The sky was clear in the playground. A swing went back and forth, pushed by the soft wind. The orange tinge was apparent; sign that the noon would soon end.
Usually, by this time, the playground would be empty. It's a place for children to play, and children were accustomed to go home before dark. No child wanted to face the wrath of their parents, after all.
Except for one boy. He sat alone in the middle of the sand box. With his small hands, he put up a small mound of sand; making a pretend house. With as much care as a child could muster, he painstakingly made the house. And what a sterling accomplishment he had made! Only for it to fell down again, returning to its former form.
He pouted. Couldn't things just go his way for once? He got up, clearly upset by the experience, and went for the swing. "Swings are fun, not like sand," he mumbled to himself.
Except, when he got to the swing, he didn't feel very fun... In fact, it's not fun at all. The swinging of back and forth usually lifted his mood. Instead, it brought the blond boy to a solemn state.
Nothing ever went the boy's way. Nothing. All the other children wouldn't play with him. Why? Was it because of the whiskers? But the old man said it's not bad. It's just a bi… Bir… Something that you were born with. And it's not just the children, either. Almost everyone hated him, except the old man, Uncle, and his daughter.
Why did everyone treat me this way? Was there something wrong with me? Did he do something wrong?
It's not fair. He just wanted friends to play with. Was that so much to ask?
What was he supposed to do? Why was he the one without a family? Where are they, anyway?
Water dropped from his eyes. Boys weren't supposed to cry, but he just couldn't help it.
The sun already set by that time. The sky was already dark, but the small boy didn't want to go home yet. Why would he, anyway? It's not like anyone was waiting for him.
But he had to. Otherwise, he couldn't eat ramen at Uncle's place tomorrow. Uncle said the boy should "take care of himself" if he wanted to eat ramen at Uncle's place. And he liked ramen.
And so, half-heartedly, he went off the swing.
Before he could start walking, something black was waiting, it seemed for him, at the playground's gate. Oh no. The old man already warned that he shouldn't stay after dark. Is this the danger he meant? Oh no. It went closer to him. Oh no, oh no, oh no.
But wait. Those weren't just some thing. They were some ones! And there were two! And he recognized that one's hat anywhere!
"Old man!" he ran to the shorter figure, with a spiky white hair and a white robe.
The old man in question chuckled. "Oof!" The boy went straight for the hug. "Didn't I tell you not to play after dark, little Naruto?"
Naruto just giggled. He could be chastised, but he just didn't care. The old man Sarutobi was here! "What are you doing here, old man?" It's not every day he visited Naruto, after all. The old man was a very busy man.
"Well, Naruto..." Sarutobi looked at the other figure. He was taller than, but sporting almost the same spiky white hair as Sarutobi. "I have brought good news for you." Sarutobi continued.
Really? "Really?" Naruto's eyes lit up. Would it be another ramen treat? That'd be so cool! Ramen with the old man!
"Yes, really." Sarutobi could already tell that this would be a great decision. He once had the thought too, a while ago. Seeing the boy always alone broke his heart; but who could he ask to take care of the young one, while he himself was very busy with his work?
There was one likely candidate. Kakashi Hatake. Former student of Naruto's father. He wanted to ask him, one time after an assignment, to take care of Naruto. But Sarutobi could see in the young adult's eyes; as trained, talented, and smart as he may be, his psyche was still unstable. His trauma from his experiences was too big, and seeing his former teacher's son would only deepen his wounds. Sarutobi could only hope that time would heal him.
Little did Sarutobi expect, the person in question himself took the initiative at the same time he proposed his resignation form from his now former position, ANBU. And something in Kakashi's eyes changed; his wounds still ran deep, but there was a certain determination, a curious kind of hope. Something akin to... Will of Fire.
Sarutobi prayed that the current arrangement would do both Naruto and Kakashi good.
"Hello, Naruto." Kakashi introduced himself. Naruto looked up to the taller figure. "My name is Kakashi." Kakashi knelt to greet the confused young boy. How in the world could someone with a mask smile?
"From now on, you'll be living with me."
And this moment would be forever etched to memory; the moment where Naruto, the future Savior of Worlds, jumped to Kakashi with so much exuberance, he seemed to shine in the darkness.
After a long, disbelieving stare, of course.