Jiraiya has come to the conclusion that his sensei gave him a genin team out of revenge. He's used all of his resources as one of the Legendary Sannin of Konoha and Konoha's Number One Spymaster, and it's the only thing that makes sense. Saturobi Hiruzen, though a great and wise shinobi, is a petty and sneaky bastard and Jiraiya is so on to him.
At first, Jiraiya was excited to get genin, because having rugrats underfoot is kind of fantastic even if it's annoying as all hell screaming in high-pitched voices all at once, but now he's learned better. The next generation of Team Seven has valiantly and unknowingly continued the tradition of being unable to turn in regulation paperwork on time, each in their own way, and Jiraiya's the one who has to deal with it now.
He knew he should have booked it when his sensei tried to warn him about paperwork and ended up cackling with distinctly evil laughter instead. Jiraiya had thought the old man was just trying to psych him out, but Jiraiya called a bluff that wasn't there.
The worst part is that his adorable little minions are nothing like him, or Tsunade, or Orochimaru. No, they couldn't so simply be horrible in a way that Jiraiya might know how to handle or have some experience trying to manage that particular sort of force of nature. They're all completely and infuriatingly unique and unprecedented and it's un-freaking-believably ridiculous.
And as a failing jounin-sensei in this regard, the desk-shinobi practically glare kunai at him whenever he has to go near Hokage Tower. The jerks helped Tsunade pull a prank on the old man for decades by accepting her actual reports on the sly when she handed in complete garbage to their sensei, and they apparently fight each other for Jiraiya's old mission reports, but still nothing excuses poorly-written genin mission reports to them. It's insane.
Jiraiya may be an artist of words, but... why did he have to get the artistic ones?
Wakahisa Taiki is a boy that is going to be the death of him, Jiraiya can feel it in his bones every time he has to suffer himself to read whatever the boy's produced now. Every time he even looks at one of those mission reports, he can feel a small piece of his authorial soul die inside him.
Because Taiki fancies himself a poet.
Jiraiya usually doesn't mind poetry, he's even written some himself even though he prefers fully-fledged novels, but Taiki's poems make him groan in actual pain. There is no genre, no form, no style and no type of poetry that is safe from Taiki's revolutionary butchering of the written word, and no matter the form that his latest piece of experimental poetry takes, it is always, always terrible.
Poetry, in response to Taiki's adoration of it, does not like Taiki.
If one wanted to be metaphorical about it, it could rather be said that poetry had a restraining order against Taiki as wide as a country and had hired S-rank shinobi from Iwa to assassinate him in the dead of night. And yet... Taiki the genin forged forward anyway, completely oblivious to all these obstacles, so devoted is his love, to capture it anyway.
What the fuck was Jiraiya supposed to do? Tell Taiki to stop it? Tell a twelve-year-old kid that he needs to stop that thing he really, really loves and hinges all his dreams on because he really, really, REALLY sucks at it?
According to the desk-shinobi, yes, that is exactly what the fuck he was supposed to do.
“Mission reports,” the Head Desk-Shinobi has coldly informed Jiraiya with a vein bulging hugely on his forehead, hard enough to make his protector wiggle, “are not supposed to be written in verse.”
“Mission reports,” the Head Desk-Shinobi has growled at Jiraiya with his face already having reached red and now headed firmly on towards purple, “are not supposed to be written as sonnets to the barbarous and implacable mistress that is a shinobi's oath to serve.”
“Mission reports,” the Head Desk-Shinobi has whispered at Jiraiya, face pale and eyes wide with what looks like unimaginable horror as they hand over Taiki's latest report with shaking hands, “are not supposed to contain words such as 'redintegrate' and 'clinquant'.”
Jiraiya had had to look both of those up.
He'd probably find the whole thing hilarious – like the old man does, pretending not to, and like Orochimaru does, openly adoring everything about this and flatly insisting this is everything that Jiraiya had coming to him for his own writing – if he didn't have to read the awful things.
