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Take a Chance

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Shisui forces himself to flex his fingers as the Hokage looks down on him.

“It’s not a punishment, Shisui,” he says, amusement hanging off the edge of his words. “You’ve been working hard, and I admit I’ve been putting you under too much pressure.” the Sandaime breathes out a cloud of smoke. “The children are good, it’ll be good for you, Shisui.”

“Yes, sir.” He says. A smile works its way onto his face. It’s a little bitter, a little forced but for all his faults, the Sandaime looks after his shinobi.

Shisui feels like he’s been working since the day he graduated from the Academy. From fighting in the Third Shinobi War when he was young, unlocking his Mangekyo Sharingan when he was a child and going on countless missions with Jounin with far greater experience than him had shaped his early childhood. Then, four years ago when Danzou had stolen his eye and poisoned him.

Between his rehabilitation, the Uchiha pitching a fit about his stolen eye, preventing the coup in the year after the Danzou incident, then joining Anbu with Kakashi, Tenzou and Itachi and working with the military police in the subsequent years – Shisui hasn’t really stopped.

He is 21 now and he’s fine. He has friends and people he can actually confide in and he’s living beyond just mission success.

He’s fine.

He also hasn’t stopped. But it’s not like he’s the only shinobi who lives for the job.

The Sandaime approaches him and places an old, calloused hand on Shisui’s shoulder.

“If you’re still unsure, think of it this way, you’ll be raising the next generation of shinobi. We have the opportunity to teach peace over violence. Our generations are scarred by war, but this is the first generation in a long time to not have war shaping them.”

There’s a lump forming in his throat. He was seven when first fought in a war. He was sixteen when he was caught in the middle of an inner dispute that was a hair width away from divulging into a civil war.

But these children have never experienced war. Shisui’s heart has always longed for peace as has the Sandaime’s. They have an opportunity to raise the next generation of shinobi not as war mongers, but as beacons of peace instead.

And who are they to let that opportunity slip?

“You have a valid point, sir,” Shisui says, and finds he can’t bring himself to look the Hokage in the eyes.

They cannot let the next generation grow up like his, but that doesn’t mean that Shisui’s the right man for the job.

The Sandaime seems certain this is the best option. That it’ll be good for him and good for the children.

The Sandaime beckons him to rise.

Danzou had kidnapped orphans, took in shinobi who had nowhere else to go and turned them into emotionless weapons. Turned them into his puppet soldiers. He had taken away the very parts that make them human. Danzou had taken their memories, their pasts, their futures, their names. Stolen them like they were fair game instead of living breathing humans.

Shisui keeps his mouth shut. Regardless of what Danzou has done to him, Shisui is in no place to bad mouth anyone. Especially in front of the Hokage. He’s not that special.

Danzou’s actions had been persistently ignored.

The rehabilitation of Root shinobi that stands in front of Konoha is a chasm that might never be filled. But the victims of Danzou’s disillusioned ideals deserve a chance at the very least. There are many who would disagree with that statement.

For the ‘nice village’, Shisui doesn’t think they’re very nice at all. There’s nothing nice about considering the disposal of shinobi, simply because they were the pawns of another man’s 'Will of Fire’.

But Shisui keeps his mouth shut about that too. He’s not that extraordinary.

The youngest Root shinobi is seven.

He shouldn’t be surprised. The system is a cocktail of disaster and chaos, mixed with a healthy dose of explosives waiting to go off. Shisui can’t believe it had taken getting his eye torn out of his head for him to realise.

Shisui thinks of Tenzou and how long it has taken him to get where he is today. Shisui thinks of all the other shinobi who are going to have to go through the same process, and his heart aches for them.

The Sandaime’s self-inflicted ignorance of Danzou’s doings was going to crawl its way to the surface eventually. It just happened that Shisui was the catalyst.

Shisui had stumbled into the Hokage building with poison rushing through his veins, a missing eye and managed to say ‘Danzou’ before passing out completely.

The Hokage hands him a file of the Genin he will have under his wing.

“Enjoy this, Shisui.” He says laughter lines accentuating as he smiles. “They’re good children and I’m sure you can make fierce shinobi out of them.”

Make fine weapons out of them a dark little voice in the back of his head says.

The Hokage dismisses him and Shisui shunshins out of the building.

When Shisui had to stop a civil war, he was prepared to go to any lengths. Danzou had taken away the option of using Kotoamatsukami and clearly wanted both of Shisui’s eyes to force peace himself by killing the Uchiha. So, Shisui was going to kill himself. Itachi would have his other eye. The coup d'etat would be stopped. No one would ever find his body for whatever means they wanted it for.

Shisui was going kill himself. He feels sick when he thinks about it for too long even after all these years, about how… indifferent he felt to dying. He didn’t want to die, but he found he didn’t care either way.

He had realised a lot of things after that. For one, he wasn’t living. He was doing missions and filing paperwork and one of the best shinobi Konoha had under its wing. But, he had never viewed things from what he wanted. Not in a long, long time. He was desperate to keep the clan alive and the village protected but he had neglected himself. He realised Itachi was his only friend. And with both his parents dead, he realised he was lonely.

Shisui was a tool. And he was living as that and nothing more.

Now, he has plenty of people watching his back, for once he has more than just Itachi watching out for him.

The Inuzuka head has a soft spot for him. She was there when Shisui had fallen into the Hokage’s office half dead and she’s been there all throughout his rehabilitation, helping him with even menial tasks.

Shibi often invites him around for dinner, even all these years. The Aburame aren’t known for their hospitality, but the Inuzuka have always been close despite their incompatible tendencies. If the Inuzuka like someone the Aburame tend to like them by extension.

Not to mention the poison that had almost killed him was one from the Aburame clan.

When Shibi had found out, he disappeared for a while and come back with the culprit apprehended, and evidence to back up Shisui’s claim. When Shibi got angry, he got very efficient.

He’s got people to watch him now. Even Fugaku goes out of his way to ask Shisui’s opinion of clan matters. He can’t ignore the fact that Shisui basically stopped a civil war.

He’s dating Kakashi.

Tenzou has been around more often as well.

Tenzou seems new to the idea that it’s possible to have a friend beyond Kakashi, but he’s coming to the idea.

Shisui finally feels human. Like he has something to live for beyond 'protect the village’. It sounds selfish. Shisui is a Konoha shinobi. He’s supposed to live and die for the village but he never thought how refreshing it would be to have people to live for.

He’s been doing A-ranks and S-ranks for as long as he can remember. He’s always been neck deep in the most confidential pieces of information, acting as a spy and double agent for many years. But now, he’ll be teaching some kids. It’s a big change, but hopefully, it’s a welcome one.

He’ll still be on the mission roster. The Sandaime can’t afford to take someone with his skill set off. But kids usually take to him so this just might work out.

He doesn’t want these Genin to go through what he did. To be reduced to a weapon and nothing more. Fighting for a village that in the end, stabbed him in the back in repayment for Shisui’s undying loyalty.

Shisui will always love the village and will always protect it no matter what. But he realises now that there has to be better ways than the pathway of self-destruction he took. There has to be. And he wants these kids to find them.

He sits against a tree in one of the training grounds and flips open the files of his future Genin.

He holds back an incredulous snort as he peers at the picture of Aburame Shino. Shibi must have mentioned something to the Sandaime.

He’s met Shino several times and the kid seemed to take well to him. He’d showed him some of his bugs and had even drawn a picture for him when he was younger that Shisui has definitely thrown out.

Shino is a quiet but determined kid and with the right support, would definitely excel as a shinobi. He’s got a level head on his shoulder and calmness about him that many lack. He has a lot of potential. All Shisui needs to do is work out which buttons to press.

He tucks the file away and flips to the next one. He pulls a hand up to his mouth to muffle his laugh.

Inuzuka Kiba, Tsume’s son. Of course.

Tsume has told him that he would train Kiba, but Shisui thought she’d meant on the side when he wasn’t on a mission.

He chuckles to himself, it didn’t seem that making him a Jounin sensei was the idea of the Sandaime’s alone.

He’s played with Kiba plenty of times, being stuck in the Inuzuka compound for so long after Danzou attacked him. The kid is like a bright spark waiting to burst into a raging fire at a moment’s notice.

He’s a good kid and Shisui thinks he can work with that. Kiba’s loud and hot-headed and has heart of gold. He has a strong sense of loyalty and enough determination that it’s border-lining into pigheadedness.

Shino and Kiba seem incompatible. Quiet and studious, coupled with volume and endless energy seems like an oil and water combination. But friendships are strange things, and Shisui can see the potential for their companionship.

He opens the next one and his eye widens. Hyuuga Hinata.

The Hyuuga have never been a clan that he’s had much to do with. He’s been with them on missions and when Tsume had bullied one into checking Shisui’s recovery.

He couldn’t help but wonder if Tsume had also bullied Hiashi into putting little Hinata on Kiba’s genin team. He wouldn’t put it past her.

Good kids. He can handle that. Absolutely. Yes.

Shisui flips back to Shino’s file and reads up on the little that’s there.

He taught Itachi almost everything he knows. He taught himself many jutsus since he never had a Genin team. He’d gone from the academy and into the Third Shinobi War and had to harass any Uchiha Jounin to help him when he got particularly stuck.

So, upon reflection, it makes a lot of sense that he was selected.

He recalls as many Aburame ninjutsu he knows and draws up a very small list. First, he needs to find out what Shino is already proficient in and what will be the easiest to pick up on.

He would be surprised if Shino hadn’t already started basics such as chakra walking, same for the other two.

It would save more work for him if they are already aware of some of the basics. That way Shisui can help them refine it and kick straight off into chakra natures, clan jutsu and taijutsu.

He knows significantly more Inuzuka jutsus, although the range of jutsus is immense, as a lot of it depends on the person and their canine companion. Similarly, the Aburame differ greatly depending on the insects inside them.

He’ll have to go to Tsume and ask her for advice on what Kiba needs to learn.

The Hyuuga is a bit of a mystery to him, having never interacted much. He knows the basics of Hyuuga clan jutsu, but he’ll likely have to go to Hiashi at some point.

But, he doesn’t even know what the kids can and can’t do, so he doesn’t need to get ahead of himself.

Shisui tucks the files under his arm and stands up. The kids are officially his students in under a week, so he has that much time to get a list of things he wants to cover.

A week to wrap his head around it all and calm down.

He can do this. 

Chapter Text

Shisui walks off the training grounds, and heads for the markets, hoping to distract himself with food.

He turns down the street and spots a fluff of white hair and snorts.

Kakashi, as subtle as a train wreck.

Shisui wanders over as Kakashi makes eye contact with him.

“Hokage-sama has pegged me for Jounin-sensei,” Shisui says, not bothering to beat around the matter. Kakashi would know he was hiding something straight away regardless. They've been dating for over a year and they both know each other too well.

Kakashi’s eye widens and he puts his book into his pocket.

“Which ones?” he says and Shisui grins because there’s a lot more to that reaction that Shisui wants confirmed now.

“Hyuuga, Inuzuka and Aburame. What, did you get picked for it too?”

Kakashi sighs as though everything is too hard and nods, “Uzumaki, your little cousin and a civilian girl, Haruno.”

“Aw you got Sasuke?” he says, and adjusts the material covering his right eye. “Looks like we have our work cut out for us.”

Kakashi nods and they fall into step with one another.

They’re walking through the busy town centre when there’s a yell. High pitched and frantic - a child.

Kakashi glances at him through a lazy and supposedly uninterested eye, but they’ve both always been too perceptive for their own good and Shisui can see the untamed determination under his skin that everyone else never seems to spot. He loves that side to Kakashi, That determined, fiercely protective side that's often tampered down.

Shisui shrugs back in a seemingly just as lazy gesture and Kakashi nods. They really read each other far too well.

They both wander to the sound and round a corner of an unremarkable clothing shop. The first thing they spot is bright yellow hair.

Naruto is on the ground, sitting his back facing them. There’s another small figure in front of him. Brown hair and unremarkable.

There are several boys in front of them, older, and obviously trying to beat up Naruto. The moment they spot Kakashi and Shisui is more than obvious. The one at the front freezes and the blood drains from his face leaving his skin a pasty white. The other two standing behind him notice, and the one to the right grabs the shirts of the other two, dragging them away.

It’s different when it’s Jounin. The academy kids are used to being around Chuunin, but the presence of Jounin is always weightier than that of a Chuunin.

