Chapter Fifty One ~ Retraining

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Finally, when I could sense that the mission report wasn't going to draw to a close until the genin left and I gave my individual report, I turned to my team. "You three are dismissed. Report at our usual training grounds no later than 5:00 a.m. Get some sleep. You'll need it."

The genin nodded, bowed to Tsunade, whose face was cold but eyes concerned, and left. Before they were out of hearing range, I heard Kento postulate, "If we're going to our normal training grounds at our normal time, the punishment can't be that bad, can it?"

He was met with grim silence from the other two.

I didn't allow for any signs of weakness, exhaustion, or puzzlement to show in my stance as I stood in front of Tsunade. Instead, I spoke bluntly. "I'd like to request a leave of absence for my team. I understand you don't grant these requests often, as there is a lot going on right now, but I believe that during this time away from missions, the training I provide will be highly beneficial for the team."

"Yes, they did seem a bit down, didn't they?" Tsunade said.

Not what I was thinking about...

I shrugged. "This mission took a lot out of them. They're still very... sheltered," I said. "I'm intending on correcting their actions during the leave of absence. That is, if you'll grant me one."

She studied me for a long moment before nodding and agreeing, "Two weeks." She shuffled some papers before continuing, "Now, as for the Individual report..."

***

I leaned back against the tree on the hill that held so many memories. This hill, that used to be my safe haven, my eye of the storm, the core of my mind. Now, I needed to sit down and think, reflect on this mission that had gone so awry.

They had disobeyed me...

I sensed his presence moments before he appeared, leaning against my tree, nose buried in that book of his. "I heard about the mission," he said in lieu of a greeting.

I glanced up at him. "Kakashi," I sighed. He snapped his book shut and gave me a close-eyed smile. "What do you want?"

"One of my students went rogue," he began, ticking off fingers. "Another one is being hunted down by the currently most feared organization in the shinobi world. The other loves the rogue and trained under the most powerful medic nin while coming to terms with her own weakness. You were declared dead. I've been where you are. Sometimes things just go badly." Of course Kakashi knew about what happened with my subordinates.

I sighed again. "Our team was fucked from the start," I replied dryly. "My team isn't. But this just might be the first warning sign of a potential downward spiral." Though I would never admit it to Kakashi, this was new for me; I didn't know what to do. Or rather, what was the right thing to do.

"Sometimes I wonder if I missed some sort of early warning," Kakashi admitted with a shrug.

"They disobeyed me. I gave them orders, and they disobeyed me," I laid out plainly. "And Aisa, after disobeying, did so again after I came to correct their mistake." Maybe Kakashi would be able to give me an answer to my unknown question.

Instead, he chuckled. "Cashile, you disobeyed me." He shook his head, stepping away from the tree so he could face me. "More times than I can count," he added.

I smacked my palm against my forehead. "That was different," I argued. And it was. The spiders were a risk I took to gain greater power. I always knew what I was doing, calculated out to give me the outcome I wanted.

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