Chapter Forty Seven ~ Lecture

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"Kakashi," I replied quietly, "You presented me with two choices. Aisa or one of his teammates. I chose Aisa." Kakashi went to speak, but I cut him off. "If you're trying to make me feel guilty, Kakashi, know this: I've done worse things than saving a life."

"Even at the expense of another?"

"Isn't it always?" I answered tiredly. "And besides, what does this have to do with my lack of grief for someone I never even knew?"

"My point is, if you ever had to make those decisions, ever had to lose someone you cared for—that's how Naruto and Tsunade feel right now. Imagine if you were to lose me—your sensei—"

I gave him a look and raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"

Kakashi rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Cashile. Just have some empathy. At least pretend to be sympathetic. Okay?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "As eventful as my morning has been, I have three wide eyed genin to teach and an academy class I need to lecture, courtesy of Tsunade," I grumbled. "Naruto isn't my responsibility."

"Right," Kakashi's shoulders slumped slightly into his normally apathetic stance. "But making the most out of Jiraiya's sacrifice is. So go help Shikamaru like Tsunade ordered."

"Yes, sir," I snarked, adding a flippant salute before flickering away.

Kakashi's sigh rang like music in my ears.

***

Shikamaru handed me a scrap of paper when I appeared.

I took it, glancing at the mussed hair of the severely blushing analyst before looking back toward Shikamaru, eyebrows raised. He sighed and shook his head. "What do you make of it?" He nodded toward the paper.

I scanned through it quickly, turning it in several directions. "Looks like you'd need the cipher to break it. If the message was longer I could go about breaking it myself through trial and error, but with this short of a message... not to mention it would take me a long time to figure out what he might use as a code..."

Shikamaru sighed and nodded. "Yeah," he nodded, taking the photograph back from me. "I'll start asking if anyone close to him recognizes something from the code."

"Sounds good. You might as well start trying the most common books out as ciphers. Yknow, tourist books, bingo book, etcetera." I stretched. "Hey, Shikamaru, what would you teach a class full of academy wannabes?"

He turned back to me slowly, hands in his pockets and eyebrow raised. "Who the hell would put you in front of a class full of children?" He asked.

A smirk crossed my face, and a look of mild alarm passed over Shikamaru's. "Whatever you end up doing—" he began.

I flickered away, barely catching his last few words.

"Leave my name out of it!"

***

I knocked on the door and looked at Iruka. He was expecting me today.

He made eye contact and continued to address the class. "We have a special guest today class," he announced. "A jonin sensei has agreed to share some of her... expertise with us."

I took that as my queue and walked into the classroom, hands in pocket. I looked around at the bright and innocent faces, not tainted with the darkness of the shinobi life--yet.

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