Kakashi's Very Important Task

R. Winters

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, Kakashi, or those little green wasabi snacks.

Sorry I didn't get anything up sooner. This one's a one-shot, but I think I'll probably start posting my next multi-chapter work soon. Like, maybe, next weekend... we'll see.

Definitions you might find useful (Kind of long):

Otousan/tousan - father

Hai - yes

Oneko - tomcat

Nyao - "meow", the sound a Japanese cat makes (alright, so they probably make about the same sound an English cat was... but in Japan, they would say "nyao" instead of "meow")

Arigatou - thank you

Oi - hey!

Ohayo - hello/good afternoon

Sensei - teacher

Mou - well...

Itai - ouch!

Ohayo goaimasu - a very polite form of ohayo (usually used by shop employees, greeting a costumer)

Bocchan - son (of others)

Iie - no

Ojiisan - grandfather/old man (a polite way of referring to an elderly man)

Eto, anô - Um, er...

Nani - what?

Jiji - uncle (informal)

Maido arigatou gozaimasu - something like "thank you for coming" (used by shop employees)

Kantoku - boss, manager

Okaasan - mother

Omae - my dear, you (familiar)

Leeks - they're basically just onions

Un - yeah

Ja ne - see you later (informal goodbye)

Ne - sentence ender; indicates emphasis, agreement, request for confirmatio, etc. ("is it so?")

Kakashi swung the door of the fridge closed and walked back to the table. He climbed up onto one of the chairs and picked up the pen he'd left lying on top of a small page of paper. Chewing on his lower lip slightly in concentration, the boy carefully formed letters on the paper.

He was about halfway through his third word when he paused, a frown on his lips. Sliding down to the floor, he padded over to the fridge again, opening it once more and taking a close look at the name on one of the bottles. He let the door swing closed again and made his way back to the table, repeating the process of climbing up the chair and leaning over his paper.

The boy frowned down at the word he'd left half written, and after a moment's thought he carefully altered the last letter before finishing the word. That done, he let his pen fall to the table again and climbed off the chair once more. He pushed the chair across the room to the counter and swiftly climbed back onto it and then up onto the counter to give himself reach of the cabinets.

A careful study of the shelves and Kakashi was scooting the chair all the way back to the table and returning to his list. Halfway through the second to the last word, he paused to look at the cabinet, frowning. He was about to slide off the chair again when he realized his mistake and quickly finished writing.

Done, the boy grabbed the paper and pen and hopped down, taking a moment to scoot the chair into its place. He crossed to the door and carefully folded the paper in half before setting it and the pen on the floor beside him, then sitting down to pull on his sandals.

Standing up again, Kakashi checked his pocket to make sure he had his money. He picked up his pen and paper and headed out the door.

It was a nice day in Konoha and Kakashi strode purposefully down the street. His pen and paper were firmly in hand and he was confident in the knowledge that his pocket was full of money. This was the biggest, most important day of his whole, entire life.

Otousan had left two days ago, trusting Kakashi with a very important task for the first time ever.

Sakumo regarded his son from across the table. Kakashi was quiet, as usual, reserved in the knowledge that his father would be leaving within the hour. Sakumo felt worse than usual. He'd returned only yesterday and was leaving again already. Not only did he regret the short visit, but the day he would miss while he was gone.

Finally, the man gave up pretense of finishing his breakfast and stood, carrying his dishes over to the sink. Kakashi didn't move or so much as look up. Guilt gnawed at the man, who stubbornly pushed it aside. He was a shinobi, he had a duty to his village and the Hokage.

The man let out a quick whistle and several dogs suddenly burst in, tails wagging and tongues flopping as they filled the room, even with as few as three bodies. Sakumo held his half-finished meal out and let the dogs lick out the remaining food before he placed the dishes in the sink, running water over them.

Stifled giggling caught his ear and Sakumo turned, smiling to see his dogs taking advantage of his young son's generosity. As Kakashi held out his chopsticks with the intention of offering a large slice of egg to one of the dogs—who was accepting it happily—the other two jumped on the opportunity to help themselves to what was left in the boy's bowl. The reason for the boy's giggling was the shaggy white fur of one of the thieves which was tickling his neck. He supposed he should chastise them, but as Kakashi didn't seem bothered by their actions, he didn't particularly mind, either.

Still smiling, Sakumo walked over to retrieve Kakashi's dishes, clearing them as the dogs finished off what was left of the boy's food. More giggles followed as the one who'd been eating from the child's chopsticks moved on to lick the boy's lips clean—not that they'd been particularly messy in the first place, Kakashi being a rather clean child.

