Chapter Ten: Not a Word
If Izumi sighed one more time, Hana was going to kick her out of her clinic.
“I know it’s not the most exciting job, kid,” Pakkun, one of Kakashi’s summons drolled, “but you can at least fake like you’re enjoying yourself.”
Izumi finished clipping the little pug’s nails and scratched behind his ear. It was interesting dealing with dogs as opposed to cats. The cats of the Uchiha were extremely selective with who they were affectionate with.
“Remind Kakashi that Urisha and Akino are due for their check up,” Hana called from her exam room. “If I have to go hunt him down again he’s not going to like it.”
“Noted,” the little pug responded before disappearing into a puff of smoke.
Izumi cleaned up the clippings and slumped over to the desk in the corner. She thought working with her best friend would distract her, but grooming ninken wasn’t the same as the spark of joy in an academy student’s eyes when they finally nailed a technique they were struggling with.
I was highly recommended by my old sensei too…
Izumi had really enjoyed teaching Sakura and even Sasuke when he couldn’t feign disinterest.
“Oh. Remind the little Uchiha that his Shiba Inu is due for a check up as well, please. And look over the schedule and see who is due for a reminder.”
Hana had offered her the job to help keep her mind off of the one she was declined, but it wasn’t the same. The only positive was that Hana didn’t walk on eggshells around her as if she were delicate and needed someone to censor themselves around her.
Those stupid, stupid boys of hers.
She wanted to vent, to rage. She wanted to hit the training grounds and slam her fists and arms against a wooden dummy until her knuckles bled. To set the fields ablaze with a strong katon.
As dejected as Izumi had been when she got the news, she was more pissed off.
She thought she could do some good teaching the next generation of shinobi. She had all of the right credentials and was recommended by her former sensei and several of her past squad leaders.
And yet she was told to apply for the military police force.
None of it made sense to her.
Izumi had done what was suggested of her and requested permission to enroll into the force, only to be shot down by the police chief.
“But Fugaku-sama…” Izumi gawked at her shredded application form. He had ripped it up almost immediately after she had presented it to him in the privacy of his office.
“It’s not that you aren’t skilled enough to join the force.” Fugaku dusted the scraps of paper off of his desk and into a bin underneath. “But it wouldn’t benefit you to join when it’s not what you want. And it would negatively affect whatever squad you were placed in anyway.”
She knew he was right about everything. He had done her a favor in not accepting her application.
“I have a mission in a couple of days,” Izumi informed Hana. She had been looking forward to going on a mission. She felt more useful performing her duty to her village and she needed more time away from her overbearing boys.
“You know as soon as you leave,” Hana crossed her arms in front of her chest and scowled at the ceiling, “Shunshin no Shisui is going to just materialize in my office, right?”
“That sounds like a personal problem.”
“What? No! Izumi!” Hana cried after her but it was too late. She had taken a page out of her boyfriend’s book and flickered out of the office before Hana could prevent her from escaping.
No sooner had she left, Shisui was occupying the seat she had just vacated,
“So, how is she doing?”
“Get out of my clinic!”
Sakura hummed as she adjusted the cards in her hands, and shimmied her shoulders in joy. Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the unnecessary action. She had so little cards in her hand after the last play.
“Can we just call the game already?” Naruto whined, slumping over more as he cradled his head in his hands, elbows propped on his knees. “It’s obviously Sakura-chan’s win. Again. Why do we even bother playing koi-koi when we know she’s just going to wipe the floor with us?”
“Shut up, loser.”
The three of them had been playing, alternating between them to play the winner of the previous match. Sakura had let the two of them play first, but after Naruto lost and she switched in she had yet to be beat.
Naruto had gotten bored of losing and had pulled out a scroll on basic sealing techniques his mother had demanded he study. He would occasionally go cross eyed as he read and groan out of frustration. Being more of a hands on learner, Naruto loathed anything that required reading through material.
