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Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me.
I'm just borrowing the characters for my and (I hope)
my readers' amusement only
have no intention of trying to make money off of them in any way, shape
Warnings: None to speak of.
Author: The RCK
Last updated: 3 June 2010
Written for Remix 2010, remixing fourthage's Rainy Day.
Thanks to Olna Jenn for cheerleading and to Hope of Dawn and my husband
for beta reading.
(The Diamonds in the Rough Remix)
Leaving them out in the rain was probably cruel. I hadn't meant to
leave them so long to begin with, but I'd been watching them, hoping
for inspiration. I had no idea what to do with a genin team. 'Teach
them' offers limited guidance, and nobody'd offered so much as a
mission plan or more than the roughest objectives. 'Get them ready to
be chuunin' was hardly more helpful. I had no idea where to start.
It didn't help that I looked at them and saw children. Never mind
legalities-- Becoming genin didn't magically change a child into an
adult. Only experience could do that, experience I had to make sure
My colleagues were enjoying seeing me stuck with a team too much to be
helpful. It's hard to gather intelligence subtly when everyone's
laughing at you, and I wasn't about to expose my ignorance by asking
questions and so further weaken my position.
The rain came down harder. I stowed Icha
Icha Paradise where it wouldn't get wet. There was no point in
ruining another copy of the book. Instead, I picked up my telescope.
Yards away, unaware that I was watching, my genin scuttled for shelter,
or rather, Sasuke and Sakura did. Naruto seemed to be trying to stay
dry by dodging raindrops, moving from one tree to another to another. I
couldn't hear him from where I was, but I could see that he was
talking. If he'd looked my way, I'd have tried reading his lips, but I
doubted he was saying anything new. Mostly, no matter what words he
used, Naruto simply said, "Look at me! Look at me!"
I wasn't sure I could break him of that. It would get him killed
eventually, but I wasn't sure he could change. I could think of a dozen
different ways to destroy him and not a single way to heal him.
I didn't like the realization that I thought of it as healing.
Sasuke had put his back against a tree trunk. His arms were folded
across his chest. He glowered in the direction of the Hokage's tower.
After a few seconds, he shifted his gaze to glare in another direction.
Then he shifted his eyes again and again.
I belatedly realized that he was looking for me. I was a little
embarrassed I'd taken so long to figure it out. Sasuke was looking for
me, blaming me for his current predicament. He had no idea where I was
or from which direction I'd come when I finally showed up, so he was
giving equal time to all of them.
Sasuke worried me. He had intention, focused intention, and no room for
anything he perceived as irrelevant. He lacked the experience to know
what was actually irrelevant. He still trusted my status and experience
enough to respect my authority, but it wouldn't last.
It particularly wouldn't last if I left him out in the rain much
longer. He wouldn't see how that made him stronger. Having had his
trust betrayed so profoundly once, he was poised to avoid additional
betrayal even when it wasn't coming.
Sakura hovered around the edges of Sasuke's personal space. She
alternated between glaring at Naruto and gazing hopefully at Sasuke.
She inched closer to Sasuke then backed up when Sasuke turned his glare
on her. She looked up at the sky for a few seconds.
I guessed that she, as I had done earlier, was evaluating the cloud
cover, trying to figure out when the rain might end. I frowned. She
might not have the stamina to handle a prolonged drenching. Her file
said she was physically weaker than either of the boys. I shook my
head. She couldn't be that weak. They wouldn't have let her graduate if
a little rain would overwhelm her.
In her own way, Sakura spent as much time saying, "Look at me!" as
Naruto did. She was pickier about what sort of attention she wanted,
however, and about who she wanted it from. Naruto wanted us to
acknowledge that he existed. Sakura wanted praise. She wanted to be
pretty, to be smart, to be welcomed. Unfortunately, she had rejected
Naruto's easily won regard in favor of trying to impress Sasuke and me.
To impress me was possible if she worked hard and focused on her
fieldwork. To impress Sasuke-- She couldn't. He could barely see her.
She stood outside the frame of his vendetta.
I looked at each of them again in turn. They weren't a team yet. Even a
well matched trio wouldn't be a team after less than a week, and these
three weren't well matched. Of the three of them, only Naruto really
wanted this team to work, and he was hoping for something bigger and
deeper than mere functionality. He was willing to love Sasuke and
Sasuke wasn't willing to care. That was why I couldn't treat him as
team leader. The other two would cede him the position if he showed any
interest, but he wouldn't. Leading a team required connecting with the
other members, acknowledging them. At the moment, Sasuke was a
hole in the potential team, not an asset to it. He wouldn't lead, and
he wouldn't follow anyone but me.
Sakura also wouldn't lead. I hesitated to say 'couldn't.' I hadn't had
quite a week to see what she could or couldn't manage, and I had no way
of knowing what she'd grow into-- or out of. She wouldn't lead now
unless Sasuke pushed her to, and he wouldn't. If he would, I'd not have
so many problems.
Naruto would happily lead. Whether he had any aptitude for it, I had no
idea yet. He'd take off running, only to stop when he realized nobody
else was coming along, then keep coming back and hoping someone would
finally pay attention.
Time to stop putting it off. I
sighed and put away the telescope. I needed to do something with the
kids. The rain would make D rank missions scarce, so it would have to
be training. Ninjitsu drills were the place to start. That would give
me the opportunity to form my own opinion about Sakura's stamina.
She was the one on the team for whom I felt the most sympathy. Placing
her with either Naruto or Sasuke, given her reactions to each, was a
mistake in team formation. Either the other available choices for the
team's third were worse, or it was politics. I suspected politics.
Whether Sasuke and Naruto knew it or not, every breath they drew was
political. They had allies and enemies they'd never met. Every event
carried a weight beyond what was obvious.
Tying Naruto's success as a genin to Sasuke's was an astute political
maneuver. I had to salute the Hokage's strategy even as I resented
having the mess dropped in my lap. Most of Naruto's enemies wanted
Sasuke's success more than they wanted Naruto's failure. Several of
them had made a point of talking to me in the last few days, a very
Wanting Sasuke to succeed, however, did not include willingness to take
great risks. Most of Sasuke's partisans wouldn't want their own
children on his genin team. Itachi might come back, after all. No one
knew why he'd spared Sasuke to begin with. That exemption might have an
Naruto and Sakura were on the team because they were expendable. I was
on the team because there was no one else who could teach Sasuke about
I stood and stretched again. Right now, the danger was largely
theoretical, and we had training to start. I started toward my genin.
It was time to see what they could do.
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