Two days past since Team Rou and the Uchiha returned to the Leaf and Hiruzen Sarutobi could not have been more frustrated.
In addition to Team Rou being exceptionally late in their return to the village, they also caused a number of problems on their journey back. Or more specifically, they instigated a number of events that not only took out half of ROOT's forces, but also led to Danzo being critically hospitalized, two of his henchmen being paralysed and put in a holding cell while they waited to be questioned, nine other ninjas who worked under him in custody, and one dead.
He had himself to blame as well, exactly what was he hoping for when he tried to threaten Rou into completing a mission without causing some kind of mess? He should have known than normal tactics would never have worked with a squad as off the rocker as Rou.
The Hokage buried his face in his hands, groaning. His desk was stacked with even more paperwork than usual. Each stack was organised by his assistant in order of importance and wouldn't the tallest of the lot be a pile of complaints, suggestions and outright threats of physical harm directed at him written by the Uchiha.
Never in his life had he wanted to throttle someone more than Fugaku Uchiha when he waltzed into his office, just before sunset, bloodied and proud. Danzo was laying unconscious and bleeding half to death at an abandoned training ground when he and a few other ninjas arrived at the scene. They found Kakashi and Obito high-fiving over two knocked out ROOT members, ten bodies scattered around, one of which was dead.
He was shocked to say the least, by both the situation and its details. That night had been his longest and toughest working day in a while, nearly four years to be specific.
In the interrogation room, he learnt from the members of Team Rou (who had each appeared mysteriously just as Kakashi and Obito were forced to enter the room) all the details regarding Danzo and his plans, their provocations directed at ROOT, and why the mission took much longer than expected. Though Hiruzen still suspected they were leaving something out, even with Ibuki Morino with them.
Once Rou left the room, the Uchiha told their version of what happened regarding everything from the first day of their mission to the last. Once again, Hiruzen felt like something was being left out.
He did have to thank them, however because he had to admit that Tean Rou made his life and duties somewhat easier. Still, he wished that they did something more to the book. He may have more than enough evidence to rid Danzo of his status and once and for all destroy ROOT, but the biggest hurdle was to overcoming was the impact of Danzo's actions.
"Are you finally ready to tell me what you have been hiding, Kakashi?" he asked the silver-haired ninja when he entered the office through the window.
"Actually, Hokage-sama, I've come with news regarding Danzo. Besides, you already know everything." Kakashi hopped down from the windowpane and stood with his hands behind his back in front of the Hokage's desk.
"You didn't mention anything about the Uchiha's plans, nor did you mention your health."
Kakashi eye-smiled. "I didn't mention the Uchiha because you already know all there is to know and my health… Rou doesn't know yet either. The real question, Hokage-sama, is why Danzo knew about it. I thought it was confidential."
The Hokage gave him a long look. "How long have you known?"
"Danzo was certain about being able to frame Itachi for a reason that I'm certain wasn't that ROOT would be able to kill me. Dragon, the ninja Tenzou and I fought, mentioned something that rubbed me the wrong way. Tenzou suspects something but he won't say anything until he knows exactly."
"I see. Are you furious?"
"Amazingly so, Hokage-sama. I can barely contain the amount of hatred I feel for you now."
He looked at the Hokage and sharpened his voice. "Danzo finding out was part of your plan to seek him out. He was one step ahead of you and planned better than expected. While Rou was out of the village and Obito and Shisui were working on monitoring them you were in your office doing nothing."
"There wasn't anything I could do, Kakashi. Danzo's political position was too vulnerable and I had no solid evidence against him."
Kakashi shook his head. "What would you have done if Danzo succeeded? I would have fallen apart and Itachi would have taken the blame. You're making excuses, Hokage-sama."
Hiruzen gave an exasperated sigh. "Will you tell me the news of Danzo's health, or will you continue to rub salt on the wound?"
Kakashi purposefully took his time to answer. "He's awake, unfortunately not well enough to witness the council meeting tomorrow, but awake, nonrtheless."
Hiruzen nodded. "One more thing before you leave. When do you plan on seeing Naruto?"
Kakashi only answered before he opened the door. "Right now."
"Oji-chan, why are you mad?" Naruto asked with a tilt of his head.
Mikoto laughed into her hand and Itachi simply smiled at his question.
"I am not mad, and I told you not to call me that. Why are you still here?"
Fugaku nearly fell backwards when a dog barked at him.
"Watch your tone, Uchiha-san. Pup is a guest in your home, and you will do well in treating him so."
"Now, now, Bisuke. Otou-san didn't mean anything harmful by his question, he just struggles to communicate gently."
Bisuke huffed. "Whatever, Itachi."
Fugaku stared disbelievingly at the sight in front of him. He was sitting at the head of his dining table, Itachi to his right with Sasuke sitting in his lap, and Mikoto to his left with Naruto in her lap. Directly across from him, sat three of Kakashi's ninken, Bisuke, Guruko and Akino.
The dogs scowled at him, Mikoto was laughing at the entire situation, Itachi was smiling as he fed an elated and surprisingly quiet Sasuke, and Naruto conyinued to look at him confusedly.
