Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any Naruto characters...

Chapter One

Hatake Kakashi moved between the shadows. His sole purpose was the scroll hidden in the depths of this house. Every now and then, Kakashi paused and used his Sharingan to scan the surroundings for any hidden ninjas. Even though this was merely a C mission, there was no harm in being extra careful.

Nothing so far.

The scroll was in the room at the far end of the corridor. After one last check, Kakashi entered the room.

The scroll sat in the middle of the table.

"Easy… Any Chuunin could have done this task." Kakashi remarked to himself as he pocketed the scroll.

Why had Tsunade been so insistent on me taking on this mission?

Kakashi started towards the exit.

And was confronted by 4 masked ninjas.

Shit! How did they get past the Sharingan? Kakashi sprang into a defense position, assessing the situation he had gotten in.

"He's got the scroll already" one of the masked ninjas remarked.

"Well, at least the Genjutsu worked on him"

"Get the scroll back at all costs. And I want his Sharingan" The leader of the team growled.

Genjutsu? Unless they had used it on me right from the start? Kakashi mentally kicked himself for his carelessness as his hand gripped tighter on his kunais.

Four against one. And I have no idea how skilled these guys are. And, judging from the fact that this is a trap, they would have assistance behind.

The situation became less and less favorable.

BUT… I am Hatake Kakashi. I wouldn't fail a mission so easily!

With a low cry, Kakashi lunged himself at the attackers.

"Go!" The leader of the masked ninjas cried.

A long bloody battle ensued.

A bloodied hand clutched at the scroll. More blood dripped onto the ground. Hatake Kakashi surveyed his damaged self as he stumbled onto the street, vomiting blood.

The four ninjas had been skilled. It was sheer luck that he had managed to hold them at bay. And then assistance had arrived. Kakashi was outnumbered 20 to 1.

Kakashi recalled the thrill in him as he fought alongside death. The adrenaline rush, the chilling sound as metal fought metal. The blood and the anguish cry as the enemy fell. There was the taste of blood in his mouth and blood everywhere. On his hands, his bland, his clothes… Everywhere.

Cold, calculated and careful, Kakashi had defeated the enemy and managed to escape with the scroll. But the masked ninjas were highly skilled and the wounds he suffered were more then minor. Kakashi swore as he felt the world spinning before him.

Got to hang on a while longer…

Kakashi summoned up the last of his charka that he didn't know existed and called out Pakkun using Kuchiyose no Jutsu. With the last of his stamina gone, the great Hatake Kakashi, copy-cat Ninja, fainted.

Blood… there was so much blood.

It stained his hands. He couldn't get it off.

At 10, young Kakashi had killed his first man.

Kakashi sat on the rooftop, staring blankly. He ignored the presence of Jiraiya who had settled himself down beside him.

"Want to talk?" Jiraiya looked into his young chuuin's eyes for some signs of reaction. There were none. He inwardly cursed. He should have talked Yondaime out of letting Kakashi take on the B mission. Hell, he blamed himself for letting this young boy become a chuunin at such a young age…

"I… I killed someone tonight".

Silence hung around like it had nothing better to do. After some time, seeing that nothing was going to happen, it left.

"It should never be easy to take a life. Killing should never be callously done. I often thought it ironic. Ninjas protect the ones they love. Yet to do that, they inevitably must kill. Whatever it is, no one really knows what is right or what is wrong Kakashi… and all I will say is that Konoha sleeps a little more soundly tonight because of what you've done".

It wasn't the answer the 10 year old Kakashi quite liked. Nor did he quite understand it. But he accepted and knew that from the moment he became a ninja, he would be a killer. A killer so as to be a protector for the ones he loved…

Kakashi awoke to the smells of disinfectants, soft murmurs and a splitting headache. And oh yes, the pain.


The scroll!

Kakashi bolted upright. Or at least he tried to before he was sent reeling back, assaulted by a wave of sharp pain that robbed him of his breath.

"Oh, you're awake" A falsely cheerful Tsunade remarked.

"Now, now Kakashi, I sent you on a simple mission and you had to get into trouble. Two broken ribs, one bleeding head wound, one punctured stomach and torn muscles and ligament. Really Kakashi, are you getting old or something? I spent two whole days healing you! Two whole days! As if being Hokage is not busy enough for me"

Wincing, Kakashi summoned a weak grin.

"Don't give me that cute face! I won't be appeased by that."

"Hey!" Kakashi croaked. "You told me it was a C mission. How tough could it get?"

"A B mission! BBB! Argh! You will be the death of me someday."

"Maaa.. I guess I wasn't paying attention at that time. But those attackers were not ordinary ninjas. They were skilled warriors. This should have been classified an A mission". Kakashi's eyes narrowed on Tsunade's guilty expression.

"Well, I admit it was tougher then it seems. Since I've gotten you in this scrape, I guess you should know what is going on." Tsunade got up and paced the small room.

"The scroll you obtained contains many jutsus that are banned in Konoha. They also happen to be highly dangerous and destructive. Luckily, not many people know about it. I couldn't classify this mission too highly or it will arouse suspicions. Why then did you think I sent you? The tensai ninja?" A soft smile lingered on her face as she gazed at Kakashi. Kakashi thought he glimpsed affection and sorrow in Tsunade's eyes. But it was gone in a flash.

"I see… Oh wells, I'm alright now aren't I?" Kakashi grinned.

"Hmpf. Far from it. You're likely to remain immobile for the next few weeks and I want you to rest for the next one and a half months. And I've got just the perfect person to look after you…"

"Oh Really? You've gotten me a hot babe?"

"No you twit! I've entrusted you in Iruka's care. Since I often see Iruka at the academy, he can readily inform me of your recovery. Plus, he lives alone and he knows a little bit of doctoring…"

As Tsunade's voice droned on, Kakashi pondered over his assigned "guardian" for the next month or so.

Iruka… Umino Iruka. Naruto's Chuunin teacher at the academy. Naruto often speaks of him…

Kakashi knew Iruka as a quiet, studious teacher, although strangely protective of his students. He recalled Iruka's outrage protest against Team 7's participation in the Chuunin exam. Iruka was ready to fight the tensai Jounin when Sandaime had intervened. Iruka was well liked by his colleagues and also his students. He was forever cheerful, with a wide smile on his face. And yet… Kakashi seem to glimpse something beneath that bubbly exterior… Something more…

But Iruka is a chuunin for heavens' sakes! I don't need a chuunin to coddle me!

Kakashi scowled as he pondered over how he would give Iruka a hard time… Thinking… he promptly fell asleep.

Tsunade smiled softly to herself.

I'm sorry Kakashi for getting you in this scrape. But I knew that if there was someone who could come out of this alive… it would be you. Thank you dear boy…