Thud. Thud. Thud.
Every half second, the sound of metal sinking into wood echoed through the spacious training ground. A lean figure could be seen standing about 200 meters or so away from their crudely painted target. The circular board had but a square inch of space left as it was littered with metal kunai.
The sound of metal striking against metal screeched through the open space, ending the rhythmic pattern of noise.
"Fuck-" The figure muttered as they watched the last of their kunai go spiraling into the forest-line behind their target. The urge to follow after it for retrieval ran through their body but the setting sun and an empty stomach fought harder. A quick sprint over to the target took place and so began the grueling process of recovering their weaponry.
Unbeknownst to the hungry figure, someone else had found their wayward weapon. A small flash of yellow and orange peaked through the green boundary line, briefly bending down to pick at something at the forest floor before disappearing amongst the foliage.
"Dog. On duty, it's Dog. I know you're new at this but do your best to remember the basics, right?"
"So strict." The figure whined out. " It's just us! No one's out here this late anyways. Besides, I just want to pass the time. Not much to do while watching the brat."
An annoyed huff could be heard from behind the eagle-shaped mask that the shorter figure wore. It was a tad difficult to discern their gender from their figure, especially during the dark of the night, but their distinctively deep voice gave them away as a male. Their taller counterpart was easily seen as a male. Though lanky, their body was bulging with muscles in all different areas. Tall spiky hair made them even more distinctive than their dog-shaped mask.
"This is such a bore." Eagle huffed as his body sunk partway into the roof the two were stationed on. The man looked over at his colleague and saw the man, stoic as ever, staring listlessly at the small-orange bound book he was known to carry around. A heavy eye roll was hidden away behind his mask right before Eagle shifted his gaze to a window 100 meters to the southwest of them.
Naruto Uzumaki. Their target for the night and, more importantly, the Village Hidden in The Leaf's worst kept secret.
Eagle felt bad for the kid. Sadness was the child's perpetual state and he couldn't blame him for it. From the day of his birth, he had been marked. Everyday of his life was spent under the cautious eyes of those who were meant to take care of him. Shinobi were a lot better at hiding their emotions. Civilians … they were a whole different breed. These people weren't trained since they were toddlers the art of espionage and killing. These people were simple merchants and craftsmen. Lying or hiding their emotions wasn't in their DNA.
The staring and the whispers by the adults were bad enough. By this point, the kids were catching on to the guarded atmosphere surrounding Naruto..
Humans are social creatures by default and kids were the biggest examples of this. The little bastards pick up on subtle social nuances better than some trained shinobi. It doesn't take a loud-mouth drunk to go spewing secrets for the kids to get the message. The subtle things end up going a lot farther. Kids love to be in the know. Once they discover a secret that they believe they weren't supposed to know, they latch onto it.
"People are weird, aren't they?" Eagle turned to Dog and saw the man in the same position he had been in for the past 3 hours. He wasn't even quite sure if the man had even flipped a single page since they'd reached the roof.
"You really are no fun, Kakashi."
Eagle sighed out while turning his attention back to his target. The man felt his spine go stiff when his line of sight lined up with the window to the boy's room.
"Ahh … Kakashi. I think something may be wrong." Eagle turned to his colleague and saw the space he was occupying was now vacant. With a huff and a shot of chakra through his system, the man disappeared as well.
He was going to be Hokage. He was going to be recognized. People were going to love him. Just like they did the Old Man. Just like they did with all Jonin that came back from missions. The adults were going to stop talking behind his back. The kids were going to start playing with him.
Things were going to get better.
"You took my parents away from me!" The sting of the older kid's words hit a lot harder than the punch the boy had delivered earlier. He hadn't done anything wrong. He was an orphan just like the older boy! He wanted parents too. So, why did the kids, especially the older ones, treat him so badly? Why did the parents who came to the orphanage never look at him?
"I'm going to be Hokage."
