Hatake Sakumo had just shut the door of his home, and had turned around to lock it. It was around ten o'clock at night, and he assumed his wife was already asleep. He had just returned for a long, but relatively easy mission. For someone like him, it should've taken less than half that time, but of course, every team of ninja had that one person who always went and screwed things up and made it that much harder.
He and his wife didn't live in a big house, in fact, it was a house, but it was very small. Only two bedrooms, a small kitchen and living room, and that was about it, besides the bathroom. He unhooked his 'White Fang' blade and hung it by the door, took off his shoes, and walked out of the doorway and into the small living space. It was then he noticed that his home seemed colder than usual. It wasn't freezing, just a little colder, probably only by a few degrees. But as a ninja, his sences were trained to notice even the tiniest change in things. Why was it colder?
As Sakumo looked around he noticed why. Things were missing. Lots of things. What did they have in common? Why were they missing? He asked himself these questions as his way of trying to analyzing what happened. Then it hit him. What they had in common was who they originally belonged to. Only his wife's things were missing. Everything that belonged to her before they married and moved into the small house, was now gone from their usual places. She was gone.
Sure, not dead, but she left. Sakumo found himself not exactly too torn up about it. In fact, he noticed her change a lot since they married two years ago. She wasn't the person he thought she was. But he didn't think she would be so low as to leave him so suddenly with no warning, or a note, or a goodbye even. Sure Sakumo loved her, and still did, but then again, he was a ninja and he couldn't let his emotions cloud his judgement of any situation or decision. He still couldn't put even his finger on why, but he assumed it was because he was always away. He couldn't entirely blame her for the failure of their marriage. He assumed that once they married, things would stay the same for him, except for when he came home, someone would be there waiting for him, to welcome him. But his wife wanted more, she wanted to see him more, she didn't want him to accept so many dangerous missions, and stay away from her for so long. Maybe she couldn't take it anymore, but couldn't bring herself to tell him. Sakumo realized then that it probably was his fault, but if she had opened her mouth and said something, maybe they could've worked things out. Why didn't she understand that it was war-time? The village couldn't afford to let any ninja have time off. If she had just waited for the war to end, things would've gotten better.
Sakumo started to walk through the house, when his heart jumped into his throat. She didn't. She couldn'tve. It looked like she had only taken what was once hers, but there was one thing that they both shared. One thing, that belonged to both of them. It was just as much his as it was hers, but had she taken that too? Sakumo started to bolt through the house until he came to the door leading to the second bedroom. God help her if he opened this door and his most precious possession wasn't there. He would track her down, take back what he was now claiming as his and his alone, then kill her. Nobody fucked with Hatake Sakumo, and if they did, they wouldn't live to talk about it. He was a man of dignity, but a man of morals as well, and he needed what was supposed to be behind this door to live.
Sakumo then took a deep breath and pushed the door open slowly. He forced himself to calm down as he did, killing her would be stupid. Depending on how long he was gone, and how long she could've been gone for, maybe it was good if she took it, but he would want to see it again. Once the door was completely open, Sakumo stepped in slowly, making his way to where it should be. Sakumo's heart started to choke him, since it hadn't left his throat since he started thinking that his wife might've taken his most precious possession. He fought for this possession, it was his reason to fight, his wife too, but this had become more important to him. He slowly peeked over a wooden rail and his heart was at ease.
His baby was still there. He was awake, but silent. It looked like he couldn't see anything, since the room was dark. Sakumo let go of a breath that he had been holding and picked up his six month old son and walked to his own bedroom. (That was also his only now) He laid his baby down in the middle of his bed and changed his dirty, soiled, dry blood stained clothes, and into something comfortable. He then picked Kakashi back up and sat against the head board of his bed and sat Kakashi's back against his thighs so he could look at him. He then reached over to the lamp on his nighttable and turned it on lightly, as not blind himself with too much light after being in darkness for so long.