Honestly, there's only so many adjectives like 'stelliferous' and adverbs like 'matutinally' that a man can take, but Taiki is no normal man. The boy is unafraid to use as many adjectives and adverbs and nouns and whatever else to describe the complex and deeply artistic images in his unfathomable little mind. Seriously, if Taiki ever manages to find another word like 'fugacious' again, Jiraiya is going to take Gamabunta up on the offer to just get eaten and be done with it all.
So far, solutions to Taiki are not forthcoming.
The boy's civilian mother is no help whatsoever and has fondly said that he's taking after his late father, who used to write the most beautiful love poems for her. Jiraiya has since decided that the woman has no taste whatsoever - it's a tragedy, but it does happen, and is apparently genetic. He just left her be because clearly no help is coming from her quarter and he has no desire to be shown Taiki's father's work too.
The desk-shinobi, actually unable to wait for the jounin-sensei to fix the issue himself because they were on the edge of clawing their eyes out, went to confront Taiki themselves and had no success. In the face of Taiki's sheer enthusiasm and vibrant artistic spirit, the hardened shinobi could not crush a preteen's dreams and ended up telling him that they'd just come to say that they were really impressed with his... um... determination. Then they ran away over the rooftops and have since come down on Jiraiya twice as hard to end this suffering.
Jiraiya tried to use his two other minions to get through to Taiki, but that didn't work either.
Minato, the damn blond brat, is so much of a nice pushover that while reading a report, his eyes bulged, he choked several times on nothing, and then he kindly, if stiffly, informed Taiki that he absolutely loved it. The coward. The damn brat has even managed to escape future poetry reading by claiming that he'd really love to, except he's just not over Taiki's last masterpiece and he's not sure his fragile heart can take another one so soon. It was just that good, Minato insisted.
Jiraiya immediately tried this and it didn't work for him, so he made Minato run around Konoha five-hundred times to make himself feel better. Minato didn't even argue and just ran for it, the annoyingly clever brat.
Hanako, his little kunoichi minion, a generally quiet and thoughtful girl from a small shinobi family, read through the entire thing without saying a word. Then she looked up, tears at the corners of her eyes, smiled brightly and declared, “Incredible!”
Jiraiya stared and Minato tripped over absolutely nothing.
“...What?” the summoned toad that he'd been showing Minato croaked.
(Jiraiya has been venting his issues to the generally amused toads for months, so his summons all know what's going on and have been subjected to Taiki's art to understand the horror. They think it's hilarious and pity Jiraiya greatly, which is how Gamabunta came to mostly jokingly offer Jiraiya the possibility of getting eaten to get away from it all.)
(This is somehow far better support than Jiraiya's spy acquaintances and contacts offered. He tried to vent to Satsuki, one of his main Konoha informants, but she just laughed at him and he's pretty sure she told all the other ladies at the brothel so they can giggle about it behind his back. Or to his face. Shame isn't something those lovely and deadly ladies tend to bother with.)
“Your use of overly descriptive and complicated words to describe such simple concepts is an incredible method!” Hanako continued delightedly. “The irony is what truly makes your complex imagery shine!”
Taiki beamed at her. “Thank you!”
Jiraiya slammed his palm into his face. He'd forgotten that Hanako's family specialized in infiltration through playing at being acting and performance troupes and so on. She was a similarly artistic, but differently sneaky soul. In that moment, he was convinced that he had just doomed them all to Taiki's mission report poetry forever, and never before had he felt such soul-searing pain.
It must have shown on his face.
“...Should I get Gamabunta-sama?” the toad asked.
Mori Hanako is his next problem.
She's a talented kunoichi with a bright future in infiltration, and she confuses him enough to make him need to lie down for a few hours. She's an artistic soul, like Taiki, whom Jiraiya is pretty sure she likes romantically – obviously she has mind-boggling tastes too – but unlike Taiki, he just doesn't get her.
Hanako started out moderately normal. Her reports were a bit strangely phrased and strangely formatted, but next to Taiki, she looked like a shining example of normality in the beginning. And when Jiraiya and the desk-shinobi didn't call her on it because the were too busy smacking their heads against the wall because of Taiki, she started pushing the boundaries of what she could do to her mission reports... exponentially.
