Pakkun told me Boss has been sniffing around a new human lately. Urushi and Shiba whine about it- hoping this new person was nothing like the funny looking guy with the bushy eyebrows who shouted all the time. Guruko likes him so he isn’t as bad as those two make him out to be. Akino said it was probably another one of Boss’s old masked comrades like Tenzou but Uhei didn’t think so since Tenzou’s the only one Boss actually liked that wasn’t already dead or still wearing one. Bull just yawned. Bull likes everyone.
I was curious to know who this new person was. Pakkun wouldn’t tell me anything. I think he knew something and was hiding it. Boss always tells him stuff first before the rest of us but Pakkun also is very observant. That’s why he’s number one in addition to being old like a grandpup! Since he wouldn’t tell me I wanted to find out for myself.
“Knock yourself out, kid.” he gruffed. “Leave my name out of it when you get caught.” When I get caught? He still thinks I’m a clumsy puppy from time to time. Not when I have a mission though. That’s when I’m the most amazing ninken ever! And this was going to be my new mission: operation discover Boss’s new human. If Pakkun said he’s been sniffing around them then this person must be a new friend for him. Boss needs a new one. He needs a new one since he doesn’t have that many left. And no matter how much he loves us the pack isn’t the same thing and we all know it.
The next time we were home for a while I followed Boss’s scent (which only us Ninken can trace since he hides it from everyone else). It didn’t take me long to find him. He was hanging around that building were he gets his commands. I snuck inside and hid myself were I could still keep Boss in my line of sight. He was just reading. He could do that anywhere. He could do that at home with us! Throwing a ball one handed from the couch or his bed while we chased it, letting us snuggle up against him, giving us good scratches and tummy touches. So why read here? Why was this place so special?
He sat there for an hour and nothing interesting happened. He didn’t talk to anyone and people ignored him. This was getting boring. I yawned and felt myself getting sleepy. I considered taking a nap when suddenly I could sense Boss get tense. My ears perked up and I was instantly at attention. To everyone else he looked perfectly normal and relaxed but we, his pack, know Boss better than everyone! I could tell Boss was on alert and his focus was high but this was different than when in battle. I titled my head to try to figure it out. That’s when I noticed it. His eyes had stopped reading! His fingers still turned pages but his eyes weren’t looking at the book anymore. He was looking at someone but I couldn’t tell who it was from where I was hiding. I did my best to make sure no one heard my claws as I scrambled to find a better place were I could still see Boss but also what he was starting at.
The people who give out the commands were changing shifts. The one with the stick in his mouth was laughing and chatting with a guy with a ponytail almost as fluffy as Shikaku’s. When I was still a puppy he let me play with it while he watched the clouds in the sky. His was jet black but this new person’s was brown. And he had darker skin too. Anyone was darker than boss but he reminded me of the really good gravy Boss puts on our steaks when it’s our birthdays. It’s such a warm and pretty brown and it tastes so good; we each only get it once a year but it’s worth the wait.
Boss was watching them laugh. I could see his fingers tighten when stickman nudged gravy guy. It didn’t sound like they were fighting though. When stickman left Boss relaxed, well at least his hands did. He kept staring at gravy guy though. He sat there for hours watching him welcome ninja who came in and gave him stuff, thank them, give other their commands, and even yell at some like they peed on the carpet. That made Boss smile. Because I knew what to look for I could tell through his mask. Plus every now and then gravy guy would glance over at Boss. His face would turn red, he would rub the line on his face and then look away. He only did this when he didn’t have to give out commands. This made Boss smile even more. Operation discover Boss’s new human now had a phase two- learn more about gravy man.
I thought Boss worked alot with so many missions but I think gravy man works even more. He rarely leaves the village though. When Boss was back for two weeks because he used up all his chakra (again), I snuck out to work on phase two of my very special mission. None of the other pack wanted to come along. They just wanted to wrestle or sleep. Pakkun and Uhei were too busy running errands for Boss while Bull acted like his limbs. That was fine, I could finally know something before the rest for once!
Gravy man knew everyone in town- ninja and regular people! He was so friendly, waving and smiling. Did his face ever hurt from doing it so much? He even had his own pack that he trained. They were a bunch of tiny humans who were just as loud as a kennel of newborn puppies. He taught every different than Boss. He taught us how to hunt, kill, run drills, set traps and underground fighting styles, gravy man used books and he wrote stuff on a big black wall in white. All his puppies scribbled what he talked about, sometimes they worked together two. And then after he was done with the puppies he went to the same place I first saw him give out commands. From what I could see gravy man seemed like a really nice person. Even when the puppies got fussy and made them mad they were never afraid of him. They always wanted to impress him or give him hugs. When they were hurt he was like a momma making them feel better.
Boss still continued to hang around watching him, on days when he got yelled at by him. I think that made him happy? This was really confusing. Especially because now instead of only just watching him and getting yelled at, they would leave together when gravy man was done. Sometimes they would go get food together but Boss always walked him home. He never went in even though it really looked like they both wanted him to. Gravy man always turned red and rubbed his nose and Boss would laugh and mess up his own hair. Humans are weird.
It was clear watching him wasn’t enough. It was time for phase three- meet gravy man.
I sat on the windowsill outside of his den waiting for him to see me. His puppies saw me first. They raced to the window and it made me really scared but I didn’t run away. I had decided that I needed to talk to gravy man and no ninken gets scared on a mission. Shiba and Urushi would never stop teasing me if I did. I love them but they can be really annoying jerks. Since Boss always tells me that I’m the cutest one and has me trick people with that I decided to use that skill here. I stood up on my hind legs and pawed at the window, yipping to be let in. It worked because gravy man came over and let me in. The puppies were squealing and happily following me as I ran around in a circle in the middle of the room.
