Inu looked up at the night sky. There wasn't a star that could be seen, and the moon hid behind the clouds. He could feel a breeze, gentle yet ominous. Something was wrong and to prove him right, a baby's cry could be heard. He moved his head towards the direction of the sound and questioned whether he should investigate. He was waiting for Hawk as they were supposed to head out for a mission, but Hawk was nowhere to be found. Inu sighed and decided to see what was wrong. He jumped down from where he sat perched on the highest building in Konoha's centre.
Hawk would just have to look for him, that's if he even bothered to show up. He was always late, caught up with one thing or the other. Then again, this mission wasn't urgent. It was a simple run-in-and-investigate type of mission so it could wait. The only reason why they had decided to leave the night after they had received the mission was simple: they currently had nothing better to do and were extremely bored.
Team Rou, Inu's squad, was on medical leave as every member, including himself, was injured after their last mission. Inu was just crazy and restless enough to request yet another mission. Hawk, while not being a member of the elite ANBU team himself, but rather the temporary substitute ANBU member and self-proclaimed best friend of Inu, volunteered to assist him.
Hawk received protests from said man, but they fell on deaf ears. Even the Hokage himself approved of the suggestion. He had acted so smugly after that but didn't even bother showing up on time to the mission he insisted on going on.
"Tsk," Inu muttered as he landed on his feet and moved towards where he heard the cry.
Inu found himself in one of Konoha's parks. It should have been empty but instead there he was, crouched next to the swings, bawling his eyes out. Of all things and of all children, this was what he least expected.
"Damn it!" he said as he approached the injured golden-haired child. "Come here, Naruto." But the child showed no intention of moving towards him. Instead, Naruto scrambled to his feet and moved further away. Inu felt anger surge in him but another emotion as well.
Longing? Guilt? Shame, perhaps for knowing that it shouldn't be this way and he promised to never betray those he cared about, but he failed yet again? Whatever it was had to wait. He needed to get to Naruto and then see the Hokage, mission be damned.
He took off his ANBU mask and tried once more, "Naruto, come here. I won't hurt you."
To his surprise, Naruto responded, "Don't lie."
Inu sighed, knowing that he wouldn't be able to reach out to him. He swiftly made his way towards Naruto and grabbed him. The child thrashed his legs and screamed but to no avail. Inu held on to him tighter than he already was holding him and ran towards the Hokage Tower.
"Hey," he said to the child, "I know you're scared but it's going to be okay."
It was rather awkward trying to talk to Naruto while rooftop jumping but at least he seemed calmer than before. If whimpering could be considered calm but at least he wasn't still screaming. When they finally arrived at the tower, Inu made his way to the Hokage's office. He knew that the Saindaime Hokage was still there as the lights of his office illuminated the dark passage.
Hiruzen Sarutobi was shocked to say the least at sight he saw the before him. The ANBU captain whose silver hair defied gravity holding on to a petite child who was supposed to be sleeping and most definitely not in his office.
"And this, Kakashi?" he asked, unsure if he wanted the answer.
"You tell me, Hokage-sama. I was waiting for Obito to leave for our mission when I heard a baby crying. And this is what I found: Naruto crying, alone and injured in a park of all places."
Hiruzen sighed, "Must have been kicked out again. Thank you, Kakashi for bringing him here. I'll sort this out and you leave for your mission."
Kakashi made no move to hand the child over causing Hiruzen to raise an eyebrow.
"I take it you have something else to say then?"
"With all due respect, Hokage-sama, what do you plan on doing with Naruto after this? You said it yourself that this has happened more than once."
"Kakashi, it's not so simple. The people refuse to see him as a child and choose to view him as the Kyuuubi's reincarnate. I have tried and will continue to do so."
"Hokage-sama, do you see that working? Once people have an opinion it's difficult to convince them otherwise. Naruto's situation will only get worse."
"That is the last thing I want for him but there isn't another way. With my duties and the advisors, no matter how much I want, I wouldn't be able to a thing."
