Honokuni Monogatari - “Fire Country Stories”

Agete Torisaru - “To give and To Take”

A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Note: This story was written before the Kakashi Gaiden in the Manga told us about Kakashi’s past and heritage.

 

Written May/June 2003, Revised October 25th 2004

 

~ Year 0 ~

 

     She stood in the kitchen and sucked down gulp after gulp from the brand-new milk carton without bothering to get a glass. Dressed in nothing but an oversized tee shirt with the lights off, she didn’t think it inappropriate behavior for two o’clock in the morning. She couldn’t sleep, again.

     “This sucks,” she spat as she slapped the now half empty carton on the counter. She stared at her silhouette reflected in the darkened kitchen window for a moment. Her brows came together. Before she could make another gripe there was a knock at the door. She squinted at the clock. 2:14. Cautiously, but still dragging her feet, she approached the door and looked through the peephole.

     “’Taku,” she hissed. “What do you want?”

     “Tsunade, let me in.”

     “Go away.”

     His bulk refused to move. She saw him fold his arms through the distorting lens of the peephole.

     “Mataku,” she hissed again, this time loud enough for him to hear. She opened the door and let him in without making eye contact. “Do you realize what time it is?” she asked as she led him in.

     “I saw your light was on…” he said, somewhat subdued. His height seemed to fill the room. She sat on the futon and he leaned against the far wall. “How have you been?”

     Tsunade laughed at this. “As good as can be expected for my condition.” She sat on one of her legs and ran a hand over her belly.

     “So you did decide to keep it…” his brows turned up a little with relief.

     “We discussed this, Jiraiya. I won’t take a life. Not after all that’s happened, even if you happen to be the father,” she moaned. It was her turn to fold her arms. “What do you want? This isn’t just a social call,” she guessed.

     He sighed lightly. “You’re right. I wanted to be sure of your intentions. I need to know if you still plan on leaving, because now I’m taking off, too.”

     She didn’t expect to hear that. Last time they had this discussion he was going to stay in Konoha and look after their child. She was the one who was running away. “But…”

     “I know. I’ve talked to one of my students. He said he’d keep an eye on him.”

     ‘Him,’ she thought. ‘So he thinks it’s a boy, too.’ “Why are you chickening out?”

     “It’s not what you think. You haven’t heard the news, have you?” Jiraiya closed his eyes. “Orochimaru has left the Leaf. He’s now a missing-nin and…” he swallowed hard, “an S-Class criminal.”

     “What?!” Tsunade drew her other leg under her instinctively.

     “He was caught doing… unspeakable things to our fellow shinobi. He was trying to steal their jutsu in order to come up with an immortality jutsu.”

     She shuddered at this. Being a medical ninja, she knew what horrors that must have pertained to. “So he’s out there…?”

     Jiraiya nodded. “I’m not really thinking of catching him, but if he knows I’m out there, he’ll be watching his back. I want to protect the Leaf, but I can’t do that from the inside with him on the out.”

     “Jiraiya…” she whispered. He was being so serious. She didn’t like it one bit. They were silent for a few moments. Jiraiya stared at her swollen belly. She stared at the floor. “Is that all?” she asked quietly.

     “Yeah,” he sighed, pushing off the wall. He put his wooden sandals back on and opened the door. “Good luck. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

     “I don’t think so,” she admitted and closed the door behind him. She couldn’t meet his eyes. It would be the last time she saw him for over 25 years.

 

     “I’m sorry,” she whispered as she turned away, her hand brushing over her stomach. “I wish I could tell you. I’m not fit to be your mother, or anybody’s mother. You’d thank me later.” Tsunade lay down on her futon and watched the dawn come.

 

.x.

     She felt numb; not like she had when she identified her brother Nawaki’s body; not like she had when Dan died in her arms and she had been unable to save him. She could not place her feelings. She hurt. She was happy, she was sad, she was scared, and she was nervous and drained. Her face was pale and her hands lay limp in her lap. The nurse wheeled her down the corridor.

     Soon she would be gone. Soon she would no longer have to think about it. Once she was out of the hospital, with her bags already packed, she could leave that afternoon for parts unknown. She never planned to return.

     The last person she expected to see was the Third Hokage.

