"A squirrel is going to run past with an orange book," Naruto announced. "Nail the squirrel with a kunai, but don't damage the book."
"On it," Sasuke said, trying to show he was willing to work together.
"Can I ask why?" Sakura asked.
"Cause Kakashi is always reading it and the squirrel is leading him here," Naruto replied.
"And my popping it makes it look like we're unconnected to the whole thing and should gain us some good will," Sasuke said.
"Exactly," Naruto agreed. "Here it comes."
A squirrel wearing a hitai-ate with an hourglass on it, carrying a pair of nunchucks and an orange book, passed by the edge of the clearing they were sitting in. Sasuke nailed it with a kunai causing it to vanish in a cloud of smoke.
"That's a new one," Naruto said aloud.
"What was that?" Sakura asked playing along.
Sasuke walked over to retrieve his kunai and picked up the little orange book. "Icha Icha Paradise," he read aloud before opening up the book and looking inside.
"What's it about?" Sakura asked.
Before Sasuke could answer Kakashi was suddenly in the clearing holding the book. "I'll take that."
A red faced Sasuke rejoined his teammates.
"I'm glad to see that you all showed up," Kakashi said cheerfully. "Despite some initial setbacks I think you'll make a fine genin team. As it's been pointed out to me, the bell test is something that is better suited to testing if genin teams are ready to make chunin, but as it's traditional with me, I'll put you through it all the same. Keep in mind, I don't expect you to succeed, this is just a test of how well you can work together and your basic abilities."
"What's the bell test?" Sakura asked.
"I'm glad you asked that," Kakashi said with a smile that caused the corners of his one visible eye to crinkle. "I have two bells here on my belt and it's your job to get them off me. Whoever doesn't have a bell by the time noon rolls around will be tied to a pole and forced to watch the rest of us eat."
"I'm on a diet," Sakura told her teammates. "I was planning on skipping lunch anyway."
"One less meal isn't going to kill me," Saskue offered, often training through lunch himself anyway.
"I ate a big breakfast," Naruto said, Ino's mom having decided he was too small and he needed to eat more.
"Normally I'd make sure you didn't get breakfast," Kakashi said. "But I missed it this time, as I wasn't sure you'd all be here. Come at me with intent to kill or you have no chance," he warned.
"Are you suicidal?" Naruto asked worriedly.
"What? No!" Kakashi blurted out. "I'm a jounin, even if you three work together you shouldn't be that big a threat to me."
Naruto and Sasuke exchanged glances, neither needing to be mind readers to know that while killing Kakashi still wasn't the plan, maiming had just been added as a goal.
"The test starts… now!" Kakashi announced.
"Fall back and regroup!" Sasuke ordered, throwing a handful of shuriken to cover their retreat.
"Jeez Kakashi!" Anko said as he entered the bar all the jounin usually hung out in. "What happened to you?"
Kakashi's one visible eye was blackened and his left arm was in a sling. He walked with a visible limp and bandages peeked out from inside his shirt. "I told my team to come at me with intent to kill."
"The Uchiha more skilled than you expected?" Asuma asked amused.
"No, he was solidly skilled, it was Sakura and Naruto that surprised me."
"Really?" Anko asked amused.
"Sakura knew about the tigers in the Forest of Death and Naruto teleported half a dozen right on top of me while Sasuke kept me pinned down," Kakashi admitted.
"Teleported?" Asuma asked curiously.
"New bloodline," Kakashi waved it off. "A rain of tigers was the last thing I expected."
"He is something," Anko said amused.
"And with Sakura's knowledge and Sasuke's skills added to the mix they are very dangerous," Kakashi said. "Well I wanted a team that worked well together and I got one. I just didn't expect this level of cooperation this soon."
"And here are your keys," Sasuke said, handing a ring of keys to Naruto.
"Can I look around?" Sakura asked.
"Sure," Naruto said, unlocking the door and creating a couple dozen clones that scattered throughout the property.
