The gates into Konoha were dark as the morning had barely begun, the village mostly asleep. There was a congregation of ten people gathered at the darkened gates.
Team Minato were just outside the village gates whilst Team Seven, Kushina and Mikoto were gathered at the borderline and just inside the village gates.
"Are you ready?" Minato questioned his team receiving three cries of "Yes!" from his students. "Kushina, Naruto, everyone... See you soon." He bid farewell with a gentle smile, one had in his trouser pocket.
Kushina nodded and Naruto beamed brightly whilst the rest of the congregation smiled in acknowledgement.
"All right, be careful. And do your best, you guys!" Kushina replied. She received nods from Kakashi and Rin whilst Obito just continued to look away with a pout of annoyance. "And you, Obito..." Kushina started.
"What?" Obito petulantly replied.
Kushina leant forward and held one hand on her hip, the other pointing a finger in Obito's face as her face became dotingly blank. "You're clumsy and you're hasty. And you're a blundering fool, too." She went on in a no-nonsense tone. "And add knucklehead to the list! So be doubly careful out there!" She demanded before standing back up straight. "Because if you come back injured, you'll get more than my fist!" She stepped forwards threateningly. "Got that!?"
Obito's face was covered in shock before he looked down with a smirk, his orange googles shielding his eye momentarily. "Heh." Suddenly stepping forwards and looking into Kushina's face, Obito started to rant. "Who do you think I am, anyway!?" He pointed his thumb at his face. "I'm going to be Hokage, Lord Obito Uchiha!" Behind Obito, Minato and Rin were smiling in indulging amusement at Obito's antics while Kakashi had blank eyes as he watched him. "Please... There's nothing to worry about! I'll make the mission a success! And then..." At his pause, Rin put her hands behind her back and smiled more genuinely. "Come back with everyone without a scratch!" Obito thrust one of his fists forwards as his promise. He then stood straight and smiled brightly at Kushina, Team Seven and Mikoto. "That's a promise!"
Naruto cheered his agreement, Minato, Mikoto, Sakura and Rin smiled gently, little Kakashi rolled his eyes but there was a slight brightness to them and adult Kakashi had a sad and wistful expression that went unnoticed. Kushina watched Obito for a moment before her lips slowly formed into a proud smile.
"Hm!" Kushina nodded before smirking cheerfully and holding her bicep as she held her fist in front of her face as she bends down to Obito's height. "You better keep that promise!"
Kushina and Obito then dissolved into giggling laughter.
Minato herded Obito back towards the other two team members and all four began to head off as those not on Team Minato waved and called out their goodbyes. Rin and Obito turned around and waved back as they continued to walk into the rising sun.
Team Minato were three days in into their four day journey and had stopped to rest in a town to recuperate some of their lost energy the night before and had been given some free reign to explore the village as it would be the last chance they get before they needed to complete their objective and hurry back to the village and give their report. Minato had given them a set time to meet up at a previously decided wooded area with a scattering of rocks just outside of the village.
Minato, Rin and Kakashi were already at the meeting spot, the designated time having already come and gone with no sign of Obito. Kakashi was beginning to become more and more agitated, Rin had started to worry for her third cell mate and Minato was keeping an eye on the time to make sure Obito wasn't late, having taken into account Obito's chronic tardiness and had started keeping a separate time, a couple hours after everyone else, for Obito before he'd start to worry.
Right on time, Obito came running up to them slightly out of breath.
Kakashi was the first to do anything about the arrival of the final member of Team Minato. "What time did you think we were supposed to meet!? You're expected to follow the rules!" Kakashi snapped.
"Well... I was on the way, but an old lady carrying a load asked me for directions... and I got something in my eye..." Obito explained as he took his orange googles off from covering his eyes and began rubbing them with clenched fists.
"Okay! That's a lie, isn't it!?" Kakashi demanded.
Minato turned towards the two boys from where he was sat on one of the rocks with a small smile. "That's enough Kakashi." He stated calmly. "Obito showed the old lady the way... Isn't that right?" Minato questioned the Uchiha as he pulled out a bottle of eye drops and began to drip the solution into his eyes.
"I carried her bag too!" Obito confirmed as he worked.
Kakashi turned to face Minato from where he stood looming over Obito with his hands in his pockets. "You're too lenient, Sensei." Kakashi chided. "Besides, there's no way that some needy person appears before Obito each and every time!" He said in a harsh tone before his voice drained of emotions and became cold and cutting. "Those who break the rules and regulations are regarded as scum! Isn't that right, Sensei?"
Minato jerked slightly at the question before giving a slight awkward laugh.
"Don't you have a shred of kindness in your heart?" Obito complained. "All you ever talk about are rules and regulations! The main thing is your own self-control."
As the boys glared at each other, Rin held her hands up in a gesture of passivity. "Now stop it, both of you. We're all on the same team." She stated.
Kakashi turned a flat look towards his female team member. "You're too easy on Obito, Rin. This is an important day for me too."
Rin looked slightly guilty as she held a hand to her mouth. "Y-you're right..."
Obito looked at them in mild confusion. "What was it again?" He asked as they all began walking again.
Minato was the one to answer Obito. "As of today, Kakashi is a jounin like me. And in order to increase our efficiency, we'll be splitting into two teams. After all, presently Konoha is at an unprecedented low on military power."
"Splitting up? Then..." Obito trailed off.
"Yes, that's right." Minato replied turning his head slightly to watch Obito out of the corner of his eye. "Kakashi will be captain of a three-man squad with Obito Uchiha and Rin Nohara." Minato turned forwards again. "And I'll be working alone."
In Konoha, Sakura and Kakashi had been staying with Naruto and Kushina whilst Sasuke remained at the Uchiha District with his parents and brother.
Kushina had been secretly keeping an eye on Kakashi for the past three days due to feeling as though he was hiding something important from her. The feeling of dread she had felt since Minato had informed her he suspected he would be going on a mission to Kannabi Bridge with his students was growing at an increased rate. She had become so distracted by the feeling that Naruto had taken to doing everything he could around the house to help her out and giving her lots of hugs at random intervals.
At the moment, Naruto was cleaning the dishes used for dinner whilst Sakura dried and Kushina put them away.
Kakashi wasn't in the house, but Kushina could sense him nearby. She'd guess on the roof watching the stars. Her suspicions were proved correct when she snuck out of the kitchen, leaving the two teens talking quietly, in order to investigate.
She walked onto the roof to be greeted by Kakashi's back. Putting her hands on her hips, she demanded an answer to the question that had been plaguing her. "What are you hiding from me, Kakashi?"
Kakashi turned to face her slowly, his only answer was to lift his head band up and open his eye revealing the Sharingan eye he had been gifted with by Obito. "He won't make it back." He whispered, his voice filled with heartbreak.
Kushina suddenly felt sick.