Fugaku hung his head. When he finally arrived at home, he expected a joyful welcome back with Mikoto tackling him into a hug, punching him poorly while scolding him for taking so long to return. Sasuke would shyly stand at the door and mumble something that resembled 'I missed you'. Except, he got none of that.
Mikoto screeched when she saw him and forced him to fix himself in the bathroom otherwise he'd traumatise the children. He went along with it despite being confused because Itachi was already a ninja and Sasuke would eventually come to see him in that state. He nearly pouted when he saw her proceed to hug Itachi tightly instead.
It was only when he reached the bathroom that he realised his home was eerily quiet. Usually, Sasuke would be screaming about something or the other and would only calm down if he saw Itachi. His youngest son had yet to make an appearance.
Fugaku ignored the urge to check Sasuke's room in case he was sleeping as his son would start screaming, Mikoto would start screaming at him, and Itachi would be left to deal with the situation because Kami decided that Itachi would be the most sensible person in their household.
When he left the bathroom feeling refreshed and looking good-as-new (thankfully the medical ninjas at the ANBU headquarters did enough for him so he didn't need to go to hospital) he screamed blue murder.
Looking up at him with the most fascinated of expression was a child smaller and scrawnier than Sasuke. He had large, cerulean eyes, golden hair and three whisker-like birthmarks on each cheek. Fugaku had no doubt that the boy he was staring at was the son of Minato Namikaze.
"Dear, I asked you a question." Mikoto said, interrupting his thoughts.
"Huh? Oh, can you, uh, repeat what you said?"
"I wanted to know what you are going to do about tomorrow."
Itachi stopped feeding Sasuke to look at him. Fugaku rested his head on his hand and let out a long breath.
"My response will be yes if you're asking what I think you are. The result will be the same either way since the meeting is nothing but a way to simply remind everyone to watch what they say."
"The clan will be upset, Otou-san. Kaa-san is asking what you will do afterwards."
"I'll deal with it when it gets here, Itachi. Do tell me though, Miko, how did you manage to keep Naruto being here a secret?"
Mikoto shrugged. "No one really visited while you and Itachi were away, apart from Obito-kun and Shisui but they already know about Naru-chan."
Naruto looked up her. "Oba-chan, did Kashi-nii and Obi-nii come back?"
She smiled and smoothed his head. "You'll see them soon, I promise."
Her answer seemed to satisfy him as he went back to being silent and occasionally picking at the food on his plate. Fugaku noted that he didn't ate that much. It seemed strange to him because he thought, judging by how loud and energetic Naruto had proven to be the two days he was back at home, that the child would eat more.
Must not be all that comfortable here yet, he thought.
"Fugaku-sama," the suave Akino spoke up, "since it is still quite early in the afternoon, would you mind me proposing something?"
Fugaku squinted. "Unless it involves me doing anything other than staying in this house, feel free."
Akino looked at his fellow ninken. They bobbed their heads at each in agreement.
"We were hoping it would be okay if Naruto and Sasuke would accompany us to the Third Training Ground. Itachi would've gone with, but he's got other plans."
Fugaku turned to a coughing Itachi. "First time I've heard of this."
"My apologies, Otou-san. I already planned on seeing Shisui after lunch, but -" he looked down at the obliviously chewing Sasuke, "- he would have protested if I left him alone. I asked the ninken to accompany them instead."
Fugaku had to admit Itachi had a point. If he said anything that even resembled the words 'go' or 'leave' Sasuke would have thrown a tantrum. It wasn't as though the ninken weren't capable of looking after Sasuke and Naruto either, they had been helping Mikoto around the house after all and were technically ninjas themselves, so he supposed it wouldn't be the end of the world if Sasuke left with a non-family member.
"Alright, but be sure that no one sees Naruto or Sasuke. I'll have enough on my plate tomorrow as is."
Guruko bounced up and barked. "Yosh! Let's leave immediately."
Bisuke bit his tail. "Sit down, idiot-mutt! We haven't told them why we're even going to there in the first place. And it's still lunch."
"Going?" Sasuke asked.
Fugaku rolled his eyes. Of course, that's the first thing he pays attention to.
"Hai, Sasuke. The ninken are taking you and Naruto out for a little adventure. Doesn't that sound exciting?"
Sasuke stuck his tongue out at his mother's overly cheery voice. "Only if Nii-san goes."
"Sasuke," Fugaku said, intentionally deepening his voice slightly, "You will go with the ninken and Naruto while your brother meets with Shisui."
Mikoto slapped his hand with chopsticks she was holding. One of her eyes started to twitch violently as she tipped her head in Sasuke's direction.
Turns out he deepened his voice a little too much if Sasuke's tearing eyes were any indication to go by. Even Naruto gave him a dirty look.
"Don't cry, Sasuke-kun. It'll be fun even without Itachi because you'll be meeting a new friend," Akino told him.
But before Akino could get another word out, Naruto jumped out of Mikoto lap.
"A new friend! Is it Hina-chan, Aki? Is it, is it?"
"Hi-na-chan," Mikoto said slowly before gasping. "Kami, Fugaku we have to go with them!"