Sasuke raised an eyebrow.
"No one has lived here in a long time, even if you have people paid to come through and clean and repair the place they can miss things," Naruto explained as they entered.
"It's beautiful," Sakura said as they entered the hotel and she looked around the lobby.
Naruto took in the fountain in the middle of the atrium, the weapons and artwork on the walls and nodded. "Yeah."
"My mom used to make father take us here once a month as guests," he said softly.
"Dibs on the princess suite," Sakura said snatching up a key and running off.
Naruto opened his mouth to say something, thought better of it and shrugged. "What room would you like?" he asked Sasuke.
Sasuke looked surprised. "Are you offering me my own room?"
"Sure, we're all on the same team and it's not like I don't have the space now," Naruto said.
"I-" His thoughts went back to a happier time. "I think I'd like that."
A clone came in and said, "The mud baths need to be raked through to remove leaves and other stuff that's fallen in."
Naruto made several clones who henged into well-built females in tiny bikinis and bounced off.
Sasuke gave Naruto a curious look.
"Who would you rather see covered in mud?"
"Point," Sasuke admitted, surprised at how well he was getting along with Naruto and how much the blonde boy had changed.
A couple of clones trickled in. "The grounds are good."
"Sasuke's moving in, help him pack," Naruto ordered.
The clones nodded and henged into a couple of bland looking men who'd be easily overlooked and with no identifying characteristics.
"Why the henge?"
"I like henges and I've found people are easier to deal with when they don't know I'm me."
"I… can see the sense in that," Sasuke admitted. Turning to the clones he said," Follow me," and headed off to pack followed by the clones.
"Utilities are on," a clone reported. "I checked to make sure everything was connected and working. We need a couple of bulbs and a lot of groceries, but we're good otherwise."
"I need a dozen clones with lots of chakra for staffing," a clone said, henging into an older man that combined the features of Naruto and Inoichi.
Naruto nodded and closed his eyes concentrating on drawing up his chakra until his body began to glow. "Shadow clone jutsu!" he called out, creating a dozen clones and collapsing to his knees from the drain. "Shit! I may have overdone it a little."
A clone helped him to a chair.
The mature looking clone looked over the dozen. "Half need to be female for maids and attendants on the female side of the springs. The other six, think gardener, janitor, and masseuse."
The clones henged several times in quick succession until they were all different, except for the uniforms with the Uzumaki swirl they all wore.
Naruto took out Gama-chan and checked his funds. "I got enough for some basics, but things are going to be tight until we get mission pay to replace all my missing equipment."
"And you are going to be late meeting Ino if you don't leave right now," the clone behind the counter pointed out.
Naruto vanished with a crack, just before Sakura came back downstairs. "Naruto, Sasuke?" she called out.
"Naruto has training with Ino and Sasuke went to retrieve his belongings so he could move in as well," the older looking clone behind the desk said, as he familiarized himself with everything there.
"Sasuke's moving in?" Sakura asked wide eyed. "Um… who are you?"
"I have no name," the clone replied. "Naruto created me to man the desk. DO you need workers to help you move?"
"Um no," Sakura said, having meant it as a joke earlier and needing to use the restroom, but now seriously considering it. "If I move out of the house before I'm sixteen my parent's would go nuts."
"So you're probably only going to be here during weekends and such?" he asked.
"Exactly," she agreed, delighted to find a happy medium.
"Remember to let the maids know in advance when you'll be here, but for now I'll put you down for weekends so they'll know to have your room prepared."
"Thank you. Are all the facilities available?"
"The hot springs are open, the mud baths are almost ready for use, we lack a chef so the restaurant is closed, our bartender can probably handle basic drinks so the lounge is open, massages are still available, but it's strictly amateur night there until the current masseuse gets some experience."
"I think I'll try the hot springs," Sakura decided.
