"What play is it?" "How many parts?" "Will we get to wear cool costumes?" "Can Akamaru be in it?" "Hm." Kakashi looked up, as if thinking, then looked back down at the eager rookies. "I'm going...
Time Frame: Hm...well, probably sometime after the Orochimaru-ness, since Sasuke is back and Neji isn't trying to kill Hinata anymore. Anywho, it has all of the rookies in some general time period. Couples? Very, very possibly. Read to find out.
"For being the rookies of our country, our teams don't have too much..." What was the word he was looking for? Friendship? Loyalty to one another? Teamwork? Kakashi stopped to ponder that, running a hand through his silver hair.
"Since when do we care how our teams get along with each other?" The female jounin raised an eyebrow, watching him.
"I agree with Kurenai. It's hard enough trying to get the kids to get along with other members in their cell, let alone members of other teams." Asuma agreed. He nodded, very slightly, inhaling on his cigarette.
"I bet Gai would agree to a bit of...informal training. To strengthen bonds between the new generation of Leaf nin." Behind his mask, no one could ever tell when Kakashi was smiling. But either jounin opposite him knew he was. Typical Kakashi.
"You know, we should just wait an extra three hours before showing up." Interrupted by a yawn, Sakura covered her mouth politely. "I didn't get to brush my hair this morning, either..."
"Yeah...Kakashi-sensei is almost always exactly three hours late..." Naruto agreed, suddenly quieting down. Apparently, this was a great thinking topic for him. He leaned against the bridge's railing, chin set in his hand, brow furrowed in concentration. A very strange and rarely used look for him indeed.
The pink haired kunoichi sighed, rolling her eyes. "Don't think too hard on it, Naruto. I don't want your brain to melt." she commented blandly, glancing out over the calm water below them. The blonde ninja grinned sheepishly, coming out of his reverie to rub the back of his head. Sakura groaned at his...Naruto-ness. It was the only word that would sufficiently explain it--
"Good morning!" All three genin, including the silent Sasuke, turned to look at their teacher. Kakashi strolled calmly up to them, hands in his pockets and smiling genially.
"What's your excuse this time? Huh, Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura demanded, putting her hands on her hips and leaning forward menacingly. The jounin didn't seemed fazed.
"Well, you see, there was this kitten stuck in a tree--"
"Just drop it; never mind, Kakashi-sensei." the kunoichi interrupted irritably, glaring at the water below them. "Just...what is our mission? And what rank is it?"
"It's not quite a rank...this is more of an exercise, rather than an actual mission..."
This snapped Sasuke out of his stoic silence. He turned, a surprised glare aimed at his teacher. Waiting a moment, the black-haired nin finally spoke. "You...so you dragged us all the way down here for some training?" He did not sound happy, to say the least.
"No, not training, Sasuke." Kakashi smiled at him, closing his eye and tilting his head slightly. "An exercise. With the other rookies. To improve, ah...friendship and bonds and teamwork skills and things like that between the cells." His explanation was met by silent, surprised stares. Naruto's jaw had dropped, Sasuke had raised an eyebrow incredulously, and Sakura was staring at their teacher as if he had grown another head.
"Wait...hold on..." Naruto said loudly, breaking the slightly awkward silence. "You want us, to get along with the other rookies? Like, Kiba and Shikamaru and them?"
"Asuma, Kurenai and Gai's teams, yes." Kakashi nodded as if it was the most simple thing in the world to understand. Naruto continued to ogle at him. This time, Sakura broke the silence.
"...We...are doing an exercise...with uber-brows...?" The silver-haired nin nodded again and the girl replied with a soft gasp. "Listen, Kakashi-sensei, we can't really get along with the other rookies. Most of the time, we argue enough. Put us in some sort of competition and it might just get ugly."
"It's not a competition. Well...maybe the auditions are." Another stunned silence met him. Smiling mysteriously, yet again, Hatake Kakashi gave a curt nod, turning on his heel to leave. Putting his hand in the air carelessly, in good-bye, he added, "Meet me and the other at the western gate to the forest at sundown. I promise I won't be late, alright, Sakura?" She nodded dumbly in response.