The brown haired kid whips his head around, a fierce grin on his face, clearly assuming he’d scared them away.

Red clan markings, and a puppy tucked into his jacket - Inuzuka Kiba. His grin fades rapidly when he spots the two Jounin.

Naruto jumps up and whips around to face them both. He looks like he’s about to start yelling but Kiba interrupts.

“Shisui,” he moans, “I had it!”

Shisui snorts and leans forward ruffling the kid’s hair, “I’m sure you did,” he says. Kakashi crouches down so he’s eye-level with Naruto. “Are you okay?” he asks, and Naruto nods his head hurriedly.

“Course I am!” Naruto yells, and he points his thumb at himself “It’s gonna take more than that to hurt me.”

Kakashi nods in solemn agreement and stands back up.

“You kids look after yourself, okay?” Shisui says, “me and Kakashi aren’t always going to be around to save you.”

Kiba shuffles his feet and mumbles out a complaint, Akamaru barks and licks his’s face.

Kakashi and Shisui turn to walk away, and Shisui keeps an ear out for the trail end of the kid’s conversation.

“They’re so cool,” Naruto says, and Shisui can practically feel the excitement rolling off Kiba despite the fact they’re out of sight.

“We’re gonna be as cool as them, definitely,” Kiba says. There’s a bark and a yell as likely Akamaru has taken to affectionately lick one of them to death.

Kakashi looks at him, his only visible eye droopy and uninterested

Shisui raises his only uncovered eyebrow at Kakashi's expression.

"Cute kids," Shisui says.

Kakashi nods and pats his book against his thigh absently. "How do you feel, about all this?" he asks. His voice drops off quieter.

Shisui shrugs and stuffs his hands in his pockets, "I don't really know..." They dodge a tiny girl running down the street. "I don't know if I'm the right person for looking after kids." He trails off, uncertain. He hopes that this change will be good, will be better, but how can he know?

Shisui has been a shinobi since he could walk. He's never known a life outside of this.

He's fought in a war and he's killed people – shinobi and civilian alike. Shisui is a spy, an assassin down to his core. Is an assassin really good teacher for impressionable children?

Shisui's not the most stable person the Hokage could choose. He was a hair width away from going right off the deep end. Kakashi's not the most stable person either. They're not okay. Not really. They're both just very good at pretending to be.

Around Kakashi, everything seems easier to say. It's easier to look at the world, look at himself and work out their flaws and accept them. Kakashi isn't the most talkative of people, but he talks around Shisui. He never treats him like glass and respects him when he can't deal with talking to anyone that day. Shisui always tries to do the same and he hopes Kakashi appreciates it.

Kakashi hums in thought, they round a street corner, no destination on their minds.

"I'm not..." Kakashi starts and pauses. They reach a bench at the edge of an empty park and sit down in unspoken agreement.

"I'm not sure if I'm the best person either." The admission is a heavy one, and Kakashi closes his eye, listing back against the seat.

"It's hard enough to look after myself," he says and the words are tinted with poorly hidden mirth.

Anbu humour has infected both of them it seems.

Shisui sighs and lifts his leg up to rest his ankle on his knee. "They seem like good kids, and plus there are no regulations against teams working together."

Kakashi opens his eye and eye-smiles at him, "that might actually work."

Shisui hasn't been able to have a range of friends in his life, his particular role as a shinobi basically making it all not worth the effort. Itachi has been the only one he's had for years.

He still considers Itachi his best friend and always will, but Kakashi's a little different.

There was never an awkward stage with them. They just fell into step with one another from the beginning. And maybe a part of Shisui is unnerved about how well they clicked. But the other part is more than a little thankful.

The day that Danzou had stolen his eye, he was going to kill himself.

He was so close to ending it.

But, he had thought of Kakashi and he had hesitated. Maybe it was the delirium of the pain and the poison, but he hesitated, and in the end that had saved his life.

He had thanked Kakashi, he deserved that much at least. Kakashi had given him a long look that Shisui wasn't sure what to make of, but had smiled in the end and told him it was fine.

Shisui doesn't think it is, but Kakashi has always understood him in a way that's almost unnerving yet relieving at the same time and he's always seemed to know what to say and what to do. Shisui hadn't realised how badly he had needed a steady and unwavering rock in his life until Kakashi came along.

Shisui's doing better, much better than he was four years ago after the Danzou incident. But there's room for improvement. There are still too many gaping holes that he's ignored and never tried to fix, but with Kakashi by his side, Shisui thinks he can finally face those things that have been tearing him up inside.

He's gotten better. The nightmares don't come as hardly as much, the days where he wants to lay down and never get up are fewer and fewer between but there's room for improvement, and with Kakashi, he might - he will - be able to do it.

He's looking after children now. Small impressionable children and if they're going to make it in this world then they're going to need help. That’s why Shisui and Kakashi are here.

Kakashi may not be the best person for the job, his demons still alive and well, lurking and never, never gone.

They're both seasoned Jounin now, fighting since they could walk and they have the scars to show for it.

Kakashi carefully grasps Shisui's hand in his own. It's a gentle touch and rare. Even though they've been dating, touches like this have always been reserved for moments when they need it the most.

"They're kids, and we're Jounin. I'm sure we can manage it," he smiles and Shisui feels lighter immediately.

"Hell yeah," Shisui says.

Shisui and Kakashi were in the black ops. They're assassins. They can handle children.


Kakashi sighs and fights the temptation of just... leaving.

Sasuke glares at him from his position at the trunk where Naruto is still tied up and continues to feed Naruto small pieces of lunch.

Apparently, Kakashi has yet to pass the test of whether or not he's truly suitable for his 'very precious cousin.'

They've been dating for a year and he's almost positive that Shisui's happy. He seems content when Kakashi's with him so whatever he's doing seems to be working. You'd think that was enough.

Being with Shisui has made him unexpectedly happy. He was hesitant, so, so hesitant to get romantically involved with anyone but Shisui hadn't pressured him. Kakashi had thought about it long and hard, he'd asked Raidou and Genma for advice, they've been dating for about 3 years despite the complexities of their job and he figured they were the best people to ask.

In the end, their advice had been simple. Be outright with each other and talk about what you want from the relationship. Voice your worries and once you've established that understanding everything is a lot easier to deal with.

When he thought about it more, he wasn't sure what he wanted from the relationship, but he knew for certain he wanted to be with him for as long as possible.

Shisui had smiled when Kakashi had told him. The smile was genuine and made his face scrunch up in a way that made Kakashi want to call him adorable. Shisui wanted to be with him too and it didn't matter the specifics of their relationship. They kissed sometimes, held hands sometimes, had sex sometimes and for them it worked.

They love each other, and Kakashi often wonders how he's survived this long without Shisui.

So why Sasuke's still not sure if Kakashi is 'the one' is honestly beyond him.

And Itachi never even tried to help in the matter.

Asshole.

Sakura stares at Sasuke's face for a long moment and this is another thing Kakashi doesn't want to deal with - the fangirl.

Naruto sneezes, unnecessarily loud and abrupt and Sasuke and Sakura flinch. They both whip their head around simultaneously and send vicious glares at Naruto.

Sasuke hisses out an insult and shoves another piece of food into Naruto's mouth before he can respond.

Naruto tries to talk back anyway and a bit of rice falls out of his mouth as tries to get out a response and Sakura looks disgusted.

How these children passed his test, Kakashi does not know. Shisui's more happy-go-lucky attitude would be more suited for these kids.

But then again, Inuzuka Kiba is as energetic as Naruto, coupled with a Hyuuga, and an Aburame Kakashi thinks that's one too many clan kids thank you.

Kakashi leans back on his heels slightly and reads the next few lines of his book. He can start sorting out some of the major issues in this team right now really. First Sakura needs to have a better drive than 'Sasuke-kun' or she will get nowhere as a shinobi.

Sasuke needs to look beyond Itachi and become the best in his own eyes. Itachi is Itachi and really the only one who could compare to him is Shisui, but the more he learns about Shisui the more different those two seem.

Naruto needs... well Naruto needs a lot of things. Kakashi can't offer them. He can't just take in a child and give him the love he deserves. Not when he resembles Minato so closely.

He'll get over that. He just needs a little time. Kakashi will make sure Naruto is looked after. Kakashi doesn't want Kushina to haunt him and knowing her it's not out of the range of possibility.

Tomorrow though, Kakashi's going to treat the kid to some ramen. Kakashi is his teacher but Naruto deserves someone to show him kindness and love even if Kakashi's pretty sure he's the worst candidate for the job.

He walks over and crouches in front of them, sliding the book into his back pocket. They silence and look up at him.

"You say you want to be a shinobi," he starts off easily, "but why do want to be shinobi?" Kakashi lets them mull it over for a few moments. Sasuke opens his mouth but Kakashi interrupts. "Itachi isn't a good reason. If you want to succeed as a shinobi you need something more substantial."

Sakura looks down at her lap then, blushing and embarrassed and Kakashi knows what she's thinking. If becoming as strong as his big brother isn't a reason enough then there's no way Sakura's crush on Sasuke is going to have standing.

Naruto puffs his chest and strains against the ropes, "I'm going to be Hokage!" he says.

Kakashi sighs and pulls the cloth covering his eye down more firmly. "Why. Do you want to become Hokage so everyone will acknowledge you? Is that really enough of a reason though. That goal is very single-minded. Have you thought about the village?"

He's being harsh, but the world is harsh.

Kakashi’s been a shinobi his entire life. He’s lost Rin. He’s lost Obito. He’s lost Minato. He’s lost Kushina. The world is a cruel place, and he doesn’t want these tiny Genin to go through what he did, he can’t hide them away from the world. That won’t help.

When all else fails, if a shinobi is able to look back on their reasoning to become what they are today and keep going then they have solid foundations. And sometimes, just having those foundations can keep you alive, give you a reason to keep going.

Kakashi stands up, cuts the ropes binding Naruto with a flicker of chakra from his fingertips and looks down on the three of them silently.

"We'll meet here again tomorrow morning, 6 o'clock and I hope to get an answer." He winks at them and shunshins away with a puff of smoke.

These kids need to have those foundations. People like him and Shisui never got a choice. Born into the job, it's the only thing they've ever known and those kinds of foundations are weak at best.

Kakashi knows that. Knows that feeling of wanting to close his eyes and never wake up again. The urge to just want it all to stop. He had nothing to fall back on. No reason to keep going. And Shisui has been through the same. He knows what it's like to just not care if you live or die. That indifference is in some ways more terrifying than wanting to die.

These children won't have that. Firstly, they have each other. They have their strong foundations and they have him. And Kakashi's not going to let anything happen to them. No way in hell.


Shisui shuffles his weight on the branch, stopping his feet from going numb from crouching for too long.

He may be enjoying himself a bit more than he should. If Shisui was truly trying to stay hidden from his three Genin they would never find him, so he is going easy on them although probably not as easy as he should.

His little Genin are clan kids. They know the pressure that’s on them to pass this initial test and there is a lot of pressure on Shisui to pass them and begin teaching them. But, Shisui has never gone easy on anyone he’s trained, including himself. If these kids fail, then they fail. Even if it will cause more political drama that Shisui has definitely had enough of, he’s not going to let that get in the way of doing his job and doing it properly.  

Luckily enough, the three of them seem to be working together and trying to work through this surprisingly well.

Kiba’s sense of smell is strong, combined with Hinata’s Byakugan and Shino’s insects, Shisui finds himself enjoying the challenge. He’ll never be confronted with these odds on the battlefield because they’re all leaf shinobi so he has to make the most of it. They're nowhere where they need to be, but that's why Shisui's here.

Hide and seek seems like an inferior game to be playing but it's even played by Anbu often (although in the Anbu it’s just a bit more extreme and will often involve the entire village as their playground and significantly more bloodshed.) It’s a fantastic way to improve, well, everything. Speed, time management, agility, ninjutsu, taijutsu, genjutsu, team work, working individually and more.

And it’s fun.

Tenzou was the best at it, and managed to catch Kakashi, Shisui, Itachi and any other Anbu who joined them.

No one is really sure how he was so efficient at it and Tenzou just smiled at them when asked.

Shisui had made a mental note then and there to make sure to be very, very thankful that Tenzou was an ally.

