A/N: This is all HazelBeka’s fault.
And Phoenix and Snail belong to HazelBeka as well, I’m just borrowing them and Naruto. Only the bad puns are mine, really. Also, if you haven’t, you should definitely check out HazelBeka’s works, way more worthwhile than this crack-fest.
Technically speaking, it was the ANBU receptionist on duty that started it, and it was honestly by accident.
It was Tenzou’s first day in ANBU headquarters and so far it had involved a tour from his former team captain, Hatake Kakashi, and a surprising amount of paperwork for an organization that worked so much in the shadows. Kakashi, in true form, had long since wandered off, no doubt fearing that much paperwork might become sentient and attack him.
That left the receptionist on duty to help Tenzou slough through the details of getting his credentials so he would have access to all of ANBU’s databases. He didn’t know her real name but Kakashi had introduced her as Canary, her porcelain bird mask hanging from her belt.
“Alright, Cat,” Canary said, flicking her yellow braid over her shoulder, “We’re almost done. Just let me get this dinosaur of a computer running.” As she turned toward said computer Tenzou wondered if it was normal to call fellow ANBU members by their code names even outside the field.
The receptionist typed away for a moment while Tenzou noted two other masked ANBU walk by, apparently about to go on assignment. Finally she said, “Okay, just put in your creds and make sure you can log in.”
Tenzou was about to do so when there was a loud, undignified snort from one of the ANBU that just walked past. Tenzou and Canary both looked up at the male ANBU who was still laughing. And was that a snail on his mask?
Snail’s female partner – another bird mask, Pheonix possibly – paused and looked at him questioningly if the tilt of her head was anything to go by.
“Log in,” Snail explained after a second, “And he’s the wood guy,” a thumb in Tenzou’s direction, “It’s funny.”
Pheonix shook her head, sighing, “And you are a child,” and turned to continue her way out of the building. Tenzou thought he saw her eyes roll behind her mask.
“And you have no soul,” Snail responded and followed, giving Tenzou a little wave. His words drifted back to them as they walked away, “It’s a pun. The lifeblood of humor . . .”
“Your lifeblood is going to be on the floor if you don’t shut the hell up,” Phoenix shot back.
“Least I’m not a jerk in a Snail mask,” Tenzou muttered to himself as they both turned a corner.
“I owe you an apology,” Canary said when they’d gone.
Tenzou shook himself and focused back on her, “How so?” She didn’t make the dumb joke.
She smiled a little as Kakashi seemed to sense that the tediousness was over and it was safe to reappear, “Just remember that I’m sorry.”
Tenzou met Kakashi on the practice field some hours later where a group of ANBU were scheduled for that day’s training.
“Okay on your own?” Kakashi asked absently, staring down at a well-beaten clipboard in his hands.
In answer Tenzou pulled something out of his pocket and held it up for Kakashi to see, “What do you think?”
There was the slightest pause that Tenzou vaguely thought was odd, but Kakashi cleared his throat and asked, “Is that – “
“Lemon-scented wood furniture polish,” Tenzou answered, replacing the can into a deep pocket, “One of about fifty that spilled out of my locker. You are not funny, Senpai.”
Kakashi only raised an eyebrow at Tenzou’s accusing glare, “Easy, Tenzou, it wasn’t me.”
Tenzou’s glare didn’t let up, “Well, who else would – “
“Take your pick,” Kakashi said, waving an arm to indicate the dozen or so other ANBU assembled for assessment, all murmuring amongst themselves and paying no mind to Tenzou other than a few curious glances.
Kakashi wasn’t laughing, but Tenzou knew he wanted to, “You can’t be serious.”
“Ah, my young protégé,” Kakashi crooned and patted Tenzou on the head, “You have much to learn of the ways of the elusive ANBU.”
Tenzou swatted his hand away and sputtered, “But that’s – ,“ he was cut off by Kakashi calling the training session to order. Tenzou glared at his former captain for the obvious cop out but fell into place with the others.
Tenzou saw a flash of yellow to his right and turned to see the receptionist from earlier, Canary, standing on the other side of the gathered ANBU. She smiled kindly and waved. Tenzou waved back, somehow feeling a little better.
Tenzou turned back to Kakashi as he began, referencing the clipboard in his hand. Despite being semi-retired, Kakashi was leading the practice session and started by pairing them off into sparing teams.
Tenzou was tempted to think Kakashi was hovering, but knew trying to call his captain out on anything would prove futile. He did it anyway.
Kakashi wandered through the group tapping people on the shoulder and sending them to different parts of the field. When he got within whispering distance Tenzou asked, “Are you babying me?”
“Now how would that help anyone?” Kakashi asked innocently, not looking up from his clipboard. Tenzou didn’t answer except to roll his eyes. Kakashi eye-smiled at him and signaled to a female ANBU at the back of the group.
The woman Kakashi paired Tenzou with was obviously from the Aburame clan and obviously not at all comfortable with being Tenzou’s partner. Kakashi saw this as well as the woman walked up stiffly.
“Is there a problem?” Kakashi asked when she came to a stop in front of them.
Like most of her clan, her face betrayed nothing except a subtle glance in Tenzou’s direction as she said respectfully, “Forgive me, Captain, but I would like to request a different partner.”
Tenzou blinked and Kakashi cocked an eyebrow at the woman, “Why, exactly?”
“I do not think it would be safe for the new recruit to spar with me,” she replied simply.
Tenzou felt his annoyance rise up and almost opened his mouth in his own defense but Kakashi beat him to it, a note of indignation in his voice, “Cat can hold own just as well, if not better than any experienced ANBU here. You two are partners for this practice.” With that Kakashi turned on his heel and began moving to the next person.