Sakumo walked back over and placed a hand on the boy's head, mussing up Kakashi's wild white hair as though he were a pup himself. Kakashi tilted his head and rolled his eyes up to look at him, smile still on his lips and laughter in his eyes. Sakumo returned the smile and ruffled the hair a little more.

"Congratulations, Kakashi," he offered amiably.

The boy looked up at him curiously, the question in his eyes but not quite making it to his lips.

"You're turning four tomorrow, aren't you?" Sakumo asked, "Don't tell me you forgot."

The boy's face changed to something of surprise and joy, causing the man to chuckle as Kakashi climbed to his feet on the chair. "Tousan! When I'm four, I can do lots more stuff!"

"Hmm, really?" Sakumo asked with amusement, sweeping the boy from his feet and into his arms, "Like what?"

"Like..." A small frown of thought turned Kakashi's lips into a delicate pout, "I can jump... really, really high... And I can train by myself because I will not get hurt... And I can put myself to bed because I don't need babysitters... And..." The boy squirmed in the man's grasp, twisting around until he broke free of the arms and landed lightly on his feet. Kakashi smirked up at the man, "And I can beat tousan because I'm so strong."

Sakumo raised an eyebrow, trying to keep a grin of amusement from his face, "Eh?" He asked, "You can do so many things just by being a year older?"

The boy nodded in confirmation, "I've been only three for a long time," he informed his father, "But tomorrow I'll be four—that's a lot bigger than three."

Sakumo gave up his losing battle against his amusement and he ruffled the boy's hair again, "Four is a bigger number than three," he confirmed, "But it's still very small, after all. Can you jump into the high trees of the forest, Kakashi? Or can you practice one hundred kicks without growing tired? Can you reach the lamp from your bed? I think you still need a little more help, Kashi-kun."

Obstinately, the boy shook his head, "Not after tomorrow," he said decisively.

Sakumo laughed, "So, after tomorrow you'll be able to do all those things by yourself?" He asked, leading the way from the kitchen with Kakashi trailing after him and the three dogs swarming around them.

"Hai," Kakashi confirmed seriously.

Sakumo picked up a scroll from a small table in the hall, near the front door, "Then I suppose you can take care of the house, too?" He asked, "I guess I won't need to hire Genin to buy the groceries anymore, what a relief."

"Groceries, tousan?" Kakashi asked, head tilting a little in confusion.

"From the market," Sakumo elaborated, "If you're so old that you can do all of those other things, surely you can pick up a few groceries for us, Kakashi?"

The boy frowned, "Of course I can, tousan," he confirmed haughtily, "I'm big enough to do it by myself."

"After tomorrow," Sakumo corrected with amusement.

Kakashi nodded, "When I am four."

Sakumo chuckled, "When you are four," he agreed, rolling the scroll up again and heading to the door to slip on his sandals. Kakashi followed, standing beside the door and watching, idly scratching the head of one of the dogs.

Sakumo looked up at the boy's serious face and paused. Kakashi was looking at the floor, not his father, his face set in a somber expression. Sakumo moved for the door but hesitated, pausing again.

"Kakashi," he said, causing the boy to look up. He smiled slightly and dug in one of the pockets of his vest. He withdrew his hand, closed, and held it out towards the boy, waiting patiently until Kakashi uncertainly held his own hands out, palms up.

Sakumo let his hand open, coins dropping from them and into the boy's. Kakashi's eyes widened in surprise.

"Be careful with the eggs," the man warned, reaching a hand up to slide his mask into place, "They break easily." He slid the door open, stepping outside.

Kakashi hastily followed to the open door, eyes still wide in surprise. "H-hai, otousan!" He called after the man's retreating back a moment later as the dogs moved around him to follow their master. "I... I'll do well, otousan!"

Kakashi had never been entrusted with something so important before. This was a job that otousan usually left to the village's Genin. That he was now leaving the job to him meant that tousan thought as highly of him as he did of the Genin, and Kakashi wasn't about to let him down.

"Oh no! Oneko-san! Oneko-san, please come down!" Kakashi paused, looking to his right. He wasn't in town yet, still walking through the clan district, and there, where the yard opened up he could see a young girl crying at the base of a tree.

Frowning, Kakashi gazed up to the branches of the tree, where a large orange cat was perched on the branches, looking down at the girl below.

"Oneko-san!" The girl cried out again. The cat didn't move.