Naruto walked along the streets sullenly. Now, he would have to compete with the other rookies as well as Sasuke for the spotlight (and Sakura's attention). Plus, he didn't know what they were supposed to do. Kakashi-sensei had used the word 'audition'...Naruto froze in shock and horror. Would he have to sing? And in front of the girls, too? He could picture them all now...giggling like mad, drooling over Sasuke, who somehow had this amazing singing voice, while Naruto completely stunk...
Deep in thought, the blonde collided with a telephone pole. Swearing profusely, he held his head, tears stinging his eyes. He would definitely get a few bruises, if it wasn't bleeding...Biting his lip for a moment, he doubled over, cursing under his breath. That had hurt--
He looked up as he heard a soft giggle. Oh no, just what he needed; some girl to have seen that blunder and think he was an even bigger idiot. But looking around, the giggle hadn't come from 'some girl'--just Hyuuga Hinata. She was standing on the other side of the street, hand held up to her mouth as if she was embarrassed to have been caught giggling. But standing beside her, however, was none other than her cousin, Neji.
Great. Neji had seen that, as well as Hinata...would they tell the others of how much of an idiot Naruto was? No, they were both rather quiet...but one never did know. He raised his hand in greeting, smiling weakly. "Oh, hey, guys..."
Neji raised an eyebrow in greeting, staying still and stoic behind his cousin. Hinata, however, blushed and stared down at her feet, mumbling "...Hi, Naruto-kun..."
"Are you, erm...going to that thing at sundown?" he asked, although he knew the answer. As long as he could keep them away from the subject of that embarrassing accident, Naruto would be content. For the moment, anyway.
"Considering the sun is setting and we're heading in the general direction of the forest, you could assume that the answer would be a 'yes'." Neji said, only slightly cold, his voice drowning out Hinata's soft "H-hai, Naruto-kun..."
"Wanna walk with me?" Hinata blushed further, but nodded shyly. Neji looked like he was sorely tempted to roll his opaque eyes, but accompanied his cousin across the street to finish their journey with the hyperactive one. "So, do either of you know what this thing is about?"
Both Hyuuga shook their heads. "K-Kurenai-sensei wouldn't-t tell us anything..." Hinata added, stuttering slightly. Naruto wondered vaguely why she did that.
"Oh. Kakashi-sensei said something about an 'audition'...I sure hope they don't make us sing." he continued on loudly. Neji looked appalled at the thought of singing, while Hinata blushed deeper and uttered a faint squeak.
They came upon the forest then, just as the crimson sun was sinking over the tops of the trees. It looked like everyone else was there, except the teachers and Shikamaru. Looking around, Naruto asked where the latter was.
"Still sleeping, I bet." Ino snorted, crossing her arms. "Lazy bum."
"I am not sleeping. I was late." The shadow-user in question arrived at that time, hands jammed into his pockets and looking rather sullen indeed. He was only a minute or two in arriving after Naruto and the Hyuuga. "So get off my back about it already."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." the blonde kunoichi waved her hand carelessly in the air, closing her eyes. "Hey, anyone know where the teachers are?"
Several choruses of 'nope!', 'no', 'not-uh!', 'not really' and other things to that degree rang around the clearing. Ino looked annoyed at the fact that no one could answer her question, and haughtily crossed her arms.
"Kakashi-sensei is always late." Sakura said loudly. "If any of your teachers are like him, we can expect to be here by ourselves for another three hours."
"K-Kurenai-sensei is never l-l-late..." Hinata said softly. Kiba nodded and Akamaru barked his agreement.
"Gai-sensei has never been late!" Lee declared. "He will not let us down! He shall show up and tell us everything about this bizarre meeting!"
"Yeah, yeah, Lee, keep it down." TenTen complained, looking grumpy. "Kakashi is the only one who's ever late. So we're all still confused about our teachers."
"Well--" Kiba stopped short. Sasuke, Neji and Shino had all been watching the same tree for nearly the whole time, and finally, the rest of the kids noticed as well. Gai was sitting on a branch, hidden partly by leaves and twigs, and his green outfit only let him blend in further. The black-haired jounin grinned broadly, since everyone now knew that he had been spying on them the whole time.
"Ah, children!" he called loudly as he jumped to the ground. "You are all wondering why you have been called here with the last dying rays of the sun. And you shall all find out, once you figure it out!" There was a loud, collective groan.
"We have to figure out what we're doing?" Kiba barked, obviously ticked at this piece of news.
"How are we supposed to do that?" Sakura whined; Inner Sakura's rantings had a liberal amount of swearing to add.