There’s a ruffle of leaves below and Shisui grins despite himself. They’re getting close now, having been at this for over four hours they’re picking up on Shisui’s hiding pattern. It had taken them a while to get the feel of each other and start working as a team but that’s basically the reasoning behind why he picked this game.

They need to be able to function as a team without anyone’s help and the sooner they realise that the better.

They win by touching his Hitai-ate. So they need to work together or they’ll fail indefinitely.

Shisui shunshins to another branch and listens carefully for the rustling.

Kiba knows his scent now, and he’s seen a few of Shino’s bugs. Hinata’s Byakugan is likely searching for him too.

They’re a perfect tracker team. Damn formidable given the right push.

Shisui still isn't sure he's right for this job. Still feeling like he’s walking blindfolded across a skinny pole but he’ll adapt. These kids need him.

A particularly loud buzz echoes near his ear and Shisui catches the bug in his hand, careful not to harm it, but holds it long enough that Shino understands that he could if he wanted to.

He lets it go and shunshins to a particularly dense bush. Shisui’s taijutsu is no less formidable than when he had two eyes. If anything it’s better, helped along by Gai in his recovery. He’ll strike with taijutsu first and see how they respond.

There's a rustle a few metres away and Shisui readies himself. He'll win of course, but this a good opportunity to work out several things. One of them being how well they can work together in a combat situation.

Shisui's been through a lot of teams, and he needs to be able to work effectively in all of them despite having never even spoken to them. Basic skills that these kids need.

Shisui can sense their chakras about a hundred metres or so away and he leans back on his heals - any second now.

There’s a snap of a twig and Shisui leaps out of the way of a wave of Shino’s bugs. He lands a few metres away and blocks the kick that Kiba sends at him, and then the flurry of punches that’s followed by Hinata.

Those attacks were good. They were planned, and they would have had to come up with it quickly. Shisui looks down at the three Genin and gets into a defensive stance. This team just might work.

Hinata and Kiba dart around to either side, Hinata on his right and Kiba’s obviously meant to distract him so Hinata can strike the side where his vision is worst.

People target Shisui’s blind side so much, that the fact that he is half-blind really isn’t that much of a liability anymore and plus, Shisui’s been a shinobi for a long time. He knows how to work with far greater handicaps than a missing eye.

It’s a basic and amateur strategy, but they’re still working together and not throwing random punches and hoping for the best.

Kiba kicks out, aiming for kidneys and Shisui jumps over it, landing on his hands and rolling. Hinata comes at him then, aiming for his blind side. He spins from his crouched position and kicks Hinata back a few metres.

She grunts from the impact and despite her small size and how nervous and hesitant she seems, apparently in a combat situation, there is not much of that previous hesitation at all.

Shino's bugs whirl around him, but Shisui’s already moving. He jumps to a branch above. Claws grip into his back, not hard enough to reach skin through his Jounin vest, and he rips Akamaru from his back with a yank and drops him back down to the ground. He shunshins over to another branch.

He still hasn’t seen Shino yet which means these kids have come up with a pretty solid plans since their attempt not a moment ago.

Kiba and Akamaru leap up to the branch from behind him, Kiba’s crouched, canines a glaring white against his tanned skin. He lunges, Akamaru alongside him.

Shisui’s trained with enough Inuzuka to know that Kiba’s claws will be even sharper than they appear. He leans back dodging the attack. Kiba and Akamaru catch themselves on the branch with their claws and Shisui can’t help but feel impressed with the speed behind both the attack and reaction time.

He feels Hinata’s presence behind him and leaps over where Kiba is still crouched to avoid Hinata’s punches.

Hinata charges at him this time and there’s a determined glint in her eyes that screams of fearlessness and determination that is so easily looked over. 

Her punches are solid and her form is steady, he notes as he carefully dodges her. There are a few holes he can spot. She doesn’t cover her left side enough, leaving herself open but that’s something he can work on with her.

Kiba makes a sound, almost a whine but Hinata seems to understand. She drops to the floor and Kiba leaps over her, bouncing off her back. Shisui could easily shunshin out of the way, but he finds himself fascinated.

This team has potential. And a lot of it.

Bugs curl around Shisui’s feet after he steps back enough to avoid Kiba, and Shino appears in front of him and reaches out. Shino’s fingernail barely touches the metal of the Hitai-ate before Shisui grabs his wrist.

He hadn’t activated his Sharingan and he’s glad he hadn’t.

These kids actively planned several attacks, Kiba and Hinata with their close combat abilities had made good use of their abilities. Shino had stayed out of the way so he could focus on his better mid-range attacks.

Shisui went easy on them. He had to if they were to actually stand a chance against him. But he wasn't too easy. He forced them to track him non-stop for 5 hours without a break and made them fight him.

The four of them stare up at him, three human faces tense and Akamaru braced and seemingly ready to launch an attack again.

He releases Shino’s hand and rocks back on his heels, looking down at his Genin.

“You’ve passed the first obstacle, kids,” he says and Akamaru barks loudly, launching himself at Kiba and fiercely licking his face. It diffuses the tension immediately. Hinata giggles as Akamaru moves onto her. Shino has turned slightly, looking on the scene with his hands firmly back in his pockets. His expression is covered, but Shisui can’t see any tension in his shoulders and his chakra is calm. He’s a little awkward, but that seems to be all it is.

Kiba picks Akamaru up and he barks again, giving Kiba’s cheek another lick. The two seem to share a conversation, as Akamaru whines softly nuzzling his hair. Kiba hums and holds out Akamaru to Shino. He gives Shino’s face a careful lick.

Shisui watches the exchange in strange fascination, forces down an unexpected, immature surge of jealousy and coughs lightly to get their attention.

He never had a Genin team, but it’s inappropriate for him to force his grievances onto children who know nothing about him.

The three turn to him and Shisui taps his Hitai-ate twice. “You passed, but only barely. Your strong suits are that you’re able to work together as a team relatively well.” He looks at each of them, keeping his face placid.

“However… Hinata, your close combat has holes. It’s solid but there were moments where you could have struck harder but didn’t.”

A read streak blossoms across her cheeks and she ducks her head, sinking into her jacket like she wants to disappear. Too shy. Something else he needs to smooth out of her.

If she can overcome even some of her shyness, gain a bit more confidence in herself, then she will open up many, many doors for herself and possibly become an extremely strong shinobi. She just needs to believe in herself.

“Kiba and Akamaru. Too brash, a lot of moving but not a lot of thinking. Striking aimlessly is a recipe for getting stabbed.”

Kiba’s fighting was as good as Hinata’s but Shisui could feel the untapped rage and far too much energy and that seemed to be doing a lot of the thinking for him. If he can tame that down, put it on a leash and be able to release it with several effective blows he could become a very dangerous shinobi.

Kiba presses his lips together and grips Akamaru tightly in his hands. He’s listening, which is a good as start as any.

“Shino. Smart to stay out of the way, but be harsher with your attacks. Kiba and Hinata are more than capable to dodge any attacks if you’re worried about hurting them. Learn to attack hard and fast and efficient.”

Shino had only struck a few times during the last part of the test. More confidence in his abilities to be able to take out an enemy and not hold back could do him wonders. It’s likely Shino hasn’t practised fighting with other people much, especially people who are more suited to close combat.

The Genin look up at him, and Shisui can tell he’s put a damper on their previously happy mood at their victory. He’s never been one for giving praise where it’s not absolutely warranted but he’d been genuinely surprised at how well they had managed to fit together and work to achieve the goal.

Shisui hums slightly and leans over, he tugs on Hinata’s nose gently and grins at the squeak she lets out.

“Your teamwork deserves a mention, however.” He ruffles Kiba’s hair and scratches Akamaru between the ears. “You worked very well together especially for Genin who’ve never fought together before.”

He pokes Shino’s glasses back up his nose. “Teamwork is vital in that test and there’s no way throwing punches and hoping for a lucky hit was going to hit. You planned for more than one attack. I’m impressed,” Shisui smiles, hands on his hips.

Hinata hesitantly smiles back, big eyes staring back at him and he wonders if she gets much praise at the Hyuuga compound. Probably not.

Kiba grins fiercely, but it’s humbled after Shisui’s reprimand. Kiba is by no means weak or stupid and he can absolutely change if he’s determined enough to do it and Shisui definitely thinks he is. He’s embarrassed, he’s not the first shinobi to ever deal with such a problem of letting the muscles do the thinking for you but he’s obviously realised Shisui’s undertones.

You need to fix this now or it never will get fixed. The Hokage doesn’t promote hot-headed idiots who can’t think a situation through.

Shino nods at him. Shino’s awkward and hard to be friends with and it seems he’s aware of this issue himself. Afraid to hurt Kiba or Hinata in case their tiny seedling of a friendship gets destroyed before it’s even started.

He’s a serious kid and Shisui has no doubt Shino has listened to Shisui’s concerns.

Shisui is Anbu, an assassin, unstable. He still can’t bring himself to believe that there wasn’t a better option than him to be a goddamn Jounin Sensei but he’s here now. It’s started and he’s going to give it his absolute best.

Chapter Text

Well,” Kakashi says as he pokes absently at the take-out food on his plate, “they passed.”

The fact that Kakashi sounds genuinely surprised probably means that despite all the hours that he’s been mulling it over, he still can’t quite believe it. Kakashi’s test is hard, and maybe a part of Kakashi wanted to fail them so he wouldn’t have to deal with them but he’s not an idiot. Shisui would have seen through what he did immediately and he’s discovered there are only a few worse things than an angry Shisui.

Shisui hums and rubs a hand over his eyes. He’s strangely tired and isn’t entirely sure why. Maybe due to the fact that his life just got kicked on its head and he needed a month not a week to mentally prepare himself for it.

That isn’t entirely true. Shisui’s always been able to adapt easily. So he’s not sure what it is. He’s been thinking about what happened four years ago with Danzou and wonders if this is the worry the closest thing shinobi have to psych’s had talked about just after the incident where he was so close to killing himself they were tempted to label it as a suicide attempt.

Trauma can reappear at odd times, they’d said, and sometimes the stimulus for the reaction may go right over your head.

Maybe this was it. Shisui was 16 when that had happened – only a handful years of older than these Genin. Maybe that’s what he’s scared about, watching himself replay in little clan kids getting crushed under the weight of an unforgiving world and shitty clan politics.

“Oi,” Kakashi says and Shisui flinches before he can stop himself. Kakashi looks at him, the bottom of his mask is gone along with the Hitai-ate that usually covers his eye, as is Shisui’s. Kakashi pokes his food aggressively and shoves a piece of meat at Shisui.

“Don’t be an idiot. It’s not going to happen. Those kids are fine, especially now they’ve got you.”

That is definitely the problem, Shisui realises his chest aches in response and his eye burns. He opens his mouth obligingly, accepting the food in the chopsticks.

Kakashi always knows, and Shisui hadn’t realised how desperately he needed someone to see past his almost immaculate walls that very few people have been able to.

Shisui coughs into his pyjama sleeve, “thanks,” he starts, “I… guess I’m worried that I’ll push them down a similar road.” It’s slightly unnerving how much sense that makes but at least now knows what’s eating him up inside.

Kakashi nods and leans his cheek on his fist. “Understandable. But if the last few years have shown me anything, it’s is that you’re more determined to live than ever before. I’ve noticed it, Tsume and Shibi have too, just ask them.”

He grasps Shisui’s hand in his own. “Plus, you really think the Sandaime would’ve put you with a Genin team if he thought it was going to go up in flames? The Sandaime isn’t like that.”

Shisui takes a deep breath and squeezes Kakashi’s hand back. “Sorry, guess I just needed someone to beat some sense in me.” He smiles at him and is relieved to find it doesn’t feel alien on his face.

Kakashi smiles back and goes back to attacking his dinner, still holding onto Shisui’s hand.

“So team 7 passed, huh,” Shisui prompts, feeling a little bad for interrupting Kakashi in time to have a crisis.

“How did Sasuke go? He tends to get ahead of himself.”

Kakashi nods and eats a mouthful before continuing. “Yeah, he has a bad habit of looking down on others like you already know. But I think between Sakura, Naruto and me we’ll beat it out of him.”

Shisui snorts. Sasuke is cute but training with his prodigy of a brother and Shisui himself when he had the chance ended with Sasuke putting himself on a bit of pedestal.

“He’s really protective of you still. Glared at me the whole time. And he’s gotten a bit protective of Naruto too. It’s weird.” Kakashi says and scratches his chin.