Silently, Kakashi crossed over to where the girl was. She looked at him in surprise as he carefully set down his paper and his pen before regarding the tree once more. It was a large, old Sakura tree, flowers aged and dropping around it. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, then jumped.

It was a leap, actually, and it landed Kakashi on the lower branches of the tree, shaking pink petals on the ground. The cat stood with a nyao, arching its back and moving away from Kakashi defensively.

Kakashi jumped again, landing on the same branch as the cat this time. The cat took a step back and half-turned, about to jump. Kakashi snatched him up in his arms before the creature had the opportunity to escape, then dropped out of the tree, cat wriggling in his arms. The cat nyaoed in protest but Kakashi ignored it, holding it out to the girl, who was still staring at him in surprise.

Hesitantly, the girl reached out, accepting the cat, and hugged it to her chest, "A-arigatou," she said softly, a small smile on her lips and her cheeks a soft shade of red.

"Hai," Kakashi said, walking back over to retrieve his paper and pen. He headed on his way again and the girl eventually turned her attention away from the strange boy that had helped her and back to the cat.

"Oneko-san! I'm so happy! You're alright now, Oneko-san, were you scared?" Her voice drifted off as Kakashi left the district behind and the more modern parts of the village slowly rose up in place of the old mansions.

"Oi! That's no fair!" A young voice called out, causing Kakashi to pause again. On the opposite side of the road from him was a large park and he could see many children around his own age playing there.

In particular, the one that had spoken appeared to be a small boy with black hair and large eyebrows, dressed in green overalls and a bright orange shirt. He was shouting at another boy, one with short white hair, a black shirt and dark blue pants. The other boy was waving him off.

"It is fair! I got you that means you hafta sit out!" The white haired boy retorted.

"You only got me because Ibiki distracted me!" The first boy retorted, pointing at a third boy, this one sporting a short, buzz cut of his dark brown hair. "That isn't fair!"

"Come on, Gai, that's how you play the game," a fourth boy, with messy brown spikes, cut in, arms crossed and frowning, "You should've paid more attention to Mizuki and less to Ibiki."

"You're against me, too?!" The black haired boy cried incredulously, "Ibiki was about to step on that poor little turtle! I can't just ignore such injustice, Asuma!"

"Then, you're out!" The white haired boy declared.

"Jeez, though, 'cause of a turtle?" The spiky haired boy sighed.

"I was only going to step on him a little," Ibiki defended cagedly, "I wouldn't've hurt him!"

"Come on! Let's keep playing!" The white haired boy shouted.

"Huh? Yeah!" The other boys chorused, running after him while the black haired boy crossed his arms and sat sulkily on the grass.

Kakashi hesitated—should he see if he could help? But then the boy started speaking again.

"One banana... two banana... three banana..." Kakashi stared at him incredulously—why in the world was he counting bananas? He didn't even have any!

"Four banana... five banana... six banana!" Suddenly the boy was back on his feet and running after the others, "I'll get you now, Mizuki!" He shouted out as he ran.

"It's ten seconds you're supposed to count to, Gai!" One of the other boys shouted out.

"But I'm younger than you!" Gai shouted back, "So I only have to count to six!"

The boy disappeared into the park and Kakashi turned away, taking a moment to remember what he was doing. He looked down at his list, then up at the park again. Frowning, he crouched down to press the paper against the street and uncap his pen.

Carefully, in his neatest writing, Kakashi added bananas to the list. He capped the pen again and refolded the note then stood, continuing down the road.


Kakashi looked up in surprise at his name. He smiled slightly and paused, "Ohayo, Giro-sensei," he greeted the man with a nod. A few children, out in the Academy yard, paused what they were doing to look at him before going back to throwing shuriken.

The dark haired man stopped in front of him, smiling down, "Kakashi-kun, what brings you to town this morning?"

"Groceries," Kakashi replied, trying to make it sound nonchalant, as if it was something natural he always did. "I'm going to the market."

The man frowned slightly, "I thought Sakumo-san hired Genin for that."

Kakashi's chin lifted and he frowned, eyes hard, "I'm just as good as a Genin to otousan," he said stonily.

The Academy teacher stared at him for a moment longer then chuckled, ruffling the boy's hair, "Sure you are, Kakashi," he agreed, "You're growing up so fast, I keep forgetting."

The boy blushed to be treated like a child in public and shot the group of practicing students a furtive look as he stepped back, pushing the man's hand away, "I'm not a child, Giro-sensei," he pointed out reproachfully, "I'm a match for tousan, now. My birthday was yesterday so I'm already four."