     The nurse stopped the wheelchair and greeted him. Tsunade looked at the floor. ‘Damn you, Jiraiya!’ she thought. ‘I didn’t spend the last 6 months hiding out in my apartment for nothing!’ She clenched her teeth.

     “How are you, Tsunade?” Sarutobi asked, a pleasant, caring smile on his lips.

     “Could be worse,” she muttered.

     “It saddens me that you’re leaving the Leaf,” he got straight to the point. “Have you really made your mind up? Is there no convincing you, even now?” he asked.

     “I’m sorry, Sensei,” she whispered, her eyes still trained on the ground. “I’ve made my choice. He’ll be well taken care of…” her voice cracked. ‘Damn it! Go away!’ she screamed internally.

     “I understand. Good luck, Tsunade.” He knew it was useless. Sandaime turned and walked down the hall alone.

     The wheel chair began moving again. Tsunade blinked back her tears and concentrated on the journey ahead of her. Suddenly, she realized where she was being taken. She planted her feet on the ground, causing the nurse to slam into the back of the chair.

     ‘Tsunade-sama!” the dark haired woman exclaimed.

     “Oh no you don’t!” Tsunade shouted and leapt to her feet. “You were trying to take me to the maternity ward, weren’t you!” A vein stuck out of her forehead. “Sorry, sister. That ain’t gonna happen. I didn’t want to see him when he came out and I don’t wanna see him now!” She stormed down the hall. The only way to get to the exit was past the viewing window. She stuck her chin out and marched past without turning her head. She threw the door open and disappeared into the brightness of the afternoon. The nurse watched her go then turned to the viewing window. Three nurses were cooing over a fair-haired newborn. “Tsunade-sama,” the nurse whispered and wheeled the empty chair away.

 

~ Year 7 ~

 

     Three Anbu waited at the edge of town. They were still tense even so many years after the atrocities they had seen.

     “Good of him to alert us,” one said to the others who nodded. In a few moments the man they were waiting for approached. Wordlessly they presented him with his papers and vanished. He was allowed to enter the tight security of the Hidden Leaf.

 

     Out by the village memorial, shouts and curses could be heard for nearly a mile around. Jiraiya’s mouth curved into a thin grin as he ambled towards the practice field. ‘Why do I get a funny feeling about this?’ he wondered and leaned against one of the posts. Sensing his presence, a man walked out of the trees towards him.

     “So, it’s true. You’ve come back!” Yondaime cheered and waved to his friend and mentor.

     Jiraiya waved a sort of dismissive wave. “I’m only passing through. Good to see you’ve made something of yourself,” he said, his grin widening.

     The Fourth Hokage laughed, the gohei around his neck indicating his rank shook with the effort. “I don’t think you came to see me,” he said softly and looked back over his shoulder. Jiraiya shifted his weight and scratched his nose.

     “Well, yeah…”

     “I kept my word,” Yondaime whispered. “He doesn’t know.”

     “Really? That’s good. Wouldn’t want him thinkin’ his folks walked out on him… like we did.”

     “Do you want to meet him?”

     Jiraiya’s face went as white as his hair. “Um… I guess. I came all this way…”

     Hokage turned and led him to the training grounds.

     “Wait!” Jiraiya twiddled his thumbs. “What’s his name?”

     Yondaime’s jaw dropped. “Oh, I guess Tsunade named him, huh?”

     “I guess…” he swallowed. ‘Oh great. Probly somethin’ totally stupid knowing her!’

     “His name is Hatake Kakashi and he’s my best student, albeit…” Yondaime turned back around.

     “Albeit what?” his mentor growled.

     “You’ll see.”

    

     In the clearing just inside the tree line two young kids watched as two other kids fought. One of the audience members had black hair and chewed passively on a lollipop stick. The other was an aqua haired young tom-boyish looking girl, or maybe a girly looking boy, Jiraiya wasn’t sure. They were watching another black haired boy getting the stuffing kicked out of him by a white haired kid with a mask that covered the lower half of his face.

     “Say it!” the white haired kid shouted.

     “I will not!”

     “’I am the best!’”

     “Ok ok… I AM THE BEST! AH!!!” he screamed as the headlock tightened.

