When Kakashi woke the morning after passing the New Team Seven, he woke from a dream of his own genin days, of Rin, Obito, and Kakashi all together. For a brief moment he woke feeling nostalgic. He realized in that moment, that in these three genin he saw his own team.
Their teamwork was weak. Very, very weak, and Kakashi really shouldn’t have passed them based on it. But he had. He had because there was something there, a spark, ready to bloom into fierce loyalty. They were also all skilled in their own way. Kakashi had seen many shinobi, had personally failed many genin, and he could spot talent. And these three had it. So he had passed them.
In one world, Kakashi awoke, felt grieved, and let that grief make him a lazy teacher. He saw himself in Sasuke, Obito in Naruto, and Rin in Sakura. He woke, saw himself in them, and took a large step back, regretting accepting them as his new team. In another world he was quite hands off, merely a watcher because it was so very painful to watch. He saw himself and all his mistakes in this new team of his.
In this world, Kakashi awoke, saw the similarities, and instantly panicked.
Kakashi was not a man prone to panic or hysteria, but in that instant he felt it overwhelm him and he fled to the memorial stone. Kakashi had a full blown panic attack before the stone, begging his dead team for advice. Begging them to protect this new team and not let them end as tragically as his had. He could see himself in Sasuke ignoring his team, seeing them below him. He could see Obito in Naruto acting out for attention and recognition. He could see Rin in Sakura crushing after Sasuke and snapping over Naruto. He could already see cold Sasuke being broken over stubborn Naruto’s death when Naruto would be the one to remember team loyalty and pay for it. He could see broken Sakura, caught because of his failings to teacher her and murdered. He could see Sasuke breaking all over again.
Kakashi panicked, suddenly realizing what he had done, who he had passed. He did not want to watch history repeat itself.
So Kakashi had a panic attack and a break down like he had not had since ANBU. Ever lazy Kakashi was suddenly thrown from first gear into full speed and it left him scrabbling and frantic.
And so Kakashi, the genius copy-nin who had been a genin at age 6, did what he did best. Kakashi was born and bred to be a shinobi and shinobi were good at a few things. One was killing your problems, the other was being paranoid and over prepared. Since Kakashi wanted to do the opposite of kill this problem, he kicked himself into gear and started to plan for every way this could go wrong and what he had to do to not watch this new Team Seven die.
Simply put, Kakashi became a teacher.
Kakashi watched the three very carefully for the next three days, watching them as they did D-rank missions. He offered them no training and watched as they didn’t take the initiative while he made them wait two hours for his late arrival. He watched as Sasuke ignored the other two, Naruto challenged him at every turn, and Sakura switched between crushing on Sasuke to yelling at Naruto in an instant.
To be honest, Kakashi really wasn’t surprised or disappointed. You had to have expectations to start too even feel them get destroyed.
Instead Kakashi watched and knew he could train them, could train any bad habits out of them. It was why kids graduated at twelve and were put in 3 man teams. One teacher for three students was better than one teacher to a full class. It was Kakashi’s job to train them. In reality, genin was not considered much of a step above academy student to most ninja. Shinobi didn’t consider genin to be ninja to be honest. They were still students, who were to be trained. They may take “missions” but those were just glorified chores that were more often a different form of training. D-ranks trained genin how to work together, how to work with civilians, how to follow orders, and even skills they made need for disguises later. D-ranks weren’t really missions.
So Kakashi didn’t worry. He knew they would be pretty bad straight out of the academy with its lax training. He would get them up to snuff or so help him.
So Kakashi watched for three days, made plans, and prepared. Then, on the fourth day, Kakashi woke up at 3am and put his plan into motion.
Kakashi grinned beneath his mask as he grabbed Naruto like a sack of potatoes. The boy didn’t even twitch, just kept snoring. There was something quite fun about kidnapping his new precious students, after having caught them in genjutsu. Especially with how easy they made it. Sure, Naruto had some impressive traps about his apartment, but Kakashi was a jonin thank you very much.
Kakashi was a tad impressed with Naruto’s creativity and skill with traps though. He had heard of his pranks and like most others, not really considered the trap-potential in them. Now he was having second thoughts considering even Sasuke’s traps weren’t half as good as Naruto’s.
Sakura had no traps of course. He’d fix that later.
