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Tightrope 17

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Chapter 17 – Across the Line

Sasuke turned to Naruto first. “Naruto, you said you learned the Shadow Clone Technique right?” At Naruto’s nod, he continued, “How many can you make?”

“I don’t know. Five hundred? Eight hundred? Probably more.”

Sakura’s eyes widened at the information.

Sasuke nodded. “Make a few clones and transform them to look like someone else. Send two to find Gai-sensei and Misao-sensei. They’re both jonin and should be able to handle themselves against an enemy ninja. Send the third one to find a chunin instructor, someone that can identify whether this ninja is our jonin-sensei or not. The other clones should look for any other source of help that can be trusted. Don’t send too many clones out of the Academy at once. That might rouse his suspicion.”

Naruto nodded and made the clones. With a puff of smoke they transformed into nondescript looking Academy workers and left the room. Sakura’s brows were knotted with worry, but she kept her composure.

“If that ninja is strong enough to take down a jonin then he must be pretty strong. Our goal is not to defeat him, only to keep him here until reinforcements arrive. If possible, we’ll try to detain him. Go in with the intent to kill, and don’t let yourselves be killed. If the situation goes south, pull back, understood?”

Sakura and Naruto nodded. Twin looks of grim determination on their faces.

“Naruto, I want you to climb to the roof from the outside,” Sasuke pointed at the window. “I will go to the room across the hall and climb up from that side. Naruto, use your clones to overwhelm him. I’ll look for a chance to restrain him. Sakura, take the stairs and stay hidden until you see an opening and then attack, or jump in if it looks like one of us is in trouble.”

They nodded.

“Go,” Sasuke commanded and left the room to do his part. Sakura followed him out the room and then turned down the hallway to get into position.

Sasuke had yet to learn tree climbing with chakra, but he was ingenious with ninja wire and made use of that to scale the building. He knew that Naruto would find a way up with all of his prankster tricks under his belt.

His head popped up to the roof in time to see a horde of Naruto clones ganging up on the lazy jonin. The jonin was reading a book and scratching absently at his head when Naruto attacked. From his vantage point, Sasuke couldn’t tell if Kakashi was surprised or not, but Kakashi immediately sprung into action, taking down the clones with ease. That damnable orange book was still held open with one hand.

“Maa, maa. So energetic.”

“Who are you?” Naruto demanded.

“I’m your jonin-sensei.”

“Yeah, right. Like I would believe that so easily.”

Sasuke crept closer. The real Naruto went in to exchange blows with Kakashi. While Kakashi was preoccupied with Naruto’s aerial assault, Sasuke swept in to take out Kakashi’s footing with a sweeping kick. Kakashi leapt upward nimbly and avoided his leg, but Sasuke was prepared for that. As he pulled away, he gripped his ninja wire and pulled. A second attempt at Kakashi’s legs. Kakashi jumped away from the general area to avoid the ninja wire and a kick to the head courtesy of Naruto.

It really was quite impressive to see all that orange moving in a mass.

Sasuke followed Kakashi with a Great Fireball Technique that had Kakashi tucking his beloved book away. Sasuke couldn’t be sure if it was because Kakashi had deemed them worthy of his attention or if he was just hiding his book away for safekeeping. Sasuke pursued with a barrage of shuriken.

Kakashi dodged backwards into a trio of Naruto clones waiting to pummel him. Kakashi kicked one in the stomach, poked another in the eyeballs, and headbutted the third one in the face with enough force to dispel all of them.

As the third clone poofed out of existence, Sasuke slid under Kakashi’s guard and unleashed a fury of upward kicks and punches. Kakashi retaliated. He easily deflected Sasuke’s attacks and spun him around in the air, but Sasuke thrived in the air. He turned the spin into a twirling air kick that was too quick to dodge. Kakashi raised his arm to block.

Sasuke smirked when his kick collided. He had put a lot of momentum into that kick and he was also wearing weights. The kick actually forced Kakashi back and Sasuke celebrated the small victory.

Kakashi made an abortive, distracted movement towards his head, and that was when Sakura came out brandishing a giant battle-ax. Even Sasuke paused at the sight. Sakura swung the ax with strength that belied her petit body. She would have cleaved Kakashi in half if he hadn’t used the Substitution Technique. A log of wood clattered to the floor in two pieces. The cut was clean and precise.

