NARUTO © Kishimoto Masashi • Shueisha • Studio Pierrot • TV Tokyo. All rights reserved. Non-profit fun ahead! Fanfic named by Iruka.

Warnings: Eventual fluffy friendship between the boys. Do not read if thou art not a fan of fluff!


"I'll do it," the voice rang out loud and clear.

A few heads turned, and many more eyebrows tipped in a show of incredulity. Did this man - this /boy/ understand what he was saying?

"Kakashi," the Third Hokage's raspy, tired acknowledgement broke the tension of imminent quarrel in the air. He paused for a short consideration, then nodded curtly. "Very well. You will hereby be allowed to-"

"Hokage-sama!" A cry of opposition immediately arose among the gathered Jounin and ANBU teams. "This won't solve the problem! The village demands that the boy be slaughtered!"

"Silence!" Sarutobi roared, slamming one hand onto his table, upsetting the crystal ball that was placed there. The throng hushed at the strong show of disapproval.

After glaring at the guilty ninja in the room with murderous intent, the Third growled, "You want to kill an innocent boy whom the Fourth decreed to be viewed as a hero? A child who saved the village from destruction?"

Several older men and women, likely from the council, exchanged glances. One then stepped up and explained, "If the child is to really be a hero who helped fight against the Kyuubi, then he must be killed. Only then can we be truly rid of the demon fox. It is too dangerous to allow someone like him to roam the streets of the village freely."

The eerie, calm way in which the elder had spoken his thoughts made Kakashi's blood freeze and boil at the same time. "I /said/ I'd take care of him. The boy doesn't have to die." He rather insistently, though also very politely, reminded the people who were on scene about his previous statement.

"You will be silent when the council speaks, Hatake Jounin!" The same elder who had stepped out prior now turned to behold the silver-haired man with a reproving glare.

"I do not see what is so offensive about Kakashi offering to undertake a task nobody wants to," the Third retorted, causing the council members to shrink back slightly. "And I will not sentence a boy to death for nothing he has done wrong. Kakashi, you may go now, and await further instructions at the east gates."

"Wait, Hokage-sama," the elder bowed slightly to indicate his apologies for his outburst, before Kakashi could vanish from the scene and thus render the decision sealed. "We are sorry for our rash words. But you know in your heart that the villagers will not rest until they have persecuted the bearer of the nine-tailed demon fox to the ends of the earth. His life in this village will just turn out to be a living hell. I suggest a truce." He gestured. "We will settle the child in a psuedo village and monitor him. Once the psuedo villagers decide that he is of no danger to Konohagakure, we will allow him to return with full status - after all the villagers will have no more grounds to deem him as dangerous. But as long as the decision is unclear, he stays in the psuedo village. This way, we can be sure of his whereabouts and deeds, as well as appease the villagers' desire to feel in control of the situation; especially after we have finally completed the difficult reconstruction of Konoha after /that event/."

The long soliloquy made sense in a twisted sort of way, Sarutobi knew, but he was quite unwilling to allow it to happen. "And who will be taking care of this five-year-old child while he resides in that 'psuedo village?'" He demanded.

A deathly silence ensued.

The Third sighed. "You intend to let nature take it's course? Throw the boy into a village of people who hate him so much that, if not for the Hokage's orders, would be more than willing to suffocate him in his sleep? And you expect things to work out normally?"

"Hokage-sama, there is no other way." A masked ANBU spoke from where he dwelt in the shadows. "With all due respect, Hokage-sama - as the Hokage, you are supposed to administer the will of the village, and you know it. This event concerns the safety of the entire village, and you know where they all stand. Let's not drag this out any longer."

The Hokage placed his chin on the back of his clasped hands and brooded. Finally, he shook his head and sealed the fate of the boy.

"Very well..."


The room had been cleared for a while now, and the pale beams of moonlight presently shone unobstructed into the office. Two lone figures remained, one seated and one standing. The silence that surrounded them was painful to bear, and it was not until the one standing shuffled his feet around slightly that any sound could be heard at all.

"You walked right into that one, Hokage-sama," the lazy, nonchalant tone Kakashi had chosen to use did not faze the Third, who continued staring stonily at the empty room before him. "You even let the /council/ take charge of appointing people who will be staying in that wonderful 'pseudo village.'" There was a pause for the information to sink in. "You have a contingency plan already, I'm sure," the voice was hopeful.

In response, Sarutobi opened his drawer and took a whistle out. He blew twice into it, summoning a sparrow half the size of his palm and sending it off again after muttering something to the bird. His attention then returned to Kakashi.

"How good are you with Henge?" The Third asked pointedly.

"Eh?" Kakashi reeled slightly at the apparently irrelevant question. "Well, good enough to fool myself into the women's bathhouse on several occasions for long periods of time..."

He thought he could see the Third chuckle slightly, before the Hokage regained his composure and asked, "Is your Henge good enough to hoodwink even-"

The moonlight was momentarily blocked by a shadowy figure scaling into the office through the window, causing the Third to stop in mid-speech and Kakashi to be immediately on guard. The Jounin relaxed slightly only when he noticed the familiar Leaf ninja vest and headband the figure was wearing. What a sneaky little thing this one was. He held much potential indeed.

"Uchiha Itachi, reporting for service, Hokage-sama," the young boy said plainly while in a half kneel.

For a split second, Kakashi wondered why the Third had summoned the child prodigy of the Uchiha clan - who had recently been promoted to the Chuunin ranks; at the tender age of ten, no less. He meant to ask, but he had a feeling he was going to find out soon anyway, so he waited.

