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Familiar, yet different

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(I don't own any characters etc etc)

 

Snap, crackle, pop.

A blast of light, some acrid smoke, and Yamato groaned.

His head hurt, and he was on his back on the ground. That wasn’t where he remembered being…

He tried to take in his surroundings before sitting up, as nothing seemed dangerous or noteworthy.

Looking around, Yamato’s head pulsed harder as he scanned the forest. It seemed about where he remembered the last fight had been…

Eyes widening, he remembered that Team Kakashi had been in a fight with some missing nin, ones with unique jutsu and too-sharp weapons. Where was everyone?

Yamato pursed his lips and let out a brief whistle, quick code to check in.

He heard groaning to his right and silently crept over, relief flooding him when he found Sai.

“Are you okay?” Yamato greeted him, and Sai nodded.

“I think so,” he said, looking himself over. “I don’t appear to be hurt, though my head and body ache. My head moreso,” he admitted.

“Mine too,” Yamato agreed, scanning himself again. No injuries there either.

“That’s strange,” he said, puzzled. “We got knocked out in the fight, but no actual injuries? Why would that group just leave us like that?”

“Perhaps they had something more interesting to deal with,” Sai said. “Or, someone. Where are the others?”

“I’ll try again,” Yamato said, giving out another whistle.

No response.

Sai nudged him and Yamato turned to find the younger man holding out pills and a canteen.

“Sakura gave me extra strength headache medicine, for quick relief,” he said. “I think we ought to use some of them.”

Yamato nodded and gratefully accepted it all, feeling instantly better.

“Good call,” he praised Sai. “We should look for the others, I’m not sure how much time has passed. I don’t remember much before being knocked out, just the fight. What about you?”

“The same,” Sai said, standing and stretching. “A loud bang, a flash of light.”

“Me too,” Yamato said, before sighing. “What I wouldn’t give for Kakashi’s ninken.”

“I have an idea,” Sai said, pulling out a scroll and kneeling over it. His brush danced across it and soon a flock of ink mice scurried away in different directions. “We should know something soon.”

They checked their gear and began to look around the area to see if they could note anything or track on their own, and twenty minutes later, some mice came back.

“They’re not too far,” Sai informed Yamato. “West.”

“Let’s go,” Yamato posed, and off they went.

The two ran through the forest keeping an eye on the trees around them, eager to meet up with the rest of the team, but slightly wary of what might lay ahead. Could Sakura, Naruto, and Kakashi hold their own against the missing nin?

“Is that Naruto?” Sai suddenly asked, breaking Yamato out of his thoughts.

Yamato listened, and nodded. “I think so! He sounds...jovial?”

Sai nodded, frowning slightly. “They’re a strong team, we shouldn’t be surprised. I’m grateful they’re alright.”

“Me too, but I’ll be glad to see it with my own eyes,” Yamato said.

As they neared voices, something changed in the area, and Yamato held out a hand, pausing Sai.

They crouched in a tree, listening intently, waiting for something to happen.

“Yo,” a familiar voice said. From the ground beneath them, Kakashi looked up at them. “What are you doing here?” he asked, clearly confused.

“Kakashi!” Yamato cheered, jumping down, Sai following him. “You’re okay?”

‘The kids are getting on my nerves, but it’s nothing new,” Kakashi replied. “What are you doing here?” he asked again, warily. “And who’s the pale kid?”

“We’re here with you, remember?” Yamato asked, lowering his voice. “Sai and I must have gotten separated in the fight.”

Next to him, Sai nodded. “Captain Yamato found me, and here we are.”

“Yamato?” Kakashi asked. “You’re here on a mission?”

Yamato nodded, surprised by the question. “With you, yes. You all beat the nin, then?”

Kakashi studied him with a slightly narrowed visible eye. “What nin?”

“The group we were all fighting,” Yamato cautiously reminded him. “Like, six people? Weird jutsu, extra pointy weapons?”

“Perhaps that was your mission, Yamato,” Kakashi said, stressing the name. “We’re just out for training.”

“What?” Sai and Yamato asked in unison.