Between the exploits of her male teammates, she got pretty damn far before anyone really noticed.
The Mori shinobi family are, as stated, a small ninja family that specializes in infiltration, and the occasional assassination too. They are, under another identity, a famous and talented performance troupe that goes on tours across several countries – singing, dancing, acting. When Hanako makes chuunin, her family has a place for her in their traveling show that's a front for their spying and killing in Konoha's name. Jiraiya's worked with them before and they're great at what they do.
It's just... for a front, he used to think, the Mori family is really into it.
Since getting Hanako as a genin, he's learned the truth. It's not just a front. The Mori family is completely and utterly crazy. And while Jiraiya is usually okay with shinobi coping with their lives however they have to cope, Hanako is going to drive him insane too.
Because Hanako is really, really, really into the dramatic arts, with emphasis on interpretive dance.
Once a desk-shinobi shoved her mission report under his nose alongside Taiki's with a demand to fix this, Jiraiya took a good long look at the reports that he'd been skimming and realized what Hanako was writing. She took their missions and turned them into scripts.
There are character lists; there are stage directions; there are detailed concept descriptions for stage sets and costumes. The missions are neatly and carefully divided into acts, then into scenes, with intermissions inserted between the acts. There are dramatized lines of what was really said; there are stage directions, including carefully adapted fight scenes; there's even sometimes the occasional soliloquy for Hanako to really emphasize the woe or fear or general emotion of a moment.
After reading through it, all Jiraiya could think was... What the fuck.
Jiraiya confronted her about it and she knows she's not supposed to be writing her reports that way, but after saying that she immediately started in on an hour-long rant about how the current regulations work to repress the Creative Spirit that resides within each shinobi!
Her mission reports were her doing what her family had wanted to do for ages! Rebel against the Money-Focused Motivations and Pyrrhic Pride that drove and plagued current shinobi society instead of the Pure Artistic Soul that deserved to soar through the forests of Konoha like a Beautiful, Shining Star of Truth driving them towards Freedom!
What the fuck, Jiraiya thought.
He should have known she'd be a problem when she seemed so quiet and normal at the beginning. He should have remembered how incredibly odd and overly dramatic the usually introverted Mori shinobi could be when passionate about something. He shouldn't have given her so much room to get so weird.
Because now that Hanako's managed to get as far as she has, she's not turning back and nothing he says can stop her. She's a runaway ninjutsu of mass destruction and there's nothing he can do or say to stop her as her artistic interpretations of their missions just get stranger and stranger in the name of creative freedom. She just won't hear it.
"I won't conform to the Uncreative Money-Focused Motivations and Pyrrhic Pride plaguing our beautiful forests, sensei! Don't worry, with the strength of your Creative Spirit, I will break through their hold on you so that you can join the Unified Pure Aritistic Soul of Konoha! You will soar will us, sensei!"
It's a prank, he thinks sometimes, a little desperately. But, oh god, what if it's not?
The desk-shinobi, already pissed off at him for the torture of Taiki, are not impressed with this. Jiraiya tried to explain that she's an artistic soul – read: complete and utter drama kid – who really can't be swayed by anything they can ethically use against a preteen girl, but the desk-shinobi either didn't get it or have lost all ability to care. Jiraiya's betting on both, with a leaning towards the latter.
In a desperate attempt to make them understand the force they were dealing with, Jiraiya dragged Hanako to Hokage Tower and told her to perform her latest mission report in the middle of the Mission Assignment Room. Instead of shying away from public speaking and performance in front of a bunch of shinobi like anyone might expect a preteen girl to, Hanako pounced on the opportunity like a feral creature that Jiraiya never ever wants to face.
The desk-shinobi were surprisingly okay with his announcement as to what was happening. They just handed out missions and accepted reports from bunches of boggling genin teams, chuunin, and jounin while Hanako set up lights and a sound system and a curtain and got into costume. They even slowly started to bring their chairs around to sit in front of her little makeshift stage while she worked.