Giro laughed, "I see, so you're a match for the White Fang now, are you?"

Kakashi flushed, "Mou... Almost," he admitted.

The man laughed again, ruffling the boy's hair once more, much to Kakashi's embarrassment. "Well, you better be on your way, then, Kakashi-san," the teacher said amiably, "It's not everyday the White Fang trusts you with such an important job, is it?"

Kakashi looked up again, eyes shining with pride, "Hai!" He confirmed, stepping back to leave, "I'll do well!"

Giro chuckled, watching the boy go before turning back to rake his eyes over his class. Abruptly, his smile vanished. "Obito!" He snapped, stalking through the lines of children to reach the boy in question.

The small black haired boy jumped at his name and fumbled as the shuriken he was holding tried to slip from his fingers. He was quick to try and catch it, but as he did so it sliced through one of his fingers and he let out a yelp of pain, ignoring the weapon as it fell the rest of the way to the ground.

Giro sighed as tears began to well up in the boy's eyes. But this same boy would be shipped off to war in a few years so it was no time to go soft. "Uchiha Obito!" He snapped again, "Why are you holding the shuriken in such a sloppy way? These are weapons, not toys, Obito!"

"H-hai, sensei!" The boy cried, hastily picking up his dropped weapon and trying desperately to get a proper grip on it.

His teacher sighed again and took the weapon from the boy, "But first," he said tiredly, "You must run inside and have Hisho-san take care of your finger."

The boy looked up at him with wide eyes before nodding, "Hai!" He confirmed, running past his teacher towards the Academy building.

Kakashi looked around with wide eyes as he entered the market section of Konoha. It was already busy, even as early in the morning as he had visited. Children, even younger than himself, pulled on the skirts of women, trying to direct their mother's attention towards that one thing they wanted. Kakashi could vaguely remember clutching onto the skirts of a woman of his own, but when he looked up in his memory, her face was blurry and he couldn't quite make it out.

The boy's shoulders drooped a little and he looked down at the paper he held again. There were some older children at the market, some of them with headbands and some without, running around completing errands for their masters. It was a busy place full of all kinds of people, except he was the only one like himself there. The only young child who was there all on his own.

"Aa-itai!" Kakashi cried out as something hit him hard in the back of the head, sending him sprawling forward and rudely jerking him from his thoughts. Glowering, he turned his head to look behind him.

A man looked down at him with an irritated expression on his face, a large pack on his back that Kakashi recognized as the offender. "Hey, watch it, kid!" The man growled, "Stay out of the way, some of us are busy, you know!"

Kakashi glared after him as he left, talking with another man. The boy pushed himself to his knees and grabbed his paper and pen before getting to his feet. He ducked carefully around a man pushing a wagon and looked down at his paper to see the first item on his list.

"Rice," he read his own scrawl before looking to the crowds again, slowly beginning to feel a little overwhelmed.

The street was crowded and loud with voices as people called out prices, wagering and haggling amongst themselves. There was every kind of smell, from sweet foods cooking in roadside shops to feces molding in the bottom of animal crates. And there was every possible color in the crowds, women dressed in bright pinks and soft blues and children dressed in red and orange, men sporting the latest fashions in dark blue or green with white shirts underneath. And that didn't even include the mass array of things there were to see being sold, most of which were completely foreign to the small four-year-old.

"I'm... I'm big enough to do it myself," Kakashi reminded himself, "I'm four now... I need to do my best to help otousan."

Taking a calming breath he nodded and started through the throng again. He could do this, for otousan. He'd show him, when he came back, just how much he had grown.

He hurried down the crowded street, peeking into shops and looking at stands until he finally found what he was looking for. It was a small shop that was relatively quiet, with a few people milling about, filling bags and weighing them on small scales before making their way out of the shop. Kakashi slid inside with relief and took a better look around.

There were about a dozen large barrels full of rice. White rice, long and short, yellow rice, brown rice, and different mixtures of rice. Kakashi looked down at his paper but, sure enough, all it said was rice, not what kind.

He stood there, staring around at everything for nearly a minute until an elderly man with wrinkles and white hair that was held out of his face in a tight knot stepped around the counter in the back and approached him.

"Ohayo gozaimasu, bocchan," the man greeted warmly, "Are you lost?"

Kakashi blinked, looking up at him with a slight frown, "Iie." He shifted into a straighter posture and regarded the man seriously, "I need to buy some rice, ojiisan."