She grabbed Fugaku's hand and started to shake him. "Please dear, we have to!"
"What? Miko, I wanted to stay in today! We don't even know who this 'Hina-chan' is anyway."
"Hina-chan is Hinata Hyuuga, Fugaku-sama. Naruto met her a few weeks ago and Kakashi thought it would be a good idea for them to meet up again. Hiashi-sama agreed as well," Akino said.
"I always wanted to meet Hyuuga-kun's daughter! Kushina-chan too, she was so excited when she heard his wife was also expecting the same time as us. Isn't that weird, Fugaku, we all went to the Academy together!"
But Fugaku was already shaking his head furiously. No way did he want to see that self-righteous, stick-in-the-mud freak. He had enough of him when they were in the Academy and when they had to go on missions together. He was overjoyed when they both became clan leaders, not because of the responsibility or the title, but because they had no reason to speak to each other than the occasional acknowledgement.
Whether it had to do with the fact that their clans rivalled each other or not, Fugaku Uchiha simply despised Hiashi Hyuuga. The only reason he tolerated him was because Mikoto was best friends with Kushina and Kushina loved to mess with Hiashi, and because Fugaku was friends with Minato and Minato was always with Kushina, Fugaku could never avoid Hiashi.
Kami, did he hate his Academy days.
"I think it will be fun, Otou-san. Surely, you and Hyuuga-sama have much to talk about. Sasuke, will you be okay with me leaving if Kaa-san and Otou-san go with you?"
Sasuke pouted but nodded. "What she like?" he asked Naruto.
Naruto stood still for moment. He smiled broadly. "I forgot," he giggled.
"Mikoto, I have no problem if you want to go with the children and the ninken. But I am not going with."
Was what Fugaku said yet somehow still found himself face-to-face with the pupil-less clan leader.
Mikoto was introducing Hinata to Sasuke and trying to keep calm while the ninken stood around them. Fugaku was certain that this was a divine punishment.
"Fugaku Uchiha," Hiashi greeted monotonously.
"Hiashi Hyuuga," Fugaku responded with equal enthusiasm.
They stared at each other for a while, neither blinking as they were both unwilling to lose the challenge. That was until Fugaku yelped in pain when Naruto kicked him in the shin. Hiashi lip rose ever so slightly to the side but Fugaku chose to ignore it in order to glare at the child.
"Oba-chan said to kick you as hard as I can," Naruto stated simply.
"You and Hyuuga-kun are spoiling the mood with your idiotic staring contest. Take yourselves to the other side of the field and talk about your feelings or whatever it is difficult men such as yourselves do."
Hiashi lifted his nose. "Have you no control of your woman, Fugaku?"
"Call me that again, Hyuuga-kun, and Hinata-chan will be the only Hyuuga returning home," Mikoto hissed at him.
Hiashi opened his mouth to retaliate but Fugaku was quick to stomped on his foot agree with Mikoto. "Of course, dear, we'll be leaving now."
She gave him a suspicious look but led the ninken and children to the shade of one of the many trees that surrounded the massive training ground. It's emptiness reminded Fugaku of his fight two days prior, but he said nothing of the sort.
"Are you looking for a fight, Fugaku?"
"I could ask the same of you. Look, Mikoto may be retired now, but she's still a Jonin and I'm sure you haven't forgotten who her tempers rivals. You should be thanking me."
Hiashi huffed. "Unlike you, I am no coward."
"I saw your eyes widen."
"They did not."
"Yes, they did."
"No, they did not!"
"Admit it. You're still scared of her."
"Still? I was never."
Fugaku snorted. "I distinctly remember Minato having to calm you down after Kushina threw that prank on you and Miko-"
"Stop, I do not want to be reminded of that incident."
"What incident?" Both Fugaku and Hiashi shrieked at the unfamiliar voice.
"Yo, Fugaku-san, Hiashi-san," Kakashi greeted nonchalantly, holding one hand up while the other held his infamous Icha-Icha novels and his visible eye showing no emotion like always.
"When did you get here?"
"-san? You should be addressing me with -sama."
Kakashi waved both of them off. "Firstly, I was here the whole time reading in that tree." He pointed at the tall white birch to the left. "Nice kick Naruto gave you. Bet ya wasn't expecting that much force, eh? Secondly, '-sama's' a bit too formal for my liking since we're going to be seeing each other often now, Hiashi-san. Our kids are friends after all."
"Friends?" Hiashi asked. "Hinata is not friends with either of your brats. I only allowed her to see Naruto because your dog wouldn't leave me alone until I did. I would never have agreed if I knew Uchiha would be here."
"Oho? And what makes precious Hinata better than my Sasuke, hmm? He can at least speak in full sentences."
Hiashi activated his byakugan. "Now I am certain you are looking for a fight. Hinata's shy, that's all."
Fugaku activated his own dojutsu. "Let's settle this, Hiashi!"
Kakashi groaned and waved his arm between the two of them. "What is it with this village and rivalry. Kami, people say Obito and I are bad. You're acting worse than Naruto and Sasuke!"
