Wanted to do a short piece on the bond Kakashi has with his dogs, especially the grudging affection Pakkun seems to have for him in the show. By the way, I have no idea what the technical details of summoning creatures actually involve so most of what you'll read in this story is my own interpretation, which probably is not what the creator of Naruto intends.

Disclaimer: Naruto and all characters mentioned are created by Masashi Kishimoto.

Master and Hound

They don't call him Master.

To them, Master was the one who regarded them with steely eyes, full of fierce pride that only a commander can have for the troops he led. Master was the one who spoke to them in a clear, powerful voice, giving them their orders with a stern, regal bearing, always sure of himself…except perhaps towards the end.

So, they don't call him Master, for even though he wore his likeness, he was not him.

Instead, they called him 'kid', 'brat', 'idiot', and 'boss' if they're feeling especially charitable.

But most of the time, he was simply Kakashi.

People say summons are spirits from an alternate plane, drawn into the world by the summoner's will, bound to an earthly form by a contract drawn with blood and chakra. Imbued with their summoner's will and life force, they're an extension of their Master's soul, a piece of what the spirit is, mixed with what the Master perceives himself to be.

Pakkun was a huge wolf-hound in his previous incarnation, over a hundred pounds with fur of the deepest black, he was noble and majestic.

To say he was displeased with his new form, a squat and wrinkly pug, was to say the least.

But he thought he understood it a little as he gazed upon his new summoner for the first time.

A child, barely twelve summers old, with a piercing loneliness and grief in his dark eye. Abandoned and unloved, the weight of his father's sins and sorrow heavy on his slender shoulders.

It was Sakumo's whelp.

They had known their Master's passing while they were in the other plane when they felt the link snuffed out. They had mourned it, for Sakumo was a great man.

But his son was nothing like him.

Scrawny and uncertain of himself, the kid had stared at him with wide innocent eyes filled with wonder. Pakkun had nearly snorted with disdain when the kid had stuck out a hand shyly for him to sniff, petting him on the head as if he were a real dog.

Oh the indignity!

Summons are called upon to honor the sacred contract, to do the summoner's bidding. They do not require displays of affection nor friendship. But Kakashi spoke to him often, his gentle voice so different from his father's rich commanding one. He kept him around for no reason other than to enjoy his company. They worked together, trained together, grew up together.

The others came too over the years, some were big, some were no larger than toy breeds and several took forms which were rather amusing, a testament to their summoner's fun-loving nature. But Pakkun was glad no other has appeared that was quite as ugly or ill-fitted as he was.

He hoped it was a sign Kakashi was finally finding the acceptance from his kind he so craved…

"What's the situation?" The kid dropped silently out of the trees onto the branch next to him. After so many years and on the verge of adulthood, he was still as slender as a twig.

"Not a sound." He raised a paw in greeting then shrugged. "A minor skirmish to the north but it's been taken care of."

Kakashi nodded, pushing the white porcelain mask aside to wipe a hand over his sweat drenched brow. The kid looked exhausted and there was a faint smell of blood in the air.

"You're hurt."

"It's nothing." He murmured, smiling reassuringly down at Michi who is nosing at his bloodstained uniform, whining softly in concern. "Most of it isn't mine and we've got what we came for." He pointed to the scroll secured in his pouch. "Call off surveillance, we're pulling out."

In the next instant, the others were swarming around him, the space suddenly filled with wagging tails and excited dogs, clamoring for attention. And Kakashi crouched in the middle of it all, eyes soft with affection as he rubbed everyone's ears and stroked their backs, fussing over the small cut on Keiko's paw.

Pakkun snorted in disgust and looked away.

There was a soft laugh and a hand rested on his head. "Let's go home, Pakkun."

The touch was surer, more confident than it had been but it had lost none of its fondness. It made him want to wag his tail too.

Instead, he got up and scratched his belly lazily. "Yeah, okay." He said gruffly, turning away before Kakashi could see his smile.

They don't call him Master, not because he was not worthy. He had earned that title a thousand times over already.

No, Pakkun thought as they raced together through the trees, they don't call him Master because to them-

-he was so much more.