The man stared down at him for a moment, then allowed a smile to cross his aged face, "Well, as you can see, I sell rice here," he stated, moving towards the barrels, "What kind would you like? Are you helping your mother with the shopping?"

"Iie... otousan asked me to," Kakashi corrected, following the man, still feeling a little overwhelmed.

"Ah, your father," the man corrected himself, "Well, then, what kind of rice would you like, bocchan?"

"Eto... usually, we have white rice," Kakashi answered, watching the man closely as he was led to the three barrels of white rice at one end of the shop.

"Do you usually get long grain or short grain?" The man asked, glancing down at him warmly.

"Aaa..." Kakashi looked between the two barrels and pointed, "That kind is what we get."

The man looked at the barrel he indicated and nodded, "It's short grain, then," he informed the boy, taking a large shovel-like scoop from the barrel, "How much would you like?"

Kakashi blinked, "Nani?"

The man smiled at him, "You can get as much or as little as you want," he explained, then gestured to one of the scales at the back of the shop, "Then we weigh the amount you want and charge accordingly."

"O-oh... anô..." Kakashi had no idea a simple thing like buying groceries could be so complicated.

"How often does your family go shopping?" The man asked.

"Anô..." Kakashi frowned in thought—he'd never really noticed before. The Genin who brought by the groceries didn't bother him.

The old man smiled kindly down at him, "Maybe you should get your father," he suggested.

Kakashi shook his head, "I can do it myself," he stated confidently, "I want to show otousan how much I've grown."

"I see," the man said, "Is it just you and your father, then?"

"Hai," Kakashi confirmed, "But sometimes Jiji stays with us, too."

"Well, for two people, how about you take two pounds," the man suggested, measuring two scoops of rice into a white sack, "If you need more, you can come back and see me again later, okay?"

"Hai!" Kakashi agreed, following the man back to the counter.

"That comes to... 700 yen," the man announced after weighing the bag.

Kakashi pulled out the coins he had and frowned when he saw they were in 500 and 1000 pieces. "Anô..." He held out a 1000 yen piece uncertainly.

"That will be fine," the man confirmed, "I'll just give you 300 back."

Kakashi accepted the two dull pieces he was handed back with a relieved smile—maybe this wouldn't be so hard. "Arigato, jiisan."

"Here you are," the man handed the bag over the counter after tying a knot in it, "It's a little heavy, can you handle it?"

Kakashi took it and nodded, "It's fine," he said, turning to the door.

"Maido arigatou gozaimasu," the man called after him.

Kakashi remained close to the building as he stepped outside and referenced his list again. "Wasabi paste," he read, then headed back into the crowd to find what he was looking for.

He was pleased when he found the shop that sold wasabi paste, that he could also buy the soy sauce there. This shop was decidedly more crowded than the rice shop and after he'd picked up what he wanted, he headed to the counter.

There was a mass of young children standing at one side of the counter and Kakashi regarded them curiously as one woman had to tug her child away by the arm. He waited patiently in line and paid the cashier his money, still glancing over at the group of children. The cashier, a young woman, noticed his gaze and smiled at him.

"Kantoku-san is promoting a new type of snack," she explained, "It's free, why don't you try some?"

Thus encouraged, Kakashi slipped his way through the small crowd to find a dish on the counter with a small scoop in it.

"Obisu-san, I want to try some, too!"

"Can I have some more?"

"Obisu, give me some, quick! Okaasan's about to leave!"

All of the children were beseeching an older child for some of the snack, which turned out to be small, pea-sized green pebbles(1). The older boy had spiky black hair and was fully utilizing his power to favor whoever he wanted—Kakashi noticed that the boy who had to leave ended up leaving without being able to try the new snack. He watched curiously as a girl popped a few into her mouth, chewing on the snack contentedly to the jealousy of her age-mates.

Kakashi was about to leave when the boy, Obisu, addressed him, "Hey, kid, you want some?"

Kakashi looked at him in surprise, with how difficult it seemed to be for the other children to get some, he'd assumed it would be a while before he was offered any. "Can I try some?" He asked hesitantly.

"Of course, it's free, isn't it?" The older boy asked, scooping up a few of the strange green pebbles and holding the little shovel out to him.

Still a little uncertain of the sudden generosity, Kakashi held out his hand to accept the snack, feeling it would be rude to do otherwise. He was about to try them when the older boy spoke again.

"You've got to keep them in your mouth for a while," he directed. At Kakashi's blank expression he elaborated, "You know, suck on them for a little while. That's how you eat these things."

"Hai," Kakashi confirmed in understanding, dumping the treats into his mouth.