By the time Hanako was ready to put on her mission report, there was a crowd of fascinated desk-shinobi in front of her, along with some transfixed jounin and chuunin who'd given up on getting missions and decided to take a seat. And somehow, the desk shinobi had gotten a missive out and almost all of Hokage Tower had accumulated in the room, ranging from the T&I Basement to the janitors to the Sandaime Hokage himself.
Jiraiya's sensei had wandered down to ask where all his secretaries had gone and Saturobi Hiruzen ended up sharing popcorn with them in the front row. Two of the Hokage's ANBU guard took it upon themselves to use a jutsu to make an actual raised stage for Hanako before going off to hide in the plants or whatever it was ANBU did.
The performance lasted two hours, with Hanako playing every character and Taiki and Minato working the lights and sound system. Between the first and second acts, there was an intermission where the gathered shinobi, who in numbers had long-since passed standing room over time, chattered about the cliffhanger that they'd just watched and how they thought it should be resolved.
Hanako got standing applause at the end of it, even from the dozen off-duty ANBU who had slowly appeared and collected on the ceiling to watch the show. One of the jounin-sensei, who came to get their team a D-rank and never left, even recommended that she take her one-nin show to the local shinobi dive bar. They were always looking for entertainment that wouldn't quail at a few thrown kunai.
Her depiction of Jiraiya himself, many shinobi commented as knowingly as veteran art critics, was truly exceptional. And Jiraiya really wanted to object to that, but he was busy at the time autographing some of his old mission reports and, to be honest, she had really nailed his mannerisms.
Even with the success of Hanako's performance, the Head Desk-Shinobi informed Jiraiya while in line to get his program signed by the girl in question, this did not mean they would accept her irregular mission reports. They'd be delighted to welcome her back into the Mission Assignment Room for another performance, though, because sitting at a desk all day could get quite boring.
Jiraiya has said it before and he'll say it again: the desk-shinobi need to get out more. There's something deeply wrong with all of them.
Although not quite as much as Mori Hanako, who bowed graciously and accepted a bouquet of flowers from a T&I shinobi while the Research Department shinobi called for an encore. Not quite that much. It was close, but not that much.
And last, but not at all least, there's Namikaze Minato.
The goddamn brat.
Minato doesn't have the same 'artistic soul' as his teammates, thank god, but he's managed to fill out Jiraiya's team of stupidly and problematically creative genin nevertheless. Because Minato, even though he's not a sworn lover of the visual arts, is a doodler.
He's going to be an amazing shinobi one day, mark Jiraiya's words, but he absolutely cannot be left unsupervised to complete paperwork. Oh, he does his paperwork... eventually... completely properly and everything, it's just that he tends to get distracted along the way. A lot.
And he gets bored. A lot.
If he's not distracted by anything in particular, he'll just end up drawing along the edges of his paper; little creatures getting eaten by bigger creatures, random people he saw on the street, or ninja doing massive jutsu. It's cute, and harmless even if it's not proper shinobi behavior to hand in a mission report with little sketches of Jiraiya riding Gamabunta and being followed by his genin on toads of their own like wart-riding nin-ducklings.
But those good days are few and far in between, and they've gotten rarer as Minato gets older, because the blond brat is too clever for his own good. He thinks faster than he writes, and ends up getting distracted by some wayward idea making its way into his brain. And then Minato ends up abandoning writing his mission report - “Just temporarily! Just for a moment! I need to get this down now!” - to write down ideas for a new piece of ninjutsu or fuinjutsu before they can leave his head.
Which always, always leads to Minato flailing for more paper so he can continue this little bit of sealing theory while all these ideas are fresh. The mission report paper, covered in fuinjutsu doodles and handsigns, gets lost in the mass of paper as Minato goes on a preteen genius inventor bender, drawing and writing on anything he can get his hands on.
If he's really, really desperate, he'll just start scribbling on the walls or ceiling. And if he runs out of writing utensils, he'll just pull out a kunai and start carving. Either that or just sit in the middle of his floor, surrounded by papers, as he realizes that it's been four hours now, then he'll go to knock on his beleaguered neighbor's door and beg for anything with ink.
