Summary: School and spying.
“-most people would just do something that shows them working together, like, I don’t know, helping each other out in those obstacle exercises in class for example, so I figure we should do something different. Suggestions?”
“We should incorporate a fight of some sort. Why? Because Iruka-sensei will most likely be looking for teamwork that can be used on the field when we one day become shinobi.”
“Mm, yeah, that makes sense,” Naruto agrees, scribbling that point down on paper. He’s lying on the floor on his stomach while Shino is seated in a beanie chair beside him. It was the easiest piece of furniture that Naruto could move from home to the apartment in a jiffy.
“What does teamwork mean to you anyway?” Naruto asks idly, chewing on his pencil.
Shino cocks his head in consideration. “I believe it would mean... efficiency. To show teamwork on a mission, I would expect my comrades to assist me in any way possible on the field, and I would do the same for them so that the mission can be completed to the best of our abilities, and with minimal loss of life for our side – a logical outcome for the continued security of Konoha.” The boy peers over at Naruto. “And you?”
Naruto hums thoughtfully, rolling onto his back to stare up at the ceiling for a minute. “I’d say... trust. Trust in your comrades to be there when you need them to be, trust that they’ll watch your backs, and to be trusted to watch theirs in return.” He quirks a smile up at Shino. “You’d need trust to be an efficient team, don’t you think? If you can’t help second-guessing your comrades, even just for a split second, and I think – if that happens – it would happen in the toughest parts of a mission like when someone’s life is on the line, then the teamwork would break down, and the mission would be screwed. Or at the very least, it would be more difficult than it needs to be.”
Shino is silent for a long contemplative moment. “...If I am placed on a team with people I do not know, it would be hard to trust them despite being from the same village.”
“Probably one of the reasons why all Genin start off in four-man cells,” Naruto surmises. “And Academy students mostly move up each grade with the same classmates.”
Shino inclines his head in agreement. “With anyone however, trusting blindly is illogical. Uchiha Itachi is a prime example.”
Naruto makes a face at the reminder. Uchiha Itachi singlehandedly threw Konoha into a mission frenzy for months. Naruto doesn't much care about that but he does care that his surrogate uncle and sister were out of the village more often than they were in it for at least three full months after the Massacre.
“Maru-ji says trusting blindly is stupid,” Naruto tells his classmate. “He says there’s nothing wrong with trusting people, especially your own allies, but he says you should never trust them with your life or the lives of the people you care about until they can give you a good enough reason to. Trust should always be earned.”
There’s no visible change but Naruto gets the feeling that Shino is curious anyway. “Does Orochimaru-sama go on many missions?”
Naruto shrugs. “He’s a Sannin, the only one left in the village, so... the Hokage doesn't really have much of a choice, especially ever since all the Uchihas were killed. ’Cept Sasuke but he doesn't count. Maru-ji takes on the hardest missions for Hokage-sama.”
A tinge of pride enters his voice, one that anybody would be able to hear but he knows better than to run his mouth anymore than he already has.
“So a mock fight of some sort then,” Naruto rolls back onto his stomach. “Maybe... we could have someone attack us? We could throw in some combination attacks, make a show of it, bail each other out when one of us is in trouble.”
“We cannot ask Iruka-sensei to take part in the presentation though,” Shino points out. “Nor any of the other students.”
“But there’s no rule against outside help,” Naruto grins.
Shino looks faintly alarmed. Faintly. Maybe. “You do not mean Orochimaru-sama?”
“Nah, we gotta make it look real,” Naruto dismisses. “And I could ask Maru-ji, and he’d probably agree, but he’d take us down so fast that there wouldn't be a presentation, and any slower on his part, well, it’ll be pretty obvious that he’s just humouring us. Lucky for us though,” He hops to his feet. “I also have a sister.” He sighs just a bit mournfully. “And she loves using me for target practice.”
One of the best things about being a former student of the Sandaime is that Orochimaru knows how Sarutobi-sensei likes to organize and protect his office.
Sneaking in is easy enough. There are only three sentries patrolling outside an empty room at night, all of whom Orochimaru bypasses without trouble. Once he’s inside, it’s only a matter of minutes before he’s rifling through all the messages sent to Sarutobi-sensei over the years by Orochimaru’s old teammate.
A positive of knowing Jiraiya – Orochimaru can decipher all his codes without even puzzling over them first.
A negative – Orochimaru wrinkles his nose as he scans the most recent reports – most of Jiraiya’s codes are porn-related.
Lucky for him, he also happens to know where Sensei hides his entire collection of Icha Icha.
Within the hour, Orochimaru has memorized all the information Jiraiya has managed to dig up since the Massacre – no real sightings of Uchiha Itachi so the boy must be laying low, the rebel faction in Water Country is still digging in its heels and clawing back its country piece by bloody piece, and Suna is as suspicious an ally as ever.
The one thing that stands out, something that piques Orochimaru’s interest – a growing shadow organization by the name of Akatsuki.
Objective(s) – unknown.
Location – unknown.
Leader(s) – unknown.
Members – unknown.
Well, thanks a lot, Jiraiya. The pervert is about as useless as always.
There’s a postscript at the bottom, listing a few names that have only been rumoured to be linked with the Akatsuki – Hoshigaki Kisame of Kirigakure, Kakuzu of Takigakure, and Uchiha Itachi of Konohagakure. All S-rank missing-nin.
If that’s true, then it’s probably safe to say that this Akatsuki is an organization comprised of missing-nin instead of one of the other villages building a private army.
Either way though, he has a lead now, even if it’s just speculation.
And if Itachi – who is running around as a missing-nin either on Sensei’s orders or Danzou’s orders or possibly both – has joined Akatsuki, its objective must be a real threat.
However, there’s only one thing Orochimaru cares about – obscure they may be but the very fact that there are concrete whispers about the existence of Akatsuki means that they can be traced, which in turn means Itachi can be traced. Find even one of the other Akatsuki members that aren’t in hiding, and they’ll lead Orochimaru straight to his chosen prey.
Perhaps not so useless after all, Jiraiya.