Shisui runs this thumb over Kakashi’s knuckles. “You should take your own advice,” and Kakashi knows he isn’t talking about the kids anymore.

Kakashi barely reacts. He closes his eye and deflates slightly, shoulders slumping not in defeat, but more in admission.

Kakashi looks at him through a lidded eye, “you’re sure.”

It comes at as a convoluted question meant to be a statement but Shisui can’t blame him for doubting himself. Shisui’s spent the last week doing just that.

Kakashi’s self-destructive tendencies are different. Nightmares, flashbacks and downward spiralling self-esteem had him buckling under the pressure.

“You know me. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was true.” Shisui hates empty, sugar-coated reassurances, so he’s always done his best to never give it. It’s worked out for the better. People tend to listen to him more because of it.

Kakashi needs the truth as well. PTSD is a bitch and the therapy resources for shinobi are almost non-existent and the reason can almost all put down to one word – confidentiality.

Anbu missions are confidential right down to even the people that go on those missions let alone what those missions involved. So Anbu and almost every Jounin can’t talk about the things that are killing them even if they wanted to.

Even though Shisui had been shoved into therapy sessions almost immediately after he’d been released from the hospital it had been with an intel agent. And they’re far too used to interrogation rather than therapy.

Mikoto had been one of the biggest help in his recovery, mentally wise. She knew of the coup d’état and if Shisui indulged a little more information than he should have to her, no one was saying anything. Mikoto had helped pick away at the major and minor things that had been slowly killing him down to things that even he had overlooked.

Normal counsellors are almost entirely a no-go especially for Jounin who’re often going on highly classified missions. There’s far too much that civilians can’t know for them to be useful.

Kakashi’s gotten better too.

Shisui picks up his own chopsticks and pops a bit of food into his mouth. “You’ve gotten better too and don’t say you haven’t.”

Kakashi reaches over and tugs one of Shisui’s curls. “We are shining examples of mental health.”

Shisui snorts and chokes on the food. It’s a morbid kind of funny that only seasoned Anbu can really laugh at, but they’ve learned if they can’t laugh at all the awful things that happen, this life would squash them.

They’re both a mess, but together they might be able to get it to work out.

 

 

“We’ve covered the basics,” Tsume says as she pours out some tea for them both and Hana.

“Chakra walking he’s got pretty much down packed; his chakra control is improving as well. His chakra reserves need some help though if he wants to be able to effectively do Passing Fang without burning himself out.”

Tsume takes a sip of her tea and sits opposite Shisui at the table.

“So chakra reserves, Passing Fang and then Fang Passing Fang once he’s got that down.” Shisui leans back against the chair taking a sip of tea. “Cool, I’ve got it now, thanks Tsume.”

Tsume grins and reaches over the table, flicking him on the forehead, “brat. You better stay a bit longer, Hana will be back in a moment and she misses you.”

Hana bursts into the kitchen just as the words leave her mouth, her three ninken behind her, panting and all visibly displeased.

“Shisui!” Hana yells and scoops him up in a hug, lifting him off his chair completely. The Inuzuka aren’t known for much since people tend to forget about the Inuzuka’s existence, but every member of the clan that Shisui’s met could beat him to a pulp if it was a competition of brute strength. And of course, it’s women are absolutely no exception. In fact, Inuzuka Jounin are more often women than men.

She sits him down and pulls out the chair next to him on his left side so he can see her without having to turn his entire body. (Shisui loves the Inuzuka. For all of their stubbornness and pigheadedness, they always know what will make a person most comfortable.) She ignores the glares of the three ninken entirely.

Shisui raises an eyebrow at that and Hana shrugs “Bath time had to happen at some point.” Kyo, one of the dogs, presses himself into Tsume’s side, obviously trying to get sympathy from someone.

“Are you staying long?” Hana asks, finally accepting the pitiful moping of Akira. Eiichi makes it his personal mission to sit on Shisui’s lap despite his large size, resting his head contently on Shisui’s shoulder. Shisui wraps his arms around Eiichi and reaches for the cup of tea.

The close companionship of the canines had taken a while to get used to. Tsume hadn’t let any lay on his bed in the early stages of Shisui’s recovery – when his body was still a mess and he couldn’t walk in a straight line without someone holding him up . But after he’d gotten better and was allowed to wander the Inuzuka compound he’d met Hana’s canines Kyo, Akira and Eiichi and Tsume's ninken, Kuromaru and found companions in not only the Inuzuka but the ninken as well .

(Later, when Shisui didn’t feel like a small breeze could snap him in two, Hana had told him the triplets don’t usually take well to new people and that Shisui was a rarity.)

Kuromaru emerges from another room and nudges Kyo away, huffing to himself. Tsume snorts and rubs Kuromaru’s forehead. “Don’t be jealous.” He makes a discontented sound and rests his head on Tsume’s knee.

“You’ve got Genin now, pup?” Kuromaru asks. “Bigger pup teaching little pup? Huh.”

Shisui peers over Eiichi’s fur, “yup, Kiba’s a good kid.” Eiichi pulls his face back, licks Shisui’s cheek and nuzzles back into his shoulder. “Glad to see you’ve gotten over your bath time trauma,” he muses and Eiichi lets out a huff of air against Shisui’s neck.

“You… need to go to Hiashi right?” Hana asks. Shisui hadn’t mentioned anything to anyone about his feelings about Hiashi nor his thoughts about visiting him for jutsu advice. But Inuzuka tend to pick up on these things, so he’s not surprised.

Shisui does not want to go to Hiashi. Mostly because he thinks he could do a better job as a father than Hiashi has, and Hinata – little and gentle but there’s untamed strength boiling underneath her skin. A strength that’s lurking and waiting to be unleashed. Hiashi is her father. Shisui can see Hinata’s potential, so how did Hiashi miss it completely?

Even so, a lack of strength is hardly an excuse to treat one’s children poorly. Again, this is why Shisui likes the Inuzuka and the Aburame. They never have these ridiculous kinds of issues.

Hiashi obviously doesn’t see Hinata as worth much, and Shisui doesn’t want to waste his time going to someone for jutsu advice to get told about weak his student is .

“Do you know Tokuma Hyuuga?” Tsume asks and Shisui has to wreck his brain for a moment and remembers the face, but not any other information worth noting.

“About twenty years old now, and has trained his Byakugan almost exclusively for tracking and is a rising strength among the Hyuugas.” Tsume swallows the rest of her tea and grins. “Not to mention, kid’s got a solid head on his shoulders and he actually has a sense of humour.”

That lightens the weight in his chest. If he can get Tokuma to help him, just give him some pointers for jutsu to get her started on, point him in the right direction of tracking skills because it seems Team 8 will inevitably be a tracking team then that would help him immensely.

“You’ve had missions with him?” Shisui downs the rest of his tea.

“Sure have. A few B-rank tracking missions. I think he’ll help you too. Buy him ramen. He’ll love you forever.” Tsume says, smiling and Shisui wonders what ridiculous story is behind that grin.

“Tokuma is nice,” Hana adds, “and Kyo likes him.” That’s big in Hana’s book.

Shisui gently shuffles Eiichi off his lap and stands up, brushing the fur off his clothes. “Thank you, both. I’m off to Shibi’s now. Then I’ll try to find Tokuma.”

“No problem. Tokuma’s buddies with one of the Akimichi’s so he’s around the Akimichi compound sometimes.” Hana says and Shisui can’t help but snort.

“Doesn’t sound like much of a Hyuuga to me.” He smiles and wanders what bugs Shibi will show him this time he visits.

 

 

Shisui’s crows aren’t a summons, so they lack the acute intelligence seen in summons and of course, none of them possess the ability to talk.

But Shisui’s always been fond of crows. They’re naturally smart animals even without the summoning aspect. They’re savage and scavengers and brutal in all the ways Shisui feels he has to be. When a member of their murder is killed, they hunt them.

While in the last four years Shisui has found more solace in the Inuzuka than he ever found in the Uchiha in his entire life, he’s always found more of a comradery with the crows.

Pack is something he’s unintentionally become a part of, but he’ll always be a part of the murder.

The biggest crow lands on his shoulder and rubs its head against the fabric covering his eye. This particular crow has always done this, rubbed its head against the empty skin where his eye should be as though it understood. Like a reminder that he's still alive.

After Shisui had lost his eye, been poisoned within an inch of his life and confined to the Inuzuka compound, the crows lurked. Circling the area and sitting by the window sill, staring into where Shisui lay and keeping a watchful glance on the surrounds

During the manhunt for Danzou, Shisui had overheard the story of a murder of crows descending when Danzou had been at his weakest and near death, and tore Shisui’s eye out of Danzou’s head. The eye was destroyed, but that was inevitable.

Either way, Shisui’s crows have always been there in their own, uniquely savage and yet protective way.

Shibi finds him out the front of the Aburame compound, surrounded by his crows who wanted his company.

Shibi tilts his head at the chaos of wings and fond caws and wanders over. Much like Hana’s canines, the crows more often than not take strong offence to people entering Shisui’s personal space, even more in the last four years than ever, but Shibi has never raised their defences at all.

Shibi stares at the organised chaos for a long moment, hands in his pockets and eventually addresses Shisui.

 “You’ve always suited crows,” he says fondly. The Aburame and the Inuzuka are able to understand Shisui’s own attachment to his crows beyond their use in the battlefield and it’s a relief to know that people can understand. It’s comforting to hear his crows discussed beyond their capacity to be used for him to fight. The crows are his companions. He’s a part of their murder and the Inuzuka can understand like they have pack.

The Aburame literally live with their insects inside them and that’s a relationship that not many can understand, but it’s one of mutual agreement. The bugs are an ingrained part of an Aburame shinobi’s life that extends far beyond just their purpose as weapons.

Shisui hums in response as another crow lands on his head. She likes it there and he wonders if she likes the vantage point it gives her.

“Seems they were feeling a bit needy this morning, huh,” he scratches the neck of a smaller one who’s taken to nuzzling against his neck. Shisui loves his crows.

“I needed to talk to you actually. I need a run-down of Aburame clan jutsu I can teach Shino since I realised I’m not all that familiar.” Shisui nudges the crows away with the promise of a visit before he goes back home and follows Shibi into his house as he gestures Shisui to follow.

“Like you probably already know, Shino has covered the basics such as chakra walking, insect clones and such. He’s started on the Insect Jamming Technique but it still needs work.” Shibi talks and pulls a piece of paper from one of the draws and scribbles down the jutsu and the basics Shisui needs to know to teach it.

“Anyway, you’re not an Aburame so if you get stuck let me help, or ask another Aburame. They know who you are, so it shouldn’t be a problem.” Shibi finishes writing down the information and slides it over to Shisui.

“The insects inside Shino are the Kidaichuu. They’re troublesome to harbour even in one’s own body as they devour chakra and enlarge. Shino’s control is very good and I believe he can utilise them to their fullest potential. If you feel there is anything to be concerned over, please let me know.” Shibi leans back in his chair and takes off his sunglasses.

Shisui’s seen his whole face enough times that it’s no surprise anymore.

He holds back a fond laugh at Shibi’s run down. People jump to the conclusion that the Aburame are all off putting and quiet and that’s all there is too them but Shibi’s protective streak isn’t something that’s going to be squashed anytime soon.

“Thank you Shibi,” Shisui says standing up from the table and folding the paper and tucking into his Jounin vest. “Do you know Tokuma Hyuuga? Tsume recommended him for tips on Hyuuga jutsu.”

Shibi immediately nods. “I overheard one of the Hyuuga’s of the main branch complaining about him. Something about ‘not acting much like a Hyuuga’.” Shibi smiles slightly at the memory.

“He’s a good kid and is good with kids too. I don’t think he’d mind helping you out.”

Shisui snorts and tilts his head to the side in contemplation. “This guy really doesn’t sound like he’s living up to the Hyuuga name.”

Shibi stands up and leans on the kitchen chair now tucked into the table. “If you’re the Uchiha who doesn’t act like an Uchiha, then he’s the Hyuuga who doesn’t act like a Hyuuga.”

“Sounds like we’ll get along,” Shisui says and he gives Shibi a polite bow and ignores the disapproving stare he receives in response. Shibi always tells him to drop the formality, but Shisui feels like Shibi deserves the respect. He has no reason to take Shisui under his wing as much as he has other than being a friend of Tsume's. Shisui feels like he owes Shibi the formality at the very least.

