1) It’s Kakashi who puts his foot down.
Okay, he’s a child prodigy and yes, he’s an infamous genius and shinobi, but he’s never taught children in his life. He’s taught ANBU recruits, yeah, but any of those ANBU recruits will look at you like, “You can’t call that teaching. That wasn’t teaching.” Because Kakashi tends to take the “sink or swim” method literally.
For fuck’s sake, he wasn’t really ever on a genin team. Blink and that’s about how long it took him to make chuunin. And being Namikaze Minato’s only student means nothing, because - one of a kind wonder and horror that he was - Minato’s teaching methods are a) unreproducible and b) would only work on Kakashi. And Minato’s genin team teaching methods are also a) unreproducible and b) meant for a younger team in the middle of a war and c) there is no part of Kakashi’s genin team that did not end in complete fucking tragedy.
He’s not about to ruin a bunch of kids’ lives through his a) probably shitty teaching skills and b) track record of losing pretty much anyone he starts to care about. And Kakashi knows that refusing to care for a bunch of children under his charge won’t end well – he’s really not in a good psychological place for this. So he puts his foot down.
Somehow, probably through a chain of “Not me” and “I need to wash my plants”, the position of “Team Seven Sensei” goes to Shiranui Genma. Who was on an assassination mission in Iwa and didn’t have the opportunity to reject the position in time. The Sandaime Hokage absolutely railroaded him when he was tired, unprepared, and still kind of woozy from being poisoned mid-mission.
“I’m not a full jounin,” Genma protests weakly, as Iruka shovels the jounin-sensei paperwork that everyone else refused to touch onto the poor assassin. “I’m still in ANBU, I don’t have time for this. It’s going to be a disaster.”
“You’ve been put onto the reserve rosters, the Hokage signed on with his full permission, several Clan Heads supported this decision, and frankly, there isn’t ever enough free time in a day to making teaching children not a disaster,” Iruka replies succinctly. “And you’re getting an assistant sensei to round out whatever fields everyone knows you don’t lack, you just pretend not to.”
Genma frowns, because that’s backtalk if he’s ever heard it, and he’s already offended at the idea that he would need an assistant. He is just as good as any full jounin, excuse you. “Assistant? Who?”
2) The first thing Genma does is rope Kakashi back in anyway.
“Kakashi?” Genma says confusedly, having stormed up into the Hokage’s office, still carrying all the paperwork that Iruka dumped on him. “I thought Kakashi put his foot down and disappeared for a week.”
Iruka said that Kurenai suspected a henge, aided by the fact that nobody knows what the hell Kakashi looks like under that mask, and that Gai was very distraught.
“I’m the Hokage,” Saturobi Hiruzen says, frowning fiercely and puffing at his pipe. “I’m the only one who gets to put their foot down.” He stares at Genma in that old man way of his that makes grown and hardened shinobi feel like shuffling their feet. “Bring him in by any means necessary, Genma.”
Because letting Kakashi avoid everyone is hardly going to help him out of this psychological place that prevents him from teaching anyone, except ANBU recruits by blasting them out of trees with massive lightning jutsu. Someone needs to socialize that man, pronto. And if anyone knows how to socialize, it’s Shiranui Genma. All the Hokage has to do is suggest that Kakashi is avoiding responsibility and his sensei’s child and happiness in general, point Genma is the right direction, and sit back and hope there isn’t too much property damage and citizen complaints. At least, if the way Genma’s eyes narrow and he stalks out of the office is any indication.
The Sandaime Hokage is a sneaky, devious man.
The first citizen complaints come in when Genma goes straight to Kakashi’s apartment. No one really knows what goes on in there, but it definitely ends in Genma shouting and Kakashi jumping out a window. Genma goes straight back to the Hokage’s tower, fills out ALL the paperwork in one frightening session of grumbling under his breath, and then stalks off to implement whatever “Plan A” is.