Kakashi looked a lot like him. Same facial shape, same nose, same mouth, same silver hair slightly tilted to the left side, he even smiled like him. The only thing he had that was his mother's was his eyes. They always looked sleepy, even if he was awake, but that much he had gotten from Sakumo as well, but they were black. Sakumo's eyes matched his hair, they were silver as well, and he had wished Kakashi would have inherited his eyes as well. He never cared about it before but now everytime he looked at his baby, he would see the woman who left him. It was so confusing for Sakumo to love someone so much who looked like someone he now hated. Kakashi then shut his eyes, and smiled at his father, and Sakumo no longer saw what was left of his wife. Kakashi then giggled and reached up with his tiny arms, and Sakumo gave Kakashi his index fingers to hold on to. Sakumo brought his hands back up and kissed the little hands that were barely big enough to hold his fingers.
What was he going to tell Kakashi when he asked about his mother? He would eventually notice that other kids had two parents, and he only had one. Sakumo didn't want to play the 'lie to your kid until he's old enough to understand' game. What was the point of that 'game'?
Sakumo figured he would cross those bridges when he came to them, right now, he was tired, had more missions tomorrow, and needed his rest. He cuddled Kakashi in his arms and rubbed his back to get him to go to sleep as well. He had to make sure Kakashi was asleep before he could sleep himself. Once he was asleep Sakumo used one of his hands to stroke his son's sliver hair, since his hand was bigger than his baby's head. Sakumo didn't know how he would be both a ninja and a single parent during war time all alone, but he would make things work. He wouldn't let anything else go wrong anymore.
3 years later...
Sakumo returned from his mission and filed his mission report. The mission had been long and he was happy to be home, but didn't show it. Well at least until he got home. He still lived in the same little house, but with two people now, it seemed bigger. Sakumo stepped in the house, took off his shoes, unhooked his 'White Fang' blade and hung it by the door. He then walked into the seemingly much bigger living space.
"Kakashi! I'm home!" Sakumo didn't really yell, but spoke loud enough to be heard across the house. He then heard a door open, then shut and light footprints running to him.
"Kakashi's getting better." Sakumo thought when he noticed Kakashi's footsteps were a lot more quiet than usual. Kakashi rounded the corner and Sakumo bent down to catch him.
"Okairi na sai tousan." Kakashi didn't seem as excited to see Sakumo as he usually did. But he still hugged and led his tousan into the kitchen by his hand. Sakumo then did what they always did around this time of day, late afternoon. They had tea. Once it was ready for them, they sat and drank together, but they weren't talking like they always did while they drank tea. Kakashi would always ask about his tousan's missions and about how he clobbered his enemies. And Sakumo would always ask about what Kakashi did while he was away, and if he behaved himself. It was always Kakashi who would ask questions first, but Sakumo didn't like not communicating with Kakashi, so he asked the first question.
"What's wrong?" Sure, out of the blue, but a fool could tell that something was wrong. Kakashi didn't look up from his cup.
"Tousan, do I have a kaasan?" Now he looked up. Now it was Sakumo's turn to look at his cup, he knew Kakashi would ask about his kaasan soon, but why now? He was only three years old.
"Kakashi, you did have a kaasan," Sakumo started, "but she went away and left you alone with me when you were a baby." Sakumo didn't want to go into too much detail, since Kakashi was only three years old and probably didn't understand why.
"Why did she go away? She didn't love me?"
"Kakashi, you didn't do anything wrong. She left because she didn't love me."
"She didn't like that I had to work so that I could support the two of you. She didn't like that didn't quit being a ninja and find something more safe to do."
"Was she a bad person?" Kakashi hung his head back to his cup. Sakumo guessed it would be shameful for him to think that one of his parents was a bad person.
"Kakashi, she pretended to be a good person, which is why I loved her."
"She was wearing a mask Kakashi, she was hiding herself, so that I would see something I liked instead of what was really there."
"A mask? You could tell the difference between a mask and a face!" Kakashi's tone almost said 'are you that stupid?' He was clearing misunderstanding.
"Kakashi, she wasn't literally wearing a mask, it's an expression that means, that she was acting like a different person so I wouldn't know what she was really like." For Sakumo, telling Kakashi the truth was hard. He was too young to understand that anybody can act like something they're not and fool people. He started to understand the 'lie to your kid until he's old enough to understand' game, but still didn't want to play it. But he had an idea. Something he learned by training his body with retraints like blindfolds, or ear plugs. When your sences were impaired you learn to do without them, and when they came back, they were stronger. This worked with the mind as well. Sakumo then finished the last of his tea and let Kakashi put both cups in the sink.