That caught their attention. They both took a step back and deactivated their dojutsus.
"Why did you arrange this, Hatake-kun? Knowing you, you planned on us meeting here."
Kakashi scratched the back of his neck and gave a guilty chuckle. "I may or may not have encouraged Itachi to meet with Shisui today knowing that you already accepted Pakkun's invitation for Hinata to meet Naruto. I also may or may not have told Akino to only mention Hinata when Mikoto-san was in the room because she would have insisted on meeting her as well. But we'll never know for sure."
Fugaku pinched the bridge of his nose. "Hatake-kun, you better have a good reason for this or so help me."
"It's about tomorrow. I know that you both agreed to support Naruto's adoption and I trust that you'll keep that promise, however it's about what happens after."
Fugaku looked up. "What?"
"Hiashi-san, do you know what took place two days ago?"
"Without all the extra details, yes."
"Good because Fugaku-san and I will need your help."
"What?" Fugaku asked again, this time Hiashi said it with him.
"ROOT coming after both our teams and Shisui taking out majority of the subdivision was unexpected; everything I planned on doing to get rid of ROOT and stop a coup from happening is useless now. We need allies if we want this village to last."
Hiashi held his hand out. "Stop, Hatake-kun. What is all this about a coup?"
"None of you concern," Fugaku answered and stepped towards Kakashi.
Kakashi didn't step back. "Hokage-sama has enough evidence to strip Danzo's title and destroy ROOT, but that doesn't stop your clan from revolting. I was naïve in thinking that removing Danzo was all that was needed. Until Danzo's plan was found out, I didn't realise how vulnerable the Uchiha really are and the Hokage won't be able to resolve this with a simple signed paper."
"What are you implying, Hatake-kun?" Fugaku's voice was dangerously low.
"The only way to solve this is by giving your clan's status back. I don't trust the Hokage enough to do that or anyone in his position really." Kakashi took a breath. "I spoke to him today, alright. He confirmed something that made me realise that relying on him to fix this mess won't be permanent. Konoha is his priority, not the not us, shinobi, nor the Uchiha. He had a plan and it failed."
"Step away from the boy, Fugaku." Hiashi said.
"I will not agree to anything unless you inform me of exactly what's going on. Hatake-kun, what have you gotten yourself into? You're lacking your usual bravado."
Fugaku realised that Hiashi was right. He knew from how Kakashi spoke to him while they were still on their mission that while the ninja may seem confident and relaxed, he was anything but. The more he thought about it, Kakashi's sudden tempo change, his breath hitching while speaking, not reaching out to Naruto at all even though he hadn't seen him in so long, it was clear as daylight.
Kakashi was shaken up.
For some odd reason, he felt shamed that he only realised it now. He believed it to be because Kakashi made it his duty to protect Itachi, but he knew that that couldn't have been the only reason. Was it pity or sympathy?
Kakashi looked at the ground. "I'm dying. I had a check-up today…it- it's gotten a lot worse. Only my doctors and the Hokage was supposed to know, but Danzo found out. That's why everything turned out like this, he was confident enough that he didn't need to kill me himself because he thought I would have done it if my team was slaughtered."
"Am I correct in assuming that the Hokage intentionally let Danzo find out, trusting that it would lead to him gaining the upper hand?" Hiashi asked.
"Am I correct in assuming that this disease of yours has to do with your borrowed eye and that your mental health was main target in Danzo's plan."
"Then, Hatake-kun, am I correct in assuming that the reason why you called me here to meet with this buffoon is because you are hoping that stopping whatever this coup is about will be your last good deed for this village?"
Kakashi took longer to nod this time.
"You truly are a child."
"What, Fugaku? He sounds like a coward, accepting his death without considering the possibility of survival. I've always respected your father, Hatake-kun, but I couldn't never find myself agreeing with his decision to leave this world. It seems to me that you are following his footsteps, right to the tee."
Kakashi blinked and took a step backwards. Fugaku noticed his arms were shaking at his side, his body seemed to tremble with anger.
"Then what am I supposed to do?!" Kakashi screamed. "For the first time since Sensei's death, I don't want to die. I don't want to leave anyone behind. But this illness, it's taking everything away from me."
"Itachi told me," Fugaku said quietly, "that there's someone on your team that is ill. He hasn't died yet and acts as though it no longer bothers him. What makes you different?"
Kakashi didn't answer.
"Take it from people who were friends with Minato, he would want you to live. I am not an expert in medicine, that's Tsunade-sama's job, but I know a thing or two about having a sharingan. Your body is still getting used to it, I do not know if it will kill you or not, but if you train with it properly enough, the results will be different."
Hiashi sighed. "This is what I get for listening to a talking mutt. Fugaku, Hatake-kun, the day will not last forever, so do tell me what it is that requires my assistance."
Fugaku kicked the ground. "Damn it, Hatake, Uchihas have pride. You better not make me regret telling Freaky Eyes, here, about this."
Fugaku decided to put his trust in Kakashi. Even if he couldn't stand Hiashi, the Hyuuga wouldn't exploit his clan's vulnerability for his own gain. Despite how cold and indifferent he seemed, Hiashi Hyuuga wasn't the type to stir unnecessary trouble unless he had a good reason for it.