“What time was the meeting supposed to end?” Naruto asked as he stuffed his scroll back into his weapons pouch.
“Half an hour ago,” Sasuke answered without looking up. He growled, low in his throat as Sakura ended the game in the next play.
“I think he ditched us to hang out with his girlfriend.” Sakura packed up the cards and tucked them into her knapsack.
“Someone’s actually willing to go out with him?” Sasuke snorted before standing up and offering a hand out to Sakura to help her stand up.
“Rin-nee-chan isn’t his girlfriend,” Naruto protested puffing his cheeks out in a pout.
“Let it go, Naruto.” Sasuke frowned at the way Naruto shook his head adamantly. “Obito got over it, why can’t you?”
Naruto crossed his arms in front of his chest and turned his back on his teammates. Sakura rolled her eyes and dusted dirt of the back of her qipao dress. Sasuke nodded his head toward the training grounds and Sakura followed him.
“Wait! Don’t leave me,” Naruto whined chasing after them. He threw his body forward wrapping his arms around their necks. “Let’s go get something to eat.”
“You just ate your bento.” Sakura scowled and ducked under his arm, bringing it around his back and pinning his fist to the center of his back. “How do you stay so skinny when you eat enough for three people?”
“I’m not skinny,” Naruto grumbled as he pulled out of her hold. He adjusted the baggy jacket around his form. “Where are we going?”
“To train.” Sasuke stuck his hands in his pockets as he lead them away from the red bridge they used as their meeting spot. “We don’t need him for that. He can find us when he’s ready to be a teacher.”
Kakashi found them half an hour later at training ground three. His little genin had the nerve to leave their post when he had ordered them to wait for him.
Sasuke and Naruto were in the middle of the spar, the latter grumbling and shrieking out complaints whenever Sasuke knocked him on his back. Sakura sat at the edge by their gear, knees pulled up to her chest watching them. Kakashi observed as her eyes shifted quickly through Sasuke and Naruto’s stances.
“What do you see?” Kakashi asked, eyes narrowed as Sakura mouthed words to herself.
“Naruto falters on his weak side. A half sec hesitation when he has to use his left arm to block or punch.”
“That makes sense, he’s right handed.” Kakashi crossed his arms in front of his chest and watched the boys. “And Sasuke?”
“If Naruto paid attention for once,” Sakura muttered, “he would notice that Sasuke isn’t taking him seriously. And use that to his advantage.”
Kakashi nodded. Sakura had noticed how Sasuke wasn’t holding a proper guard, not protecting his weaker side.
“Sasuke’s ambidextrous but he’s not even bothering to guard his left.” Sakura turned to face Kakashi properly. “You didn’t know he was ambidextrous, did you?”
Ignoring the question━an answer he didn’t want to give━Kakashi took mental notes on his genin. Sasuke was exactly what he expected, well rounded but cocky. Naruto had the lowest scores out of his squadmates except for in taijutsu in which he beat out Sakura for most of his time at the Academy. He had a lot to learn and needed to focus more but he inherited the large Uzumaki chakra reserves from his mother.
And then there was Sakura. An Academy graduate from a civilian family with low field scores and high test scores.
At least her observation skills are good.
He had noticed it during the bell test. Sakura found the flaws in his genjutsu easily. Kakashi had made use of her slight autophobia━something he had discovered when he shadowed the potential graduates━and created an illusion where she had been abandoned, left behind.
She was an ordinary girl. She loved to hang out with her friends, enjoyed getting dolled up, and was occasionally too smart for her own good.
And he had no idea what to do with her.
“Girls really aren’t that hard,” Rin had huffed, disappointed in him. She shook her head, short brown hair swirling and whipping her cheeks. “You’re just not trying.”
Kakashi raised an eyebrow and watched as Sasuke offered Sakura a hand. She nodded enthusiastically and took his hand.
