Title: Perfect Theology – Chapter 1
Rating: PG-13 for now
Summary: Because no one has a perfectly foolproof method to approach love and life. Including Konoha’s famed Copy Nin.
Tenet number one: exist.
Done and done. He existed, and they existed. It wasn’t complicated, and it often was not too difficult to cope with. That wall of separation was a constant that had been in place since the first time he utilized a cloth mask to obscure half his features. It was almost ironic, how that bit of dark-colored material could create a nearly perfect shield that made him impervious him from the brunt of society’s problems.
The key phrase was ‘nearly perfect.’ Cracks were present, allowing sprinters of hurt, regret, and overall weakness to seep through. Those were dealt with, but not forgotten.
Tenet number two: cherish those close to you.
Perhaps it was familiarity that allowed him to slip unnoticed past Kakashi’s mental barriers.
He saw him constantly: During mission briefings; turning in his reports, far past their date of assignment; the occasional dinner of ramen with Naruto present; that memorable day in the summer time. By itself, those little encounters would have meant nothing. However, the famed Copy Ninja suspected that interest (or dare he say, a bit of attraction?) somehow wheedled its way past his apathy. He likened it to a flower growing in the middle of a sidewalk: all it took was one little crack, one breach in a normally infertile environment. At first it s invisible, slowly spreading roots and flourishing unseen. But before you know it, it would bloom with sunshine and change the landscape of a person s heart.
In accordance with his long-ingrained shinobi ways, the shinobi in question was scrutinized. It wasn’t difficult, as one of the renowned Kakashi’s wards was the equally infamous loud-mouth kitsune of Konoha. A loud kitsune who chattered constantly about everything under the sun. Including his favorite Academy instructor.
Now, he’d been a servant to the needs of Konoha too long to lie to himself. Mere interest was an understatement. Attraction was closer to the true nature of what he was experiencing. Which then raised the question, what was the reason for his attraction?
Was it physical? Perhaps. The Chuunin wasn’t unlike his peers; physically able to handle the missions and assignments handed out by a village of warriors and fighters-in-training. Tanned skin, warm gaze, pleasant features that usually wore a friendly smile. Could be considered somewhat feminine. Nothing extraordinary.
Mentally though, the Academy teacher was an enigma of sorts to him.
And emotionally? From prior experience and observation, the Chuunin could almost be called unstable. Shifting from passive and motherly to explosive and deadly in a blink of an eye (or a mischievous Naruto). In more civil terms, the young teacher was capricious. Undeniably, he was devoted. The three ninjas under Kakashi’s tutelage was testimony to that. He d also been a favorite of the Third Hokage, implying something admirable in his character. By nature, Kakashi was an analytical soul. Each detail and factor pertinent were carefully considered and filed before reaching a logical and pragmatic conclusion. However, the analysis of his situation was impeded by one glaring problem: insufficient data. Truthfully, Kakashi s knowledge of Umino Iruka was fragmented and incomplete. Any good shinobi knows that adequate knowledge about a target was crucial to a mission s success. Clearly, the Jounin would need to do some reconnaissance. His logical mind was happy with this conclusion: find info, find it fast, and do it unseen. And so, he assigned himself a new objective: Approach Iruka.
The word approach used very loosely, of course
The mission was simple enough. Find and bring back a scroll that was a potential political threat. His instructions had been simple as well. “Search and retrieve. Allow no one to see you. Destroy the scroll if necessary.”
Now, Kakashi Theology Tenet number three stated: Protect the village. Not be misled by the number denoting, it was actually one of his top priorities. So without qualms, he stood before his students with an unfazed grin. Or rather, what appeared to be an unfazed grin. By any stretch of the imagination, it was somewhat difficult to distinguish features behind that mask. Nothing unusual, but something not too highly appreciated either. However, this air of ambiguity usually was an advantage for the Jounin.
But before his words, routine kicked in.
“You’re LATE!” From the duo of blond and pink.
A wider grin, with the one visible eye arched in contentment. “I was taking a shortcut down by the beach, and saw a dolphin in distress and-”
Ah, routine. But enough of that. Kakashi shifted into a comfortable stance, hands in his pocket. “Okay kids, I have a mission for the next couple of days, so I’ll place you under the supervision of another instructor. I’ll send them by tomorrow morning at the usual time.” Before they could protest, or launch into a different train of thought, he turned with a farewell salute. “See ya.”
As their bickering faded away, and the three decided how to spend their unexpected free time, Kakashi pondered the options of his ‘replacement instructor.’ Naturally, he could’ve asked one pf his fellow Jounin. Asuma, Kurenai, or maybe even Gai. He was sure Lee would appreciate the idea. Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately), this was where Kakashi Theology Tenet number four came into play.
Tenet number four: let no opportunities pass you.