He reluctantly told his rival about his clan's plans, ignoring the urge to pull Hiashi's hair out every time a snide remark was made. Kakashi mentioned what Itachi said earlier, the problem lay with what would happen after the council meeting.
Naruto was the vessel for the Kyuubi, the same beast that nearly destroyed the village and pushed the Uchiha further into a corner. Leaving the other clans aside, his own clan would bear some kind of resentment towards Kakashi because he would have both a sharingan and the jinchuuriki in his possession. Fugaku was struggling to handle them as it were and they would without a doubt question why he didn't oppose Naruto's adoption.
Hiashi uncrossed his arms to sit down on the grass. He flicked his hair when he noticed Kakashi and Fugaku looking at him, and crossed his arms again.
"You Uchiha never cease to amaze me. The boy's right, though. If you consider the state you are in now to the plans that each of you already made to avoid disaster, neither would work out."
Hiashi blew a stray strand of long, ebony coloured hair out of his face. "What I fail to see is how I will be able to assist. Honestly, this village would be better off without constant threats interfering. Why not just let this coup happen and fail? You could take it from there and start your clan anew."
Kakashi had to restrain Fugaku from hitting Hiashi. "Can your forget about clan rivalry for a second? Even you have to admit, Hiashi-san, that Konoha stands as one of the most powerful hidden villages because of we have both the Hyuuga and the Uchiha. The coup doesn't just affect the Uchiha and the Hokage, it affects the entire village."
"I know that, Hatake-kun. I just don't see the point of trying to prevent something that would have happened no matter what you did to stop it. The only man I can see stopping something as big as this with little consequences has been dead for nearly four years."
Fugaku shrugged out of Kakashi's grasp. "I am already sinking my head into the ground by involving you and Hiashi, this whole exercise is pointless."
"Your pride is pointless. The Hyuuga has its own problems, yet we have never caused as much problems as you fools. The difference between us is the ability to control ourselves and keep things in the family. You should learn from that."
"Can you stop bickering and hear me out? And I was called a child," Kakashi said exasperated.
Kakashi took their silence as a yes. "I've been thinking a lot recently. Naruto, Sasuke and Hinata, they're each descendants of powerful clans. The Uzumaki clan may no longer exist, but the potential Naruto has because of his bloodline and the kyuubi, it can't be overlooked. If the three of them can grow up together, imagine the possibilities it can lead to."
"Are you suggesting a truce between our clans, Hatake-kun?"
"Exactly that, Hiashi-san. Out of the four noble clans that make up Konoha, the Uchiha and Hyuuga are the most powerful. Even if the Hokage promises equal rights to the Uchiha, the damage that already happened won't disappear. A truce between the two clans, as well as the potential friendship of an Uzumaki, will change how the rest of the village sees you."
Fugaku shook his head. "That doesn't stop the coup. If anything, it'll lead to more animosity between the clans."
"I'm not saying it'll prevent the coup, but it will lessen the hatred your clan feels, Fugaku-san. Use Naruto and I as way to show your dominance. If the leader of the Uchiha son's friends with the vessel, it will seem that in some way you have control over him. If the Hyuuga's clan heir is friends with the both of them, there won't be any favouritism."
"I agree," Hiashi said, shocking Kakashi and Fugaku.
He sighed. "Are you two going to act surprised whenever I say or do something that isn't egotistical? It is part of the façade, you know. One must fake appearances to get far in life. Back to the matter at hand, I agree with what you said, Hatake-kun. A truce will be beneficial to both our clans and, as much as I hate to say it, Hinata will grow stronger if she continues to be a part of your brats' lives."
Fugaku looked down at him and gave a disbelieving laugh. "Are you, Hiashi Hyuuga, actually agreeing to help me? Kami must be mocking us."
Hiashi grit his teeth. "Continue and I will force your clan into a coup myself."
Kakashi sweat dropped at the scene. "Oi, oi, calm down. Hiashi-san, I'll be taking your word for it. Fugaku-san, how your clan reacts and preventing any potential uprising will be up to you, but will you accept my proposal?"
Fugaku clicked his tongue. "Not like I have any other choice. My ancestors are rolling in their graves because I'm trusting a child that shouldn't have anything to do with me when it comes to clan matters."
Hiashi got up and dusted himself off. "Now that this matter is settled, I'll be going since I now have to think of ways to inform the clan elders." he gave Kakashi a simple nod. "Bring Hinata home with Naruto. Hizashi will be at the compound's entrance later, so no one else will see him."
Kakashi didn't get the chance to reply before Hiashi walked away and disappeared in a trail of smoke. Fugaku clapped him on the back.
"I'll have Shisui help you train with the sharingan. He trusts you just as much as Itachi, so I doubt he'll have a problem with it. For now, go to Mikoto and the children. I really don't want to be here, so I will take the scolding later. She was just as worried about you as she was for Itachi and I."
Kakashi stared at him and gave a genuine eye-smile. "Thank you."