“Don’t hurt, Sakura-chan!” Naruto threatened Sasuke with a wave of his fist.
Sasuke brushed him off with an eye roll and he and Sakura took their spot where he and Naruto had previously been sparing.
She’s too slow, Kakashi noted as Sakura advanced on Sasuke. But has a decent defense.
Unlike with Naruto, Sasuke brought up his guard even as he continued to rain kicks and punches down on Sakura. There was a wary look on his face as Sakura continued to block his attacks. A harsh kick to the ribs had Sakura collapsing. She cried out and Sasuke flinched at the sound. The moment he dropped his guard, Sakura braced her hands on the ground and swiped her legs out in a low kick, knocking Sasuke to the ground with her.
She pretended the attack hurt her more than it actually did. Kakashi watched as she pounced on Sasuke but was knocked back after he made a quick recovery. Dirty. But smart. Especially considering she knows her opponent.
The match ended quicker than he had hoped it would last but Sasuke had Sakura pinned and she gave in after struggling to break free. Kakashi spotted the weakness in Sasuke’s hold but he was waiting for Sakura to find it herself. It would have been another dirty move, but extremely effective on the boy.
Especially with his obvious crush on her, Kakashi sighed inwardly.
“You should have called the match earlier,” Naruto grumbled, glaring at the two of them. He jutted his jaw out and tapped his foot in a quick beats. It took all of three seconds before he was shouting. “Get off of her!”
Though I guess he’s not as obvious as Naruto. I can’t with kids.
Kakashi pulled his book out of his weapons pouch and got busy catching up on where he left off as the three of them got into a shouting match.
How much longer until they’re eligible for a promotion again?
Fugaku was the lightest sleeper in his family. No one could move around the house without stirring him awake.
Which was why he was climbing out of his futon and tucking the sheets around his wife at a quarter past one in the morning.
He knew Itachi wasn’t home but he checked his bedroom regardless. Empty as it should have been.
The sound of the washer lid creaking alerted him to where the earlier disruption had taken off to. Passing Sasuke’s open bedroom door, he noticed his youngest was missing, as well as his bed sheets.
What could he be doing?
As quietly as possible, Fugaku made his way to first level of the house and back around to where the bathroom was located. In the entryway to the closed off bath, Sasuke was reading the back of the box of laundry detergent.
Sasuke jumped at the sound of his father’s voice, almost dropping the box. He looked up at his father and then back at the box nervously.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” Sasuke answered quickly. “I’m going to bed soon.”
Fugaku gave his son another once over and noticed he had different shorts than he had put on earlier before bed. And then he remembered his son was going to be turning thirteen soon.
Coughing into his hand uncomfortably, Fugaku took the box of detergent out of his son’s hands.
“You have to measure it out and put into the machine as the water runs. It helps to make sure the soap doesn’t sit in one part of the wash. You also need to use the stain remover powder.” Fugaku adjusted the dials on top of the machine. “Your mother prefers to use hot water on soiled sheets.”
Sasuke’s face scrunched up in disgust and Fugaku slapped the back of his head.
“She cares for an elderly man, Sasuke,” He reminded him before continuing to help him with his laundry. “I can take care of the rest. You need to go back to sleep.”
“But, I…” Sasuke shifted on the balls of his feet, eyes flickering from the machine to his father’s face.
“I’ll put them in the dryer and wait for them to finish their run. Your mother won’t find them on the clothes line.”
Sasuke let out a shaky exhale in relief. He wrung his hands in the hem of his sleep shirt and he shifted his gaze from the doorway and back to Fugaku.
“You’re not going to tell her…are you?”
“Your mother doesn’t need to know everything,” Fugaku promised.
Fugaku listened to the shuffling of Sasuke’s feet as he made his way down the hall and back up the stairs to his bedroom. It wasn’t until he heard the door to his bedroom that Fugaku groaned into his hand before wiping it down his face.
Itachi had never given him this kind of problem to deal with.