Kakashi tossed Naruto onto the back of Bull with his other two cute students and strapped them down. Then he and his ninken waved at the ANBU who watched them leave the gates. Kakashi had made sure to get permission before they left. This time at least.
It was the work of ten hours of some very, very, quick tree-hopping to get them deep into Fire Country, deep into the thickest parts of the forest and the wild. It would take the poor genin at least two weeks to walk back, maybe a week if they decided to run some of it.
Kakashi spent the next hour searching the area with his ninken for an ideal place. They found one that had a river and small lake with in a safe distance. The forests of Fire country were thick and wild, nigh on impenetrable to those who had not been raised to survive in them. Even civilians rarely left roads or towns. Such large swaths of wilderness always held large predators and dangerous plants. That wasn’t even considering the more northern parts of the country that was still riddled with dead traps from the wars.
But what was deadly to civilians was safer for ninja. Not easier, but survivable.
So Kakashi found an area, dismissed his ninken, and dropped his students in a heap. He set their own sandals and three brand new travelling cloaks at their feet. And then he dismissed the genjutsu that had helped keep them asleep. Nearly as one they awoke, their instincts suddenly telling them something was wrong. Sasuke came awake ready and aware, leaping to his feet even as Sakura and Naruto groaned, rubbing their eyes and groggily peering.
“Good morning!” Kakashi chirped.
“What?” Sakura asked, blinking as she realized she wasn’t in bed.
“Wuzzit?” Naruto shook his head like a dog, “Where are we?!”
Sasuke gave no accusations, just narrowed his eyes at Kakashi and took stock of the situation.
“It’s time for some training ducklings!” Kakashi sang, eye smiling, “Survival training specifically! Doesn’t that sound fun?”
“Where are we?” Sakura asked standing up finally, “This isn’t Konoha.”
“Oh? How do you know that?” Kakashi asked curiously.
Sakura flushed as Naruto and Sasuke looked at her as well and hesitantly pointed to a plant near Kakashi.
“Um, that’s a species only found in southern Fire country, not near Konoha.”
Sasuke and Naruto turned to Kakashi, one giving him a narrowed expression while the other gaped.
“What?! Why are we not in Konoha?!” Naruto leapt to his feet.
Kakashi was quite pleased they had trusted Sakura immediately on her information. That was good. Trust was good.
“Survival training,” Kakashi repeated with a smile.
“Did you kidnap us out of bed?” Sakura asked aghast as she realized she was in her pajamas.
Naruto gave a shout of outrage as he realized this as well. Sasuke had already realized this, along with the fact he had no weapons.
“We have no supplies,” Sasuke said lowly.
“Survival training,” Kakashi repeated, “It isn’t real if I gave you everything to survive. I was nice and brought your sandals and some cloaks for you. I will give you one more gift though.”
tossed three kunai to their feet and smiled. They shrank back from this smile. Kakashi would forgive them for that. This smile was a tad more foreboding and gleeful.
“You have one month to make it back to Konoha,” Kakashi smiled, “I’ll see you there. Good luck!”
And then he vanished before their eyes. Or appeared too. He watched from a tree branch, under layers of genjutsu, as the three panicked. Even Sasuke, who looked calm and collected on the outside, clenched his fists and stared at the ground. Naruto shouted a lot and Sakura looked a tad frazzled.
“He left us!?” Naruto howled.
“Shut up!” Sakura hissed, “Can he even do that?”
“We’re going to die!” Naruto yelled again.
“We won’t die,” Sakura snapped, “He won’t be allowed to let us die.”
“But he abandoned us!”
“He’ll have to check in on us,” Sakura said, trying to sound assured and sounding less than so.
Sasuke said nothing, simply pulled his sandals on, shouldered the cloak, and picked up the kunai at his feet, looking around. Kakashi could see his eyes tighten and his mouth curl downwards as the kid was hit by the realization he had no idea where they were.
“Sakura,” Sasuke said sharply, cutting into the other two’s yelling, “You said we were in the south?”
“Um, yes,” Sakura said quickly, looking at Sasuke hopefully, “Do you recognize the area?”
“…I’ve never been outside of Konoha,” Sasuke said stiffly.
“Neither have I,” Sakura admitted.
“Me neither,” Naruto frowned, “How do we get back if we don’t know where we are?”
“If we’re south, we head north,” Sasuke said simply.