He didn't know why he had picked up that kunai. He was too young to be in the academy so most of his days were spent trying to occupy time. Wandering around the training grounds was his go-to. The chance at being able to even catch a glance at a ninja was huge to Naruto. He loved it. And, when he got a chance to see one of these ninja lazor kunai after kunai at a target that was further than he could even see, he took advantage of it.
"People are going to pay attention to me"
He had never held a kunai before. It weighed a bit more than he expected. They were really sharp. He had nicked himself several times just carrying the piece of metal back to the orphanage. It was fine, though. He healed up quickly.
"People are going to like me."
The kunai had been tucked underneath his pillow. No one really came into his room. He was just planning on keeping it there until tomorrow. He was going to practice throwing it just like that ninja from today. He was going to start his journey towards being Hokage!
"...My parents are going to love me."
The older kid had come into his room. Naruto had been trying to read from one of the books that the orphanage had offered. The book was a fairly popular one, retelling the story of the Sage of Six paths in the dramatic fashion that kids loved. The other boy must have seen Naruto pick up the book earlier today. He had burst into the room to come take it from the boy.
"Why don't people like me?"
His voice quivered. Each of his words were punctuated with the wet slick of metal sliding through flesh. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as his arm made the same, almost mechanical move it had been making for almost a full minute. The older boy's body was almost unrecognizable at this point.
The older boy had easily overpowered Naruto and stolen the book. To add salt to the wound, Naruto's fellow orphan had taunted him. By this point, Naruto didn't even remember what the boy had said. All he remembered was the urge, the spark to go underneath his pillow and grab the kunai as the boy turned his back to leave the room.
A small puff of air finally put an end to Naruto's action. The young boy turned his head and felt his heart drop. One of the Hokage's elite guards was standing in his room.
His life was over now.
Kakashi was a stoic man. A person couldn't experience what he had been through and not learned to erect some type of mental wall in order to cope. But this … this dragged something out of him.
Minato's son, his sensei's legacy, was covered in blood. The four year old boy was shaking while he sat on the lower body of the dead orphan. With only a quick glance, Kakashi could count over 72 stab wounds on the boy's body. There was no doubt that the child was dead.
How did it come to this? The man mentally scoffed. How could he even ask himself a question like that? He had been watching the boy since he turned two years old. He had bore witness to every struggle the kid had been through. Shoot, he had even watched the boy pick up the kunai earlier today.
There was no question of how it came to this. This was inevitable. Now, it was time to do what he did best.
Try to make up for his past mistakes.
"Naruto." His heart broke when he saw the dread overcome the boy. The kid probably thought his life was over. Killing a civilian with the reputation that he had? Death would probably be salvation compared to what the boy thought the village would do to him.
"You don't have to worry. I'm here to help." Even though his voice was calm, Kakashi's mind was moving a mile a minute. A clone had already been summoned to secure the door to the boy's room. A small genjutsu had been cast over the window. Anyone that found themselves peeking into the window by chance would see a dark room with the faint outline of a non-descript child sleeping in their bed.
The boy had scampered up to his feet and buried himself in a corner. He was frantic, his eyes shooting to every possible inch of the room. By this point, the blond had seen the closed door and Kakashi had planted himself directly in the path of the window.
There was no escape for him.
"I didn't mean it. I didn't…" The boy was a stuttering mess. Kakashi could barely make sense of his words but the sentiment was very much felt. The older man took a slow knee and raised his hands into the air.
"I know, kid. It's completely fine. I'll handle th-" Another small puff of air interrupted the man. Both occupants of the room shot their eyes over to the new arrival, the eagle-masked Anbu. The operative stood alert in the middle of the room, his mind undoubtedly swirling as he took in the situation of the room.
"Dog." Kakashi stiffened to his full height at the tone of his comrade. Already, chakra was pumping through his body in preparation.
"Dog. The kid did this?" The ANBU's question went unanswered but no words were needed. Naruto was still clutching the murder weapon and was shaking like a leaf. Any amateur detective could put two and two together.
"We gotta report this to Hokage-Sama. The Kyuubi may have be-" Eagle's words came to a quick halt when he found a kunai pressed firmly to his throat. Even with the mask blocking their sight, the two shinobi could feel each other's stare.