“Perhaps you’re not who you say you are,” Kakashi mused, lifting his forehead protector to study them. “But….you’re you…” he said, perplexed. “But if you’re Yamato...and not…” He paused, glancing at Sai. “Not, you-know-who, what does that mean?”

Before anyone could say anything more, Naruto’s voice rang out.

“Kakashi-sensei! Can you come back so we can start to cook dinner? I’m starving!”

“Naruto!” Sakura could clearly be heard chastising him. “It’s still early!”

“Yeah, dobe,” a new voice chimed in.

Yamato and Sai turned to each other with wide eyes.

“Was that --?” Sai began.

“It sounded like him,” Yamato agreed, before looking at Kakashi. “Sasuke is with you?”

“I know, three genin is three too many,” Kakashi sighed, before looking at Sai. “Tell me you’re not a genin?”

“Chunin,” Sai assured him.

“Good,” Kakashi said, nodding. “Though, I don’t know how you know that about Sasuke?” he asked Yamato. “I mean, a lot of people know about him, sure. But not to be able to recognize his voice. Something seems off about all this.”

“I...I don’t know what to say,” Yamato offered, and Kakashi shrugged.

“Kakashi-sensei!” Naruto yelled again.

“Let’s go back,” Kakashi sighed. “Naruto still needs a lesson in using his discreet field voice…”

Yamato and Sai looked at each other as they followed the jonin, but paused in shock when they reached the team.

“Is that….that’s not…” Sai began.

“What is going on?” Yamato asked, slowly.

“Hey, you brought friends?” Naruto asked Kakashi. “Weird. Do we have enough food for them?”

“I brought extra, check again,” Kakashi said. “This is Captain Yamato? And Sai?” he asked, as he introduced them.

The two nodded, eyes still widened in surprise.

“I’m Uzumaki Naruto, future Hokage!” the blond introduced himself. “And that’s the beautiful Sakura, and there’s just Sasuke.”

“She….and he…” Sai whispered.

“I know,” Yamato muttered. “Be cool...until we figure this out…”

For there, in front of them, was Team Seven.

But...united? And...younger?

Naruto looked younger, and was wearing a white/orange/blue outfit. Sakura was in a red dress, fully red and with sleeves, but most surprising was her hair. It was now long, not a style Sai or Yamato had seen on her.

And then there was Sasuke. Not only was he with them, but he was young as well, and in an equally young outfit - white pants, a blue top, and arm warmers? Covers? The men weren’t sure.

“Let’s cook,” Naruto announced, and the genin turned their attention back to the fire.

“I don’t think we’re in Konoha anymore,” Yamato muttered, before catching sight of Kakashi signalling discreetly at him. “Join them, don’t talk about anything until I figure it all out,” Yamato said to Sai, who nodded.

The two parted ways, with Sai joining the...kids? And Yamato moving to sit in a tree with Kakashi.

“Your chakra is off, just a little,” Kakashi flatly commented. “My Sharingan spotted it. I know it’s still you, otherwise, though it’s...something’s off.”

“I don’t even know myself,” Yamato sighed, as he looked around for a clue. “Say, what’s the team been up to lately?”

“My team?” Kakashi asked, and Yamato rolled his eyes. “We had an...interesting...mission. The Tenchi Bridge, something with that. A real learning experience for the kids.”

“That one?” Yamato asked. “How long ago?”

“Not too long now.”

Yamato felt his heart race slightly. “And...the chuunin exams?”

Kakashi studied him. “They’re a bit down the road. Let me guess, I shouldn’t put them up for it?”

“I...no...you should,” Yamato said. “But, that hasn’t happened yet?”

“Not yet,” Kakashi said. “Why?”

“Then that means...this is...which is why they’re young…” Yamato said, trying to piece it all together. “Senpai, I think I have something crazy to tell you, and I’m not sure you’ll believe me. I’m not sure I believe myself.”

Kakashi nodded. “We’ve been through a lot, Tenzou. And you going by your codename, you must be here for something important. Go on.”

