Taisetsuna : Precious
A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
Kakashi opened the door to his apartment. Three heads poked around him to see inside.
“Wow!” Hikari cried. “It’s huge!” She and her sisters ran in and jumped on the couch.
Kakashi’s eye bulged as he noticed Come Come Paradise Volume 3 lying for anyone to see on the coffee table. ‘Oh no! I need to clean up this mess!’ He ran around so fast he blurred. He opened a closet, already jammed with stuff and threw a huge pile of magazines and manga into it. He laughed nervously as the girls blinked at him.
He sat down on the coffee table and stared at them. Yami was sitting on her hands. Yume was kicking her feet idly against the side of the couch. Hikari clutched the edge of the cushion and stared intently back at him.
“So,” he began, “why exactly did you attack me and my students?”
Six cheeks blushed. “We wanted to see…” Yami started.
“…If you were really that strong,” Yume finished.
Hikari rubbed her thumbs against the ribbing on the cushion nervously. “Kaasan always said that you were stronger than her. We wanted to see if it was true.”
Kakashi hummed, amused, but only for a moment. “Forgive me but, how did she die?”
Their eyes fell to the floor again. “She went on a mission… They brought her back…” Yume sniffed.
“I’m sorry. Don’t cry again, please?” He looked around wildly for tissues. All he had was toilet paper. He opted for napkins instead. As they calmed down again he sighed. “I guess you’ll have to stay with me for now. Since you don’t have passports you’ll have to take off your Suna hitai-ate. Otherwise you’ll be arrested.”
They did as they were told, untying them from around their middles. Suddenly, as if left unprotected, all three of their stomachs grumbled. They blushed again.
“Hungry, eh?” Kakashi asked and stood up. His own stomach echoed theirs. “Heh. I have nothing here. We’ll have to go to the Ramen joint.”
“Ramen!” they all cried in joy.
“You’re easy to please,” he muttered and led them to the restaurant.
As they walked through the downtown streets, heads turned.
“Oh, how cute!”
“Triplets! Look, they’re adorable!”
“Would you look at that, they’re identical!”
Kakashi hoped against hope that he could make it to the restaurant without running into anyone he knew.
“Oi, Kakashi!” a familiar voice called.
‘Oh no. Well, at least it’s not Gai.’ He stopped and waved. “Yo, Iruka.”
The girls looked around their father’s legs. “Iruka?” “Like Ikura?” “Ikura who was friends with Kaasan?” they asked.
Iruka blinked and both men stood in stunned silence for a moment. “It’s I RU KA,” he mumbled.
“Come on. You’re buying us dinner,” Kakashi grabbed his vest and dragged him into the ramen shop.
When the food had finally come, Kakashi pulled Iruka aside and tried to explain.
“Shhhhhhh! Keep your voice down. Yes. It seems I got her pregnant before she left.”
“That’s incredible! So where is she? Man, it’s been so long since she’s been around, I can’t wait to…” Iruka’s joy faded as he read the expression in his friend’s eye. “She’s not…?”
They looked over at the girls who were fighting playfully over a piece of gyoza. Hikari let out a loud shriek of a laugh that stunned the two men’s hearts. It sounded just like her mother’s. Iruka went to order drinks while Kakashi observed his daughters from a distance. Yume grabbed a hold of Hikari’s uniform as they play-fought and pulled. A soft tearing noise made them all gasp.
“Oh no!” Yami covered her mouth. “Kaasan’s repair!”
Tears came to Yume’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Hikari! Kaasan won’t…”
“It’s ok!” Hikari urgently cut her sister off, clutching her hand.
Kakashi squinted slightly and hummed to himself before returning to the table. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “Did you rip your shirt?” They were reluctant to say anything. They stared at their food. “It looks like it’s been repaired once already.”
“Three times,” the middle one added.
“Yami!” Hikari scolded.
“Kaasan would have been upset if she saw it.” Yume explained. “It made her sad to fix our things.”
Kakashi became lost in his thoughts for a moment, picturing Oururi in her Anbu uniform on her knees with a needle and thread, stitching her sobbing child’s clothes back together. ‘It’s ok, Hikari,’ she said in his mind. Her voice was soft, but behind the Neko assassin’s mask she wore her brows were pinched together in an expression of worry. Kakashi puzzled at this. ‘She cared about her children enough to mend their garments, but it made her sad to do so?’
That night the three Hatake girls were finally asleep on a futon in the living room in Kakashi’s apartment. He watched them for a little while before turning out the light and retiring to his own bedroom.
As he slipped under the covers, Kakashi closed his eyes and tried unsuccessfully not to think about their mother.
He remembered when her laugh changed. They had come back from their first Anbu mission. It was a cool, fall afternoon. The target was a corrupt politician with a huge goon squad. Three Anbu, a leader and the two rookies were sent out to handle it. There had been more than 50 samurai standing in their way. When the team emerged, there were none.
Kakashi had watched Oururi out of the corner of his eye during the slaughter. She was more than able to handle herself and because she was wearing the mask he couldn’t tell how she felt as she took down the targets. Both of them had been commended by the team leader for a job well done and told to head home by separate routes. Before they split apart, Kakashi noticed Oururi’s hands were balled into tight fists. She shook slightly and breathed heavily. He wanted to ask her if she was all right, but their leader had forbidden them to speak or remove their masks till they were safe within Konoha’s walls.