At first they tasted pretty good, with the mild burn he always felt from eating tousan's sushi. But before long the burning was increasing to an almost painful intensity. Kakashi's nose wrinkled in distaste and he quickly swallowed, the spicy taste clinging to his tongue even then. The other children laughed at his reaction and Kakashi scowled, turning his displeasure to Obisu.

The older boy just laughed unrepentantly, "Want anymore, kid?" He offered, still laughing.

Kakashi's scowl darkened, "No, thanks," he grumbled, working his way back out of the crowd and deciding not to do that again.

He shot the group one last glare before slipping out of the store and regarding his paper again.

"Radishees!" A woman cried out in a high pitched voice, "Get yer radishees here!"

Kakashi started in surprise when a handful of gnarled, white radishes were shoved in front of his face. "Looking for radishees, omae?" A woman with a wrinkled face and wild, mis-matched eyes asked with a crooked grin.

"Eto..." Kakashi backed up, regarding his list anxiously and profusely hoping radishes were not on it. Unfortunately, they were, and the old woman was grinning widely at him in expectation.

"Anô... yeah, I do," he said uncertainly.

"Excellent!" The woman squealed, putting a knobby hand on his shoulder and steering him over to a rickety stall on the side of the street. Kakashi eyed it dubiously, casting the woman a furtive look as she moved behind the stall, "What would you like, omae?"

The four-year-old regarded his list once more, matching items with things sold at the stall, in the piles of vegetables in thatch baskets around the woman. "Anô... I need some..."

"Radishees?" The woman insisted with a toothy grin, her left eye larger than her right.

"Eto... Hai," Kakashi confirmed awkwardly.

"How manee?" The woman asked, leaning over the counter to stare him in the face.

Kakashi stepped back with a shudder, wide eyes glued to the woman's frightening face, "Anô..." He glanced anxiously down at his paper again but, as he'd found when shopping for rice, there was no specification of that sort. "Anô... two...?"

The woman blinked, and Kakashi suppressed another shudder when one eyelid stuck a fraction of a second longer than the other, "Two?" she echoed, lips turning down into a frown.

Kakashi quickly revised his answer, "Four?"

The woman frowned at him and Kakashi shifted uncomfortably under her peculiar stare, "Four radishees're not enough to make ye big een strong!"

"H-how many do I need?" Kakashi asked tentatively, regarding the woman warily.

The woman looked him up and down, then took several radishes from her basket and piled them into a bag, "Ten radishees is good," she announced.

Kakashi's eyes widened in surprise, "Ten?!"

"What else ye want?" The woman asked, ignoring his protest.

Flustered, the boy looked down again, "Leeks, but—"

"Seven leekt," the woman said, pulling some out of a second basket, "What else?"

With resignation, Kakashi ordered the rest of the vegetables he needed, watching with wary eyes as the woman gleefully added three cabbages, several handfuls of peapods, and threw in a few complimentary dates to top it all off. Once done, the woman tied the bulging bag for him.

"5950 yen, omae," she said, grinning crookedly at him.

"That much!" Kakashi exclaimed, not entirely sure if it was a lot or not, but realizing it was more than he'd spent at the last two shops combined.

"Refusing to pay, omae?" The woman demanded, expression suddenly sour with a dangerous glint in her strange eyes.

His own eyes wide, the youth quickly shook his head and scrambled for his money before the creepy old woman could find reason to chop of his hands or something equally unpleasant.

"Come again, omae!" The woman called after him as he hastily retreated down the road.

Kakashi glanced over his shoulder awkwardly and the creepy woman grinned, waving a gnarled radish after him. With a shudder, Kakashi quickly increased his pace, ducking through the crowds in an attempt to put as much distance as possible between him and the strange stall.

The four-year-old peeked into doorways and windows until he found a shop that sold the next item on his list—fish. He was relieved to find that they sold other produce items—namely, eggs—and tofu, as well. He joined a line of people on the left side of the store, where whole fish were kept on ice and wrapped per order.

The list, of course, hadn't specified what kind of fish to buy, but Kakashi was confident that this was a problem he could easily handle. As he passed along different species of fish, the four-year-old took an unobtrusive sniff, simply searching for the fish that smelled the best. He got a few annoyed looks from the people directly in front and behind him, but he hardly noticed, concentrated on the fish scent as he was. At least, he didn't notice until he looked up to find the vender glaring across at him.

"Can I help you, boy?" The man growled in a manner that suggested he would be more pleased to 'help' Kakashi out of the shop than anything else.