Tenzou only had a moment to feel a flicker of pride at the unexpected praise before the determined woman called after Kakashi, “But Captain,” her voice rose so that Kakashi could hear as he walked away, “I specialize in termites!”
A beat passed in which Kakashi stopped dead in his tracks and Tenzou stared at the Aburame. Tenzou swore he saw Kakashi’s entire body twitch as every battle-hardened ANBU in the vicinity started nearly choking on suppressed giggles.
Tenzou put a hand to his head and closed his eyes. It wasn’t even noon.
“Do you think it’s hard wood?”
Tenzou could feel a twitch forming in the corner of his eye and tried his best to ignore the two men sitting nearby.
“Does it always come up straight like that or does it lean sometimes?”
Tenzou had opted for some solo training after lunch after a particularly disastrous spar with the Aburame. He’d won three rounds mainly because she was afraid her bugs might eat him alive. No matter how many times Tenzou insisted he was not made of wood.
“Let’s not go out on a limb just yet. We’ve heard a lot about his prowess.”
However, after the first round, Tenzou could tell she had been genuinely concerned for his safety and she was actually quite nice and helpful when she got over that part.
“I think the bark is worse than the bite.”
These guys were just dicks.
“I suppose we’ll have to measure his talent ourselves.”
And those jokes were just plain forced.
Tenzou could practically feel one of them gearing up for another one and reluctantly paused in practicing a technique the Hokage had asked him to work on involving several totem-like pillars in a circle and this odd seal on his palm.
Instead, he turned to the two ANBU goofing off behind him, “I’ll ask you to stop one time.” Tenzou didn’t know if he pulled off ‘threatening’ very well without his mask, but if the looks on the two men’s faces was anything to go by he’d have to work on it.
“He’s right,” one said to the other in mock-sincerity, “We should really leaf him alone.”
Well, he’d warned them.
Kakashi was the one who found the two men four hours later still dangling above the ground in their own respective wood cages.
The end of the day finally arrived and Tenzou had never been so relieved to see a locker room.
Canary was there as well and chuckled at his world-weary expression, “Tough day?”
“No, cheesy,” Tenzou corrected moving to his locker, “Corniest day of my life.”
She shook her head, “Poor little kitty-cat.”
“No,” Tenzou narrowed his eyes at her.
“Shouldn’t your mask be a woodchuck or a woodpecker or something?”
“Please, not you too,” Tenzou groaned but couldn’t stop the smile tugging at his mouth.
“Hey, I started it,” Canary shrugged, “I gotta get one intentional shot in.”
“I didn’t pick the mask but even if I had I wouldn’t be that obvious,” Tenzou made a face at her as she laughed. He smiled and yanked his locker open . . . and looked down in disbelief at the avalanche of condoms spilling over his shoes.
“Well,” Tenzou said after a moment of silence for whoever made the financial commitment to this latest prank, “I suppose that’s an appropriate bookend to this day.” Out of the corner of his eye he saw Canary valiantly fighting laughter, hand over her mouth and red-faced at the effort.
The fact that she was successful and even helped him pick up the mess made Tenzou respect her all the more.
“Do these say lemon-scented?” Canary asked suddenly, holding up one of the packets.
“By the gods I hope not,” Tenzou replied and refused to look as they threw them into a spare plastic trash bag.
As they walked out together Canary snorted and said, “You know, you could probably sell those for a profit.”
“That would just encourage them,” Tenzou said and she nodded in agreement.
“Encourage who with what?” Kakashi appeared out of nowhere and Tenzou owed it to years of experience that he didn’t startle. Canary only raised an amused eyebrow and walked ahead to the reception desk she had been assigned to earlier, waving goodbye to Tenzou.
In answer to the question, Tenzou just opened the trash-bag so Kakashi could see inside. The Copy-nin let out a low whistle.
“Was it you?” Tenzou asked skeptically.
“Please,” Kakashi said primly and threw a look over Tenzou’s shoulder, “What kind of example would that set?”
Tenzou glanced back and saw the clock Kakashi was looking at, “And here I thought you’d be all over a day dedicated to picking on me.” He turned back to Kakashi but the other’s only visible eye was watching the clock intently.
“Hmm,” Kakashi hummed absently and Tenzou got an inexplicable, yet terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach, “Iruka told me I had to be good at work today.”
“What?” Tenzou felt the uneasiness in his stomach grow.
“But work,” Kakashi drawled slowly, eye still on the clock as the second hand ticked away, “. . . Is now . . . over.” The second the last word left his mouth Kakashi disappeared in a swirl of smoke and leaves.
Tenzou blinked and heard a small pop as Kakashi appeared again, this time in front of a surprised Canary who had been hovering over the reception desk much like she’d been that morning.
“Oh no,” Tenzou murmured under his breath as Kakashi eye-smiled at her.
“You know,” Kakashi said congenially, much to Tenzou’s horror, “I happen to notice you noticing my friend, Tenzou.”
“Senpai,” Tenzou hissed and started for him.
“And I just wanted to tell you about his excellent wood release technique,” Kakashi finished suggestively.
Right before Tenzou tackled him.
Canary was the only witness to the event but that day was forever known within and throughout ANBU HQ as the day Tenzou the Wood Guy tried to suffocate Kakashi of the Sharingan to death in the reception area with a plastic bag full of condoms. And just in case any of the details were obscured, it was all on official record.
However, Tenzou preferred to remember the next day, which was the day he found a note taped to his locker with the message that read:
I’m still curious about that ‘technique’.
A/N: And so, the Cat caught the Canary . . . I regret nothing. Except that I couldn’t figure out how to fit a “acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” metaphor in here, and a few others. If you saw any I missed, please, I beg you, post them in the comments.