Kakashi bounded through the crowded streets. His mask and bloodstained robe tucked away in his backpack. He found Oururi in the side street next to her house, sitting on the ground against a wall, still wearing the mask and robe.
“Oururi!” Kakashi shouted. She leapt up tore the cat’s mask off. Her brows were arched and her mouth was tight and angry.
“I’m fine!” she barked and leapt up the fire escape towards her bedroom window. He stood in the long afternoon shadows and watched her go. She laughed at him with a brittle cackle that made her sound possessed. “I’m not as weak as you think I am!”
“That’s not it!” he barked back. “You’re a…” Her window slammed shut. “You’re a precious person to me...” he whispered, unable to reach her. “I just don’t want you to get hurt…”
The cat-masked assassin became one of the best the team had seen in years and Oururi and Kakashi were both valuable assets to the Hidden Leaf Anbu squad. Some customers asked for the cat and dog simply because their fame was so renowned. Then one day, very suddenly, the cat quit.
Kakashi blinked and stared at Oururi. “You’re leaving?”
She had her back to him. “It’s a trade off, some political thing between the Fire Country and the Wind Country. I’m going to the Hidden Sand for 10 years and they’re sending someone here.”
“Swapping assassins?” he asked, skeptically.
“I can’t really discuss it. It’s political.’ She sneered. “I leave tomorrow. Early. So…” Oururi turned. Her eyes looked everywhere else but at him.
“…Then I guess this is good-bye.” Kakashi grit his teeth.
“I guess so.” She lingered for a moment before turning again and walking away.
Kakashi turned over and sighed. ‘If I had told you, would you have stayed?’ he wondered. Then aloud he whispered, “If you can hear me, I’m sorry, Oururi.”
Sometime later, three pale, white shapes slipped out the living room window and repelled down the side of the apartment building. Silently, they hit the ground and sprinted through the quiet streets.
The 3rd Hokage’s house was as usual, unprotected. One by one they flipped up to the ledge outside a tiny window and popped inside. Moments later the first emerged, followed by the second, a large scroll that just fit through and then the last. They exchanged hand signals and sprinted away.
As they wound through the alleyways and side streets on a seemingly random course, one looked forward, one held the scroll and one watched their backs. They didn’t expect to be confronted from above. A half dozen shuriken tagged the scroll so hard it fell from Hikari’s hands.
“Above!” called Yami.
“Oh no!” Yume cried.
Kakashi stood balanced on one foot on a wire stretched between buildings. “You are so grounded.” He had his forehead protector raised. His eyes gleamed in the light of a neon sign. “So you were using me the whole time, were you?” he growled. His tone was angry and filled with disappointment and it scared his daughters.
“Fist of Sand no Jutsu!” Yami called her attack.
“No, Yami! He’s using his Sharingan!” Hikari warned too late. Their father put his hands together mimicking her seal and copied her. The two enormous fists punched each other, scattering in a shower of sand. As the girls jumped to avoid it, Kakashi honed in on Hikari.
“Give me the scroll!”
“I can’t!” she shouted. A thin wire shot between them and wrapped around the scroll. Kakashi looked to the source as Hikari lost her grip. The scroll flew towards the wire’s owner.
“I’ll take that,” a muffled voice came from above. A woman wearing the beige clothes of a ninja from the Wind Country and a Hunter-nin mask reeled the scroll in.
‘Oh no!’ Kakashi gasped. ‘She’s come for the girls!’ He charged the woman. She tucked the oversized scroll under her arm and bounded away on the electric wires. She was misbalanced because of the heavy scroll and Kakashi soon caught up with her. Throwing kunai at her served to set her even more off balance and she finally slipped. As she landed and turned to run again he was right on her back holding a kunai to her throat.
The girls had caught up with them. They skidded to a halt and watched with baited breath.
“I won’t let you have the scroll,” the Hunter-nin muttered from behind her mask.
“I could give a crap about the scroll,” he growled. “I won’t let you take my kids!”
The girls gasped. “Otousan,” Yume whispered.
The Hunter-nin grasped the scroll tighter. “Just let me have the scroll.”
Suddenly it came together. Kakashi looked over his shoulder at the girls. They were clutching each other anxiously. ‘They’re not worried about me,’ he thought. ‘They’re worried about the Hunter-nin!’ he grabbed her shoulder, spun her around and tore her mask off.
Just like the last time he saw her, Oururi couldn’t look him in the eye.
Yume looked up at the starry sky. “They’re coming!” she alerted everyone.
Kakashi was on top of it. “Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!” he shouted and an exact clone of himself appeared. “Give me the scroll.” Oururi resisted. “Do it, or you could all be executed!”
Reluctantly she gave it up. Kakashi tossed it to his clone and it bounded up to the rooftops. Soon it was quiet again. He slipped the kunai back into his pocket, turned his back on her and began walking away.
“Kakashi…” Oururi reached out grabbed his sleeve. “Won’t you at least let me explain?” Her eyes were filled with worry like they had been in his mind.
“Follow me,” he said and they flicked through the alleys back to his apartment.