Fugaku simply clapped him on the back again and walked away. He hated the entire situation, truly, but he couldn't help but feel glad that even if he couldn't be assured of his clan's standing in the future, for the very least, he had allies.
Minato would be proud.
Sitting around a long table with the Hokage at the head, was the leader of each prominent clan in Konoha. On his right, sat the clan heads of Konoha's four noble clans, Shibi Aburame of the Aburame clan, Choza Akimichi of the Akimichi clan, Hiashi Hyuuga of the Hyuuga clan and Fugaku Uchiha of the Uchiha clan.
On his left, sat Shikaku Nara of the Nara clan, Inoichi Yamanaka of the Yamanaka clan, Tsume Inuzuka of the Inuzuka clan and, at the very end of the table laughing sheepishly and scratching the back of his neck, sat a very nervous Kakashi Hatake representing the Hatake clan.
Adjacent to Kakashi and directly opposite of the Hokage sat his two advisors, Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane, each giving the young Hatake a disdainful look, or rather giving the child he held to his chest a disdainful look.
Naruto buried his face in Kakashi's chest, grabbing at the thin material of Kakashi's navy blue shirt he wore under the standard flak jacket with his small hands. His eyes were shut and with each sound, be it a whisper or the scraping of a chair against the tiled floor, his legs would twitch, and Naruto would grab on tighter to Kakashi.
All eyes were on him. Hiashi gave him a disapproving stare and Fugaku's lip twitched in disbelief, giving a silent message of 'Are you serious right now?'.
Shikaku adjusted his spiky high ponytail and yawned, stretching his arms onto the mahogany table and resting his head on them. Choza stared confusedly at the strange duo as he snacked on a bag of potato chips he brought with, ignoring the look of disgust Hiashi was giving him.
Inoichi was poking a sleeping Tsume, her spiky head thrown to the back of her chair, snoring softly in her deep sleep while her purple-stained lips twitched every so often. Her face was rested in an annoyed appearance and her eyebrows raised every so often when Inoichi poked at red fang marks on her cheeks.
Shibi Aburame's sat deadly still, his eyes were hidden by his dark shades, head tucked in his high collared white jacket, and eyebrows crossed. Kakashi was unable to tell what the man was thinking or if he was even awake as his appearance was the same as it always was. Strange and seemingy unbothered.
The Hokage, who held an unlit pipe in mouth in consideration of Naruto, took a deep breath, released it, and knocked his fist on the table.
"Tsume, wake up, Shikaku, raise your head and sit up straight," he ordered.
Immediately, Tsume woke up but not without punching an unsuspecting Inoichi in the jaw, launching Shikaku in a flying fit of laughter. He stopped laughing when the Hokage frowned at him and sighed.
"Alright, alright," he said.
Hiruzen nodded. "Respected clan leaders, and honourable advisors, I have called you today for a matter of great importance. As you all know, this meeting was to take place three days ago, unfortunately due to certain circumstances we were unable to hold it."
"By circumstances you mean Fugaku putting Danzo in hospital, Shisui Uchiha-kun injuring nine of Danzo's men and killing one, and Kakashi and Obito celebrating after knocking out his two guards."
Hiruzen's eye twitched. "I am sure we are all well aware of what happened, Shikaku. The matter's still being investigated into to, so there is no need to bring it up at this point in time."
Shibi raised his hand. "Then, Hokage-sama, judging by Kakashi Hatake's presence and the Uzumaki child, is this meeting about the child's new caretaker or the behaviour of the villagers towards him."
"I was getting to that, Shibi, but yes. The reason I have called this meeting was to announce that Kakashi Hatake, after a trial period to test his competency in child-rearing, has officially adopted Naruto Uzumaki."
Choza dropped the chip packet, its content falling on to the brown haori Hiashi wore over his pristine white kimono. Fugaku pulled his arm to sit down when the Hyuuga activated his byakugan and attempted to stand.
Tsume banged her fist against the table. "HUH?!" she shouted, but lowered her voice when she noticed Naruto's squirming. "Huh?!"
"Tsume, the decision's final. This meeting is simply to introduce Naruto officially as the adopted son of Kakashi Hatake and to address any qualms you might have regarding my decision."
"Hokage-sama," began Koharu, her hands playing with the pearled needle used to keep her grey hair up in a neat twin bun. Her voice was soft but sharp, much like her appearance. Looking like a gentle old woman but possessing the skills to scare the most fearsome of ninjas.
"Surely you know the delicacy of this matter. How could you make a decision like this without discussing it with Homura and I first?"
The man next to her nodded, adjusting his glasses when it slipped slightly. He stroked his grey beard as he frowned.
"The child is the village's jinchuuriki, he cannot be allowed to be raised by just any ninja, especially not this one. I do not agree with this decision, Hokage-sama."
Kakashi rubbed Naruto's back with one hand and clenched the other. "Advisor-sama, please refrain from using certain words in front of him. He has a name and it's Naruto."
Hiruzen put his hand up before Homura could retort. "Homura, the decision is final. Kakashi has proven himself to be a suitable guardian and he is correct. I will not tolerate anyone calling him by anything other than his given name."
