Kakashi's Request

Tsunade looked down at her most difficult shinobi. Kakashi lay flat on his back, transplant eye closed, the blanket pulled up over his face to the eyeballs. "So what is it? You know I don't ordinarily allow myself to be summoned, but I came anyway. You have something you need to say to me." She was merely quoting the note he'd sent via Gai.

"You're going to replace me." Kakashi spoke matter-of-factly, his voice flat and emotionless. He could have been reciting nutritional facts off the back of instant ramen. But then, he always sounded like that.

Tsunade wondered why, with mild irritation. None of her other ninjas sounded like that. They all received ostensibly the same training and had similar experiences. For all his fame, Kakashi was not the only one who had lost family and friends at a tender age, had outlived teams, had been in and out of ANBU. The people under her command sounded tired, harsh, apologetic, alarmed, kind, and a thousand other ways there were to sound. But no one, no one except Kakashi, ever sounded bored and flat.

Silence reigned until Tsunade decided to break it. "What makes you think that?"

"I'm not well enough to guide my team. It's wartime. You are, aren't you? If you don't, you're a fool." Kakashi's lazy drawl needled her.

"If you understand, why are you so upset about it that you called me out of my office?" Tsunade asked.

Kakashi smiled cheerfully, a disconcerting change. "I'm not upset. I have a request. Make Tenzo team leader in my absence."

Tsunade was knocked off balance. "Tenzo?"

"Tenzo," Kakashi said. He opened his gray eye and looked up at her. "You know."

Tsunade frowned. For all she knew, Kakashi was making fun of her. "I don't know the name of every single person under my command." Sarutobi did, she thought with some helplessness. God, when was she ever going to grow good enough to fill his shoes? It wasn't fair. She could never measure up to her sensei.

She pushed the thought away.

"The ANBU secret weapon with the plant jutsu," Kakashi drawled with so much sarcasm she couldn't miss it. "Your grandfather's genetic heir. Tenzo."

Tsunade experienced an unpleasant shock. Then she caught herself. Kakashi must have worked with him. She wasn't caught up on her files, but she'd been debriefed on the existence of a genetically altered shinobi carrying her grandfather's wood release. "Yamato."

"What?" Kakashi's brow furrowed.

"Yamato," Tsunade said. "His name is Yamato."

"Tenzo," Kakashi said.

Tsunade sighed. She couldn't afford to stand here and argue with him. "Whatever his name has been in the past, his current name is Yamato. I will contact him." She walked to the bedroom door. Then she stopped and glanced over her shoulder. "Does that satisfy you?"

"It will if you give him my team," Kakashi said. "I trust him. He is the only person I trust besides Gai, and Gai-kun is busy." He smiled, the corner of his eye crinkling. "And as long as you don't expect me to call him Yamato."

"Take that up with him," Tsunade said. She exited out through the door and closed it behind her. What a difficult shinobi. With anyone else, she would have ordered him not to speak a defunct code name ever again, but this was Kakashi. She'd never get an order like that to stick.

She walked through Kakashi's deserted, silent apartment to the door and let herself out.