     “GAI!” Yondaime shouted over his cries of pain. “How many times do I have to tell you not to hang around our training sessions?” His voice was weary.

     “Gomen nasai,Yondaime-sama! Kakashi started it!”

     A huge shit-eating grin spread over Jiraiya’s face.

     “Kakashi,” Yondaime warned.

     “Hai hai.” He shrugged and let Gai out of the headlock. The boy sprawled and gasped for air.

     “You may go, Gai.”

     “Hai! Yondaime-sama! That’s 5 wins 4 losses, Kakashi! I will come out on top!” he shouted back and hi-tailed it for the village.

     “’Taku,” Kakashi spat. “He’ll never learn.”

     “And you, young man,” Yondaime hovered over the not even four foot tall Kakashi. “You just keep egging him on like that he’s going to keep coming back.” His teammates laughed. “And you guys were of no help.” They muttered apologies. He sighed. “Ok, that’s enough for today. Kakashi. I want you to stay behind.” The others ambled off toward the village.

     Kakashi squinted, an obvious frown forming under his face mask. “Sensei, there’s really nothing I can do. He just keeps throwing himself at me…”

     Hokage squatted down before him. “I know. But you don’t have to indulge him so much. He’s just trying to prove to himself that he’s as good as you guys are. You’re going to get a lot of that since you’re all so young and so talented. Don’t let it go to your head and don’t let dopes like Gai get theirs smashed in before they learn to fight properly.”

     “Hai, sensei.” Kakashi really thought that was it, but Yondaime still didn’t let him go. “Sensei, who’s this guy?” He squinted and pointed up at the 6’4” [6’6” in sandals] monstrosity that loomed over them both.

     “This is my sensei, Jiraiya. Jiraiya, this is Hatake Kakashi: one of my more rambunctious students.”

     Jiraiya leaned over to Hokage and whispered, “He’s kinda short.”

     Hokage laughed. “He’s only 6!”

     “Oi!” Kakashi shouted and puffed out his skinny chest. “I may be six, but I’m also Chuunin!”

     This surprised his father. Jiraiya squatted down to get a better look at him. He wrinkled up his nose. “Why ya wearin’ a mask, kid?” he wondered, his fear ebbing. “You don’t got an ugly mug under there, do ya?”

     Kakashi balled his little hands into fists. “Ie!” A blush was visible at the tops of his cheeks.

     “I don’t trust people who wear masks. You could be makin’ faces at me or somethin’.” The desire to see his son’s face pushed his courage along. He reached out and tried to pull the mask down.

     “What are you, some kind of pervert?!” In a flash, Kakashi punched his sternum with the base of his little palm, making Jiraiya lose his balance and fall over.

     “Ah! You little brat!” he shouted and jumped to his feet.

     Yondaime had to laugh as Jiraiya’s face turned bright red. “It’s ok, Kakashi. You can show him. It’s just us guys out here.”

     “Why do you hide your face?” Jiraiya asked, growing worried.

     Kakashi scoffed and folded his arms. “’Cause then they leave me alone.”

     “They?”

     “GIRLS,” Kakashi shuddered and folded his arms.

     Jiraiya’s eyebrow twitched. Finally, after more prodding from his sensei, Kakashi tugged the stretch-fabric down. His half-lidded eyes, small, perfect nose and pouting lips framed by a boy’s round face made him look like an angel. Yondaime and Jiraiya stared, hard.

     “You ARE a pervert!” Kakashi barked and yanked the mask back up.

     “Why you little…” Jiraiya grumbled, but simmered down. He had to head out soon. He couldn’t leave his son with such an impression. “Look, eh… If your sensei says you’re hot shit, I believe it.”

     “You better! I’m gonna be the best most famous shinobi ever!” Kakashi beamed. “Everyone’s gonna know my name.”

     His father nodded, bent over and tousled his hair. “You do that. I won’t be surprised then, when I hear your name.” Kakashi blinked a few times, but the gesture was genuine and he knew it. “See ya later, Hokage-sama.”