"Kakashi, come with me, I have something for you." Kakashi smiled and followed his tousan to his bedroom. Sakumo then started to go through some of his dresser drawers. When he found it he handed it to Kakashi.
"Put it on." Kakashi frowned at the piece of cloth in his hand.
"A sock? Where's the other one?" Sakumo had to laugh at that one.
"No Kakashi, it goes on your face." Kakashi frowned again, and started to put the small piece of clothing over his head and got stuck, like he did in his shirts. Sakumo reached over, twisted it to the right direction and pulled it down so it covered everything but his eyes. From the very tip of the bridge of his nose, to the nape of his neck was covered. Kakashi wasn't squirming in it, so it couldn'tve been too uncomfortable.
"What's this for?" Kakashi asked, looking at his new image in the mirror.
"Kakashi, when you wear a mask, it hides something, but it's not always bad to hide things from people. When you wear a mask that doesn't hide a piece of your body, but a piece of who you are or a piece of your personality, you are deceiving people. But you can't fool people forever, they will eventually unmask you, and your secrets won't be secrets anymore. That was the kind of mask your kaasan was wearing when I met her, married her, and when you were born. She made me think that she was a loving and caring person, who would work hard to be a good wife to me and a good kaasan for you. But when things got too difficult, she gave up, took her mask off and left me, knowing that it would be hard for me to take care of you and be a ninja at the same time. Kakashi, I'm glad you didn't get to see her, because it would hurt you more to see her leave, or to have her be a bad kaasan, because she didn't want to deal with hardship." Sakumo said as he knelt down next to Kakashi and looked at him through the mirror.
Kakashi took a minute to let that sink in. Sure he didn't completely understand, but he understood that his kaasan, was playing 'pretend' too long, and didn't want to play anymore because she didn't like it. Why did she play pretend when tousan wasn't playing? Before he could think anymore Sakumo continued.
"However, when you wear a real mask, that physically hides a piece of your body, you really aren't hiding anything. Every person looks unique, but everybody has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears, and two cheeks. Even if you wear a mask, everybody knows whats under it, they just don't see the uniqueness of it compared to their own. You can't hide that much from people, but in the same sence, wearing a mask is uniqueness in its own way. Only someone who isn't wearing a mask of their own will see that it doesn't matter what lies under a physical mask. But don't misjudge curiosity for stupidity. Someone who's curious will ask to see your face, someone who is stupid, will try to unmask you by deceiving you or trying to fool you. Kakashi, when you meet someone who loves you for your uniqueness, and isn't stupid about not seeing that wearing a mask hides nothing, you will see it in them. Once that person loves you enough to die for you, and you love them enough to die for them, you can show them your face. But until you meet someone like that, always wear this mask, and always recognize those who can tell that mask or no mask, that you aren't hiding anything, then protect those people with your life, because they will become the most important people in your life."
Because of some miracle, Kakashi understood what most of that meant. If you wear a mask on your face, you still have a nose and a mouth and cheeks. That much would never change. But if you pretend to be somebody else, you could hurt people when they find out what you're really like. But a special person would be able to see that wearing a mask didn't change who you were.
"Kakashi, can you promise me that you'll do that for me?"
"Ok, tousan, I promise." Kakashi said as he turned around to look at Sakumo. Sakumo now, saw only what Kakashi's mother had left him. His eyes. But maybe what was more comforting for him, was that maybe he saw her eyes, but not her. He saw someone who would always use those eyes, that had once deceived people, to see underneath the underneath and at what was really there. It would be easier for Kakashi to see the truth by seeing if others couldn't see the truth, when there was nothing to hide.
"Besides," Kakashi started again, "this will help me later on when I grow up."
"Oh? And what will you do when you grow up?" Ok, that was a stupid question, he already knew the answer.
"A genius ninja can trick his opponents into seeing the wrong truth, having nothing for your enemy to look at but your eyes, will make using genjutsu easier." And this was coming from a three year old?
"Nothing like your mother." Was all Sakumo could say. All Kakashi could do was take the mask back down and smile.