"Then pass on the responsibility to me," Kakashi said, surprising both himself and the Hokage. He said it without thinking, yet he didn't have any doubt in his words.
"Kakashi, surely you don't mean that. As honourable as your request may be, I cannot grant you permission." Hiruzen wanted to but there was no way.
"And why not?" Kakashi felt his temper about to rise.
"You have no experience with children, seeing that even as a Genin you never once babysat and you have also grown up as an only child, a mature one at that. You also have a permanent residence but refuse to even step foot in it and instead chose to stay in the Jonin/ANBU hostels. Speaking of, you are an ANBU captain that takes missions frequently and rarely ever take a break from work, as proven from tonight. Need I say more?"
Kakashi clenched and unclenched his fist but he refused to let it end there. "Then I'll change."
"How so, Kakashi? By leaving ANBU and returning to your childhood home? You know just as well as I that that will not happen anytime soon." Hiruzen knew he had won. It was a bitter win but there was no way the silver-haired nin would be able to change so much of himself.
"All I'm asking for is a chance. Naruto needs this and so do I. Please," he asked, his voice close to cracking.
It was true, he needed Naruto because as much as Obito, Gai, and so many others tried he was breaking. It was reaching the point where he told himself that the next mission he would mess up. He would make just one tiny, calculated mistake that would cost him his life. That way he'll see Sensei and Kushina-san and Rin again. He might even see his father.
"I wanna stay with him," a soft voice said.
Silence filled the room.
"Naruto, you don't-" Hiruzen tried to tell him that he didn't understand but Naruto who had remained silent the entire time shook his head.
"I wanna stay." Kakashi looked and the child he held in his arms and then at the Hokage.
Naruto stared big-eyed at the Hokage and it looked like the older man was having a silent argument with the child. If Kakashi wasn't fighting for Naruto's custody, he was sure he would've laughed at the sight. Naruto was winning it seemed as the Hokage sighed.
Hiruzen relented, "Very well. Kakashi, I'll grant you a month. You may raise Naruto however you see fit and I won't object. But, if after a month I see that not much improvement has taken place then I will see to Naruto and you will continue your duties to the Village. That is my final decision," Hiruzen walked towards Kakashi from where he sat behind his desk and squeezed Naruto's cheek.
"Don't disappoint me."
"I won't," he said confidently.
"Good. And Kakashi please tell Obito outside the window that your mission will be passed to another team and explain to him of your current situation." With that Hiruzen left.
Kakashi stood dumbfounded that the Hokage had actually granted him permission to care for Naruto. He was knocked back to reality when he heard a rap on the window. Looking outside, he understood what the Hokage meant. Hawk, who finally decided to show up was hanging outside the office's window.
His mask sat skew on his face his heavy breathing made the part of the window fog up. He was in a rush to find Kakashi, worried that he might've been left behind. Even Naruto looked confused by the man.
"Oi, Kakashi! You got some explaining to do!"
Kakashi sighed, "Naru-chan, you better not end up like Baka over there."
"Teme! I can hear you. Wait, is that Naruto?!"
Naruto giggled and for the first time in a long time, Kakashi felt content.
"So, let me get this straight, Hokage-sama is passing the mission to someone else?" Obito looked at Kakashi with big eyes. They were at Kakashi's place at the Jonin/ANBU hostels.
It wasn't very big, but neither was it small. It had enough space as required but that was it. One bedroom, one bathroom, a living area and a small kitchen. Kakashi quite like the place as it didn't require as much maintenance that regular apartments needed. Except now he would need to move since there wouldn't be enough space for Naruto.
"Of all things you choose to focus on that?" Kakashi asked, holding a now sleeping Naruto in his arms. They were sitting on his tiny couch in the living area.
"Of course! You know how I stressed I was thinking you left without me? I fell asleep earlier on after helping this Oji-chan move his things to his new house. I was so tired I freaking passed out when I got home and then when I woke up, it was time for our mission. I rushed only to find that you weren't even there!"