"Just remember the rules," he reminded her. "No breaking things or popping the employees. No fangirling allowed on premises. Off premises feel free to go nuts, but while here Sasuke gets to relax, cause everyone deserves to be able to rest when they're at home, just think of having Naruto at home and at school when he was chasing you."
"Can't argue with that," Sakura said after a moment's thought. As much as she liked Sasuke and wouldn't admit to being as annoying to him as Naruto had been to her, she could admit that being pursued without a break… homicide became a lot more justifiable than you would imagine.
"Excellent," the clone said cheerfully. "Have fun and if you need anything, let the spring attendant know."
"Will do," Sakura promised before dashing off to the hot springs.
She'd just gotten washed off when she heard Ino and Naruto's voices coming from the mixed bathing area. Wrapping a towel around herself she entered the mixed bathing area and found the two blonds naked and arguing over a book.
"It's insane!" Naruto argued.
"No, just insanely difficult," she contended. "And that's because wall walking comes way before that."
"Oh," Naruto frowned. "Got any way we can do it in the water? Cause after the day I've had I want to soak."
Ino paged through the book. "Not that one, it'd kill us."
"Which one?" he asked curiously.
"Water breathing, it's a high jounin skill," she replied. "Ahh, here's one, it's supposed to do something involving water and chakra and is pretty easy, just time consuming."
"That sounds good," Naruto agreed.
Sakura retreated, glad the two were distracted and trying to pretend seeing them naked hadn't had an effect on her.
Sasuke sank into the hot water on the men's side and truly relaxed for the first time in what felt like forever, the familiar surroundings and the sounds of Ino and Naruto splashing and arguing drifting over the wall separating the mixed bathing from the male side, lulling him to sleep. The clone acting as attendant for the male side kept Sasuke from drowning and signaled for two clones to take the sleeping genin to his room.
Sakura relaxed, enjoying the heat, but spotting movement from the corner of her eye turned and saw a Naruto clone in female henge reading a first aid manual at the attendant station.
Her first reaction was to get angry, but she noted the clone was paying a lot more attention to the book she was reading than her, which after a moment's reflection was rather insulting, according to inner Sakura. Being at odds with herself was nothing new so she did what she normally did in this situation and tried to get more information so she could decide whether to be upset or not. "Naruto, what are you doing?" she asked, moving to the side of the spring closest to him.
"Reading up on what I'm supposed to do as a female attendant," the female clone replied. "I knew I had to watch and keep people from passing out and drowning, but there are apparently more medical things to watch out for than drowning. Did you know that going from cold to hot and vice versa can stop a weak heart?"
"Really?" Sakura asked interested.
"Yeah, this book is filled with things we have to watch for, like pupil dilation, panting and pale skin. I thought being an attendant would be easy, but there are a bunch of things to memorize if you want to do a decent job."
"Oh," Sakura said.
"And we have to have attendants for all three sections for safety sake, otherwise people tend to fall asleep and drown."
"How long do you clones last?" Sakura asked.
"As long as we have chakra to burn," the female clone said. "I have enough to last… huh, I'm not sure, we've never made clones with this much chakra."
"Wouldn't it be better to make the original Naruto read it since the knowledge will be lost when you poof?" Sakura asked.
"He gets all my knowledge when I poof," the clone replied.
"That sounds useful," Sakura said. "I could learn all sorts of things with multiple me's."
"You don't have enough chakra," the clone said. "The Shadow Clone jutsu is on the Scroll of Forbidden Seals because the chakra needed can kill most genin and some chunin. Jiji says that even jounin rarely use it because of the chakra costs."
"But you throw them around like its confetti," Sakura pointed out.
"Two possibilities," the clone replied, "either I have more chakra than anyone or I'm doing it wrong."
"I'm pretty sure you don't have that much chakra," Sakura said. "So you must be doing it different than the original technique."
"Well… it was a complicated technique," she admitted, not yet willing to share the secret of the Fox. "And I was rushing against the clock and in the dark."
"How did you-" Sakura began.
"Classified," the clone interrupted.