See, Genma knows he can’t win a direct fight against Kakashi. Kakashi made jounin at fourteen, Kakashi made ANBU captain soon after that, Kakashi is widely considered to be Hokage material by anyone who doesn’t really know the man and even some who do. It’s no wonder they want Kakashi to teach the last Uchiha (Genma doesn’t have a goddamn Sharingan for one, what the hell is he supposed to do) and Minato and Kushina’s kid who is also the Kyuubi jinchuurinki. Genma could win - the possibility exists - but he’ll probably lose, especially if Kakashi actually gets serious.
But Genma is, first and foremost, an assassin. He strikes exactly once – any more than that is a failed mission. Hard and fast and fatal. Unexpected, out of the dark, coming at something sideways and backwards and maybe even upside-down. He fights dirty, with every resource he can get his hands on, and if he has to railroad Kakashi then he will. No second plan needed.
Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura don’t really know what to make of their not-jounin-sensei. Genma is… really nice and slyly funny and kind of really weird too, but the sort of weird that sneaks up on you and hits you with a metric ton of fuck, that was foreshadowing. His test is weird but doable, and he gives them a lecture on teamwork and being shinobi and not rampaging boars in an antique shop, and then he takes them all out to dinner at an Akimichi restaurant where he apparently knows everyone.
Then he drags them all out of bed at five AM the next day to meet his genin-teammate’s genin team. Absolutely throws them to the wolves with a cheerful smile, it seems to them while they’re trying to keep up with Maito Gai’s ridiculous training menu. THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON, THIS IS REALLY WEIRD. WHAT THE HELL. ("If I die from this, I want you to burn all my shit so no one else can have it." "Shut the fuck up and run, dead-last." "Sakura, promise me." "I'll set you on fire if you don't... oh my god... nevermind... I can't breathe.")
Naruto and Lee actually get on really well, once Lee learns that Naruto is also all about working hard to see his dreams come true, Sakura thinks Tenten is really cool and shyly asks about her many weapons, and Neji and Sasuke pretty much just glare at each other. In true tradition of their families, really.
It takes about two hours for Kakashi to show up, arms crossed and visible eye disbelieving.
“You cannot be serious,” Kakashi says flatly.
“Mmm, sorry, what was that?” Genma says. If he’s trying to sound innocent, he absolutely fucking fails. “Of course I’m serious. I’m not a full jounin, remember? I need someone to help me out here and Gai has oh-so-graciously agreed to take on the extra workload. He’s a good friend like that.”
Gai strikes his best pose to date and says, “HAVE NO FEAR, MY ETERNAL RIVAL! I will take good care of your would-have-been genin in your absence! GENMA, MY FRIEND, I have already gotten jumpsuits for your team! AS A GIFT!”
“Thank you, Gai,” Genma says, admiring the way Kakashi’s eye twitches. “Yes, this looks like Naruto’s size. I’m sure he’ll love the orange legwarmers.”
Kakashi looks like Genma just stabbed him through the heart. “Genma. Genma, no.”
“I’m sorry, Kakashi. I only take training input from fellow jounin-sensei. I’m afraid you’re going to have to be Team Seven’s assistant sensei if you want to stop me from doing anything you disapprove of.”
Kakashi stares. “This is low, Genma.”
Genma fixes him with a hard stare, then says flatly, “I can go lower.”
“…Fine,” Kakashi says. There are guests of the T&I Division who don’t look to be under as much duress.
Genma’s answering smile is sharp and glowing. “I’m afraid the paperwork isn’t in.” He flicks the senbon in his mouth as punctuation.
“You cannot be serious.”
“NARUTO!” Gai shouts. “BRILLIANT ORANGE BEAST OF KONOHA! COME, WE MUST SPEAK WITH YOU!”
Kakashi vanishes in a swirl of leaves.
Genma turns to Gai, who is grinning broadly, and says, “Marry me, you mad genius of a man.”
“I am sorry, Genma,” Gai says, extremely apologetically despite his wide smile. “I am flattered by your request and would be honored, but I require more courtship than that.”
Naruto approaches the both of them warily. “…Yeah?”
“Hmm?” Genma says. “Oh, how’s your taijutsu with Lee going?”
(“I have never seen anyone fill out paperwork that fast in my life,” Iruka says, later that day, wild-eyed and trembling with righteous anger. “What did you say to him? I didn’t know he could do paperwork at all, much less that fast! He used his Sharingan, Genma. Stop laughing.”)