Yamato nodded and took a deep breath. “I think Sai and I time travelled. We were with you in the...future...and we were fighting a group of missing nin, and one used a jutsu, or a seal, something. And now we’re back with you. We don’t work with this version of you, just one a few years older. The kids look different, the team is...different, where we come from.”

Kakashi and Yamato looked at each other in silence as the weight of the sentence hung in the air.

“Time travel?” Kakashi finally said, scratching his masked chin. “That’s a pretty tall tale for a jutsu.”

“I know,” Yamato agreed. “But we’re here, and we definitely weren’t not long ago. We woke up here, but we’re supposed to be elsewhere!”

“It’s a shinobi bedtime story, an urban legend,” Kakashi continued, musing to himself. “Time travel, could it really have been developed? With the right blood jutsu, maybe...and the right seals...with lots of research...but you never know…”

“You believe me?” Yamato asked, and Kakashi shrugged.

“I don’t have a reason not to,” he said. “But we should have a cover story for the kids. You and pale kid are out training too. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Icha Icha, don’t tell us anything we shouldn’t know. If this is all true, this will become part of our past, and could alter the future.”

Yamato solemnly nodded. “Right. Let’s go talk to Sai.”

He stood to jump down, but Kakashi reached out to pause him.

“Senpai?”

“Of course, there can be exceptions,” Kakashi began.

“But you just said --”

“I know, but still,” the copy nin said, waving it away lazily. “I’m just going to ask you one thing, and only thing only. And I need a serious answer.”

Yamato nodded.

“How much more Icha Icha is out there in your time? And movies? Spin offs?”

Yamato rolled his eyes. “No.”

“But kohai --”

“I’m leaving,” Yamato said, shaking his head as he jumped down, ignoring the copy nin’s continued questions.

____

Sai appeared fairly receptive to the idea, though Yamato was never true of his full emotions one way or another.

As discussed, they went with the cover of Konoha nin on a training mission, and having run into Yamato’s comrade Kakashi, were invited to join the campsite for the night.

After dinner, the genin lightly sparred, and Yamato and Sai sat side by side near the fire, watching, until Sai was invited to join them.

“You’re sloppy with your movements, as expected,” Sai said to Naruto, who frowned as he missed a punch.

“And you have much to learn, but the fireball was nice,” he said to Sasuke as he dodged it.

“And you,” Sai said to Sakura, “are not as strong as I thought you would be.”

“You little --” Sakura began, and Yamato laughed when she caught him off guard and got in a small jab of her fist.

Sai frowned slightly and rubbed his arm. “Not bad, for now,” he said. “A welcomed change to how hard I’m normally hit.”

“Maybe if you weren’t so rude, you wouldn’t get hit as much,” Sakura said tossing her long, pink hair over her shoulder. “Not like Sasuke-kun,” she said, smiling at her teammate.

“Still fawning over him I see,” Sai said.

“What do you mean ‘still?’” Sakura asked, eyes narrowed.

“He means that everyone in the village knows that you’ve fangirled over Sasuke since the academy,” Kakashi intervened, patting her on the head. “One might say it’s embarrassing, to do it upon becoming genin, really. Same for you,” he said to Naruto.

“I’ll show you embarrassing,” Naruto began, making a fist.

“I don’t doubt it,” Kakashi agreed. “Let’s get you all ready for bed, I don’t want cranky genin when I wake you up early. Guard shifts...Sai, you can be first, then Yamato, then Sasuke, Naruto, and Sakura.”

“What about you?” Sasuke asked, and Kakashi shrugged.

“I’ll keep watch all night,” Kakashi said, summoning Bull and Pakkun. “Done and done.”

The ninken greeted everyone, and the genin moved to a small tent they had set up.

Sai sketched his own tent, a simple one, and set it up before sitting guard, and Yamato and Kakashi moved to sleep near the base of a tree.

They laid next to each other in silence for some time, knowing the other was still awake.

The fire softly crackled and popped, and they could hear the soft sounds of Sai’s sketching in between rounding the area.

“What do you think will happen?” Yamato softly asked.

“If?”