     “Take care, Sensei,” Yondaime smiled and waved and Kakashi scratched his head and shrugged as Jiraiya walked away

 

~ Year 13 ~

 

     There were many days when he wished they would just call him by his given name. This was one of them. The village was in panic. Too many people were shouting at him at once. “Yondaime-sama, the seventh squadron has reportedly been wiped out!”  “Hokage-sama, the fire department can’t get around to the lower east side!” “Yondaime-sama, what are we going to do?!”

     He was thinking of that. The phrase ran over and over in his head. “dou-suru… dou-suru… dou suru…”

     “Hokage-sama!”

     “What?!” he barked. The shinobi messenger looked a little astounded. “Sorry. What is it?”

     “Your wife, Hokage-sama. It’s time,” the messenger said gravely, not wanting to sound joyous during such a tense time.

     “Aa.” He nodded his thank you and looked around the room for someone suitable to leave in charge. He was not surprised to see Sarutobi.

     “Go to her,” he said quietly. “I’ll see to things here.”

     “Thank you Sandaime-sama.” Yondaime passed by his predecessor on the way out. “I’ll go to the beast when I’m done.”

     “Good luck, Son,” Sarutobi met his eyes and knew it would be the last time he’d do so.

 

     The Hidden Leaf’s current Hokage nearly flew over the rooftops to the hospital. When he arrived his wife had already given birth to their first child: a son. She was pale and reached out to him as she saw him rush to her side.

     “You made it!” she cried. They embraced.

     “You’re cold…” he whispered.

     “I’m sorry…”

     Yondaime looked around, confused, lost. “This can’t be happening…” His village was under attack. Hundreds of his ninja had died already. Not his wife, too. Not his wife, please, not that.

     “Save the village… I know you can do it,” she said softly, kissing his hand as it caressed her face.

     “Kozue… I will. I promise.”

     His son screamed from the other side of the room as his wife let go.

 

     On the other side of town, things were looking for more dismal. The cries of shinobi could be heard in between the occasional unholy roar or crash of trees as the Nine Tails crushed everything in its path. 12 year old Hatake Kakashi directed his group to move out and made to follow when he saw the streak of white and red fly by.

     “Sensei,” he muttered and changed direction. As he caught up with Yondaime, he noticed the roaring was getting louder, but fewer trees were being felled. The next sight he saw astounded him.

     Yondaime was standing on Gamabunta, the giant frog’s head, holding the Nine Tails in place with a strong binding Jutsu. Kakashi hopped up the frog’s body and knelt before his sensei.

     “Kakashi, boy am I glad to see you,” Yondaime chuckled, sweat pouring down his face. He held his right arm out, tense, holding the wriggling kitsune at bay with just his will and a carefully practiced jutsu.

     “Sensei, what can I do?!” he begged, knowing the stress this was putting on the man.

     “Run to the hospital and steal my son.”

     “WHAT!?”

     “Do it as fast as you can I have no time to explain do it now Kakashi!”

     “Ha-hai!” he stuttered and bounded off as fast as his legs would take him.

 

     Fifteen minutes later, amazingly quickly, Kakashi returned with the wailing infant.

     “Give him to me.” Kakashi laid him in Yondaime’s left arm. “Thank you Kakashi.”

     “What are you going to do, Sensei?” Kakashi asked, unable to conceal the worry in his voice.

     “Watch carefully, Kakashi. This will be the only time you may ever see a Jutsu like this performed.”

     He lifted the protector from his Sharingan eye and obeyed his sensei.

     “I have a favor to ask of you, Kakashi. And I have something to give you in return…”

     “Anything, Sensei!” Kakashi cried.

     Even under the pressure he was in, Yondaime smiled. “Tell no one that this boy is mine. I don’t want him to have to live up to anything or feel badly for what I’m about to do… When the time comes, a time like this, then and only then tell him. Watch over him for me.”

     Kakashi nodded, a lump forming in his throat. The Nine Tails wailed from his fixed spot.

     “And for you in return… There’s a letter in my house. You’ll find it addressed to you, about your parents. If you want to know, I am the only man who knows…” he added sadly, the realization that his death was imminent perhaps just beginning to sink in. “Watch closely, Kakashi. This will be the last thing I teach you.”