“I’ll visit again soon,” he shunshins out of the building and lands neatly just outside the Aburame compound.

First, he needs to work out if Tokuma Hyuuga is even in the village right now or if he’s off for a mission. So Jounin Standby station it is.

 

 

The Jounin Standby Station is a curious place at the best of times. And today it seems to be no different.

Gai has cornered someone – Ebisu – and is delightedly re-telling a very complicated story involving an alarming amount of lettuce and Kakashi by the sounds of it which he snorts at.

Kakashi’s friendship with Gai is frankly one of the greatest things he’s ever witnessed and Kakashi’s stories of the ridiculous challenges that Gai had somehow roped him into are one of the highlights of their evening when they both return home. Ebisu doesn’t share Gai’s enthusiasm instead, Shisui notes, he looks exceptionally tired.

Being in Gai’s genin team probably didn’t help.

There’s a few Jounin sitting on the couch and staring critically at the empty space where there should be a table that has been replaced with a small rubbish bin.

There’s an Inuzuka behind the couch who’s wrestling with her ninken and an Akimichi in the corner munching on a pile of biscuits that’s horrendously large.

Shisui decides to take his chances with the Akimichi and wanders over. Shisui is average height, and he has more muscle mass than many other Jounin – plenty more than Itachi. However, Shisui is dwarfed by the Akimichi who’s taller, bigger and stronger than him.

“Akimichi-san, I was wondering if you’ve seen someone I’m looking for?” Shisui asks and notices some of the Jounin on the couch watching him, but he dismisses his worries as he recognises the faces of Genma and Raidou, along with Ibiki and Hayate. He could ask them too if this Akimichi doesn’t know.

“Shoot, kid,” the Jounin says and reaches for the next cookie.

“Hyuuga Tokuma?”

The Akimichi laughs, deep and thunderous and claps Shisui on the shoulder. “Love that kid. Best friends with Maruten. Last I saw he was on training ground 10, squirt.” The Akimichi ruffles his hair.

The amount of older people that ruffle his hair has been growing since he was young to the point where the Hokage ruffled his hair once. It was a surreal experience. It doesn’t help that his entire team refuses to let it go and bring it up every time that even one bottle of alcohol is involved.

He thanks the Akimichi and turns to wave the shinobi on the couch in farewell. Genma, Raidou, Hayate and Ibiki are all people he’s become quite close with but finding Tokuma is his priority

 

 

It takes only a few shunshin jumps to reach training ground 10 and it’s even quicker to spot Tokuma, in the middle of the training ground in a small crater, the grass ripped away in a 360-degree circle around him and panting hard.

Shisui can always appreciate a hard worker.

He jumps down from the tree and calls out a greeting. Tokuma doesn’t startle. He turns around to face Shisui and jumps out of the mess of the grass he made and meets Shisui half-way.

“Uchiha-san,” he says, “did you want to use this training ground too?” He looks behind at the ripped up dirt and grass that he’d torn up and rubs the back of his head a little sheepishly. “I’m more than happy to share it.”

Shisui knows a lot of Jounin that get uptight about sharing the training grounds with anyone else, and Shisui’s always been good at detecting lies and he can’t see any in Tokuma. Huh. Shisui’s liking him already.

“No, no it’s fine,” Shisui corrects. “I was wondering if I could just get some Hyuuga jutsu advice. I have a genin team now and one of them is a Hyuuga.”

Shisui doesn’t give any names but he sees realisation flicker across Tokuma’s face anyway. There aren’t many Hyuuga’s in genin teams right now. Hinata Hyuuga and Neji Hyuuga are the only notable two. And an Uchiha - especially one of Shisui's calibre - wouldn’t be teaching someone who wasn’t worth their time.

Tokuma doesn’t ask for names and doesn’t ask why he didn’t go to Hiashi, Hinata’s father, instead. Smart kid. Shisui likes him a bit more.

“We don’t have to talk about it now, just whenever you’re free,” Shisui says since interrupting someone’s training is rude and Shisui would be dark on anyone who interrupted him for advice about genin of all things.

Tokuma Pulls off the bandana Hitai-ate and pulls the bands out of the two lengths of hair that fall either side of his face and pulls his hair up into a bun that suits him incredibly well, Shisui notes. He waves Shisui’s concerns off and walks up to stand beside him. Tokuma stands basically exactly at Shisui’s height, which is nice for once. Shisui knows too many tall people.

Tokuma gestures Shisui to follow him. “Can we talk over food though? I’m so hungry it’s actually a little concerning.”

Shisui snorts before he means to, too used to the typical lack of humour in the general Hyuuga population, but is pleasantly surprised as Tokuma grins at him, pleased he was able to make Shisui laugh.

“Seems the rumours about you were right,” Tokuma says, stuffing his hands in his pockets as they meander back into town. “You’re nothing like the Uchiha. You have a lovely smile.”

The Uchiha are like the Hyuuga in that way. They’re certainly not known for their ability to take a joke or laugh and smile easily. Since the Danzou incident, Shisui has become closer with the Uchiha than he ever had before, namely Mikoto who’s basically his mother at this point. But Tsume is kinda his weird other adoptive mum. But that makes Shibi his kind of adoptive dad as well.

Shisui stops those thoughts right there. The Uchiha, the Inuzuka and the Aburame are all his family now, Best to leave it at that.

“I could say the same about you,” Shisui replies. “You don’t act like a Hyuuga at all. You have is this…” Shisui trails off to be overly dramatic and looks at Tokuma critically, “… sense of humour?”

Tokuma slams a hand over his mouth to stop the wave of laughter. “Point taken,” he says after he’s breathing is back under control.

“Hinata, yeah?” he asks in a way that says he already knows and it’s not really a question anymore. “Who else?”

“Inuzuka Kiba and Aburame Shino.” Shino says and grins as Tokuma’s eyes widen slightly, barely enough for anyone to notice, but Shisui can basically hear Tokuma’s thoughts.

“Sounds like a tracking team to me,” he says and Shisui nods.

“Can’t waste that potential with those three.”

Tokuma guides them to a sushi place, but Shisui doesn’t miss the mournful look he sends at the ramen stand.

Shisui has only been into the sushi shop a hand full of times, but the civilian behind the counter doesn’t look put off by their presence so Shisui counted it as a win. Despite been a shinobi village, there are still some places that are civilian areas. Not officially, there are some areas that shinobi and especially Jounin get looks.

Tokuma seemed to know the man and they share a respectful nod. The civilian doesn’t look surprised at Tokuma’s rumpled clothing and overall dishevelled appearance either. Very used to shinobi then.

They seat themselves by the door without even discussing it and Tokuma gives him a pointed look. “She would know the basics right?”

“She’s got chakra walking sorted and started on all the gentle fist. Her taijutsu is impressive but my knowledge of Hyuuga jutsus is despairingly small,” Shisui pops a piece into his mouth and immediately understands why this place is popular for shinobi. This sushi is nice.

“If it makes you feel any better I don’t know shit about Uchiha jutsu,” Tokuma says and Shisui sees he’s already eaten half of his sushi. He really was hungry.

“Well, for the Chuunin exam, good jutsu for her to learn would probably be Palm Bottom and the Eight Trigrams and, oh wait do you want me to write this down ? Probably be easier for you?” Tokuma pulls a piece of paper out of the pouch at his back and a pen and writes down the basics.

“Knowing Hiashi-sama, Hinata has probably already learnt a lot of the jutsu she’d need to know for the Chuunin exams. You probably just need to polish it up really.” He waves his hand dismissively. “Give you more time to teach them all the tricks anyway,” Tokuma grins at him and Shisui immediately understands the undertones.

Shisui’s team is one that can be easily dismissed. Hinata got disinherited and she could easily be ignored because of that. Shino and Kiba aren’t prodigies. They’re both just normal shinobi. Just like himself and Tokuma.

Shisui’s trained his entire life to get his Mangekyo Sharingan to where it is now. Shisui didn’t become renowned for the body flicker technique in multiple countries and get ‘flee-on-sight’ warnings on him overnight. Shisui worked for it.

Tokuma appears to be the same. Shisui had overheard his Byakugan was one of the strongest of all of the Hyuuga. But the Byakugan isn't strong without intense training. Tokuma worked for it.

Their strong, but they’re both normal shinobi, and so they’ve had to learn the tricks, the ins and outs that the genin with chakra reserves equivalent to Chuunin and in some ridiculous cases, Jounin and

the ones with insane bloodline limits that wreak havoc like it's as easy as breathing wouldn’t have to.

Shisui grins back and finishes off the last of his sushi.

“If you need an extra hand let me know. Hokage-sama has forced me on leave,” Tokuma sends a pained look out the window. Forced leave. The horror that every over-worked Jounin is all too familiar with.

“I’ll have to work on nature transformations at some point,” Shisui says. “I’ll let you know. I think Kiba will like you.”

“Thank you. I’ll try not to die from boredom before then.”

Shisui chuckles and they both stand up, moving to throw their rubbish in the bin. “I better find the kids and make sure they haven’t broken anything. Thanks for helping me, Tokuma-san.”

Tokuma smiles and waves him off. “ Just Tokuma is fine. And don’t mention it. Genin are hellions at the best of times.”

“Just Shisui is fine too and you’re right. Absolute hellions.”

They wave each other off and thank the cashier, parting ways. Tokuma’s help would be greatly appreciated. And maybe Team 8 and Team 7 can join forces for that as well.

Well, time to train is little Genin into the dirt. 

Chapter Text

“Again. Hinata, pick up your left arm, you’re leaving yourself open.” Shisui says from the sidelines, Kiba by his side as the other two spar.

“Shino, kick higher and put more strength behind it.”

The two give breathless nods and start again. They’ve been here since dawn. Shisui hadn’t given them a meeting place since he hadn’t had a chance to see which training grounds were booked so he’d picked them up at their houses.

Tsume had been up and waiting with Kiba. She’d grinned wildly at him as Kuromaru eventually stumbled out to join them looking very tired and very exasperated at Tsume’s enthusiasm.

She’d ruffled Shisui’s curls, given him a fully packed lunch that ‘Hana had made with care’ because ‘he can’t look after himself so it’s fallen on their shoulders to do that for him.’

The Inuzuka compound has become just as much a home to him as the Uchiha compound and he finds it’s something he wouldn’t change for the world.

Tsume had told him he needed to come to dinner. If not, she’d be upset and probably beat him up the next time she saw him. He’d learnt that was Inuzuka speak for ‘I’m worried about you so you better come over so I can fuss over you’.

Kiba looks up at him, nursing a small bruise on his cheekbone from Shino’s punch. Their fight had been good, and it was good for Kiba and Akamaru to be able to work together under different circumstances and good for Shino to go against two.

“Mum says she’s gonna make the one that you like,” Kiba says, a grin sliding onto his face. “Hana misses you as well, she reckons you don’t come around enough. Don’t tell her I told you, she’ll beat me up for sure.”

Shisui’s learnt that means a wrestling match on the kitchen floor, usually ending in Tsume or another Inuzuka coming in and complaining about ‘kids these days’ with no heat in it.

Shisui hums in agreement, “then she’d beat me up for good measure.”

Akamaru barks in solemn acknowledgement from his position tucked into the front of Kiba’s jacket, and Kiba gives him a fond scratch behind the ears.

Shisui pats Kiba on the head and approaches Shino and Hinata as they stop, with Hinata having pinned Shino on the ground.

Shisui had declared this day ‘taijutsu day’ and vigorously fought down the urge to ask Gai to help with training. Just because Shisui liked training with him didn’t mean many others did. And maybe it was a little cruel to inflict Gai onto his unsuspecting Genin.

Their taijutsu is good. Not great. Hinata’s obviously better than the other two and Kiba's not that far behind her, considering their clan jutsus focus heavily on taijutsu techniques. Shino will show his true colours when Shisui gets them started on ninjutsu, but for now, it's taijutsu he needs to work on. 

“Good, Hinata nice job, your movements are smooth and succinct. You still need to work on picking up your left side but you’re improving.” He pats Hinata on the shoulder and grins at her tiny smile. He reaches past and offers a hand to Shino. He's panting, hair pressed down by sweat and sticking up in others.

He grasps Shisui’s hand and dusts himself off.