“Naruto. Up!” Sasuke commanded.

The blond understood immediately, and with a clone, he made a step with their joined hands and threw Sasuke up to where Kakashi landed. Sasuke spun in the air and weaved his ninja wire around Kakashi to restrain the jonin, but the jonin escaped and the wire tightened around a sandbag instead.

Sakura deftly changed the direction of her giant battle-ax and swung diagonally up to attack Kakashi. The jonin dodged, and Sasuke swung the sandbag at him. Sakura abandoned her ax as Kakashi dodged in her direction and she engaged him in a taijutsu battle.

Sasuke was impressed by Sakura’s fluid display. He knew she was training in taijutsu, and her rankings in class had gone up, but he didn’t know she had gotten this good already. She must have held back in taijutsu class. Still, she was no match for a jonin. When Kakashi knocked her backwards, Sasuke slid in to catch her, and Naruto charged in with his clones.

“Dynamic Entry!”

A green blur descended on the roof, and rocketed towards Kakashi. Naruto jumped back as Gai made contact with the concrete roof, denting the surface.

“Who dares to attack the youthful students of Konoha?” Gai slid fluidly into a taijutsu stance and then he faltered.

“Kakashi-san?” Misao exclaimed with surprise as she landed before Sasuke and Sakura with three kunai in each hand.

At the same time, Gai shouted, “Kakashi!”

“You two know this guy?” Naruto asked.

“Yes,” Misao answered. “He is Hatake Kakashi, a fellow Konoha jonin.”

“Oh.” Naruto dispelled his clones. “Hey guys,” he waved to Sakura and Sasuke who was getting back onto their feet. “He’s not an enemy ninja!”

“So we’ve heard,” Sasuke said, keeping his voice dry and neutral. They approached Kakashi tentatively.

Sakura bowed. “We apologize for attacking you. But our jonin-sensei was three hours late, so we were afraid that something might have happened to him, and that you might be an enemy ninja posing as him.”

Misao sighed, “This is what you get for being late all the time, Kakashi-san.”

Gai laughed boisterously. “I always said your tardiness would come back to bite you in the butt someday.”

“Thank you for your help, jonin-san.” Sakura bowed to Gai and Misao.

“We are sorry to have troubled you over this,” Sasuke bowed, too.

“It was no trouble at all!” Gai boomed.

“Better safe than sorry,” Misao added and smiled reassuringly.

“But to think that Sasuke and Naruto would be on my eternal rival’s team. Ha ha ha!”

“What’s so funny?” Naruto asked.

“Don’t mind them, grown men have weird hobbies,” Misao said.

At that point three other ninja arrived on the Academy roof. After clearing up the misunderstanding and confirming that, yes, Kakashi is Team Seven’s jonin sensei, the other ninja dispersed, leaving Team Seven on the roof top.

Sakura retrieved her battle-ax and stored it back into a storage scroll.

“When did you learn fuuinjustu?” Sasuke asked.

“I didn’t. A friend of a friend helped me with this,” she indicated the scroll as she tucked it away.

“You were so cool, Sakura-chan! I didn’t know you were that strong,” Naruto enthused.

“Gee, thanks, Naruto.”

“Naruto, don’t be mean to Sakura,” Sasuke chided.

“What? No- I wasn’t- I didn’t mean-”

Sasuke cut through Naruto’s blathering and assured Sakura, “He meant it as a compliment.” Sakura nodded and ignored the stammering blond.

As one they turned to their jonin sensei. He was observing them quietly the entire time.

“Maa maa, you guys certainly stirred up quite a bit of ruckus.” Kakashi said. They stayed silent. He sighed. “Why did I get saddled with such an uncute team?” No one answered him. “Well, I was originally going to test you on your team work, but since you’ve proven to me that you can work together as a team… You passed! Welcome to Team Seven.”

“Wait, pass? Pass what?” Naruto asked.

Kakashi then explained the secret test that all genin teams had to pass in order to become actual genin. Naruto was suitably pissed by the idea until Sakura pointed out that they had already passed.

Kakashi scratched at his head. “Well, meet me at training ground seven tomorrow at eight a.m. sharp.”

“Hatake-sensei,” Sasuke spoke up before Kakashi could flitter off. “Use tomato juice to wash out your hair.”

