The first time it happened, Kakashi was low on chakra, heavily injured, and needed someone to go into town and pick up something without drawing attention or bleeding everywhere. Pakkun was right there. He knew how to do a henge—was, in fact, disguised as a dog twice his size.
"Hey," Kakashi said. "I have an idea."
"Is the idea bleeding to death? Because you're well on your way."
Pakkun wasn't pleased that Kakashi hadn't bothered with more than cursory first aid.
"The sooner we finish this mission, the sooner we can go home," Kakashi said.
"What's the plan, Boss?" Pakkun asked.
"That's stupid. There's no way I pass as a run of the mill human."
"You don't have to." Kakashi passed over a canvas bag. "You just have to pass as a jounin. We've got more slack for strange behavior."
"I'll say." Pakkun huffed. He took the bag in his teeth. "Fine. But when this goes horribly wrong, you can't blame me."
It went well. It went perfectly. Pakkun picked up the package, and if the client complained about Kakashi gnawing on his own arm mid-conversation, well, Pakkun had an itch, and it's not like the Hokage hadn't heard worse.
The second time, there was a meeting. Kakashi didn't want to go. It had worked out the last time. He sent Pakkun in his place.
"The next time you send a summons to replace you, at least make sure they've read the briefing," Shikaku said. To show there were hard feelings, he continued, "In your absence, I volunteered you for a genin team."
The third time was a mission again. They split up to confuse pursuit.
"I hate this. I'm almost getting used to having hands, but it's weird not having a tail," Pakkun said.
"I'll give you an extra hour of belly rubs when we get home," Kakashi said.
"And a steak."
"And a steak," Kakashi agreed.
That was the extent of the complaining. They split up. The mission was a success.
"Please never make me do that again," Pakkun said afterward.
They did it again. Of course they did. It was useful. Kakashi had to husband his resources carefully, his chakra more than anything else with how much Obito's eye drained him. Shadow clones weren't practical. Henge by a trusted ally? It was like he was in two places at once. And sometimes he got caught up, couldn't make long-standing appointments.
"If you can't make date night," Gai said when he returned Pakkun home, his tone ominously calm, "I would appreciate your sending Pakkun to tell me, not take your place."
"This wasn't so bad." Pakkun was practically draped over Gai's shoulder. "He took me for a walk and gave me head scritches in the park."
So now there were even more weird rumors about Kakashi and Gai's relationship, but when weren't there?
"Your summons is not allowed to pick up your genin team," Sarutobi told Kakashi, teeth clamped around the stem of his pipe. "I give you a lot of leeway, but you do not want to test me on this."
"Right." Kakashi changed his plans.
Shikaku's daughter would've probably seen right through it, anyway.
"I've got a thing," Kakashi told his cute new genin, "but that won't get you out of D-ranks." He waved a hand at Pakkun beside him. "You'll have supervision."
"Shadow clone?" Sasuke asked, his eyes considering.
Shikako looked slightly skeptical. Yeah, he never would've gotten Pakkun past her on that first meeting. "Is he allowed to sign for you?"
"Sure," Kakashi said. It hadn't caused too many problems before, at least.
"What if we accidentally pop him?" Naruto asked.
"Try it, kid," Pakkun said.
Kakashi waved a hand. "Be good."
"I'm always good," Pakkun said.
"You are," Kakashi warmly agreed. He pointed at his genin. "I was telling them."
He turned and walked away. Behind him, he heard, "That is definitely not a shadow clone."