<<Disclaimer: The world and characters of Naruto belong to Masashi Kishimoto. I do not own anything. This is a work of fanfiction and no monetary gain is achieved from it.>>
"And finally, you," Kakashi pointed towards the last genin in his prospective team. The responses he got from Naruto and Sasuke were as expected. They eerily reminded him of himself and Obito. He just hoped that the third one was not similar to Rin. It would be too much of a red flag for him to handle.
"I'm Sakura Haruno. I like spending time with my family and my best friend, Ino. I dislike… incompetency and idiocy," she said, scowling at her two teammates, "Apparently I am supposed to hate the word useless. I'm not sure why exactly. As for hobbies, I like to read. My dream for the future is to surpass my brother," she finished with a giant smile. Although, he could clearly see both Naruto and Sasuke flinching at the mention of her brother.
"Alright then…" he proceed to go through the same spiel that he had given all the teams he had failed previously. As he got to the part about failure rates he played the theatrics up a bit, hoping to spook them. To his disappointment, Naruto was the only one who got truly riled up. Sasuke had an arrogant look on his face as if this whole thing was just a minor inconvenience.
Sakura, on the other hand, was unfazed, as if she already knew about all this. God help him from overprotective brothers. He needed to have a word with Ichigo. More likely than not, he would have to stick with this team regardless of their performance and teach them the value of teamwork. It was not much of a challenge to manipulate them during the exam and make them willing to help out each other. He was the only one in the village who could teach Sasuke once he unlocks his Sharingan. Moreover, if the Kyuubi reared its head, his Sharingan would help subdue a berserk Naruto. Apart from him, only Tenzo was fit for that role. Since he was most likely going to be their sensei, he really needed to have a talk with Ichigo about what exactly he was teaching his sister.
Ignoring a fuming Naruto's rant, he flitted from the spot and appeared atop a tree about a hundred meters away.
"Yo Strawberry," he greeted the nosy boy nonchalantly.
"Ah, I should have known that you would have noticed me," said the nuisance.
Ichigo Haruno was sat atop the neighboring branch, unconcerned about getting caught. He was stealthy, and not many people would have noticed him holed up here. But Kakashi was not a veteran for nothing.
He looked at his fellow jonin and noticed that nothing much had changed about the boy. He was wearing his newly minted Konoha jonin uniform, with his infamous sword strapped on his back. His pink hair was as eye-catching as ever, a shade richer than his sister's. If her hair was the same color as sakura petals, his was the color of freshly picked strawberries. Truly, his parents chose the perfect name for him. It had been a while since he went on a mission with Ichigo, but he had heard that his new squad was making a name for itself.
Of course, a prodigy would always get such attention. Labeled a prodigy in his youth himself, Kakashi completely understood the burden associated with the word. Especially after Itachi, the scrutiny towards young geniuses had just kicked up a notch. But unlike himself and Itachi, Ichigo was not the conventional prodigy who blazed through the academy and the ranks at an early age.
Instead, Ichigo had graduated from the academy like everyone else, albeit with flying colors. What nobody realized was that the boy was using all that peaceful time to hone his skills way beyond the genin level. Come graduation time, he had shot past all his peers and made Special Jonin with a year, outranking both his parents. Another year of exceptional service, and he was nominated as a full-fledged Jonin. Now, at fourteen years old, he was the rising star of the force.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Oh come on, I just wanted to see how my sister's team was coming along," he replied cheerily.
"They are not a team yet. They need to pass my test," Kakashi said.
"We both know that you don't have the luxury of choice," he said with a smirk.
Kakashi couldn't help but agree with it. After all, he was thinking something similar just a few seconds ago.
Leave the village's Jinchuuriki untrained? Despite how much some people would want to throw Naruto out of the corps, Naruto was a major deterrent just due to his existence. Despite how much Kakashi hated that notion, a Jinchuriki helped bolster the illusion of strength. He still did not know why the sabotage that had been done in the Academy was unnoticed until Mizuki was caught red-handed. Sometimes he did not understand what Lord Third was thinking. Maybe he did not care too much about training Naruto because that would play right into Danzo's designs. Or maybe it was guilt, but Naruto's development could have been far better than what it was. Of course, he himself was not guilt-free in that regard. But now he finally had a chance to right his shortcomings.
Giving the last Uchiha another reason to be a flight risk? Not bloody likely. The boy was obsessed with revenge, and if he felt like the village was holding him back, he would turn traitor in a heartbeat.
"Yes, those two are high profile," he agreed in a somber tone.
"Don't forget my genius sister who is clearly the best out of the graduating lot. These scrubs are not worth the hype," he harrumphed, looking affronted by the notion that he had not considered Sakura as a reason why the team must be graduated. Sometimes Kakashi wondered whether a powerful Shinobi existed who did not have some quirk or the other. Here was another genius, who was an overbearing older brother, bordering on being a siscon.
"One way or the other, you will be railroaded into leading this team. So I was just scoping out whether my sister was slotted into the right team or not. Frankly, I am unimpressed," he said, glaring at the two boys who had just left the terrace.
Kakashi remembered how the two of them had shuddered when Sakura mentioned Ichigo.
"Do you know them?" he asked, fishing for information.
"Oh, those two? Well, one was pestering Sakura for dates regularly. So I beat him up," he said nonchalantly. Kakashi could already feel a migraine incoming.
