Important Note: Spoilers for Kakashi Gaiden.
Not Found In Stone
The first place Kakashi looks for his sensei is the Heroes' Stone. The early morning light turns the polished stone into a mirror, so he can see that his sensei's eyes are closed even though the man isn't facing him. "Are you all right, Kakashi-kun?" Yondaime asks, eyes still shut, his voice shaking just the tiniest bit.
Kakashi navigates the last few strides on his crutches and gently lowers himself to the ground beside his teacher. He sets his crutches off to his right side and sits with his left leg bent, broken right jutting out in front, the shattered foot resting a hand's breadth from the monument's base. "Are you?" Kakashi counters, but the student and teacher are both stubborn and neither will admit that no, he's not all right.
Yondaime opens his eyes then and looks at his own reflection in the stone. He studies his bleary, bloodshot eyes, rumpled clothing, and the sake bottle resting on his right knee. Kakashi, too, watches the blond reflection, sees the blue eyes glide from the bottle to the newly carved name on the stone. The man is sitting in just the right spot so that her name almost looks like it has been branded across his forehead.
"I promised," Yondaime mutters drunkenly. "I promised not to let them die."
Kakashi reaches over and plucks the sake bottle from his teacher's hand. What little of the alcohol is left sloshes loudly in the bottle. "It was a stupid promise," he says succinctly.
Yondaime snorts, but lets Kakashi keep the bottle. "At the rate this war is going, we'll have to get a new stone before either of us gets our names on it."
Yondaime turns his head sharply. Kakashi stares at the bottle in his hands. "Promise that they'll change the stone before your name goes on there." He looks up from the bottle and at his sensei's drunken face.
Yondaime smiles. "I promise." He takes the bottle back and downs the final swig of sake. Then he lies back on the ground, stretching his arms as far above his head as they will go. "I think a white stone would be nice, don't you?"
It is the woman's shrieks that wake Kakashi up. The words are indistinguishable, but the tone is not. Kakashi slips out of bed and pads softly out of his room and down the corridor.
"My son is dead because of you!" the woman screams as Kakashi peers around the corner. Sakumo, the White Fang of Konoha, the shinobi who equals the Sannin in power, stands in the doorway, his shoulders slumped as the woman unleashes her fury. "You could have ended this war. How many more children of this village are going to die because of your selfishness?"
Her fist is raised, and as Kakashi holds his breath, the woman punches Sakumo so hard in the face that he reels backward. He manages to keep his feet, and although his father's back is toward him, Kakashi knows that Sakumo's nose is probably broken; falling blood splatters the floorboards. The woman—a kunoichi, Kakashi realizes when he sees the green vest she wears—glares one last time and then spins on her heel and vanishes.
Sakumo stares after the woman for a long time; Kakashi watches his father. The only noise in the house is the blood dripping to the floor and the breathing of the last two Hatake.
Obito is sulking, and Rin looks embarrassed. As well they should be, Kakashi thinks, fingering the two silver bells. They only have themselves to blame for getting tied to the training post.
Their sensei looks at the three of them. Kakashi meets the gaze evenly from his perch atop one of the other posts, Obito tries looking defiant but fails, and Rin glances quickly at Sensei's face and then studies her toes.
"Kakashi-kun," the teacher says, and the white-haired boy slips off his seat. He pulls out a kunai and slashes the ropes, freeing his new teammates. The girl smiles a little and manages to thank him, but the other boy mutters something under his breath and rubs his arm. Kakashi ignores him.
"You know what this is?" Sensei asks once his team stands at attention. He turns and gestures toward the polished monument behind him.
"It's the Heroes' Stone," the Uchiha pipes up, undoubtedly eager to try and redeem himself in his sensei's eyes.
The man nods, and gives the boy a smile. He preens, a little, and Kakashi eyes the child contemptuously. "Rin-chan, do you know what you have to do to get your name on the Stone?"
She darts a quick glance at Kakashi and bites her lip. She shakes her head, face tinged pink.
"You have to die in battle or on a mission," Kakashi says. "That's why it's called the Heroes' Stone."
Sensei tilts his head in acknowledgment, but his lecture isn't over, not yet. "Not all of Konoha's heroes are on this stone," he says slowly. "There are many ninja who outlived their comrades. They got married, retired from the life of a ninja before death could claim them. Others are crippled. Some are simply too old to fight. A few died under other circumstances."
Kakashi tenses, but his instructor is not looking at him. "But that doesn't mean they weren't just as brave, just as heroic as those whose names are engraved on this monument. It just means they were lucky." And almost as an aside, he adds, "Or unlucky."
"I believe the White Fang was a true hero!"
Kakashi remembers those words as he stares at Obito's name engraved on the Heroes' Stone. Would the Uchiha have said those words if he knew that the reason he was going to die was because the White Fang hadn't had the courage to end the war years before?
Kakashi remembers Obito shoving him out of the way of the boulders, remembers the boy's determination to save Rin. And as he stands there, looking at Obito's name through Obito's eye, he can't help but think that yes, Obito would still have said that the White Fang was a hero.
The Kyuubi shrieks, and the demon swirls, collapsing in on itself, disappearing with a final, earthshaking howl. The demonic scream seems to pierce the soul of every ninja on the field, but Kakashi has eyes strained on his teacher.
The Yondaime Hokage collapses, starting to slide from his summons' back. The gigantic toad quickly grabs the body with his tongue and gently lowers it the rest of the way to the ground.
Kakashi watches as the remaining medic-nin rush to his sensei's body, but all he can think is that, once again, his teacher was unable to keep a promise. The Heroes' Stone is only two-thirds filled with names, after all.
The first place Kakashi looks for his father is in the room with the family's shrine. The early morning light reflects off the pooling blood, tinting the world pink.
Sakumo looks up from the tanto buried in his abdomen to his son. "Ka-Kakashi," he breathes, voice trembling from pain. "So . . . sorry."
Kakashi forces himself to breathe. "You're in pain." The words are perfectly controlled, and he wonders who it is that has taken over his voice. "I'll—" but the stranger who was there moments before is gone now, and Kakashi can't bring himself to say the rest of the words.
Sakumo's eyes fill with tears. Whether they are from guilt or pain or gratitude, Kakashi doesn't want to know. He doesn't think his control will last much longer, so in as fluid a movement as a child trained to kill can manage, he unsheathes his own tanto.
The blood that spews from his father's neck catches Kakashi in the torso and face. It runs down his cheeks, a red mockery of tears.
Kakashi stares at the body of his father for a long time. The only noise in the house is the blood dripping to the floor and the breathing of the last Hatake.