“Okay class, let’s give this little one some space.”
Gravy man had really nice voice! No wonder Boss smiled every time they talked. It felt like a nice fluffy blanket being wrapped around me. He crouched down next to me and held out his hand, wanting me to know he wasn’t a threat. I already knew that but obviously he didn’t know that I knew. He sniffed his palm before I nudged it. That made all his puppy excited. He scratched my ear and I swear it was the best scratch of my life! My leg started thumping all on its own and I felt like I was melting. I though Boss gave good scratched but this was pure heaven. He looked over at his puppies as instructed them to do the same thing- hold out their hand for me to sniff and then gently pat my head. It all felt so good that I got sad when a bell rang and it all stopped. The kids were sad too but gravy man said that it was their lunch time and they needed to go.
I watched them all leave before following gravy man to his desk. I jumped up on it and sat down. He smiled and pulled out a lunch box. “Would you like to keep me company for lunch?” Of course I wanted to, I needed to learn all about him. The pieces of his lunch that he shared with me was a pleasant bonus. He was really chatty but not in that annoying way bushy eyebrows can get. He had such a calm tone that was just so easy going. Plus he stroked my head. It felt so good that I rolled over and he gave me the absolute best tummy touches! I didn’t think that heavenly ear scratch could be topped but gravy man has magical fingers.
I made sure to visit his den the next time Boss was back in town. It had been almost a month away. The puppies were so happy to see me again and so was he. I liked all this extra attention and all the rubs. The weather was nice so gravy man was teaching them how to use kunai. I walked at his heels as he helped each one adjust their aim. I ran to help collect any weapons that were thrown too far. It was fun being with these puppies and gravy man and not having to fight with seven other ninken for attention that I forgot about my mission and just wanted to be a normal dog.
I had been sitting under a tree with gravy man and getting another amazing tummy touch when I heard Boss. I immediately froze. Gravy man sensed something because he looked at me concerned. He switched to gently stroking my head. He looked up when Kakashi approached, his eyes wide in shock.
“There you are, you little rascal.” Boss wasn’t mad, he never yelled at any of us. It took him a moment to notice gravy man and I swear I think his ears turned a little pink. He ruffled his hair just like whenever he walked him home. “Ah, Iruka-sensei. I hope my ninken wasn’t causing you any trouble.”
“No, not at all Kakashi-sensei. If anything he’s been a great help today with the kids. They’ve grown to really like him and look forward to his visits.”
“Visits?” Boss gave me a look at clearly said that I was busted. There’s no way he could have known about my super secret personal mission. I didn’t even tell Bull and I tell him everything! But at least know I got to know gravy man’s name. “The pack had mentioned that he’s been running off lately but they just figured with him being so young he just wanted to run around outside. I shouldn’t be surprised he made his way to you, sensei. I would have found my way here if I were in his place, especially if it meant you got to pet me.”
I looked confused between them because I didn’t understand why what Boss said made him turn red. But what I did know was that my mission didn’t need to be aborted after all. That made me extremely happy. I licked Iruka-sensei’s hand before following Boss. If he came and found me that meant he probably got another command.
We were gone for another month before making it back home. I was so tired that I swear I slept for days! When I woke up Boss wasn’t home and no one else seemed to care. I decided that I wanted to go find Iruka-sensei. I was still kind of tired so the idea of laying in his lap while he scratched my chin seemed too good to pass up. I went by his den but he wasn’t there. I decided to go to where he gives out commands. He was there by himself at that long desk. I was so happy that I immediately dashed inside. I leapt onto the desk and yipped happily. I must have really surprised him because he dropped his pen. He didn’t get mad at me though. He smiled and rubbed both my ears at the same time. Yep, coming here had been a great idea!
An odd scent hit my nose and no matter much I was loving the attention I couldn’t get rid of this nagging feeling. It was like it was familiar, but different. It was really subtle that even Pakkun and Akino would have a hard time with it. I pulled away from those amazing hands and stared at him.
“Bisuke? Is something wrong?” I moved closer and sniffed him. I ran my nose all along his arm before jumping onto his lap. The scent was stronger so I continued to sniff at his vest and shirt. “I missed you too…” His voice seemed nervous and I didn’t understand why. When I reached the collar of his shirt my eyes got really big. I knew what the scent was! It was Iruka-sensei’s and something else. It was someone else.
“Why do you smell like Boss?” I forgot that I never spoke to him before, that had to have been why he looked so scared, right? Most people only think Pakkun can talk. We all can, just some better than others. Bull has the hardest time but that’s because he thinks people will say that he sounds bad funny. When I didn’t get a response I sniffed him again. “Yep, that’s Boss. I wasn’t sure at first because he intentionally hides his scent from everyone except the pack. Are you replacing Boss?”
“I--- I could never replace Kakashi-sensei.”
“And he’s not going to.”
I looked over my shoulder and backed happily when I saw Boss. Iruka-sensei still looked a bit worried so I licked his face to make him feel better. “But then why does he smell like you?” They both shared a look with each other. I remembered the original reason why I came and promptly sat down on Iruka-sensei’s lap. It was just as warm and comfy as I had imagined.
After a couple moments of silence both men started laughing. I looked at them both really confused. That made Iruka-sensei pat me softly. “There goes your plan to tell them all at once.” He smiled and looked down at me.
“So… are you joining our pack? But Boss said you’re not replacing him” I asked, still really confused. Boss rolled his eyes.
“In a way. We talked about it and I’ll be your boss’s boss.”
I yipped happily. I couldn’t wait to rub it in Shiba and Urushi’s snouts that I knew something before they did. Iruka-sensei seemed to make Boss happy so they all shouldn’t have a problem with it. If they don’t like him then it’s more tummy touches for me.