Sakura sighed. "We need a copy of the jutsu text to find out what you are doing different than the original, because there has to be a reason they don't do it your way."
"I could have stumbled on a better way, but yeah you're probably right. I'll be right back."
The Hokage raised an eyebrow at the female Naruto clone who'd just appeared in his office. "Sorry to bug you, but Sakura has offered to help me go over the Shadow Clone jutsu to figure out why I can throw them around like rice when the original jutsu really should exhaust me after a dozen, even if I had jounin reserves."
Sarutobi pulled a couple of scrolls out of his desk and handed them to the clone. "Read the scroll on chakra exhaustion before anything else," he said, already having planned for this.
"Will do, thanks jiji!"
"You got it that quick?" Sakura asked.
"Yeah, but we gotta read a scroll on chakra exhaustion first," the clone said.
"We better get started if we want to get anywhere," Sakura said, always happy to have something new to study.
"Dry off and a clone will meet you at the massage tables," the female clone offered. "We don't want to get the scrolls wet."
"Good point," Sakura said.
7AM the next day
Kakashi barely avoided a barrage of acorns from the red furred menaces that had taken up position in the trees surrounding the memorial stone. He didn't know who had the squirrel contract, but when he found them, they would pay for their attempts to steal his precious!
"Who put you up to this?" Kakashi demanded, flinging kunai as he dodged the two pronged assault of the nunchuck using ground squirrels and the acorn launching tree squirrels. "Answer me!"
The squirrels froze in mid assault before vanishing in a cloud of smoke, leaving Kakashi standing with a kunai in each hand half crouched over.
"Sensei, what are you doing?" came a voice from behind him, causing him to spin around only to find his genin team standing there.
"Nothing, just practicing. What are you all doing here? I was planning on having you all wait for me for a couple of hours to get you used to being around one another."
"We live together," Sasuke said, "how much closer do you need?"
"Any closer and Sakura is going to have a hard time walking," Naruto said.
Sakura turned bright red and a drop of blood dripped from her nose. Sasuke barely caught her before she fell over.
"I was actually referring to how close we were standing together," Naruto lied. "Of course if Sasuke had made a 'heads or tails' comment we probably could have knocked her into a coma."
Sasuke set Sakura down at the base of a tree. "I'd rather have a competent kunoichi on our team than a fangirl."
"Tell her she can fangirl it up when we go out for lunch or dinner," Naruto suggested. "Give her a time and place to get it out of her system and things should g smoother, plus convince her you want a strong kunoichi for when you settle down and it should channel that energy somewhere productive."
"But that is what I want," Sasuke said. "When I settle down and have children it won't be because I want to have children and settle down, it'll be because I must for the sake of my clan and bloodline. It'd be nice if the girl is one I know and care for, but at the moment that's a pipe dream."
"We got some years to go before any of that's an issue anyway," Naruto said. "In the meantime you'll be happy to hear she's been working with one of my clones on increasing her skills. She's been studying chakra exhaustion and helping me with my clones."
"I actually do like to hear that," Sasuke said. "You may not have been the dead last, since your scores were sabotaged, but you certainly weren't rookie of the year either. If she's helping you shore up weaknesses and doing the same for herself we'll have a more well-rounded team."
"A trifle condescending, but exactly the kind of thing I like to hear from my minions," Kakashi said cheerfully.
"I try," Sasuke said dryly.
Sakura had recovered enough to hear what had been said and found herself blessing Naruto for his anti-fangirl rules and studying with her last night. "I'm up, let's get to work," she said cheerfully.
"I was planning on a week or so of familiarization with genin rules and regulations," Kakashi said thoughtfully.
"Not to make a big deal of it or anything, but I have to replace everything I own and shop for groceries, which costs money. Lecture us while we work if you don't mind," Naruto said.
Kakashi strolled along behind his genin as they carried loads of building materials from the yard out to the wagons. "And genin are not allowed to strike civilians unless they are caught breaking the law or actively disrespecting the nin in question," he read from a small blue book.