Homura reluctantly kept quiet. Kakashi covered Naruto's ears and continued to soothe him.
"Good. Now, everyone here, with the exception of Kakashi and Naruto, is both a leader of a powerful clan and an outstanding shinobi. Prejudice should not be a trait any of you possess. The purpose of this meeting is to address the strategy moving forward. Kakashi has requested a moment to speak before anyone raises their objections and I have granted him that request."
He looked at Kakashi, gesturing to take it from there. Kakashi coughed and sat up a bit straighter.
"I know that to many Naruto is nothing more than a vessel and after the damage the village suffered because of thr kyuubi, I understand why you may not agree with him being adopted. However, no matter how you look at it, he is still a child. A child that has been abused in the past, scorned by people that should be protecting him and has suffered greatly because of a decision he did not make." Kakashi looked down at Naruto and smiled, glad that no one would be able to see it.
"The Yondaime made that decision and it saved the village, should he not be treated as a hero instead? He bears a burden that none of us would be able to, and so did his mother and her aunt. You all forget that Mito Uzumaki, the Shodaime's wife and a powerful kunoichi who contributed to this village's prosperity was in the same position as him.
"Konoha is corrupted. Living in peace for a few years doesn't assure that we will always be safe. Naruto is our hope for the future, he shares the same blood as the man who gave his all for the village and the women who none of us will ever be able to compare to. I assure you that under my parentage, Naruto will grow to be a powerful ninja to serve our village."
Kakashi took his eye off Naruto and looked at the Hokage. He gave an eye-smile, signalling that it was the end of his speech.
Shikaku squinted at him before chuckling, slapping Inoichi on the shoulder. "Well said, Kakashi-kun. You have my approval, not that it's needed but it's there, and I'm sure that the rest of the InoShikaCho agree."
Inoichi rubbed his shoulder. "Well yes, I don't necessarily have a problem with Kakashi-kun raising Naruto, but I do have my reservations." He looked around the table. "We all know that Naruto is far from an ordinary child, his abilities and potential is unknown, so how can we be assured that he will be raised accordingly?"
"Inoichi-san is correct," Shibi stated. "Kakashi-kun, by the looks of it, Naruto appears to be weaker than the average civilian child. His stature is small even for his age and I can barely pick up any chakra signature from him. Assuming that you have been with him longer than a month, could you tell us exactly how you've been raising him?"
Kakashi tapped his cheek. "The thing is-" he laughed nervously. "-well the thing is, he's already been 'training' under my ANBU squad. But-but-but it wasn't anything special, just simple games to increase his stamina and certain skills, and some chakra control exercises, and we've been teaching him before bedtimes."
He received a flabbergasted silence.
"I'm not training him for war, okay? Look, Obito thought training him would help you guys trust me to raise him."
"O-bi-to, as in Obito Uchiha," Choza asked slowly.
Kakashi shrugged, not knowing what else to do. He immediately regretted mentioning his squad and Obito's name.
"So you're telling us that your squad, Team Rou, the same squad that causes problems on the simplest of missions even though you're ANBU, and Obito Uchiha have been helping you raise Naruto?" Tsume asked, her voice sounding strangely strained.
"Kami have mercy on this village," she said after a while.
"Ahem," Fugaku raised his hand. The Hokage raised an eyebrow but gestured for him to speak.
"Thank you, Hokage-sama. I would like to make a proposition."
"As would I," Hiashi said, glancing at Fugaku from the corner of his eye.
Kakashi held in a groan. Konoha really is special when it comes to pointless rivalries.
"As I was saying, given that my son, Itachi, is a part of Team Rou and that Naruto is the vessel for a certain…beast," Fugaku hesitated on the wording. "I would like to monitor Kakashi's parenting skills. My younger son is also the same age as Naruto, so I believe it would work out well."
"Ano, Fugaku-san, all of us have children the same age as Naruto. Basing it on that fact alone doesn't make you more qualified to monitor Kakashi anymore than the rest of us."
Hiashi crossed his arms and dipped his head. "Exactly, Inoichi Yamanaka-san. Which is why I volunteer to monitor his monitoring," he said, voice even and without a hint of sarcasm.
Silence filled the room once more.
"Sorry, what?" Choza asked.
"It is no secret, Choza Akimichi-san, that Fugaku clearly has hidden agendas for wanting to monitor Hatake-kun's child-rearing."
Kakashi desperately wanted to leave the room when he noticed the vein in Fugaku's forehead began to swell.
"I'm sure that's not his inten-" but Hiashi ignored him and continued to speak.
"Therefore, it is only necessary that I, Hiashi Hyuuga, clan head of the strongest clan in Konoha and receiver of Fugaku's unrequited rivalry, be the one to ensure that his hidden agendas are not successful. My daughter, Hinata, is also Naruto's age so they would make a fine pair of acquaintances."
"We've already established that having a child Naruto's age doesn't make-"
Fugaku turned to face Hiashi, ignoring the rest of Inoichi's sentence. Kakashi felt an odd sense of solidarity for Inoichiseeing as they both were victims of being ignored by the rest of the council.