Minato's neighbors keep cans of pens by their doors now; Jiraiya's seen them.
At some point, Minato will find his original mission paper and finish it, then either collapse unconscious onto his bed or try to keep working until he collapses unconscious on the floor. Genius genin are complete messes, Jiraiya realizes when he first walks in on Minato snoring under the coffee table in the morning, surrounded by messy papers covered in doodles and with at least an entire pen of ink on his face, after one of those nights.
And then comes the kicker: Minato having to hand his mission report in.
Except the mission report paper usually contains the key to Minato's new jutsu or jutsu theory, so he can't give it up without ruining his piles of work. He needs it, so he won't give it up. Just won't. He needs it; he can't. And he can't just copy his mission report onto a plain sheet of paper because if he looks at that report for more than three seconds, he'll get distracted again for hours on end.
And Jiraiya can't be the one to force him to give it up, because all of takes is a bat of those baby-blues and Minato shoving really, really interesting sealing theory in Jiraiya's face, and Jiraiya's looped into Minato's inventor bender too. If Jiraiya looks at any of those papers of fuinjutsu, he'll need to know what they're for and how they work and Minato knows it. Then Jiraiya's insisting on just five more minutes too and everything's awful.
Damn genius kid.
The desk-shinobi have to send people in to get Minato's reports, otherwise it just doesn't happen. Except sending in desk-shinobi doesn't always work, because Minato will beg on his knees to be allowed to keep it and the weaker desk-shinobi are completely defenseless against his big baby-blues too. Once, one of them managed to touch the paper and Minato screamed like the dead were being raised and broke down crying, sending a poor, confused desk-shinobi fleeing for the hills.
So stronger desk-shinobi have to be sent in, to get the report by force if necessary.
Namikaze Minato is the only one who writes real, proper mission reports out of Jiraiya's genin team. Wakahisa Taiki is a lost cause that no one wants to face and Mori Hanako is an unstoppable force that can't be tamed, and from their combined weirdness, the desk-shinobi are determined to get their hands on at least one decent mission report from Jiraiya's adorable little minions. Honestly, they're determined. The desk-shinobi are aflame with Konoha's infamous Will of Fire to get Minato's report – and seriously, desk-shinobi need to get out more. Really, they really do.
But Jiraiya of the Legendary Sannin and Namikaze Minato give up interesting seal theory to no one, and in response to the desk-shinobi's complete overreaction, they do the only logical thing and completely overreact too.
When a desk-shinobi tried to take one report with an incredibly interesting space-time seal theory on it, Jiraiya may or may not have summoned a massive toad, grabbed Minato, and gone missing-nin until his sensei tracked them down hiding at the back table of Jiraiya's favorite restaurant, scribbling more seal theory on napkins while the wait-staff completely ignored them.
They'll fight the desk-shinobi for it. They've done it before and they'll do it again.
(It's kinda fun, actually, but Jiraiya will never admit it.)
According to Tsunade when she heard, they're both terrible enablers who are going to starve to death in a library somewhere like the nerds they are.
According to Orochimaru, their incompetence is both amusing and embarrassing, and if they try to use his house as a hideout again, he'll set Manda on the both of them without regret.
In the end, the Hokage always has to call in a nice, elderly desk-shinobi to come copy Minato's mission report on a plain piece of paper while he watches on the edge of his seat, rocking back and forth nervously if it's a particularly good bit of fuinjutsu. She's the only one Minato trusts to do it, having violently threatened him into compliance the first time. She's retired ANBU, thinks this entire repeating mess is absolutely hilarious, and won't come in until things have gotten insane, like 'Into the Forest of Death or on top of the Hokage Monument while being chased by desk-shinobi' insane.
Old people getting their kicks while they can is going to be the death of Jiraiya, he swears, or at least his retirement. Why can't they just stick to coming up with horrible D-ranks for genin? They're seriously going to do Jiraiya in at this rate.
That is, if Team Seven and their completely ridiculous, strange, hellish paperwork doesn't get him first.
Jiraiya owes his sensei so many apologies.