Naturally, a grin came to his face, almost wide enough to be seen through his mask. A good, well-planned mission was a work of art. And after a quick review of his plan, his mind concluded it was satisfactory. Clever at the very least. Perhaps it could even be considered ingenious. Of course, the Sharingan user never doubted it. However, times of exemplary genius did deserve a mental pat on the back. Maybe later some splurging on some porn. But enough gratification. A plan of such ingenuity deserved to be implemented with all haste possible.
A few passersby looked on warily as the Copy Ninja rubbed his hands together eagerly in anticipation.
“Now, there’s a reason why kunai and shuriken are used at different points in time during combat. Small shuriken, being lighter in construct, are more aerodynamic, and will travel faster when thrown. However, it probably would not inflict as much damage as a kunai might.” A tanned hand indicated a diagram on the blackboard. “Has everyone copied this down? You’ll be having a test on this next week.” At the murmured affirmative, their Chuunin teacher smiled. He heard a few grumbling at the prospect of an exam, but he ignored it. “Good, then you’re dismissed for the day.”
Watching the shinobi-in-training file ecstatically out the door, Iruka frowned at the child about to walk past his desk. Momentarily, the instructor scrutinized the young boy, and then reached out an agile hand to grab him by the scruff of his neck.
“What…are you doing here?” He said in exasperation, but not without a slightly curious look.
The child in his grip grinned widely, blinking his boyish eyes innocently. His boyish, mismatched eyes of red and blue.
With a soft poof and a bit of smoke, Konoha’s infamous ninja stood nonchalantly before Iruka. “Yo.” A grin was instantaneous, and the older man ran a hand through unmanageable silver locks. “I see your detection abilities are still sharp, sensei.” His grin grew wider, if possible, at Iruka’s look of further exasperation.
“I would like to think I d be able to remember what my students look like, Kakashi-sensei. Noticing an extra student takes hardly any skill.” His hand picked up a red grading pen, starting to mark the various papers before him. “So what can I do for you, Kakashi?”
“I need a favor.”
At the rather blunt statement, Iruka looked up warily. A mischievous blue eye winked back. ‘What kind of favor?”
The grin only became wider. “Just a small one.”
Iruka smiled fondly down at the blond Genin clutching his middle tightly. “Glad to see you too, Naruto.” He turned an equally bright, if somewhat exasperated smile to the other two members of Team 7. “So your sensei asked me to check up on you guys for him, while he’s away on mission. However ” He managed to extract an arm, and reach into a bag slung from his shoulders, withdrawing three sealed envelopes. ” he asked me to pass on these training assignments to you three.”
It should be a foolproof plan, ingenious in its simplicity. Easy enough that even Naruto couldn t mess it up. Perhaps it was a frivolous thought, but it was Kakashi’s single comforting thought while he trudged wearily from the blood-stained field, a rather battered scroll in tow. He’d been quick, efficient, and unfazed about the entire assignment, hands not even trembling as devastatingly accurate kunai and shuriken met their marks. Unflinching as enemy after enemy fell lifeless to the ground. Perfectly composed when he was the only one to remain standing on the silent, red-splashed field.
Tenet number five: Separate the job from living.
Perhaps it could be considered ironic. His assignment: simply to search and retrieve. Obviously, it had gone slightly awry, leaving about half a dozen foe dead. His team’s assignment, back home in far away Konoha, also search and retrieve. But, it was unlikely to be as blood-splashed as his had been.
Over long years of death and bloodshed, Hatake Kakashi had learned to erect a mental wall of separation between his role as a protector of Konoha and the rest of him. It was completely necessary, keeping him motivated and keeping him sane. Long ago, the darker parts of him had almost become too much, too consuming. Luckily, he d met people in his life who taught him about the gentler side of existence. From Obito and Rin he d learned friendship and teamwork. From the Fourth, he d learned about compassion and integrity, and about enjoying the other parts of his life that did not involve the taking of lives.
So it was with them in mind that Kakashi had formulated tenet number five. It was in their memory that he d repeated it over the years. And after Kakashi had made sure he wasn t being followed, his thoughts automatically wandered back to his home, his students. His latest plan. Some would call it laziness, but Kakashi personally preferred the phrase ‘adapting to what one has available.’ Besides, didn t he teach his students that teamwork was important to a shinobi and the mission? What better way to get this across than to assign them the grunt work. Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura should have received their instruction packets the other day, from an unsuspecting Iruka.
“Your target has been pre-selected, and will be the messenger bearing these mission assignments. For the next week, gather as much information on the target, Umino Iruka, as possible. Work in pairs, switching pairings daily. Be prepared for questioning.”
Not his usual caliber of mission assignment writing, but it sufficed. Basically, it was like killing two birds with one stone: getting Iruka to watch his team for a few days as well as getting a plethora of information on the Chuunin.
A lesser individual might have dismissed such thoughts as childish, but Hatake Kakashi was a firm believer in tenet number five.
Right foot forward, left foot forward.
Check the right hand pocket. Check behind you. Repeat the procedure.
And thus, Sharingan Kakashi made his way back to Konoha. One sky-blue eye squinting in the midday sun, the other blood-red one closed wearily under his hitai-ate.