"Remind me again how you passed Genin rank," Kakashi rolled his eyes at his former teammate.
"Tsk. Though, are you really prepared to do this?" Obito said as Kakashi cradled Naruto in his arms, his eyes never fixed on the blond child.
He had never seen his friend this nurturing towards anything, maybe towards his ninken, but it was still an unusual sight.
"What do you think? Do you think I'm going to let him go back to whatever shitty place he came from just so they can screw him over?"
"You know that's not what I meant but-"
"Obito this is Sensei and Kushina-san's son. We owe it to them; I owe it to them. I failed so many times, but I won't do it again," Kakashi said, almost pleadingly.
Obito smiled, "Yosh, since you feel so passionate about this, I'll help you out."
"As if I'll let Naruto grow up with you as an older brother. He'll end up being more stupid than you." A tick mark sized vein appeared on Obito's forehead.
"Rather that have Naruto grow up with a stick up his ass like you."
"What are you implying, Baka?!"
"You heard me, Teme!" A pause. They looked at each other before bursting into laughter. They were thankful for moments like these. It was dark times they were living in, with the Uchiha uprising and ROOT being even suspicious than they already were.
Kakashi got up, "Look, I'm going to put Naruto down in my room before we wake him up. We'll talk after that." On his short walk to his room, Kakashi close-eyed smiled at Naruto. He would have never expected that after just a few hours since meeting the child, he would feel so at peace. In that brief time nothing else mattered.
He laid Naruto down in his bed and carefully covered him with all the blankets he had in his room. He could only imagine how long Naruto had been outside before he found him; the child was freezing. Before he left, he hesitated on what to do. Usually the kid receives a good night kiss from his parent, right? Kakashi shook his head. He couldn't do it, not right now.
Meanwhile Obito moved to Kakashi's kitchen. He made himself coffee, what were friends for if not for abusing their kitchen as their own. He honestly didn't expect Kakashi to react that way after finding out about Naruto.
He was angry himself; he couldn't see a good enough reason why the Hokage let him go through all that. Naruto was only three years old and the Hokage was supposed to see to it that everyone in the village was safe, no exceptions.
Obito refused to believe that Hokage-sama didn't have enough time to take care of Naruto. It had always been his dream to be Hokage but if being Hokage meant turning your back on your people, then what was the point?
Sensei and Kushina-san died for Naruto to be protected not alienised, he thought to himself.
"Arigato, Obito." Kakashi entered the kitchen.
"Don't thank me yet. What's the plan after this?"
"Tomorrow I'm checking Naruto into hospital."
"Why?" Obito asked.
"He needs a health exam. His wounds need treatment and Kami knows what else the kid had to go through before being left alone in the park."
Kakashi sighed, "I'm also going to move back to my old place…"
"Your old- Wait are you sure?"
"If I'm going to raise Naruto, I wouldn't be able to do it here."
Obito knew Kakashi was right but he wondered if it was the right decision. He knew that the last time Kakashi had lived there his father was still alive.
"You gonna train him?" Obito said, trying to lighten the mood.
"Of course. Naruto's going to surpass us all."
"Good. I actually have a few ideas, since we're both ANBU-"
"He's also the Yellow Flash and Red-Hot Habanero's son. You have the best ANBU team, and you have me, future Godaime Hokage."
Kakashi scoffed, "As if that'll ever happen." Though Obito did have a point.
Naruto was the son of two of the best ninjas of Konoha and was about to be raised by a man leading the best ANBU team the village has so why not take advantage of the situation?
Granted he was going to have hell trying to explain to his teammates, but they'll agree. Eventually, anyway. He thought back to how he saw Naruto the first time in years, alone and abandoned in the park.
He knew from Kushina-san that Jinchuuriki's never led easy lives but maybe this way he could change that. Naruto was destined for greatness and hell if anyone disagreed with that.
"Okay, we'll do it your way. One condition though; you're on potty training duty."
Obito groaned in response.