"Really?" Naruto asked with an evil grin, ignoring the sweat dripping down his face.
"Yes, but no more than one broken bone for each occurrence please," Kakashi ordered politely. "And really a fat lip or a black eye will usually suffice to make your point, try not to abuse this law."
"How about a live carp stuffed in their shorts?" Naruto asked causing the rest of the team to pause and stare at him.
"It's annoying and outrageous," Naruto said. "Minor injury, major insult and requires you to bathe and change clothes."
"It makes the person a target for public ridicule without causing serious injury," Kakashi said. "I like it."
"That's just for nin-civilian relations right?" Sakura asked.
"Yes, we nin just beat each other up like normal people," Kakashi answered her as they reached to carts.
"Good!" Sakura said as they got back to work.
"Use of ninjutsu to commit crimes will result in having your chakra sealed for the length of your sentence," Kakashi read. "You guys are young and this is the easiest time to increase your chakra. A sentence of two years at this point would require five years of hard work just to build up your reserves to where they would be otherwise."
"Where do pranks fall in that category?" Naruto asked.
"Depends on damage done and if they can be deemed malicious," Kakashi said. "At any rate, no pranking civilians."
"Woo Hoo!" a ragged cheer came from the civilians walking down the street who happened to overhear. THE explanation and the cheer spread down the street and out into greater Konoha.
"Okay, maybe I overdid the pranks a bit," Naruto admitted as Konoha's first spontaneous carnival formed.
Kakashi bit his thumb before flashing through half a dozen hand signs and slamming his hands on the ground. "Summoning no jutsu!"
A cloud of chakra smoke dispersed revealing a dozen summoned dogs of various breeds, all notable by the Konoha hitai-ate they wore and the keen intelligence that shone from their eyes.
"Where's the fire?" a small pug asked.
"The enemy is several dozen summons, Pakkun," Kakashi snarled. "They're hidden in the bushes and the trees, armed with acorns and nunchucks!"
"What animal?" the dog asked curiously.
The dogs howled and scattered before Pakkun could give them orders, determined to take down as many of the enemy as possible.
"He has a summoning contract," Sasuke said, surprised, as they watched from the bushes.
"Good animal choice too," Naruto agreed.
"You pretty much have to accept whatever one you can get a hold of," Sakura explained. "Summoning contracts are rare, so its catch as catch can."
"My book!" Kakashi growled. "Chidori!" His right arm was covered in lightning as he shot forward, spearing several squirrels and retrieving his pilfered book.
The orange book promptly turned into a squirrel who smacked Kakashi in the forehead with his nunchucks, making Kakashi realize he still had his book in his pocket.
"Someone had to have made them in the first place," Naruto said. "We should research it."
"First shadow clones then summons," Sakura said. "We'll make a note to research summon contracts later. Focus is important."
"When it comes to research, you're the boss," Naruto agreed.
The three genin sat down and waited for Kakashi to finish, which he did with his summons' very enthusiastic help in just under half an hour.
"Nice work," Kakashi told Pakkun. "You and the boys performed admirably."
"It was our pleasure," Pakkun assured him. "Call us if you need us."
The summons vanished and Kakashi turned to find his three genin watching him. "I guess we're getting another late start."
"Only until we know you well enough to impersonate you," Sasuke offered.
"Then we'll replace you with a clone," Sakura admitted.
"By then, Naruto should be skilled enough to break into your head for the things you should be teaching us," Naruto said.
"Clone?" Sasuke asked.
"Naruto's training with Ino," the clone admitted. "Hokage's orders, but that doesn't mean I'd leave you guys shorthanded."
"Gotta love shadow clones," Sakura said.
"It's not mandatory but it is appreciated," the clone said.
Sasuke tried to cover a laugh by coughing as Sakura blushed.
Asuma raised an eyebrow. "You're helping us out of the goodness of your heart?"