“Ahh, your doing I see.”

It was a rhetorical statement so Sasuke did not respond. Then Kakashi left.

“What was that powder?” Sakura asked.

“Itching powder.” Sasuke smirked in amusement. “It has a delayed effect of five minutes but gets increasingly itchier as time passes.” It was Sasuke’s own concoction, and of course he was immune to it.

Naruto cracked up. “That was brilliant.”

“Why don’t we eat out for dinner? To celebrate our passing?” Sasuke suggested. Sakura nodded enthusiastically. “No ramen.”

Naruto’s face fell and Sakura giggled.

After dinner that evening and after Sakura had left for her course home, Naruto turned to Sasuke. The blond was blushing and fidgeting uncharacteristically.

“Is something wrong Naruto?”

“Ah, well, today, in the classroom… you said… you said you already had your first kiss.”

Sasuke cocked his head to the side in amusement. “Yes?”

“Was it… was it…”

“Was it what, Naruto?” Sasuke prompted.

“Was it Karin?” The blond blurted.

Sasuke blinked, taken aback. That was a logical assumption, he supposed, what with the way Karin being so blatant about her affections. Karin can be rather extreme with her displays of love, but Sasuke didn’t find her off-putting, he just found her antics a bit over the top and embarrassing. He quite liked her though. The redhead was loyal, tight-lipped, proactive, and a dependable friend and comrade in arms.

“It wasn’t Karin.” Sasuke said.

Naruto brightened up at the news, but then his shoulders slumped. “Do you mind telling me who it was?”

Sasuke scratched the side of his cheek. He can’t very well tell Naruto that he had his first kiss years ago, in his previous life. So he decided to answer as Uchiha Sasuke and not as the dual being that he currently was, “It was you.” And it was the truth as far as Sasuke’s body was concerned.

Naruto’s eyes widened and he stared at Sasuke as he tried to wrap his mind around the answer. “But I thought you meant-”

“I had to say something to get the girls to back off. And it was the truth. At that time I had just had my first kiss with you.”

Naruto studied the sincerity in Sasuke’s eyes, and once the truth dawned on him, the effect was immediate. Color spread from his cheeks to the tips of his ears.

Sasuke chuckled. The blond looked so adorable when he was embarrassed. Naruto normally didn’t do embarrassed. He bulldozed over social conventions and overturned traditions. To see him like this was a rare sight. Taking pity on the boy, Sasuke decided to put an end to his embarrassment.

“Don’t worry about it. It was just an accident. I didn’t mind.” Naruto’s face got even redder and Sasuke backtracked. “Oh, that must have been your first kiss. Sorry. Having a guy as your first kiss probably wasn’t what you had in mind.”

Naruto looked down at his sandals and wouldn’t meet Sasuke’s eyes. Ah, hormones, how they love to wreck havoc on the teenage body.

“Look, just forget about it,” Sasuke said, bumping his fist against Naruto’s shoulder in what he hoped was a brotherly manner. “If it makes you feel better we can pretend it never happened.”

Naruto looked up, his eyes wide. He opened his mouth to speak when Karin blitzed in and kicked her cousin into a tree. Neji and Lee soon came into view. From their disheveled state, Sasuke guessed they had just came back from a mission or an intense training session with Gai.

“What a coincidence that we met up here.” Karin gushed.

She did not latch onto Sasuke like she normally would, probably because she was afraid of smelling bad after strenuous activities. Not that Sasuke would’ve mind, since she cuddled him even when he was sweaty and gross, but he decided not to give her any ideas. She was clingy enough as is.

“But Karin-san, you said you sensed Sasuke-sensei and then you-” Lee never got to finish that statement, because Karin punched his face into the ground. She turned to Sasuke with an innocent smile and tittered behind her hand. Sasuke sweatdropped. The redhead was scary. In more ways than one.

“What was that for –ttebayo!” Naruto screamed, having recover from his face plant into the tree.

Karin took Sasuke by the hand and started dragging him along. “Let’s go home, Sasuke. It’s getting late and I want to have a hot bath as soon as possible.”

“Hey, don’t ignore me when I’m talking to you!” Naruto shook his fist at Karin’s back.

Sasuke barely managed to say his good-byes before Karin hauled him out of sight.

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