"Itachi," the Third said while gesturing for the over-polite boy to stand. "Before I give you your mission briefing, answer me just one question." The air tingled with suspense and expectation in the pause that followed, after which the Third continued seamlessly, "What is your opinion of the Fourth?"

Standing slightly ahead of the boy, Kakashi turned around to regard his reaction to the strange question carefully. He could see a glint of pain and loss in Itachi's eyes, even as the long-haired ninja spoke, "He was a brave and worthy Hokage. I know of no equal. Should I be able, I would have gladly taken his place during that event..."

The oldest ninja in the room remained silent in a contemplative pose. "Those were not words recited from memory, but from your heart?"

Itachi's aura blazed at the accusation from where he stood, then calmed down. "From the bottom of my heart, Hokage-sama."

There were times when even the Legendary Late could get impatient, and Kakashi now demonstrated it by asking, "Hokage-sama, what exactly is going on?"

The gray-haired leader sighed wearily, and removed the Hokage hat, placing it on the table. "I have an S-class mission for the both of you." He looked at the younger ninjas in their eyes. "It involves risking your life, as does all other S grade missions - although on a much greater scale. It also involves a long period of absence from the Leaf, a long period of maintaining a transformation jutsu which you may never, if ever, get to dispel in broad daylight, and the eventual outcome of becoming Nukenin - Abandoners, in the eyes of the village..." The Third narrowed his eyes upon the younger ones, who both had looks of semi-fascination drawn over their features, as if both wondering what kind of a mission required such extensive skills and drastic outcomes. "Kakashi. Transform into me. Itachi, use your Sharingan and tell me if you can see through the illusion."

"Hokage-sama!" Kakashi was instantly dismayed. "That goes without saying, doesn't it?"

"Kakashi-san is right," Itachi nodded curtly. "The Sharingan can see through any Henge, even the high level ones."

The Third laughed. "Well if we can't find a way to fool the Sharingan, then this mission is doomed before it has even begun."

Kakashi and Itachi exchanged a mutual look of dark confusion.

"What is this mission, Hokage-sama?" Kakashi asked, hoping that he sounded polite enough not to be assumptive. It might not have showed on his face, but he was dying with curiosity inside.

"You are," the Third rested his eyes, "to protect, with your life if necessary, the legacy of the Fourth Hokage."

Again, silence crept into the room.

"I wasn't aware the Fourth had..." Kakashi's raised an eyebrow in confusion. Even the usually stoic-faced Itachi was visibly surprised.

"He does, Kakashi," the Third confirmed, "and it was the child you had just volunteered to protect."

The Jounin blinked. "Uzumaki Naruto?" He wondered aloud, and the Third nodded. Kakashi almost winced. He had volunteered to take care of the child despite having no such prior experience and no wife to help him either, because he felt a strong stroke of pity and injustice for the orphan whom the village were about to sacrifice in the name of security. And mainly because he wanted the council to just shut their self-righteous trap up. He certainly had not known that the little thing was the descendant of the very man he held with the highest regard in this village. Now that the truth was out, though, the entire meeting just now disgusted him to the core of his soul. "Did they... did those - excuse my unintelligible words - old nutcases /know/?"

Sarutobi's eyes became downcast. "Yondaime forbade me from saying. I say it to you both because I know that you trust the Fourth, and that he trusts you both. This fact will never leave this chamber, understand?"

Nobody answered, so he took it as a silent vouch of agreement. "Now, Itachi, listen to me." The Hokage turned to regard the outwardly calm boy. "I have known of your deep respect for the Fourth. I merely asked you that question to seek a confirmation. You say you would risk your life for him, and here I ask you to do exactly that. The village councils have decreed that Naruto, the vessel of the nine-tailed demon fox be sentenced to an indefinite time of imprisonment in a mock village so that they can monitor his movements. They will be sending rounds of people to ascertain his health from time to time, but none will be devoted, nor will any show him any favour.

"It pains me to foresee that the son of a great leader will grow up to be bitterly opposed to his own people. That is why the both of you must- no, you WILL perfect a transformation Jutsu that no ninja can see through - not even the Sharingan, and leave this village in another form, follow Naruto, and show him that hatred and ostracism isn't all there is to his life." He breathed, noting that both younglings were riveted to his monologue.

"This is not a game, Kakashi, Itachi," Sarutobi sternly warned. "It involves possibly decades of the rest of your lives, and the legacy of a great man. Of course, I will send covert help occasionally. But the matter is dire, and I need your answer immediately. You may not discuss this with anybody but yourself."

"I'll do it," Kakashi said, a shadow of the words he had spoken at the outset. "I already said I would, and Yondaime always tells me that I need to be a man of my word. Punctuality not withstanding. Maybe."

Deciding that this tardy answer was enough for now, Sarutobi turned to Itachi, whose visage remained hooded in the shadowed room. When he shook his fringe out of his face, however, his eyes were pulsating with a soft, red glow. "Shall we begin, Kakashi-san?" He asked softly, turning to look at the older ninja. "It's not going to be easy to perfect a transformation Jutsu that can fool the Sharingan..."

Sarutobi smiled slightly despite himself. "I take that as a 'yes' from the both of you, then."

The two young genius ninjas bowed in unison, and vanished from the room along with the outward bound breeze.


It would be ten years before anybody even came close to the truth of the matter.

Part 1 of 7

it took me four months to get off my butt to editing this thing properly. o.Ox if you're still reading this, thank you, and hopefully you're interested enough to stay on!