     Yondaime moved his right hand quickly. In a few seconds he went from the retaining jutsu to a sealing jutsu. The Nine Tails writhed and screamed as it was transmuted into raw energy. Yondaime’s body became the conduit for its charka and it flowed from his right hand to his left. He sunk to knees and balanced the baby on his lap. His left hand wove a complex seal on his tiny stomach. When the last symbol had been inscribed, Yondaime collapsed and the Nine Tails was gone.

 

     Iruka had been crying for an hour. He sat against a tree and listened to the horrible sounds coming from the woods. His parents were gone, stomped out like bugs by the beast. Suddenly it was quiet. Ninja started coming out of the forest, lining up along a well-traveled path. He got up and wandered over to see what was going on.

     “Is it over?” one asked another.

     “I don’t hear anything…”

     “Did you hear?”

     “Who’s dead?”

     “A lot of people are dead…”

     “No, He’s dead!”

     “Not him!”

     Iruka rubbed his eyes and looked between people’s legs at what they were staring at. A few shinobi were walking slowly up the path towards the village. They had a man on their shoulders. His red and white cloak flowed between them. It was dirty and in the moonlight the flames on it were truly in shadow.

     “Hokage-sama…” everyone whispered. They knew what he had done. He had saved them all.

     Iruka sniffled, realizing for the first time that it was not only his parents who were gone. He wasn’t at all surprised to see Kakashi walking behind the procession, but he was a little confused to see him carrying a baby. The child wailed like a siren into the night as they walked away. Iruka watched them till he could no longer see them, only hear the baby’s cries.

 

.x.

     “It is with a heavy heart,” Sandaime proclaimed from the parapet overlooking the village square. “That I reassume the duties of Hokage.”

     The townsfolk were silent. A light cough or a baby crying here or there just made the silence more obvious, more stinging. The sun was blotted from the sky by a thick summertime haze. It had rained for the last three days. Some said it was welcome, washing away the sadness and allowing everyone to grieve. Some said the heavens themselves were grieving with Konoha. This day had been scheduled, one week after Yondaime’s death, to memorialize him. Sandaime went on.

     “It was Yondaime’s wish for each of his people to live in peace. He gave his life, as many of us do in the Ninja Way, for this village. When you think of him, remember what it means to be a Leaf-nin and thank him…”

     Kakashi knew very well what it meant to be a Leaf-nin. He was only 13 years old, but that day he had become a man. He watched his mentor, the only man he had every looked up to perform amazing feats, giving his own life and possibly the life of his only son so that the village could be saved. Kakashi turned and slipped through the crowd.

 

     Yondaime’s house was still and quiet. No sweet scents of Kozue’s cooking greeted his nostrils. No rolling laughter, no music, nothing. The air already felt stale inside. Kakashi went straight to the desk and began to rummage. Using deduction, he found the letter almost instantly. It was addressed to Hatake Kakashi and dated just a few weeks after his birth. The handwriting on the outside was Yondaime’s fine, educated script, but the inside was sloppy and mostly in hiragana. ‘Kakashi, this is your father writing. If you’re reading this, it means that your either kinda old, or…’ He read a little of the first line and folded the letter back up.

     “No,” he said aloud, startled at the empty sound of his own voice in the vacant house. “Not yet.” He looked out the window and saw that people were already dispersing from Sandaime’s speech. He must have told them about the Nine Tails Baby, because already they were abuzz with rumor and sigh. Kakashi folded the letter, stuffed it into a pocket of his flack-jacket and headed for home. Before closing the door behind him he paused, but didn’t turn around. He imagined the couple saying ‘come back soon’.

 

~ Year 26 ~

 

     She walked the halls of the hospital and tried to play off her anxiety. ‘I can’t believe I’m here,’ she thought. Her pulse quickened every few moments from little things like the scent of wisteria on the air, or a child in the streets below singing a familiar tune. “Jiraiya, so who were they again?” she asked, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.

     Jiraiya rolled his eyes and groaned. “I already told you during the trip home! That Kakashi brat, Uchiha’s kid and Gai’s student, Lee.”

     She nodded absently. He stared at her long and hard as she walked in front of him. He hadn’t had a chance to speak to her alone yet. A sort of nervous nausea floated into his stomach.

     She wasted some time in the hall chatting up Nara and his son, and then didn’t surprise him at all when she went to heal the Uchiha kid first. He stood outside in the hall and waited. Naruto ran off somewhere and at last they were alone.