“If we can’t get back. I don’t know the first thing about it all.”

Kakashi sighed. “I’m not sure. This is certainly unheard of. At least, in this time period it is,” he said, making the other man roll his eyes. “Let’s sleep on it, and we’ll figure out more tomorrow, if you’re still here.”

“What?” Yamato asked, surprised.

“In the movies, people just ‘poof’ and leave, usually overnight. So maybe it’s like that,” Kakashi yawned.

“You’re rotting your brain with your stories,” Yamato said, shaking his head. “Some genius you are.”

“And if you do poof away overnight, you can tell future me I was right,” Kakashi said. “I’ll see you when I see you.”

Yamato rolled his eyes again, but fell asleep wondering what he might wake up to…

_____

He first woke for an uneventful guard shift, and quickly fell back asleep after that ended.

He next woke up to something cold and wet touching his face.

Startled, Yamato’s eyes tore open and he sat upright...only to find Bull sitting next to him.

“What the --?” Yamato began, wiping his face with the back of his hand

Bull embarrassingly shrugged. “Boss said to wake you up like that? We disagreed, but what he says goes.”

“Stupid senpai,” Yamato muttered. “But thank you,” he said to Bull, who smiled at him before moving to lay on the warm spot Yamato vacated, Pakkun soon joining him.

Yamato stretched and moved to the fire, where Kakashi was starting to cook breakfast.

“What time is it?” Yamato asked.

“Not too early, not too late” the copy nin said. “I sent Sakura to get more sleep so we could talk more about your predicament. Wake pale kid and he can join us.”

“Sai,” Yamato reminded him, before rousing Sai.

Soon, the three were sat around the fire, mulling it over hot cups of tea.

“We’re due to head back to the village this afternoon, but I could keep us out longer if we need to,” Kakashi told them. “To help.”

“Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto shouldn’t be involved,” Yamato commented. “We’re already encroaching on memories. The less time Sai and I are around them, probably the better.”

“They won’t remember this, they don’t remember most of what I tell them,” Kakashi said, waving it away.

“They do,” Sai informed him. “They value your guidance.”

Kakashi looked at him in silence for a moment before giving him an eye smile. “Well, thank you, Sai.”

Yamato smiled at the exchange, but soon frowned again.

“We can’t go back to the village in any case,” he said.

“We could henge?” Sai posed. “Then ‘we’ wouldn’t be going.”

“No, people would still know, could still tell,” Yamato said, shaking his head at it as Kakashi nodded in agreement. “What if we ran into our past selves? Current selves? Today’s selves?”

“All fair points,” Kakashi said. “I’ve been trying to think about anything I know about time travel, but it’s really not much. Space and time jutsus, enhanced speed, naturally. Unique chakra control. But that’s all really still just guessing at it. Now, in Icha Icha, however, Jiraiya has a unique spin on it --”

“I think we’re good,” Yamato cut him off.

“Fair, it’s more for the romance than anything,” Kakashi agreed. “But, he does raise a good point. Hear me out,” the copy nin said, when Sai and Yamato exchanged a look. “What would one of us do if we knew we had to undo time travel jutsu in the future?”

“What?” Yamato asked.

“I think I understand,” Sai said. “Like, if our future selves already know we’re going to run into this, what can our future selves do to help this version of us?”

Kakashi nodded, and the group sat in silence.

“I don’t know we can,” Yamato sighed. “Sai and I are still the future version, we don’t know this will happen since today’s us are still going about life, if that makes sense?”

“That’s true,” Kakashi said.

“But…” Sai began. “That leaves you,” he said to Kakashi.

Yamato looked at the copy nin, realization dawning on him.

“You’re right! Today’s you knows about this, so future you will know what happened too! You could...I don’t know,” Yamato began. “Stop it before it happens?”

“Clearly not, since it still happened,” Kakashi commented.

“Get us back faster?”

“Possibly. Who would I ask for help in the meantime?” Kakashi asked.

“I don’t know,” Yamato admitted. “But you could do more research? Study it? See what seals might be involved, anything? After all, you’ve got over two years,” he said.

