(three: ANBU partners)
ANBU are trained in pairs–this, at least, Danzo did right in his perversion, ROOT.
ANBU candidates are inducted in pairs. Share a call sign and a mask design. They are taught together, fight together; succeed or fail together.
Live and breath and die together.
At least, until they leave ANBU.
But even then…
How could anything or anyone compare after that?
Trainees Mouse aren’t the youngest ANBU trainees in Konoha’s history, nor are they the strongest or smartest or the ones with most potential. No, Konoha has seen its fair share of genii, and while Trainees Mouse might be on the list, they are certainly not the top of the list.
But they are… something. Something interesting and compelling and powerful, just waiting to be unleashed.
Or smothered completely before their prime.
Or appropriated for someone else’s benefit.
The problem with being famous is that, when it comes to being part of an organization where anonymity is the key to success, all sorts of actions become all the more difficult.
Never mind faces and names–if an enemy combatant doesn’t recognize Nara shadow jutsu or instant-touch fuinjutsu, they must have been living under a rock for the past few months. And even then–Iwa has been fairly obsessive when it comes to gathering information about Konoha’s budding fuinjutsu master.
“I’ll never be allowed on the field,” Shikako groans, all but collapsing to the ground, body cover in all sorts of new aches. For now, Raccoon-taichou allows it, but only because even he must be bored of knocking her around the training room so easily. Taijutsu is not her best skill; and its for that reason why she’s being drilled in it.
“Don’t say that,” Sasuke mutters, dropping into a crouch beside her and rearranging her so her muscles won’t seize up in an awkward position. “If you can’t go out on the field, I’ll never get to, either. And that was the whole point of me joining ANBU.”
Shikako groans again, a wordless thing muffled into the crook of her elbow, before picking herself back up and readying herself for another round of getting her ass kicked.
The worst thing is? She asked for this.
Shikako really shouldn’t be complaining, because it’s true: Sasuke’s only chance of leaving Konoha again–barring the sudden and definitive death of Orochimaru–is by being ANBU.
There are no such limitations on her. In fact, due to her reputation and showing during the Grass Chuunin Exams, Shikako might very well be better off going on missions with her own face and name. She knows there have been some clients specifically requesting her, though due to the rank and nature of them, they’ve been politely redirected to other more suitable shinobi.
As far as the rest of the world knows, after Shikako’s sudden sky-rocket to the rank of special jounin, she’s been set aside as inactive for some much needed training. And, well, they’re not wrong. She does actually do shifts in Intel and train with the other sensors and both she and Sasuke have morning kenjutsu practice with Kakashi-sensei. But mostly?
That’s all just a cover for her real training to become ANBU.
Even within ANBU there’s a hierarchy:
There are the ones who are in it only for a year; chuunin hoping to get some experience, a quick and dirty way to qualify for a promotion.
There are the ones who–knowing they’ll never become jounin, and certainly not one of the elites ones with their names whispered in fear and awe–devote themselves until they break.
And then are the ones who, despite the masks and the codenames, become legends unto themselves.
ANBU Wolf was one.
So it’s no surprise that everyone watches his students with such expectant and interested eyes.
Everyone. Even the unwanted ones.
Shikako knows, more than most, how poorly Sasuke reacts to things being kept secret from him.
But she also understands, more than anyone, that some secrets do need to stay secret. At least for a while.
And so, until then, Shikako will do her part to keep them from her partner. Unless her guilt gets to her first.
Or Danzo gets to them both.
They make it through training. Through monstrous taijutsu spars and sleep-deprivation tactics. They memorize the entirety of ANBU’s codes and hand signals and protocols, undergo poison resistance treatments and pain tolerance augmentation. They survive and thrive and make it through completely.
Sasuke has increased his jutsu lexicon to respectable levels and Shikako has fended off Danzo’s overtures to join ROOT at least half a dozen times. Truly, there is no better measure of success, and so when it’s time for them to officially become ANBU she can’t help but be eager.
“Your new codename is Sheep,” Raccoon-taichou says, presenting Sasuke with his new mask. Despite the cuddly name, it does look rather fierce–or at least, now that she’s learned to interpret the swirling lines of color. There is the general shape of a face, and spirals at the temple to represent horns. A ram, maybe, which is not so bad.
Sasuke steps back, settling his new mask on his face, so she can step forward.
Raccoon-taichou holds out her new mask and startles, a minute twitch of his shoulders; in anyone else, that’d probably be a full-body judder and him dropping the mask.
He is silent for a moment.
“Taichou?” Shikako prompts, concerned but wary.
Again, he startles, an almost imperceptible shake of his head.
“Your new codename is Weasel,” he says, holding out the mask.
She almost doesn’t want to put it on. She can feel the way Sasuke has tensed at the name, knows her shoulders are just as tight.
This is Danzo’s last move, but it’s a good one. Terrible, but smart. A simple way to put a strain on their partnership, but easily within his means and something he can plausibly deny.
But she will not let this last shot in the dark hurt her, will not give in to him. She takes the mask and the name, turns to her partner and nods.
They can get through this. They can get through anything, so long as they are together.
A/N: I don’t know what Yamato/Tenzo’s ANBU call sign is, but I’ve decided on Raccoon if that’s okay.
For anonymous who wanted some Shikasuke and Stress… though I didn’t really get into the feelings of it so much as I just blathered on about ANBU. Buuut hopefully my point has gotten across. 🙂