“Um…Fire Country is really big,” Sakura said slowly, as if unsure she wanted to contradict Sasuke, “We could head North and still miss Konoha by a hundred kilometers easily.”
Sasuke clenched his kunai and glared at the ground. Sakura drew back from the displeased expression on his face, clenching her hands worriedly.
“What about the stars?” Naruto asked suddenly, “If we wait for night we can just follow them.”
The other two turned to him slowly, surprised, and stared.
“What?” Naruto asked nervously as they continued to stare.
“That’s…that’s actually really smart Naruto,” Sakura said slowly.
“Hehe,” Naruto laughed nervously, scratching the back of his head, “I mean, Iruka told us they can be used as a guide right? He helped me finish an assignment one night on them.”
The two still stared as if they couldn’t believe Naruto had had a good idea.
“Okay. So we wait for night,” Sakura said hesitantly, “What should we do till then?”
“Food,” Sasuke grunted.
“Such a good idea!” Sakura beamed at him, “Do you know what we can eat?”
“We can hunt,” he declared after only a brief pause.
“We can eat some berries and roots and stuff to,” Naruto said.
“We meet back here tonight,” Sasuke said, and then set off into the trees.
“Wait!” Sakura yelped leaping to her feet, “Shouldn’t we stay together.”
“You’ll get in my way,” Sasuke snorted as he disappeared into the undergrowth.
Sakura looked after him aghast and dejected.
“Ne, Sakura,” Naruto said hesitantly looking around, “I think we should stay together.”
“If Sasuke says we don’t need to,” Sakura started strong.
But then she trailed off, looking about.
“We’re pretty deep in the woods,” Naruto insisted, “Really deep if Sensei thinks it will take us a month to get back. There are wild animals out here.”
As if answering a call, a roar rang out from ahead of them where Sasuke had gone.
“Sasuke!” Sakura screamed even as Naruto leapt after the boy.
Kakashi followed as the two crashed through the bush and came upon Sasuke facing a giant bear. In the trees Kakashi chuckled weakly, not having expected them to have run into trouble that soon. But they were trained for all they weren’t considered real Ninja, and Kakashi was pleasantly surprised when they even half worked together.
Sasuke and Naruto were quick enough to dodge any hits and Naruto kept spamming clones while Sasuke used some quick fire attacks when they realized their kunai were useless against the tough hide. The fight went on for a bit as Sakura leapt about the edges, obviously frayed and worried. Kakashi waited to see if she would jump in at all, and was finally rewarded when her expression changed and she put her hands together.
“Sasuke, Naruto! Get out of the way!”
Naruto obeyed immediately, but Sasuke lingered until a Naruto-clone threw him out of the way. Then Sakura channeled her chakra and used a very low level genjutsu they were taught in the academy to make people think their opponents had disappeared, visually and scent wise. Kakashi was currently using a much more advanced version of it.
“Don’t make a sound!” Sakura hissed at the two boys as the bear roared, confused.
They stood absolutely still at the edges, waiting as the bear sniffed about, rumbled, and finally strode off. When they were sure it was gone, Sakura dropped the jutsu, panting just the slightest.
“Awesome Sakura!” Naruto crowed.
“Thank you,” she flushed.
She looked to Sasuke for kind words as well but he looked away, crossing his arms.
“We need to stick together,” Naruto announced, “We can hunt together or within yelling distance.”
“Don’t make decisions for us, Dead-last,” Sasuke snapped.
“Says the person almost eaten by a bear!” Naruto yelled.
“I was doing fine,” Sasuke hissed, “Idiot.”
It quickly devolved into a scrap as Naruto lunged.
“Stop it, both of you!” Sakura finally interrupted, stamping her foot, “We have to work together! Which means no fighting! We don’t have the energy to waste on fighting.”
They looked away sullenly, but listening for now.
“First thing we need to find is water,” Sakura said, tone bossy, “We can do without food for now and figure out the hunting thing later. But water we will need. On the way we can look for roots and berries.”
Kakashi wore a pleased smile as he watched Sakura herd the two. He had hoped she would pick up a spine along the way and not make eyes at Sasuke constantly. He supposed being dropped in a forest and told to survive was a good way to do that. Maybe also the fact she had actually made a difference in a fight. Oh, she wasn’t instantly cured, but he would bet anything that by the end of the month, she’d be much less of a squealing fangirl. Especially if Sasuke kept this attitude up.