The four-year-old took an involuntary step back from the hostile man, "I need fish!" He announced, eyes wide. He pointed, "That fish!"

The man continued to glare, making no move to wrap said fish. With a flash of annoyance, Kakashi explained, "I'm helping otousan buy groceries."

"Then why don't you get your 'otousan' to buy the fish?" The man asked pointedly, "This isn't a place for little boys."

Kakashi frowned unhappily. Even the creepy woman had, at least, been helpful. "Otousan's on a mission," he stated coldly, returning the adult's glare.

"I see," the man said slowly, "And he sent a toddler like you to buy groceries by yourself? Brat, don't make me laugh!"

Kakashi bristled, "I'm not a toddler," he said sharply, "I'm four years old. And tousan did send me to buy groceries by myself."

"Look, kid, I don't know what kind of an irresponsible father you have," the man said grumpily, "But I don't have time to play with you, so get out!"

Kakashi fumed with the injustice of it all, "Fine," he said coldly, "But when otousan finds out, he'll be angry."

"Hey, kid, who is your father, anyway?" The man behind Kakashi asked curiously, "Why doesn't he just hire Genin to buy groceries, that's what most Jounin do when they're away."

"It's because I'm as useful as a Genin," Kakashi stated, eyeing the man with dislike, "Otousan is too busy to order Genin every time he leaves. He is, after all, the White Fang of Konoha, the greatest shinobi ever."

There were surprised murmurs up and down the line and the grumpy vendor echoed, "The White Fang? Hatake Sakumo-san is your father?"

Kakashi glared, "Yes. I'm Hatake Kakashi."

The vendor was silent for a brief moment as he absorbed these new facts, then he forced a smile onto his face—Kakashi thought it looked painful. "Look, kid, let's not do anything rash, okay? You wanted this fish, right?"

Kakashi nodded, watching the man distrustfully as he wrapped the fish and held it out. From there he picked up a carton of eggs from the refrigerator at the back of the store, and a package of tofu before heading to the registers, carefully balancing his newest purchases.

Just as he was about to open the door to leave, it was pushed in from the outside. The four-year-old jumped back, hurrying out of the way, only to run into another customer. He tripped, his groceries flying, and with wide eyes Kakashi watched the egg carton arcing through the air.

"Be careful with the eggs, Kakashi."

The boy's eyes were wide, face pale with horror. He couldn't let the eggs break like this after otousan had specifically warned him! Scrambling to his feet, he raced after the egg carton, diving to catch it before it hit the floor.

He fingers just barely managed to reach and he stretched his arms as much as he could, heart pounding in the silence of the room. The carton tilted dangerously, and Kakashi barely dared to breathe. Finally, they tilted back, settling in his hands, and Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief. Picking himself up, he turned to glare at the person who'd come through the door.

The perpetrator, a young civilian with buzzed black hair, rubbed the back of his head awkwardly under the combined glares of Kakashi and the woman he'd backed into.

"Anô... sorry, I didn't see you there, kid," he apologized awkwardly.

Somewhat mollified, Kakashi began to pick up his other groceries. "You should slow down," he advised the man somberly, "That way you won't run into anyone."

The man chuckled, "Yeah, right." He glanced at the woman and commented, "Cute kid."

The woman raised an eyebrow and agreed tolerably, "Sure is." She moved to the door and held it open, smiling back at the four-year-old, "Come on, Kakashi-kun(2), you must be careful with those eggs."

Kakashi looked between the two adults before nodding and preceding the woman from the store with a mumbled, "Arigatou."

Once outside, he paused at the side of the street to regard his list again. His eyes skimmed down and a small smile touched his lips when he realized he only had one item left.

Relieved that it was almost over, Kakashi stepped into one last store that seemed to have what he needed. There were many more varieties than he had expected, much like he'd found at the rice shop. He supposed that made sense, seeing as how sake was made with rice.

Kakashi browsed through the isles, searching for a familiar bottle. Otousan didn't drink much sake, but he and Jiji would sometimes drink it together so they always had some around the house. Then he saw the familiar red label and quickly slipped past a pair of men to get one of the bottles.

As before, he approached the counter and waited for his turn. He had to stretch to get the bottle onto the counter—obviously, the counter hadn't been made for people as short as him to have easy access to. He looked at the red-faced man behind the counter expectantly, money already in his hand.

"You've got to be kidding me," the man said dryly.

Kakashi blinked, "Huh? What do you mean?"

"You can't expect me to sell alcohol to a little kid," the man responded, "Where's your dad?"