“Shino, taijutsu isn’t something you’re good at. Hinata will likely be the best taijutsu specialist between all of you with Kiba not far behind. Ninjutsu is something you’ll be really good at but you’re still improving. Getting your taijutsu an acceptable level is vital, then we can focus on honing your ninjutsu.”

Shino nods and Shisui wouldn’t be surprised if he was already aware of that.

Shisui beckons Kiba over to the three of them.

“Chuunin exams are a few months away and it’s my job to make sure you’re as prepared for that as you possibly can be.” He pats Shino on the head and snorts as he gives him a confused look.

“I may be a little biased since you guys are my Genin, but I think you can do it.”

Hinata’s whole body lights up and she smiles at him, teeth flashing and cheeks blushed over with red like it’s the greatest compliment she’s received. Shisui can just see Shino’s grin from under the cloth.

“Shisui-sensei is right,” Shino says, “We will succeed. Why? Because we are confident in our abilities as a team.”

Shisui laughs and takes himself off-guard by how happy he sounds. Maybe the Sandaime was right, these kids really are good for him.

Shisui looks up into the sky, noting the position of the sun and looks back down at his Genin. They’re all covered in dirt, sweat and have tears on their clothing. There’s still a good few hours left of daylight. Might as well make the most of it and plus, they better get used to the feeling of tiredness. It’s only going to get worse.

“Alright, next is Hinata and Kiba. Kiba, put some more thought into your punches. No random swings, or tomorrow I’ll have you run 12 laps around the village rather than the 10 you’re already all doing.” Shisui says, smiling and he kicks a stone into the air and catches it, pretending not to notice the looks of horror his Genin are sending him.

Kiba’s stamina is something he’s really looking forward to seeing how far he can push. The Inuzuka are known for their ability to run and run and run, and Shisui doubts Kiba will be an exception.

Hinata and Kiba step out into the little open field readying their defensive stances.

Hinata’s taijutsu is impressive even now and Shisui spent all of the previous night brainstorming how he can make her even better. Without a doubt, he’ll rope Gai in somehow. The Genin that looks freakishly like Gai himself would be a great person to pit her against to test her as well.

For a moment he considers pairing her up with Neji who’s also in Gai’s team but… the Hyuuga are active competitors with the Uchiha in who can cause the most drama, have the most issues and be the most stuck up about it.

He doesn’t want to have to deal with the Hyuugas. Not with Hiashi so set in his idea that Hinata isn’t suited to become clan head that ended with her getting disinherited.

The Uchiha are no better really, and Shisui has always been thankful that he’s not in Itachi’s shoes. But Itachi is a prodigy, absorbing jutsu and every piece of information like a sponge and is able to use it just as effectively on the battlefield.

People have called Shisui a genius before, but those people know nothing of the hours and hours he put behind everything to get where he is now.

(Actually, no one beyond Itachi acknowledged Shisui’s hard work at all, seeing nothing beyond the prodigy Uchiha.

Nobody ever looked passed the shinobi and saw Shisui’s cracks, nobody saw him struggling until he nearly killed himself.

No one asked if he was okay until it was far too late.

He’s never told anyone that at the time, a part of him had wanted to die. And it wasn’t as little as it should have been.

Shisui doesn’t hate the village but he hates that no one cared until Shisui had been pushed to the edge as close as he had.)

He can sympathise with Hinata, and there’s a part of him that wants her to exceed beyond all their expectations just out of spite so Hiashi can regret his life choices.

Kiba blocks a particularly hard hit that sends him stumbling backwards and Hinata takes advantage of it, ducking down and sweeping her leg out to trip Kiba over.

It works awfully well, and Kiba falls on his back. Akamaru whines, nudging him with his nose. Kiba lets out a tired sigh and pulls himself off the ground.

Hinata pants and wipes the sweat building on her forehead, “You’re-you’re getting better, Kiba,” she says quietly.

Kiba’s eyes widen and for a moment he stares at her, open-mouthed and shocked. He recovers and smiles widely at her, bouncing on his heels. “Thanks, Hinata! If we keep training, me and Shino will finally be able to win a spar against you!”

Hinata blushes again but this is good for her. Her self-esteem had taken a beating, but Kiba and Shino are probably just the people to bump it back up again. Hinata needs support, and this team will definitely be the one to do it.

“One more time you two. Kiba, good block but you weren’t prepared for it. Hinata that was good, you’re covering your left more, keep at it.” Shisui tugs at the cloth covering the right side of his face and shuffles Shino over to his left side so he can see Shino and the fight easier.

“My dad thinks that Tsume-san invites you around too much and that you should definitely come over next week,” Shino says. He doesn’t take his eyes away from the fight, but Shisui’s known him for a while and fails to hold back his snort of amusement. He covers his mouth with his hand and it takes an awfully long moment for his giggles to subside.

That is honestly the most Aburame thing he has ever heard.

This is why he likes the Inuzuka and the Aburame. The biggest dramas they seem to have is who’s being the better adoptive parent.

“Torune likes you,” Shino continues. And that… is a surprise.

Despite being the catalyst for Danzou’s organisation to finally fall to pieces there weren’t many Root members Shisui had actually interacted with.

He’d met Torune before, and seeing the psychological effects of Danzou’s training play out in front of him in a boy only a few years older than Shino made Shisui feel like losing his eye was worth it if it meant that kids like Torune were freed.

He’d hoped that Torune liked him, and Shino wouldn’t lie about something like that. So huh, that’s made his day even better.

“What’s Shibi-san going to cook to lure me in?” he asks because that’s what both Tsume and Shibi do as though Shisui won’t come otherwise.

Shino ponders for a moment and Shisui can practically hear the gears turning. Shino probably already knows, but he’s taken to doing this lately as if to humour him.

Shino is smart and is definitely going to be the brains of these three. Kiba is smart, but it’s more of a people smart. He’s brilliant at the practical aspects and picks up on how people are feeling immediately. Hinata is smart in her own way. She’s very aware of her surroundings and able to pick things up quickly.

“Hmm, Oden probably,” Shino says.

Shisui grins because Shibi is a wonderful human being and he can’t work out why anyone wouldn’t love the Aburame. “Tell him I’ll be there.”

This team won’t be anything flashy like Team 7 will inevitably end up. Sasuke’s got a lot of potential for lots of crazy jutsus that Shisui has no doubt will be over the top and far too flashy. Naruto is the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki and with that kind of chakra, well, he wonders how strong Naruto will become.

He doesn’t know anything about the civilian – Sakura Haruno – but putting someone with no possibility of becoming on par with Sasuke and Naruto would be frankly a rookie mistake and not to mention a stupid move.

Team 8 will be the team that people probably forget about. But, it’s the people that are often overlooked are the ones that are the most important in keeping Konoha afloat.

The fight is going well, and Kiba seems to be thinking rather than throwing his fists and just hoping for the best. Hinata is keeping the upper hand, but at least Kiba is definitely performing better.

It seems Kiba’s main problem is jumping in and not thinking which is fine but only up to a point. Shisui doesn’t want to beat the trait out of him, but if he can get Kiba to be able to apply the ‘think first, act second’ mentality for missions stuck in his head, it could save his life.

Shisui knows plenty of Shinobi who think everything through on the battlefield and then impulsively buy three kilograms of bananas on a whim, even if they aren’t a big fan of bananas. Aoba. He’s thinking about Aoba.

Kiba gets in a solid punch on Hinata’s shoulder that’s enough to knock her slightly off balance, but unlike Kiba in the previous spar, she keeps her footing and reels round to kick him. Kiba dodges to the side, blocks Hinata’s punch and copies what she’d done before, not losing his balance.

He’s getting there slowly, but he’s getting there.

The fight ends a moment later with Hinata dodging Akamaru’s bite and Kiba’s kick and pining Kiba down with her foot and Akamaru with her hand.

It was Hiashi’s own mistake to disinherit Hinata. She’s under Shisui’s wing now. And he plans to make Hiashi regret that and, any other life choices he can snag on the way… but Hinata doesn’t need to know that yet. Shisui will make it happen in due time though. He doesn’t have flee-on-site warrants in eight different countries on him for no particular reason.

Hinata holds out a hand that Kiba grasps it thankfully. They walk over to Shisui, even dirtier and more exhausted than before.

“For the next week, we’re going to focus on clan jutsus, since I know all of you have already started on that and so we need to get those ones perfected.”

Shisui sits down on the grass and the kids follow suit. “Hinata we’ll be training your eyes and working on the gentle fist and its specifications.”

She nods, blushing and slightly embarrassed but she’s determined all the same. 

“Shino, we’ll be working on polishing up insect clones and perfecting the Insect jamming technique then we’ll work on more offensive jutsus.” Shino nods and shuffles his hands into his pockets, ducking his head as he yawns. Shisui pokes his cheek because Shino is adorable and Shisui has zero self-control.

He gives him a look that Shisui translates as ‘vaguely offended’, brow creased in confusion and equal parts of unwanted amusement.

“Kiba,” Shisui faces him, and Akamaru barks from Kiba’s head. “I want to work on boosting your chakra reserves so then you can use Passing Fang and then of course Fang Passing Fang without the reliance of soldier pills.”

Kiba hums in recognition and pats Akamaru’s fur as he whines. 

“After that, we’ll get onto nature transformations okay? We'll squeeze in endurance and stamina training in between. The next few months are going to be hard, but it’s for your benefit in the end.” Shisui looks at all of them in turn. Shisui doesn’t consider himself a harsh teacher, but he doesn’t like to go easy on someone when he can see that there is more they can do.

“Three laps around this training ground, then I’ll buy you dinner.”

Kiba gives him a look – torn between hatred and gratitude at being forced to run when Shisui’s going to give them hell tomorrow but also buying dinner.

He huffs and levers Akamaru off of his head, jumping up and down on the spot as the others join him. “Shisui-sensei drives a hard bargain”

Shisui gives him his best grin. “You say that like you had a choice.”

His genin all groan and Shino gives him a particularly sour look. Shisui’s a hard teacher, but he knows how nice it is to eat out after pushing yourself all day. And they’ve been practising taijutsu all day. Shisui’s proud of them.

They might hate him tomorrow, but he’s pretty sure they won’t hate him forever.

 

 

There’s an obscure place in the heart of Konoha that Shisui knows serves great food. It’s popular among veteran shinobi like himself and other seasoned Jounin. It’s away from the chaos of civilians and the woman who runs the joint is a force to be reckoned with.

She’s a retired shinobi herself, lost a leg during the Third Shinobi War and opened up a restaurant to keep her busy.

She knows all the regulars by name and doesn’t mind shinobi fresh from missions coming in dirty, bruised and hungry when they need some food and are too tired to do much else.

Shisui knows she won’t mind him dragging in his dirty Genin.

The place isn’t fancy. Wooden, worn and small. The only decorations being a few kunai and a katana hanging on the wall but the food is wonderful.

Civilians stay away as well, especially because Anbu can be seen visiting regularly and well, to civilians, Anbu are terrifying.

Kakashi likes this place as well and Shisui had left his Genin to their own devices for a few moments to find him and invite him along as well. Despite living together, their schedules were always too hectic that it was never guaranteed they’d be able to eat together.

Kiba doesn’t look phased about the place in the slightest, but Shisui isn’t surprised. Tsume or another Inuzuka have probably taken him here before. Hinata is the polar opposite, sticking close to Shisui’s side as he approaches the counter and Shino remains stoically indifferent. Shino may feel slightly uncomfortable, but hopefully, Kiba’s obvious familiarity and Shisui’s calmness will settle them down.

The woman, Kotomi, studies all of them before her eyes fall back to Shisui’s.

“Told Tsume you’d get a Genin team,” she shakes her head and fishes out menus. “My brother owes me a beer.”

“Good evening to you too,” Shisui doesn’t try to keep the sarcasm out of his voice but Kotomi just grins and reaches over to ruffle Shisui’s hair and tug on Kiba’s ear.

“You’ve grown since I last saw you,” she says. “Tell your mother to come by sometime soon.”

Kiba gives a mock salute, Akamaru barking loudly from his spot in Kiba’s jacket. “yes ma’am.” Kiba says with far too much energy for someone who’s been training all day.

“Don’t think I’ve seen you two before. Call me Kotomi.” She leans back from the counter, tucking her greying blond hair behind her ears.

Shisui saves them both the hassle since Hinata looks like she is trying to blend into the ground. “Hinata Hyuuga and Shino Aburame.”