3) For an orphan bachelor, Genma has way too much family. Team Seven stood still for too long and now they’ve been adopted into it.
It works like this: Genma was on a genin team with Gai and Ebisu, taught by Akimichi Chouza. As far as the Akimichis are concerned, Genma is an honorary member of their clan. Chouza and Chiharu both adore him. And if you get one member of the Ino-Shika-Cho, you basically get all of them.
You do, actually, get all of them. It's sort of horrible.
But even beyond his sort-of-adoptive family, Genma is a people-person. Genma has a bunch of friends and friendly acquaintances and people he’s mentored or helped out here and there. Genma seems to know everyone. He has so many friends, including Kakashi – one of the most introverted, antisocial bastards on the planet. Damn, that was a hard friendship to make happen.
It happens almost too fast to blink. Team Seven doesn’t really know how it happened. All of a sudden, Sakura was introducing a devastatingly charming Genma and a reluctant but somehow equally charming Kakashi to her parents. Naruto and Sasuke suddenly share an apartment and Sakura is sleeping over more often than not, and Genma is feeding everyone or dragging them out to be fed by someone he knows. Sakura is helping Naruto shop and Naruto and Sasuke’s largest argument that week is over groceries, and Kakashi is being taught to cook against his will.
("I can cook," Kakashi protests.
"You can't call that cooking," Genma says, sniffing with the delicate sensibilities of someone whose beloved sensei was an Akimichi. Admittedly, most days, he's too lazy to do much, but at least he doesn't try to exist on ration bars and soldier pills and take-out. "That's not cooking. That's just not dying of starvation."
"I just... don't have as much time as I used to," Kakashi says wearily.
Genma sniffs again and doesn't respond. He's aware that Kakashi can cook, quite well, and he's not quite sure how to address the bone-weary exhaustion and day-to-day survivor's guilt in his friend's voice. He makes a mental note to plan an operation that'll have Kakashi cooking properly again. When is the last time anyone fed this man? Chouza would be appalled.)
It’s like Genma just sort of went, mine now, and that was that. No arguments allowed.
If they’re a family, then Genma is definitely the mom. Kakashi is probably the dad, except mom and dad are either not a thing or painfully divorced, because mom definitely goes through a couple girlfriends and boyfriends. Also, Kakashi just stared for two minutes before saying, “Hell, no,” when Sakura asked.
Gai is mom’s weird brother that dad doesn’t get along with. (As opposed to mom’s other weird brother, Ebisu, who dad just ignores mostly.) Team Gai are the cousins – Lee is the weird friendly one you love and who’s awesome, but you kind of pretend you’re not related to in public; Neji is the stuck-up one who really needs to get punched in the face; and Tenten is the apparently sane one who actually turns out to have some really weird hobby, like massive deadly weapon collecting.
Iruka, Kotetsu, and Izumo are sort of like mom’s nephews from a non-existent older sibling. Kurenai and Aoba are like mom’s cousins, and Asuma is mom’s cousin’s boyfriend who may or may not have been mom’s one-night-stand or boyfriend at some point. Like Raidou, except less. Anko is like mom’s unexpected fraternal twin, so the single, really weird, dangerously spontaneous aunt who’s never gonna get married and is probably at least a little bit gay. (A lot gay.)
Akimichi Chouza and Chiharu are like adoptive grandparents, who love their adoptive son but are uncertain about his choice to adopt three kids and co-parent them with Kakashi.
("It's just... you can do so much better, Genma," Chouza says, bewildered and concerned, completely ignoring Genma's protests.
"He's right, you know,"
"Shut up, Kakashi," Genma says.)
While Shikaku and Yoshino, along with Inoichi and Noriko, are similar, except great-aunts and great-uncles. Ino and Shikamaru are mom’s much younger cousins, while Chouji is like mom’s adoptive little brother. Which makes Chouji their… uncle? ("Is anybody else really lost with all this?" "Shut up and keep doing push-ups, Naruto." "If we have to start over again, dead-last, I will kill you.")
