above the clouds
a naruto shortfic
by aishuu
requested by seoinage for penguinsensei – kakashi, theme 'above the clouds'

Kakashi adjusted the elaborate piece of headgear, missing the comforting weight of his forehead protector. The Hokage's hat looked funny on him when he glanced into the mirror, but he'd always thought it was a ridiculous accessory. Once this was done, he would do as Tsunade had and only wear it on formal occasions.

His gaze lingered on his reflection, seeing the other change he'd been forced to accept. He wore an eye patch now; one that Shizune had given him as a gift an hour ago. It was simple and black, functional, but he disliked it. He was becoming someone different and not by choice but through necessity.

Kakashi wasn't the best candidate to replace Tsunade, but he was the only one still alive.

He wished he could be late for the ceremony, but since the event was about him there was no way it would happen. The ceremony wouldn't start unless he was there. He resented the trap, but saw no way out of it.

The robes were the same his sensei had worn, nearly twenty years before. Kakashi could almost hear Yondaime's voice, that teasing affectionate voice, telling him to stop sulking about the way things were and just walk on. Since he couldn't get out of this situation, he needed to come to terms with it. A good shinobi knew when to cut their losses and accept the inevitable.

He was sure that somewhere on the other side Obito was laughing at him while Naruto fumed. He could image his former student's resentment, about how he should have been Rokudaime. Kakashi agreed with that, since Naruto had wanted the position.

But Naruto was gone, and so was Sasuke. Even Sakura had fallen, leaving Kakashi teamless once again. All that remained was the pictures of both his teams on his desk, and he the only one left alive from either of them. Their smiles seemed to taunt him every time he looked, but he refused to forget them.

It was his arrogance that had lost him the Uchiha clan members, his neglect that had let Sakura and Rin die. He had been unable to save Yondaime and Naruto because neither of them could be rescued from the threads of grand destiny that had beckoned them to greatness. He hated how impotent that made him. The village elders were fools to entrust the safety of Konoha to him; he couldn't even keep those he loved alive.

He sensed, more than heard, someone else enter the room. There was no threat in this presence; Gai was one of his few remaining friends, sent to make sure he came promptly to his initiation.

Kakashi turned to see his former rival watching him. He was not smiling, and Kakashi regretted it. His new title had placed him above Gai, and not even Konoha's beautiful green beast would break through the barrier of honor and respect. There was loneliness in leadership, an isolation that could not be breached by affection.

Better Kakashi deal with it than anyone else, someone who might still have the bonds of team and family to lose. All he had now was the village, and the legacy he'd been granted.

"Are you ready, Kakashi-sama?" Gai asked. The honorific sounded strange coming from him, but Kakashi supposed that he would become accustomed to it.

Kakashi nodded his head, smoothing his hands over the white silk of the formal robes. "Yes, let's get going," he said, turning his back on the desk and the pictures it held.

Mentally he asked his ghosts to remain silent for today at least. He needed to think of the future, and they were the past. Tomorrow he could again mourn, but for now he would walk into the warm summer day, and take up the mantle of Hokage.

Kakashi would vow to protect and die for the village and its people, a promise he'd made a long time ago. He would do his best, because he didn't know how to do anything else. Now and forever, he would stand to fulfill the oaths of love and loyalty he'd made to all those who'd gone before.