Kotomi nods and leans so her forearms are resting on the bench. “You kids be good for Shisui, okay? He needs looking after too.”

In hindsight, Shisui’s not sure why he didn’t expect this. He shakes it off. Kotomi is like that weird, scary but wonderful aunty who’s old but will kick your ass.

She has a way with words, drawing in strung up and post-battle tense Jounin too her like she is a calming beacon.

Shino nods seriously. “You don’t have to worry, Kotomi-san. We’re a good team.” Kiba yells an agreement and Hinata nods along furiously.

“Glad I can trust you squirts.”

She glances over the menu before handing them to Shisui. “There’s a few new ones on there that I think you’ll like.” She chuckles to herself, recalling some fond memory. “My brother’s been excited about this all week but I haven’t seen any of the regulars lately so none of my lovelies have been able to try them.”

Shisui passes off the menus to the kids and prompts them to go find a table and turns back to Kotomi. “It’s been pretty busy lately. I haven’t had a chance to speak to many lately either.”

Kotomi nods in understanding, her face turning serious. “You look much more lively. I knew some shitty little Genin would bring you out of your shell.”

Shisui was suspicious over Tsume and Shibi being heavily involved in Shisui being picked for Jounin-sensei but did Kotomi have a little part in it too?

He dismisses the thought. He hasn’t felt this refreshed and alive in a long time. Being with Kakashi helped him immensely, but dating someone doesn’t fix all their cracks. It’s only been a few days but it’s working. Just like the Sandaime, Tsume, Shibi and Kotomi had said.

And plus, it’s refreshing to know this scary retired shinobi has his back. It makes everything feel a little lighter on his shoulders.

“I feel better too. Seems you were right although I don’t think I should be surprised.” He says and grins at her.

Kotomi scoffs good-naturedly at him and taps the Hitai-ate around his forehead. “Your drinks are on the house, brat. Make sure to say hi to Issei before you leave.”

He gives her the Anbu salute – a habit the Anbu have taken too since it’s the least she deserves for putting up with all their odd behaviour – and she waves him off, mumbling about getting drinks and demanding brats.

Shisui scans the room and spots his little Genin huddled in the corner, Kiba animatedly flailing at Shino who’s tense but he can see the slight tremors of laughter he’s frantically trying to hold in so Shisui decides not to worry.

Plus, Hinata’s smiling now, with Akamaru sitting on her lap attempting to lick her face.

A Chuunin that Shisui doesn’t recognise a few tables away grins at the sight. His little Genin aren’t annoying anyone then. That’s the last thing Shisui wanted to deal with.

Kiba shuffles over to give him more room on the bench and flops himself down on the table.

“I don’t think Shino’s bugs like me,” Kiba says, his eyebrows scrunched up and eyes closed like the world might actually be ending.

“I-I like you Kiba,” Hinata says. Akamaru stops holding back and promptly launches himself at Hinata, attacking her in slobbery puppy kisses that Shisui thinks she doesn’t mind at all.

Shino sighs and lists back against the bench, his game of trolling Kiba having come to its end.

Kiba’s whole body brightens and he smiles the classic Inuzuka smile that gives people a full view of their powerful canines. “Well as long Hinata likes me it’s alright.” He sends a glare at Shino who shrugs and busies himself with the menu.

Shisui reaches over and flicks Shino on the head and ruffles Kiba’s and Hinata’s hair.

He shouldn’t have worried. This team will turn out fine.

Shisui glances up as the door opens and leans forward in his seat, grinning from ear to ear as Kakashi with his ridiculous hair that Shisui doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to accept as proper hair and his equally tired and dirty little Genin stumble in behind him.

Kotomi gives him a wave and points him in the direction of Shisui.

Kakashi meanders over and sits down next to Shisui. Sasuke sends Kakashi a light glare and clambers up next to Shino and Hinata along with Sakura. Naruto sits himself next to Kakashi and leans forward on the table to see Kiba and Akamaru.

There’s a moment of loud, enthusiastic greetings between the two. Sasuke, seated between Shino and Sakura, lists against the back of the bench as though Kiba and Naruto’s loudness is exhausting him.

“Good day?” Kakashi asks and he sneaks his hand into Shisui’s.

Shisui squeezes his hand in response and smiles, “Yep. Very productive.”

“He’s making as run too many laps tomorrow,” Kiba says, resting his head in his hands like it’s too heavy. Kiba’s always had a streak of the dramatics in him and apparently, it likes to come out at times like this.

“Laps, huh?” Kakashi leans his cheek on his hand, popped up on the table and peers at Sasuke, Naruto and Sakura in turn. Sakura’s face goes from neutral to horrified, and she looks at Kakashi, betrayal written all over her face.

Sasuke looks like he’s trying to become one with the wall, Shino looking at him through tinted sunglasses is obviously intrigued.

“Maybe they can run together? That’s good motivation.” Shisui says and spots Kiba squinting down at Kakashi and Shisui’s intertwined hands and he sends Shisui a wicked grin, nodding along like he and Kakashi are awkward pre-teens on their first date.

Shisui pokes his tongue out at him. Shisui can make Kiba run laps until his legs give out, so who’s the real winner here.

“Sakura’s stamina needs work. Sasuke’s isn’t that great either. I think it will be good for them.” He and leans back as Issei, Kotomi’s brother, and Kotomi just behind him deliver the food to their table.

There’s a brief chorus of thank yous and this time it’s Issei ruffling Shisui’s hair, leaving him questioning his life choices. Is it something about his hair? Is it something about Shisui himself? Will he ever know? 

Sasuke sends him a scolding look over the food, insulted that Kakashi blatantly declared he wasn’t good at something. Sasuke needs to be cut down a few notches from the pedestal that training with two of the Uchiha’s best had landed him. Or maybe thrown from the pedestal, but Shisui trusts Kakashi to make the right decision.

Hinata’s face has gone as red as the Uzushiogakure swirl on the shoulders and back of their Jounin vest, sending awkward not-so-subtle glances at an oblivious Naruto, and Sakura doesn’t seem to have even realised Kakashi has just outright said her most serious flaw.

The fangirl. Something they’re both inevitably going to have to deal with.

Hinata’s source of admiration in Naruto isn’t something Shisui wants to discourage, but maybe if he helps boost Hinata’s confidence then she’ll be able to approach him without looking like she’s going to pass out. Or actually passing out.

It’s possible that Hinata may have to fight Naruto in the Chuunin exams, and Shisui does not want her too loose simply because she couldn’t kick the kid she has a crush on.

Sakura’s crush seems slightly more useless, with no offence to her. But rationally speaking the sooner she can look at Sasuke without fawning ridiculously over him the better for her and the rest of her team.

It might be good to pit Sakura and Sasuke against each other in training, then.

Might be good to put Kiba and Naruto against each other too. Kiba and Naruto have a lot of impulsivity between them, and if they want to win, going in head first with not an ounce of thought is only going to end in an unnecessarily messy brawl.

Forcing them both to think might benefit them.

“Running tomorrow then. Team 7 and Team 8 joint practices. Maybe we can join up again for chakra nature practices?” Shisui says, chewing his mouthfuls slowly.

Kakashi nods and gives Shisui a tired look over his food. Right. Sasuke is the only clan kid, it’s likely Naruto and Sakura need to cover basics that Sasuke and Team 8 already know.

There’s still time before the Chuunin exams, and if Kakashi does need help with anything specific, Shisui isn’t going anywhere.

Naruto leans over the table, a pile of noodles clutched between chopsticks. Kiba opens his mouth and leans forward, about to receive Naruto’s unspeakably generous offer when Akamaru leaps up onto the table and snags the noodles in his mouth and leaps off just as fast.

There is a moment of horrified silence as Naruto and Kiba stare at each other before the silence explodes into a flurry of flailing arms and the two boy’s screeches of horror.

Akamaru leaps onto Sasuke’s face, and happily sits on top of his head, watching the chaos unfold with far too much satisfaction.

Sakura and Hinata are both stifling giggles, leaning against each other contently against each other.

Shisui and Kakashi simultaneously lean over trying to quiet down the two boys. Kiba slumps against Shisui like the world has now actually ended and Naruto wipes tears from his eyes as Kakashi pats his head.

Genin are all crazy but, Kakashi’s hand is still warm in his own, Hinata is laughing and Shino’s shoulders are shaking with suppressed giggles. Kiba’s face is bright with humour staring fondly over at Naruto and Shisui feels happy.

He smiles at Kakashi and relishes the forehead kiss Kakashi gives him.

This just might all work out.

Chapter Text

Because Shisui has somehow managed to piss off every god in existence, he wakes up with a scream in the back of his throat, Kakashi’s blood on his hands and his Genin’s disgusted and terrified faces.

Because for every piece of happiness Shisui finds, there is always twice as many things trying to make everything worse, he wakes with the Hokage’s stoic face baring down on him delivering the news that he’s failed and that he’s useless. His title of shinobi removed. A disgrace to Konoha.

Because Shisui’s life is a joke that someone’s getting a laugh out of somewhere, he wakes with Danzou leaning over him with his eye clutched in his hand and Konoha up in flames. 

Kakashi’s face is suddenly in his vision, his hands cupping Shisui’s face and he blearily realises he’s crying.

Kakashi pulls Shisui against him as Shisui shakes in his arms.

He hasn’t had a nightmare that horrific since the Danzou incident. He thought he was getting better. But instead, he feels like he’s getting worse, falling back into the abyss he only just managed to crawl out of.

Kakashi holds him close, hands running along his back, his hair, his arms, sugar-coated nothings whispered in his ear that Shisui finds himself believing in even if the little voice in the back of his head is screaming at him that Kakashi’s wrong.

It’s usually the opposite way around. Shisui’s good at looking after other people, he knows exactly what to do when Kakashi’s mind turns on itself. But he’s never been very good at looking after himself.

Kakashi runs his fingers over the small divot scars across his shoulder blades after Shisui’s calmed down enough to listen and says softly, “I’ve never seen you have one that bad before.”

There’s nothing accusatory in his tone, only empathetic understanding and Shisui holds onto the words as an anchor.

Kakashi has never seen Shisui have nightmares that bad, only Tsume has when Shisui was still too weak to do much more than focus on not dying which was harder than anything he’d ever done before and he felt so fragile, so weak, so useless.

Tsume hadn’t let go of him until the sun rose.

He’d thought he’d left those nightmares behind. He’d thought he was finally getting somewhere. After four years of slowly pulling himself back together, it feels like it’s all crumbling apart in his hands.

“Haven’t had one like that in years,” he says, barely remembering that conversations usually require a response.

Kakashi pulls them both back so they’re lying down again and pulls the blankets back up. “I think you’re basically the only reason I’ve even tried to get better,” Kakashi says as he carefully wipes some the tears from Shisui’s face. “It doesn’t make everything better. It doesn’t glue all the pieces back together, but being with you makes it easier. Right now you’re feeling like shit. And I know I can’t glue you back together, just like you can’t fix me. But I’ll always be here. I will never leave you, and I think you’re doing an amazing job.”

Shisui feels the breath catch and his throat clench painfully as more tears roll down his cheeks. He wipes them distractedly and wonders what he’d said in his sleep that had turned Kakashi into a giant sap.

“I’m no sap,” Kakashi says and Shisui chokes on a distorted laugh as he realises he’d said that aloud.

Shisui looks up at Kakashi who’s braced up on an elbow, running hands long Shisui’s skin. It’s nice in an odd way. It’s real and there and Kakashi isn’t dead, no one is angry with him and Danzou is gone and Shisui really doesn’t want the touch to stop.

“Nightmares are the worst,” Kakashi says and Shisui takes Kakashi’s hand in his own, the contact is grounding, for both of them. Kakashi doesn’t look at him, instead focusing on Shisui’s skin. “You’re getting better. Remember you said that to me? Sometimes to get better you’ve got to take two steps forward and one step back.”

Shisui remembers. Kakashi had screamed himself awake with the Rin’s blood on his hands and the Sharingan whirling furiously in its socket. They’d stood in the bathroom for hours as Shisui had washed Kakashi’s hands and told him those words, you’re getting better but sometimes to get better you’ve got to take two steps forward and one step back.

“It’s true. You’re getting there, it’s just slow process.” Kakashi tugs on his ear.

Shisui forces himself to take a breath and wonders how he ever got through a day in his life without Kakashi by his side.  

