.
"Well with this small amount it shouldn't do anything more than cause a slight headache but if I was to use more than it would cause hallucinations," explained Sakura. "That is provided that it wasn't diluted with anything."
"You want me to go see if I can find you some more?" offered Naruto.
"You don't have to do something like that for me," said Sakura as she briefly stopped crushing the stems. "I'm just getting the hang of the process, I don't think I'm ready to actually make a proper poison yet."
"Well what better time to find out than now," said Naruto as he put his hands into his patented seal allowing ten clones to burst into existence. "You know the drill guys, find flowers that look exactly like those ones."
"Yes boss," they chorused before they all split off in different directions.
"Sometimes it feels like that jutsu is just too convenient," said Sakura with a huff.
"I could teach it to you if you wanted," offered Naruto.
"And you'd just about kill her in the process," said Kakashi piping up. "There is a reason why the Shadow Clone Jutsu is a forbidden technique."
"Are you trying to get me killed Naruto-baka?" shouted Sakura.
"So why is it that I can use the technique?" asked Naruto, never really having been told how the technique worked. He recalled that it had been written on the scroll he had 'borrowed' but had bypassed that and had solely focused on perfecting the jutsu.
"The Jutsu disperses the users chakra evenly amongst the clones, meaning that with one clone you halve your chakra," explained Kakashi. "If you created two clones then your chakra levels drop to a third as the two clones each take a third of your chakra. If someone like Sakura was to use the Jutsu, at this time her chakra levels aren't high enough to withstand being halved and she would suffer chakra exhaustion or worse."
Sasuke took this in information in, knowing full well that he had a much higher chakra level than Sakura and therefore possibly being able to use the jutsu himself. Yet his thoughts were more on the blonde beside him, having witnessed the number of clones that Naruto was able to produce on multiple occasions. In the battle against Haku, Naruto had been able to summon at least twenty clones seemingly without it having any stress upon his body. This made the Uchiha wonder, just how much chakra did Naruto possess?
"How much chakra would you recommend someone having before attempting this Jutsu?" asked Sasuke.
"I'd say that you'd be able to make a single clone quite easily," said Kakashi looking at his student. "Two would be pushing it and three would likely be your absolute max, in fact you'd probably risk injuring yourself with that number alone."
With a confident smirk, Sasuke put his hands in the same position that Naruto had earlier and before anybody could stop him he shouted, "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
The rest of Team Seven watched as a single burst of smoke appeared soon vanishing to reveal an exact clone of Sasuke. "Teme, when'd you copy that!" shouted Naruto furious that his most prominent technique had been stolen.
"Do you think that after the number of times that you have used it, I wouldn't have seen it with my Sharingan at some point dobe?" asked the Sasuke clone.
"It wasn't as draining on my chakra as I thought it would be but I can understand the dangers behind it," said Sasuke.
"Here I was thinking you were the cautious one," mumbled Kakashi.
"Hey Kakashi-sensei, when do you think I'd be able to make a Shadow Clone?" asked Sakura, her mortar and pestle having been pushed to the side momentarily.
"Leaning towards the side of caution, I'd like you to be able to stand on top of water for at least an hour, preferably two," said Kakashi.
"Two hours water walking, got it," said Sakura knowing that she could be researching some more poisons at the same time.
Before anybody else could speak there was rustling in the bushes as three of the Naruto clones returned with flowers in their hands. "We got these for you Sakura-chan," they said as one as Sakura took them from the clones.
"Thank you," said Sakura as she put them in the mortar alongside the other flowers.
"How are there two temes?" they shouted as they noticed that Sasuke had made a replica of himself. Before they could be subjected to any punishment, Naruto wisely undid the Jutsu, allowing the clones to poof from existence.
Time passed by as the last on the Naruto clones returned with flowers (although two of them had managed to bring the wrong kind of flowers) and Sakura finalised her poison. Emptying the contents of her mortar into a test tube, Sakura put the equipment away as Kakashi decided it was time for them to act.
"Alright you three," he said as the Genin stood in front of him. "I want the three of you to attempt this mission yourselves."
"Really!" exclaimed Naruto excitedly.
"Are you sure that's wise sensei?" asked Sakura.
"I have faith in you three, think of this as another form of training," stated Kakashi. "Your mission is to find and locate the target last seen in this town. As the Hokage said he is most likely to be drinking and womanising so prime locations would be bars and brothels."
"But Kakashi-sensei, we're not old enough to enter those kinds of places," said Sakura, picking at the one flaw in Kakashi's request.
"We can if we use a henge," declared Naruto, recalling the different disguises that both he and Sasuke had used the prior day.
"An alternate to looking for him would be to make him come to you," said Kakashi. "He's a self proclaimed 'super pervert' so henge yourself into something that'll peak his interest."
"So you're saying we have to look decent and he'll come to us?" questioned Sasuke.
"Well it won't be that easy but I'm sure the three of you can come up with something," said Kakashi with an eye smile before looking out towards the horizon. "Alright, you've maybe got about fifteen minutes of sunlight to get down to that town before it gets dark. You're looking for a perverted man who's got white hair that stretches down to his waist and red lines running vertically down from his eyes. Return here by midnight with or without him."
"Does this person have a name?" asked Sakura.
"Yes," said Kakashi. "You're looking for a man named Jiraiya. Chances are that if you find him he won't want to cooperate so you may need to try and bring him back whatever way you can. Are we clear?"
"Yes sensei," they shouted before they vanished, sprinting towards the town. From his position with the bags, Kakashi silently wished his team luck before he reached into his own pack, pulling out his prized first edition copy of Icha Icha Paradise, praying that by the end of the mission an autograph would be lining the front of the book.
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