"No, I'm doing it so I can get more alone time with Ino," Naruto replied.
Ino turned bright red while Chouji and Shikamaru looked Naruto over.
"They're getting younger and younger," Asuma muttered shaking his head.
"I'm working with him because his bloodline crosses over into our clan's specialties," Ino explained.
"That's what I said," Naruto agreed.
"What about your own team," Asuma asked.
"Shadow clone," Naruto replied.
"You've got enough chakra for that?"
"Easily," Naruto assured him before turning to Ino. "We'll use the mud baths today rather than the hot springs."
"Elemental manipulation or an alternative to water walking?" Ino asked, not noticing the looks her teammates exchanged with Asuma.
"I didn't even think about walking," Naruto admitted. "I think elemental manipulation should be our focus for now though."
Asuma lead them to the Hokage's tower while considering his options regarding the genin who had attached himself to his team. Inoichi was known for being overprotective of his daughter and Asuma really didn't want to know what he'd do to him for letting Ino spend a lot of 'alone time' with Naruto if he didn't actually authorize it, so best to separate the two for now.
"Got any out of town D's?" Asuma asked Iruka. "Preferably ones that require camping overnight?"
Iruka sorted through the mission scrolls and pulled one out. "I have a three day D rank that's borderline C due to the possibility of animal attacks."
"Animal attacks?" Asuma asked as Iruka handed him the scroll to examine.
"It's mostly fence repair, but it borders areas high in nature chakra," Iruka explained for the younger nins sake.
"Forest of Death," Asuma said knowingly. "Well, someone has to keep the things in the forest from escaping," he said, privately amused but trying to appear solemn.
"The Forest of Death?" Chouji asked concerned.
"They have these huge tigers-" Naruto began.
"The ones you dropped on Kakashi?" Asuma interrupted.
"He said he wanted us to kill him," Naruto explained.
"Sounds dangerous," Shikamaru muttered.
"It's fence repair, we wouldn't actually be going into the forest," Asuma assured them. "However, it is a bit distant and since we'll be gone overnight, I'm afraid you can't come," he told Naruto.
"How do you figure?" Naruto asked eying Asuma as he did various teachers who had sabotaged his training.
"Because travel time to and from here would interfere in your meeting with your own team," Asuma explained. "We're going to be a couple of hours away."
"I can travel that fast in an instant," Naruto replied.
"Good, I hate camping out," Ino said. "You can teleport me home and back, right?"
"Sure," Naruto assured her. "Besides, your dad said I'm invited to dinner and that your mom would do horrible things to me if I missed it."
"Yep," Ino remarked brightly. "No one does mental torture like a Yamanaka."
"That reminds me," Naruto said, pulling a scroll out of his pouch. "Your father gave us an exercise to practice."
Asuma relaxed a little bit, but sent a message to verify it anyway, because as Ino said, no one does mental torture like a Yamanaka.
The Naruto at the front desk raised an eyebrow at the approach of a small group, including a young pair that appeared to have just gotten married.
"Yes, can I help you?" he asked politely.
An older gentleman with grey hair and piercing blue eyes but a friendly smile asked, "Do you have room for a small party? I'm afraid the inn we reserved overbooked and I don't wish to scatter our wedding guests, it's an ill omen."
Naruto snapped his fingers creating half a dozen clones, who henged into bellhops, causing the group to applaud as most civilians rarely saw ninjutsu preformed outside of battle. "We weren't scheduled to open for a few weeks," the desk clone said, " but for the sake of marital bliss I'll make an exception for your party. Be aware that our staff is almost completely untrained and we have no cook."
"I always bring my personal chef with me," the older gentleman assured him.
"Then welcome to the Red Jester hot springs hotel, where the staff has trained more in the ninja arts than actually serving the public and only those you personally approve of may lodge here during your stay, with the exception of a few local nin who are already in residence," the desk clone said grandly as the wedding party cheered.
Typing by: Last Primarch!