"The other one is a funny story. Influenced by some stupid friends, Sakura apparently started to develop a crush on him. Now how could I ever let that stand? So I challenged him to a duel and beat him up. I then told her that she is only allowed to date boys who are stronger than me. Mom was pissed, but dad approved," he said with a proud look on his face.
Kakashi sighed as he rubbed his forehead.
"Well, don't beat them up anymore," he said, unwilling to continue this conversation. He bid a hasty farewell and left the place. He knew that in the coming months, Ichigo was going to be a major pain in the ass.
After leaving Sasuke buried up to his neck, he flitted through the forest, searching for Sakura.
Right as he found her, three shurikens came hurling at him. Before he could blink, the incoming shuriken multiplied into a swarm of shurikens, just a second away from shredding him into bits. He swiftly substituted out of the way, screaming obscenities on the inside.
Just what the hell was Ichigo teaching this girl? This was Lord Third's A-rank jutsu. It required very precise control and concentration. Although the sheer volume of the shuriken clones was not exactly up to standard, it was a laudable attempt. It might be because a perfect execution would have depleted her reserves to such an extent that she would be vulnerable. The fact that a freshly minted genin could do this was absurd. It didn't matter if she got special training or not, she wouldn't have been able to do it if she didn't have the innate talent and hard work required for it. It looked like he really underestimated the girl just because of the shadow that her brother cast over her.
He could feel a pulse of chakra beneath him, and he jumped away from the spot immediately. Earthen spikes erupted from the spot the next instant. Once again he couldn't help but be surprised. Another of his genin could do elemental jutsu. He truly did get the best team out of the lot.
Seeing that she was trying to bury him from range, he wondered how she would react when he engaged in close combat.
The next second, he was in front of Sakura, throwing a punch. He expected her to substitute or do anything, but instead, she took the punch, and immediately broke down into chunks of rubble. He did figure out that it was a clone, but he did not expect an Iwa Bunshin.
A sizzling noise attracted his attention and he saw that the inside of the clone was stuffed with explosive tags.
Beating a hasty retreat, he smirked as the explosion went off, and two arms rose from the ground, attempting to drag him downwards. He couldn't help but laugh out loud at that. He let himself be swallowed into the ground, laughing all the way.
The moment Sakura burst out of the ground, he followed suit right behind her.
"It warms my heart that my prospective students are already trying to imitate me," he said as he delivered a chop to the back of her neck, knocking her out at once.
Despite her talent, it looked like she needed more combat awareness. Challenging someone in their own field was giving your enemy an instant advantage. Experience would bridge that gap for her.
He disappeared from the spot a moment later, eager to see how this team would proceed from here.
"So, what do you think?" Kakashi questioned as he appeared next to Ichigo, who was once again hiding atop a tree. His students had just left the training arena, and as expected, he had to make up some excuse after they failed to work as a team. At least they decided to feed Naruto and showed that they were willing to work together.
"I think you were being unfair. You went easy on those two, but immediately knocked out Sakura at speeds she cannot counter yet," he said.
"You know as well as I do that things are not fair in the field. Better she learns that here than think that the enemy is restricted to a certain level," he drawled.
"You drive a hard bargain, but it's fair."
"It does seem like you've spent a lot of time training her," he said after a moment's silence.
"I mean, we don't have a clan backing us. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Thankfully, my parents are Shinobi as well, and it allowed me to ask them for certain resources. I shudder to think how difficult it would have been if they were civilians. That's why I just want her to do her best. I have the means to help her be her best. We all want her to thrive in the field. It's not a safe place, and I'll sleep better if I know that she has the tools to protect herself," he said, finally a serious expression adorning his face.
"I understand… my father did the same," he said, scrounging up another unpleasant memory. Gods, he was a little shit back then. He wished that he could have been closer to his father, maybe then he would not have taken his life.
"Ah yeah, the White Fang. The man was a legend," said Ichigo with genuine admiration in his voice.
Kakashi nodded and they stood there in silence for a while.
"Anyway, I'll be heading out on a mission tomorrow with my team. Please look after her," he said in a somber tone.
"Of course. I'll obviously look after my cute little genin," he said. Ichigo was being a worrywart, as the only missions Kakashi's team would be taking in the near future would be D-rank missions.
"Thanks. I'll see you later then," said the young jonin as he disappeared with a Shunshin.
Kakashi took his leave as well and started moving towards the Hokage Tower.
A.N: Finally posting it here because it has crossed 10k words.
Here I am, with a new story. Six Paths of Harry Potter is still my main story, and it will take precedence. But since it has reached a point where we have crossed the halfway line, I thought I would start the Naruto fic that I have always wanted to write.
To readers who came here from Six Paths, thank you for your continued support. To new readers, hope you like what I've written, and I'd be grateful if you checked out my other work.
I am experimenting a lot with this, as it will completely be from a third person perspective.
In this chapter, I skip around a lot, as I don't want to rehash certain canon events and dialogues which would not have changed much due to the butterflies. Fret not though, his mere existence will have major consequences down the line.
Moreover, for those who want a heartless protagonist who does not care about anyone except for himself, this fic is not your cup of tea. Despite having memories of a past life, the insert has truly grown to love his current family and will do anything to protect it. He dotes too much on Sakura because he knows what waits down the line, and he does not want his sister to meet a grisly end.
If you want to talk to me on discord, please find the invite in the auxiliary chapter.