The Inuzuka, Aburame, and the rest of the Hyuuga fit into it somehow, along with a few of the lesser clans and such, but that’s where it really gets complicated.
Like, it’s not perfect, because sometimes mom and dad fight about shit, or mom comes to training hungover and angry, or dad doesn’t really talk to anyone and acts really distant. And sometimes Sasuke’s all sullen and bitter, Sakura’s all nervous and shrill, and Naruto’s acting like a fool and whining. But… they’re trying. They’ve got this.
4) Training is hard, but Team Seven has a massive support network for everything.
Kakashi is late exactly once. Because when he is, Genma’s eyes narrow and he stalks off, Team Seven following him like confused ducklings. They go straight to Kakashi’s apartment and Genma sets them loose, much to their delighted glee, and Kakashi is never, ever late again. It takes him awhile to stop pouting, show himself, and start actively participating, but he’s not late.
Kakashi and Genma are both reserve ANBU, Kakashi’s been a shinobi for his whole life, and Genma used to be on a team with Gai, so they’re hardcore about training. Most of the time, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are pretty sure they’re dying. Because if Genma’s Gai-inspired work-outs and constant insistence on absolute subtlety and thinking like a ninja isn’t enough, there’s Kakashi’s ANBU-inspired stealth and co-op exercises, and hardcore chakra and jutsu training.
It’s hard for Sasuke to even think about becoming independently strong when Genma and Kakashi can both independently stomp him into the ground. He quickly learns that if he wants to take even one of them down, he needs to strategize properly and coordinate with Naruto and Sakura, then they need to hit hard and fast and their target isn’t allowed to even know what hit them. Naruto’s got the strength and endurance, Sasuke’s got the speed and skill, and Sakura’s got the accuracy and the knowledge – they work together to figure out what’s basically ANBU-training or there’s hell to pay.
But it’s not all work and no play. Genma’s got a sly sense of humor, and even Kakashi can be dragged into prank wars if he’s provoked right. And joint-exercises with Gai’s team are awesome even if Kakashi drags his feet and they’re exhausting and Neji and Sasuke compete on being jerks. And sometimes Genma invites people like Anko to show up and wreak absolute havoc, and they’re having the time of their lives running for their lives from her.
Complex genjutsu question? Hey, let’s hang out with Kurenai and her lot! Wondering about summons? Kakashi, you summon those dogs for cuddling and wrestling and hide-and-seek or else. Hey, is that Konohamaru? Let’s go see Asuma and Team Ten! Then go to an Ino-Shika-Cho barbecue, because Chiharu is always willing to feed people and in need of genin to chase pollen-and-plant-happy Aburames away from her flower garden. Also, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Ibiki, let’s go say hi and he can give the kiddos tips on T&I stuff. Infiltration question! Off to the Mori family!
“Why do we have to socialize with all these people,” Sasuke demands, hiding behind a plant at a Yamanaka house party. “I don’t want to be here. Can we stay home?”
“Ask Genma,” Kakashi says, also hiding behind a plant. “Wait, I think Yamanaka Noriko just saw us. Kitchen. Go.”
Sasuke is already gone.
Ugh, socializing is exhausting and awful.
(Meanwhile, Naruto is happily making ALL the friends and Sakura is networking like the sharp-eyed, ambitious terror that Genma is turning her into. Crush? What crush? Look, if she’s going to be as well-connected as Genma and a jounin before twenty, she’s got people to schmooze. Naruto can’t possibly become Hokage without backup.)
“I barely even know these people,” Kakashi protests later.
“All the reason to get to know them better, dear,” Genma says mildly, chewing on a senbon. “Oh, look, it’s Mori Hanako and Taiki, let’s go say hi. I love them.” His nails are already embedded in Kakashi’s arm. It’s too late to escape. “And stop encouraging Sasuke to hide in the bathroom. It’s rude.”
5) The mission to Wave is very, very different.
Demon of the Mist? Aha, yeah, meet overprotective co-parents Genma and Kakashi. And their genin-team that they’ve been training like ANBU recruits while using the entire village of Konoha as a training resource. Zabuza, you may want to call in sick.