"Teme! You just want to make me look suspicious!" Fugaku accused Hiashi.
Hiashi flipped his hair. "No less than you already are. It is too coincidental that your eldest son happens to be on Kakashi's squad, while the other is Naruto's age."
"And how is that my fault?!"
Naruto started to squirm again and Kakashi questioned what the point of talking to the fighting clan heads the day before was. Hiashi seemed to have forgotten everything discussed and simply started to throw accusations at Fugaku.
"Aggressively defending yourself, how shameless. You see, Hokage-sama? This is why my help is needed."
Slowly, Kakashi and Naruto's presence was forgotten as Hiashi and Fugaku began to bicker back and forth. Shikaku, whose face rivalled a tomato, started hitting Inoichi as he laughed. Choza went back to snacking on the forgotten pack of chips and opened a new one when he finished it. Tsume looked left to right, unsure of what to say or do. And Shibi…looked and acted the same as always. Strange and seemingly unbothered.
The advisors muttered amongst themselves and the Hokage removed his pointy red hat to massage his forehead.
As Kakashi watched the commotion, he failed to notice Naruto twist around in his grip. Naruto rubbed his small fists against his eyes and blinked a few times before opening them completely.
"Kashi-nii, where are we?" he asked, bringing the room back to reality.
Everyone froze to look at the child. His confused face flushed slightly, bright blue eyes staring curiously at nothing in particular, blinking slowly at his surrounding, and mouth pulled into a small pout, was not quite what they expected. Then again, just what did they expect?
"He's very cute," Choza said, breaking the silence.
Tsume leaned over to the side to poke his cheek but pulled back when Naruto let out a fearful shriek.
"He's not good with strangers," Kakashi told her.
"Seems to have taken a liking to you easily," she commented.
Kakashi didn't answer.
Shibi coughed. "Right, Hokage-sama, I feel that this meeting has gone on for too long. We should reach a conclusion."
"That I agree with, Shibi. Naruto," the Hokage called out to him, "could you come here please?" He held his arms out in front of him.
Naruto turned to Kakashi for help, but the older boy only pat his head and carefully put him down on the floor. The room watched in anticipation as the toddler padded his way to the Hokage's chair. Once he got there, Hiruzen picked him up and placed him in his lap.
"As you all can see, Naruto's nothing short of an innocent child. There's nothing different about him to any of your children, except for that one particular fact. He will be going home with Kakashi, whether you agree or not, but any issues you have may be raised."
"Hey, Naruto-kun," came Shikaku's voice. "What do you think of that guy over there?" he pointed to Kakashi.
"Kashi-nii…Kashi-nii's the best," was all he said. His face reddened even more, and he chewed on his lip.
Shikaku tried his best to keep his face neutral. "He really is cute. Hokage-sama, I really don't see anything wrong with the arrangement. Inoichi, Choza?"
Inoichi smiled. "If Kakashi-kun's words are to be trusted, then I have no doubt in the ninja he'll grow up to be. Though, I will agree with Fugaku-san and Hiashi-san."
"Same with me," Choza muttered with his mouth full.
Tsume crossed her arms and nodded sagely. "I look forward to seeing him grow."
"I don't have any queries with the adoption. I believe that it would be interesting to say the least," Shibi said.
Hiruzen didn't wait to listen to the advisor. "If it is just complaints, you can save it for the meeting we will have after this. Homura, Koharu, we have much to discuss."
The Hokage turned to the Uchiha and Hyuuga.
"Fugaku, I will grant you your request. Yours as well, Hiashi. Do not abuse it."
"Of course, Hokage-sama," they said in unison.
Kakashi thought he was seeing things when he noticed the fist-bump they gave each other when the Hokage turned away. Had they planned their argument, wanting to make it seem as unsuspicious as possible?
It made sense, everyone would've been on alert if Hiashi and Fugaku agreed on something together. That was as crazy as Konoha being on good terms with Iwa.
Kakashi, did however, have the suspicion that while they might have been acting, some part of their exchange was personal. Their neutral voices seemed too neutral and Kakashi swore he saw both leaders cringe when they realised what they did.
Finally, the Hokage looked at him. "Kakashi, you will raise Naruto to the best of your ability. Should anything happen, you will be held responsible as you are taking the role as Naruto's parent. Any issues you may have, should be taken up with Fugaku or Hiashi as they will be monitoring you and ensuring that you and Team Rou, for that matter, take this duty as priority. I will also check in from time to time."
"I understand, Hokage-sama," Kakashi said without a moment of hesitation.
"Then, Kakashi Hatake, you are officially the guardian of Naruto Uzumaki."
A/N: It is currently nearly midnight so I apologise if there's any grammar mistakes in chapter. I only proofread my work before pubishing it.
Next chapter will be an omake, but still "canon/plot relevant" chapter detailing the events which took place on Naruto's 4th birthday. I also updated my other fic, centred around Naruhina, so please make sure to check it out.
It's based on the cliched amnesia trope, but with a supernatural twist and added dimensions to the characters. It is called My Escape. Another thing, I once again opened polls, so please vote for any of the options give.
Please read, review and follow/favourite.
Until next time,