“I suppose there’s no excuse then,” Kakashi sighed. “I’ll do what I can.”

He stirred breakfast, and nodded at it.

“I’ll wake up the kids, and we’ll figure something out from there for today,” Kakashi said, and moved away to poke his head into the tent.

“While they’re getting up, we can start eating,” Kakashi said as he turned back to the fire, only to find himself alone.

“Huh,” he mused. “I wonder…”

_______

This time, Yamato woke with a start.

“What?” he gasped, as his chest tightened. “What’s happening? Where am I?”

“Shh,” a familiar voice said, as he blinked his vision straight. “You’re with us, Captain Yamato,” Sakura assured him.

“S-Sakura?” he asked, as he shook his head and sat up. “You’re you! And your hair is short!”

Sakura frowned at him. “It’s been this way for a while, what do you mean?”

“Sai? Where’s Sai?” Yamato suddenly asked.

“He’s right there,” Sakura said, nodding to her left, Yamato’s right. “Naruto is helping him.”

“Naruto…” Yamato began. “You’re wearing your orange and black gear! And Sakura, you’ve got your gloves, you really are you!”

“I think you took quite a knock to the head,” she muttered, moving to run her hands, glowing green, over him. “How do you feel?”

“Like I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been,” Yamato said.

“Agreed,” Sai chimed in. “What happened?”

“We lost you!” Naruto yelled. “Like, actually lost you! We were fighting the missing nin, and there was this crazy bang from some weird tags one of them had! We couldn’t find you for a while, until you suddenly appeared again.”

“What do you mean?” Yamato asked. “How did we get back?”

“We’re not sure,” Sakura admitted. “We subdued the group, though admittedly it was hard without the two of you. And Kakashi-sensei stepped in when they were all tied up on the ground.”

“He was really angry, but also like, really calm about it all!” Naruto yelled, making his teammates wince. “He used his Sharingan, and it was crazy! Then ANBU showed up and helped him do something, I’m not sure what, and here you are!”

“And...how long were we missing?” Yamato carefully asked.

“Maybe...twenty minutes?” Sakura said, shrugging. “Where did you go?”

“Just kind of...around…” Yamato said. “Where’s Kakashi now?”

“Finishing up with ANBU,” the copy nin said, as he entered the scene. “They took over escorting the missing nin to their new, very secure, very solitary small homes.” He turned to Sakura. “How are they?”

She dusted off her gloves as she stood. “They check out fine, surprisingly.”

Kakashi nodded. “Well done, everyone. Let’s fuel up and head back to the village to debrief.”

The group nodded and pulled out canteens and soldier pills, resting momentarily.

“Hey,” Naruto began, narrowing his eyes at Sai and Yamato. “I just had the weirdest memory, like….like we met you a while ago? In the woods or something one night?”

“Ha!” Yamato weakly laughed. “What? No! We haven’t been on the same team that long, and I’m sure we’d remember meeting you before that.”

“Yeah, Naruto,” Sakura chided him. “Stop being so Naruto, we’d know if we met them! I mean, look at Sai, he doesn’t exactly blend in,” she said, looking at their pale teammate. “No offense.”

“None taken,” Sai assured her. “I could say the same about you and your hair.”

Sakura frowned. “Why is everyone talking about my hair suddenly?!” she yelled.

“Same old Sakura,” Sai muttered to Yamato, who snickered.

“Let’s head out,” Kakashi said, changing the subject. “Naruto, you take the lead.”

“Alright!” Naruto cheered, and the group set off.

“So,” Yamato softly said to Kakashi, as the two jonin brought up the rear. “Did it...work?”

“Sort of,” Kakashi said. “I hadn’t found a ton of information to go on, but I realized the best thing was to get in their head, and bring in back-up.”

Yamato nodded. “And you...remember it?”

“I do, but hopefully they don’t,” Kakashi said, nodding at Sakura and Naruto. “We’ll just gaslight them if they do.”

Yamato laughed. “Well, it’s a relief to be back, that was one experience I don’t want to repeat...”