“Sorry,” he says and the words are hoarse and hurt his throat.

Kakashi just sighs and lowers himself back down on the bed, his gravity-defying hair tickling Shisui’s neck. “Don’t start that,” he says. There’s a bit of bite in the words, but it’s well-meaning frustration. “Not like you meant to do it.”

Shisui closes his eyes and nods along.

“What’s the time?” Shisui asks. “Gotta make the Genin run this morning.” It’s a blatant change of subject but Shisui doesn’t want to think about that any more. Anything to distract him will do.

A look crosses Kakashi’s face, it’s a complicated one and Shisui knows Kakashi has a mix of feelings towards his Genin. With Shisui it’s easier but Kakashi definitely doesn’t feel himself suitable for training them.

And with Naruto it likely runs a little deeper than just a surface worry of messing everything up. Kakashi was very close to Minato and Kushina. Naruto takes after them both a lot.

Shisui takes another measured breath. It’s always easier to think about someone else’s problems than his own. Kakashi always sees through Shisui’s tactics, but he doesn’t comment.

Shisui’s heart still feels like it’s trying to remove its self from his body if it beats against his ribcage hard enough. This is one of those nightmares that’s going to be in his head all day and he dreads it.

Kakashi sighs and looks at Shisui, frowning. “Naruto lives alone.”

Shisui has a pretty good idea where this is going but he stays silent, letting Kakashi speak at his own pace.

“Maybe, when he trusts us more we could let him sleep here when he gets lonely or whatever.” He looks deeply concerned even as he speaks. “Only if you’re comfortable with it, I just” he rubs a hand over his face.

“Minato and Kushina wouldn’t have wanted this.”

“I think Naruto will like your nin-dogs,” Shisui says and threads his hand through Kakashi’s and presses the back of his hand to his lips.

Kakashi deflates in relief and lets out a low chuckle. “Who’s the sap now?”

Shisui snorts and kicks Kakashi lightly on the shin. They’re both terrible but it works. It works really well.

“First, we have to make them hate us by making them run until their little legs give out,” Shisui says, easing himself from the bed, stretching aching muscles.

“twenty ryou that Naruto can beat Kiba on the first lap,” Kakashi says and because Shisui has no self-control especially when it comes to his Genin he jumps on it.

“Deal. Prepare to eat your words, Hatake.”

“Pfft. Uzumaki verses Inuzuka. Uzumaki every time, Uchiha.”

 

 

Laps around the village is standard practice for Genin. Stamina is vital in a fight and can sometimes determine who wins and who gets their throat sliced open.

Hinata’s strongest point is taijutsu, Kiba close behind. Shino is naturally leaning towards ninjutsu. Shisui doesn’t want to make it seem their weakest points are an issue like the world will end if they never become extremely adept in that area, but if he can push them as far as he’s able to every aspect then it’ll only help.

Kiba should have no problem with the running, Shisui’s worked with many Inuzuka and they all could run for hours before they tire out.

Hinata’s probably not far behind him, and running herself into the dirt will only help her. There’s no room to be embarrassed when training yourself into exhaustion is involved. In the end, they’re all going to be exhausted, dirty and over it. Her crush on Naruto is going to have to take a back seat while she runs until she can’t anymore.

Shino will likely struggle with this the most, but with his determination, Shisui isn’t worried. Training yourself into the dirt builds character. It’ll only help.

They’re all standing by Konoha’s gates and Kiba and Naruto are glued to each other’s side. There is a lot of frantic hand movements, yelling and barking from Akamaru in between stretches. They’re having fun though, and Shisui is by no means going to discourage that friendship.

Interestingly enough Hinata has gravitated towards Sasuke, who’s showing her the details of his lunch box and how his mother made it while stretching their legs. Mikoto makes the best lunches, after all.

Hinata had spent a lot of the time flustered around Naruto, but Naruto had gotten very caught up in Kiba’s explosive personality and with a helpful nudge from Shisui encouraging her to talk to one of the other kids, she’s enjoying herself.

The worried, embarrassed curve in her shoulders had been replaced with relaxed curiosity.

Shisui expected her to possibly lean towards Sakura when bonding with Team 7, but Hinata just might help kick Sasuke down a few notches.

Shino's casually talking to Sakura, a small bug on his hand. Sakura leans in, closely examining the creature while Shino explains the ins and outs of the jutsu and Sakura seems to be following along well despite her civilian background.

Team 7 and Team 8 just might work out.

Kakashi appears next to him with a ridiculous, over-dramatic shunshin that he likes to use to show off, arms crossed and looking down at the chaos with an amused stare.

Naruto whirls around and points an accusing finger at his Sensei. Akamaru jumps onto Naruto’s head and he puts one hand on top of to keep him from falling off.

“You are late, Kakashi Sensei!” Naruto yells, jumping up and down on the ground slightly. “Poor Shisui-sensei has been looking so sad while you were gone!”

He clicks his tongue in disappointment, patting Akamaru as he licks Naruto’s forehead.

Sasuke is sending Kakashi a rather alarmingly effective glare from where Hinata and Sasuke are now crouched, carefully examining a small flower.

Shisui raises his hands and laughs. “Now, now be nice kids. Kakashi just had to pick some equipment up don’t be mean to him he’s doing a good job.” Shisui pats Kakashi’s back fondly as Kakashi presses a hand to his heart pretending to act wounded.

“I’m just not feeling well this morning that’s all,”Shisui says and there is an edge to his voice similar to this morning. It’s barely noticeable but after Shisui’s morning, Kakashi has been keeping even more of an eye out.

Even Naruto noticed Shisui’s melancholy, and that’s not good enough on Shisui’s part. Shisui’s always been good at compartmentalizing and even though that nightmare was awful and he still feels weak and angry at himself, this is work. And he doesn’t need to burden his and Kakashi’s Genin with his problems.

Sasuke looks up at him then, blinking owlishly through his fringe, searching Shisui’s face. He looks away after a moment, but there’s an odd look of determination in his eyes. Shisui decides he doesn’t want to know whatever Sasuke’s planning.
He’s good at knowing when too far is too far anyway, so he doesn’t really need to worry.

“Well, we better start,” Kakashi says, successfully pulling everyone’s attention away. “Time to run!” he smiles, eye crinkling and Shisui finds himself laughing without meaning too.

That smile is one promising pain, and Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke seem to have caught on if their shared looks of dread means anything.

Shisui shakes himself, attempting to rid of some of the cobwebs in his head. There are better, more important things to think about. Like the twenty ryou that’s at stake here.

Shisui claps his hands together, re-routing attention yet again.

“You all run until we say stop,” Shisui says, smiling all the while. Kiba’s sighs and catches Akamaru who leaps off Naruto’s head to give him sympathetic licks. Kiba knows him well enough to expect this lack of reward by now.

Running is a one-way ticket to a mileage of benefits that will help them astronomically during the exam. And running for long times like this in the next best thing aside from meditation to boost their chakra reserves.

Kakashi hums and leans on Shisui’s shoulder. “Maybe we should take them hiking next,” he says, eyes crinkling in a smile hidden by his mask.

Hinata looks a little ill at that and Shisui immediately feels his stomach churn. Little Hinata just gets to him, she’s far too pure for Shisui’s heart.

It is a good idea. It’s good ground to hone endurance, chakra walking and control so… maybe they can do that after Shisui gets his kids started on chakra natures, or before if it works out that way.

“Let’s go then,” Shisui calls and he ruffles Sasuke’s hair.

“We start from here. And don’t try and cheat and take any shortcuts around the village. We’ve already talked about where you can and can’t go.” Shisui says. Kakashi squeezes his shoulder and adds “If you cheat, we’ll know.”

Shisui can feel the people on guard duty staring at them and there’s about a 99% chance that it’s Izumo and Kotetsu grinning themselves stupid.

“Get ready, kiddos” Shisui says. They all straighten up readying themselves. Shisui waits a few tense moments before tapping Kakashi’s shoulder.

“Go!” Kakashi yells. They all take off a little too fast, caught up in the adrenaline. They’ll sort out their pace soon enough anyway.

 

 

Sasuke is lying face down on the grass and Kakashi is really not sure if he should be worried or not.

Naruto and Kiba are the only ones still awake by the looks of it, but Kiba keeps staring out into the sky and Naruto’s been absently playing with a few blades of grass for the last ten minutes. Kakashi would rather see them asleep than acting so out of character.

Hinata is curled up next to Shino, covering her face with her sleeves. Shino is flat out on his back, his coat had been abandoned much earlier, but he’d stubbornly kept his glasses on.

Sakura is literally curled next to Kakashi’s side like some cat. She’s as dirty as the rest of them, a thin layer of filth coating their bodies and they all stink.

But Kakashi genuinely can’t find it in him to mind.

Shisui is also asleep resting against Kakashi on his other side which is probably the best thing for him at the moment.

That nightmare had completely thrown him off the entire day to the point even little, oblivious Naruto had noticed. Kakashi could tell that had annoyed him.

Shisui had let other worries bleed into his job as a Jounin sensei and Shisui took extra  care to keep whatever issues he might be dealing with completely separate from his job as a shinobi. But this time he slipped up and he was obviously disappointed in himself.

The nightmare had been bad. Bad enough that Shisui had said he hadn’t had one like it since the incident with Danzou.

Usually those kind of nightmares were triggered by something. However, sometimes it wasn’t exactly obvious what the trigger was and you could go the whole day feeling slightly off and be greeted with the worst nightmare you’d had in months when you went to bed.

Kakashi would know.

Kakashi reaches up and runs his hand gently through Shisui’s curls that are somehow always soft. At least he’s sleeping now. Hopefully he’d feel better when he wakes up.

Kiba tilts his head in his direction, brow furrowed and lips pressed together to form a thin line. It looks for a moment like he’s going to speak but he stops himself, glancing around at the others who are still sleeping.

He stands up slowly, muscles likely already protesting and clutching Akamaru to his chest.

He reaches Kakashi and crouches. “Shisui-sensei smells different from before.” He glances at the others again, making sure he’s not disturbing anyone. “I think he must be feeling better.”

Kakashi stomps down the surprise that threatens to appear on his face and he nods along. “I think so too,” Kakashi says.

He shouldn’t be surprised. Kiba’s nose is unusually strong for a Genin and despite having a strong nose himself, the Inuzuka always put the Hatake to shame.

Shisui shuffles slightly in his sleep, always a light sleeper and Kakashi wraps his arm around him, keeping him from moving too much.

Shisui has been embarrassed by this no doubt, but he’s got good Genin, not ratty unappreciative pre-teens who have no concept of how much this kind of life can hurt.

Shisui has always been good at keeping whatever had been bothering out of his job but this time it had gotten the better of him. This time it had bled through. This time people had noticed, and while it was only their Genin, that still hurts. It still feels like you’re falling apart.

But his Genin didn’t take this chance to rebel or act foolishly. Hinata had picked the prettiest flowers she could find, all while blushing furiously as Naruto had told her they looked pretty.

Kiba had kept a watchful eye out - or nose in his case - and gotten Shisui to hold Akamaru while he ran.

Shino had one a few of his bugs keep Shisui company and make sure he’s okay while Shino couldn’t see him.

None of them seemed to view Shisui as any less.

Kiba settles down at Kakashi’s side, his head on Shisui’s thy and a leg resting on Kakashi’s and he can’t even find it in him to mind. They’re not his Genin, but it seems they’ve wormed their way into his heart.

There’s an instinctual part that wants to run. Leave Shisui to find someone better than him, to push Sakura, Kiba and Sasuke away because he’ll only end up hurting them, not let Naruto any closer because he failed his father and he’ll only fail him as well.

He forces himself to take a breath, and another one. He looks at Sakura’s peaceful face, Kiba’s curious, yet worried expression.

He breathes on again. Running won’t make it better. It’s the hardest thing he’s ever done, but it’s working. He’s getting better, slowly, but he’s getting better.

He closes his eyes, letting his head fall back against the tree. His Genin will work it out eventually, that Kakashi isn’t as calm and collected and okay as he visibly shows but he’s Genin aren’t bad either. Sakura is still too caught up in her crush on Sasuke, and Naruto knows nothing other than an empty apartment and the Sandaime’s empty words of comfort and Sasuke is still thinking himself above the others but they’re good kids.

Hopefully they’ll be able to accept Kakashi for his flaws, but right now, Kakashi lets himself enjoy the peace.