     “You ready?” Jiraiya asked.

     “No, but that hardly matters anymore, does it?” she scoffed. He held the curtain aside and they entered the room.

 

     He was lying on the hospital bed with his face mask still in place. His brows were knitted in pain, but from what they heard it wasn’t physical.

     “Tsunade,” Jiraiya asked. “Whyja name him Hatake Kakashi?”

     She snorted. “Sounded good at the time. Too bad it’s the only thing I ever gave him.” She approached the bed and leaned in a little. “I want to see your face. Please don’t get feisty,” she warned, knowing that if he wore a mask all the time he might lash out at someone trying to remove it even while unconscious. Gently, she tugged it down.

     “Wow,” she said, not hiding her surprise. “He totally got my looks.” Jiraiya snarled lightly at her. She sighed. “Well, I guess it’s about time.” Tsunade recovered his face and placed her hand on his forehead. It was cool to the touch. She ran her hand over his hair once before working her magic. “Me o samashite kudasai,” she whispered as she stroked his hair. “Open your eyes, please.” She hardly knew what she was doing. This was her son, a grown man, a Jounin Ninja; her son whom she had never seen before. In moments his eyes fluttered open. The one with the scar, just as she was told, held a dark, red Sharingan iris.

     “Hi there,” his mother said and smiled tentatively.

     He looked up at the two of them: two of the legendary three ninja, and blinked a few times. “Am I dead?” he asked with a rough, unused voice.

     Jiraiya chuckled a little, but of the millions of things he wanted to say, none of them would come.

     “I healed you,” Tsunade said in a low tone. Her words also jammed in her throat.

     Kakashi sat up slowly and rubbed his eyes. “That was no fun,” he muttered.

     “I wish I had been…” Tsunade began.

     “You wish you had been here?” Kakashi cut her off in his easygoing drawl. “Yeah well I got along just fine without either of you.”

     So that was it.

     He knew.

     The parents exchanged looks.

     “I’m…” She started, but all three of them sensed the person coming down the hall into their earshot. “I’m Godaime now.”

     Kakashi turned his head and looked at her with his one good eye, closing the other. “You’re done running away?”

     Her face darkened. “Listen you little brat,” she hissed, dropping her voice. “You had two options back then: garbage or life. I chose life ‘cause I’d seen enough death to last me 10 lifetimes! At the time I couldn’t be what anyone wanted me to be, let alone someone’s mother. I left you in what I thought would be the best possible situation and took my own path. You want to hang that over my head, do you? I’m sure you’ve made a mistake or two in your life…” she fumed.

     “Tsunade,” Jiraiya warned as the footsteps got closer.

     Gai appeared at the door, looking relieved to find Kakashi awake, but the slip was temporary. He puffed his chest and addressed her. “Godaime-sama,” he said in an overly official tone.

     Tsunade scoffed and looked down on Kakashi, “Hmph,” trying to gloss over the tension in the air, she scoffed, “you were beaten by only two enemies? I thought you were a genius.”

     Jiraiya rolled his eyes. ‘This is gonna be troublesome,’ he groaned internally.

     “Never mind that idiot!” Gai broke down and wailed. “Please take a look at my student, Lee!”

     Kakashi remained unaffected. Tsunade nodded and made to follow Gai out. Jiraiya leaned against the wall and watched.

     “I wasn’t kidding.” Tsunade turned her head to look back at Kakashi. “I want to hear about them, your mistakes. Come see me sometime, please.”

     “Hai hai,” Kakashi mumbled. “Goda…” If he hadn’t looked up, he would have said it. If he would have said it, they may never have said another word to each other. But something in her eyes twisted his heart in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time. “Hai, Okaasan.”

     Jiraiya pushed off the wall and followed her out. “Hey, whaddaya know. You might not turn out to be such a rotten kid after all.” He winked and let the curtain fall back into place.

 

END

 

Glossary:

mataku [‘taku] = this can mean 'good grief' or 'for cryin out loud' - doesn't directly translate very well.

gohei  = little paper things used in the shinto religion. in most pics of yondaime you can see them around his neck.

dou-suru = 'what to do'

me o samashite kudasai = ‘open your eyes please’


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