"You shall figure it out yourselves! Work together, as members of the same country should do!" With that, Gai disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving the children more distraught than ever.
"This is so troublesome..." Shikamaru growled, crossing his arms. "We can't work together. I can hardly get along with that pig, let alone other females..."
"What did you call me, Shikamaru?" Ino snarled, turning on him. He sighed, accepting his punishment with a lazy roll of his eyes.
"So..." Naruto said, looking around. "Hey, Hinata, what do you know?"
"Subtle, aren't you?" Sakura commented. Hinata smiled weakly, shrugging.
"I'm s-sorry, Naruto-k-kun...I don't really know anything ab-about this..."
"Kakashi-baka-sensei mentioned an 'audition'." Sasuke said quietly. The arguing had instantly died down, as everyone turned to look at him.
"Hey...Kurenai-sensei said something about preparing for an audition, too!" Kiba added, nodding. "So it's not fighting-competitive, but something different."
"Asuma-sensei told us to get ready to adopt new personalities when Shikamaru and I were fighting...I don't know if that's relevant, though." Ino put in. Chouji nodded, taking a small break from eating his chips to comment.
"I think it is...he usually doesn't say it like that normally."
"Gai-sensei said..." Lee trailed off, wondering what his teacher had said that would have any importance in figuring this out. He glanced over at TenTen and Neji, looking for their input. Both stayed quiet, however. The taijutsu user looked crestfallen, hanging his head.
Several more minutes of chattering and thinking followed. Other than the initial facts, the students didn't seem to be making any headway. Sakura and Ino seemed to be taking charge, or at least bossing everyone around like they were. Every few minutes Shikamaru would snicker for no apparent reason, making both kunoichi go off on him, shouting that if he knew something, he should tell them and other assorted things like that.
Shikamaru gave Sasuke a side-long glance, smiling slightly. The black-haired nin returned it with a slight nod and a smirk. It didn't take long before most of the others realized that those two knew what was going on. Ino, Sakura, Kiba and Naruto all eagerly bombarded them with questions, threats and shouting, trying to squeeze the answer out of them. It was all in vain, however.
"Hinata." The Hyuuga jumped, looking around for whoever said her name. Looking relieved that it was just Shino, she smiled shyly.
"You and Neji know what's going on, to some degree, don't you?" Shino asked, raising an eyebrow just a fraction. Hinata looked surprised, telling him that she didn't really know, but Neji just smirked. "Neji, please fill your cousin in. I need to go try to tell Kiba..." The bug-user looked over at the near-fight, sighing.
"N-Neji...? You know?" Hinata looked up at her cousin, tilting her head in slight confusion. He nodded in reply. Pausing for a moment, he leaned down and whispered the answer in her ear. Her ashen eyes widened, and she uttered a soft squeak. "Really...? I-I can't...I'm no good at stuff like that..." Neji almost instantly told her that she'd do fine, but his consolations were broken up by a loud howl from Kiba.
"WE'RE DOING WHAT?!" The Inuzuka exclaimed, Akamaru barking frantically from atop his head. His outburst, in turn, caused nearly everyone else to swarm by him, asking him what they were doing. "We...we're...putting on a play." The second those words left his mouth, before the others could react in the slightest, four puffs of smoke signaled the arrival of their teachers.
"Correct, Kiba!" Kurenai called, smiling. Hinata and Kiba both rushed over to their teacher, asking questions as several of the other rookies did the same to their own teachers. The most popular questions were 'What play are we doing?', 'Who is gonna watch it?', and the ever-popular 'Do we have to?'.
"You all shall put on the performance for the entire Leaf village!" Gai announced, getting mixed reactions. The quiet genin looked appalled, but the louder ninjas looked overjoyed at showing off.
"What kind of play is it? Tragedy? Romance? Comedy?" Ino asked eagerly, grinning from ear to ear.
"I believe it would be classified as...an adventure...possibly." Asuma said, thinking hard on it. "Probably fantasy as well."
"What play is it?"
"How many parts?"
"Will we get to wear cool costumes?"
"Can Akamaru be in it?"
"Hm." Kakashi looked up, as if thinking, then looked back down at the eager rookies. "I'm going to casually ignore those first three questions...but...well, Akamaru is going to be needed. Let's just call him Toto."