"The Hokage will hear about this in time. And I will be the one to report it to him. Is that an issue?" Kakashi felt the man tremble against the kunai. Shinobi had been trained to remain even-breathed in any scenario but the Hatake could hear the man's slight breathing. His nose picked up the slight uptick of adrenaline his colleague was emitting and it didn't take much to pick up on the build-up of chakra occurring in his chakra coil.
"...Why'd you have to make it difficult?" Kakashi sighed out before swiping at Eagle's neck. The man's body quickly sunk halfway into the ground, avoiding the swipe while throwing a jab at Kakashi's unprotected knee. The silver-haired man glided effortlessly over the quick strike while placing his hand on Eagle's shoulder.
"Let's take this elsewhere." And, with that, the two disappeared, leaving a very confused and frightened Naruto alone in a room with Kakashi's clone.
"This is ridiculous, Kakashi! We don't know what effect the Kyuubi could be having on the kid! It needs to be handled. He needs to be handled!" Eagle's mask had long been lost in the chaos of his fight with Kakashi. The young operative had quickly learned that the stories surrounding the Hatake weren't just myths. The man was the best of the best. An assassin that ranked above almost anyone that this village had put out.
And that man currently wanted him dead.
Eagle managed to leave the ground just as a trio of dogs came bursting out of the earth beneath them. Their teeth glistened with the blood they had already stolen from him earlier in the fight. His brief focus on such a minute detail cost him as a group of five kunai came flashing out of the foliage. His training allowed him to dodge two of the kunai but the other three struck him. Two in his right thigh and one directly in his left rotatory cuff. When he came crashing down onto the forest floor, unable to support his full weight with just one healthy leg, the trio of dogs surrounded him.
"I respect you a lot, Tadashi." The man's eyes widened at the sound of his own name. He knew it was over. If Kakashi was using his name … he was done. The man seemed to almost meld out of the darkness of the forest, kunai in hand. A part of Tadashi's pride stung at the fact that the man's headband still remained in place.
"Minato had an extreme amount of faith in your potential when you were coming up in the ranks." The Hatake sauntered his way over to the downed man. Tadashi didn't bother to struggle with his injuries. He knew death was coming for him. The man standing over him would make sure of it.
"It's a shame to wipe out one of Konoha's bright flames." Kakashi offered up a shrug before lifting his headband. His sharingan eye spun wildly as it looked down on it's soon-to-be victim.
"I'll cast a small genjutsu on you. It'll put you to sleep. Make you dream of something pleasant. A loved one or maybe an unfulfilled dream. Give you a chance to experience something that I've unfortunately been forced to take away from you." Kakashi droned on despite knowing his victim was already under the effect of his technique. An almost silent sigh escaped his lips and with a flick of his wrist, a kunai found itself buried in between the eyes of Tadashi Hamada. Kakashi offered up a silent prayer that lasted all of three seconds before turning to his summons.
"Full clean up. No evidence. I'll be back in an hour to do a final sweep." Nods were exchanged between the two parties before Kakashi disappeared in a swirl of leaves.
There weren't many situations that could put fear in Kakashi Hatake. He had been through hell and back, witnessed the death of dozens of comrades and was the first to discover the body of his own father. Even when he had appeared in Naruto's room and saw the body of that boy, he was a lot calmer than almost anyone would have been in that situation.
When he reappeared in Naruto's room, he had expected a slightly less panicked boy being consoled by his clone. What he didn't expect was to see the Hokage standing in the room with no sign of either boy.
"Kakashi." The man offered him a smile that sent shivers of terror down Kakashi's back. The Hokage took a step forward and with that step, the weight of the world crashed down onto Hatake's shoulder.
"We need to talk."
AN: It's Owl. This is my newest effort. I actually have put some planning into this one. Hope you guys enjoy it. My private messages are open so hit me up for whatever. I'll be revamping my discord soon and letting people join in on that. 'Til then, peace.