Kakashi frowned—he'd been asked about his parents many times today and it was getting tiresome. "Otousan's on a mission," he explained briefly, "I'm shopping."

"Then who'd you come with?" The man asked, "You're going to need an adult to buy that stuff."

"I came alone," Kakashi replied and added, defensively, "I'm old enough to get groceries by myself, now."

"Well, then, your dad's just going to have to come and get his own sake later," the clerk stated, "We aren't allowed to sell to minors."

Kakashi blinked, "What's a minor?"

The man sighed and gave the guy behind Kakashi a beseeching look before answering, "A minor's a kid, got it? Someone too young to be drinking stuff like this."

Kakashi frowned, "I'm not going to drink it," he said, "It's for tousan and Jiji."

"But you're still a minor, so I still can't sell it to you," the clerk reiterated tiredly.

"But it's the last thing I need to get, see?" Kakashi pressed, holding his paper up for the man to scrutinize.

"Look, kid, rules are rules," the man replied, barely even glancing at the paper, "I can't let you have that or I could lose my job, get it?"

Kakashi shook his head.

The man sighed, "I can't sell it to you and that's that. Come back in ten years or so."

Kakashi frowned in confusion and the man waiting in line behind him sighed and reached over his head for the bottle. Before Kakashi could voice his protest, the man spoke.

"I'll take this one, too, okay?" He asked the man behind the desk. The man regarded him and Kakashi suspiciously, but nodded.

"Alright," he accepted the other items the man had and rung them up, "That's 3020 yen."

Kakashi watched as the blonde man handed the money over to the clerk and was given his sake in a bag in return. The man turned from the desk and glanced back at him, "Are you coming?" He asked, "You aren't going to be able to buy anything here." He paused, then grinned and added, "Unless you plan on staying for the next ten years or so."

Frowning back at the clerk, Kakashi reluctantly followed the blonde from the store. He looked back down at his list—he'd been so close to finishing it! Now otousan would return home to find out that Kakashi wasn't able to complete his mission, a mission even rookie Genin from the Academy could complete.

"Hey, kid," Kakashi looked up at the voice only to find himself looking at a sake bottle hanging in front of his face. Blinking, Kakashi looked up at the man who held the bottle out, grinning.

"That's 800 yen," he announced, then added, mischievously, "Plus a 50 yen servicing fee."

Kakashi stared at him without comprehension.

The man raised an eyebrow, "This is what you wanted, right?" He asked, "You have to buy it for your dad?"

"Un," Kakashi confirmed, still a little confused—it had been a long day.

"Well, you couldn't buy it in there, so I got it for you," the man replied, "Besides, you don't look like the kind of kid who would buy alcohol for himself, anyway. I'm sure you're trustworthy, right?"

As understanding finally sunk in, Kakashi grinned and nodded, "Hai!" He confirmed, digging out the money he owed the man and accepting the sake in return.

The man chuckled and ruffled his hair amiably—Kakashi wondered why everyone did that, but didn't protest. "Well, maybe I'll see you around sometime, ne?" The man asked comfortably, "But for now, I've got a date at Ichiraku's. Ja ne."

Kakashi watched him start to walk off in the other direction, "Aaa... Ja ne..." He replied uncertainly.

He watched for a moment longer, until the man's distinct white trench-coat was lost to the crowd, then he turned around and wound his way out of the market with his groceries.

"Kakashi!" The boy looked up to see Giro-sensei ushering a group of exhausted students back into the Academy, "How did it go?"

The four-year-old brightened, "Mission complete, Giro-sensei!" He announced proudly.

The man chuckled, gaze diverted for a moment as he watched Obito trail into the building last, tiredly dragging his feet. "I'm sure your father will be proud," he called across to Kakashi before waving and following his class.

Kakashi grinned at the thought and continued home, shifting his bags a little in his tired arms.

He could hear the high voices of children somewhere over the hill in the park, attesting to the location of the children he had seen earlier. The little girl whose cat he rescued was nowhere to be seen.

Kakashi awkwardly shuffled his bags for a moment before giving up and putting them down to slide the door open. He then picked them all up again, struggling to adjust them properly as he entered the house.

From the shadows of the gate, a young, brown haired Genin smiled. "Mission Complete."

Kakashi looked up from the scroll he was reading, listening carefully. When he heard something again he quickly got to his feet and ran to the door of his father's study. He stepped into the hallway, looking towards the door expectantly as it slid open.

"Otousan!" He started excitedly, only to let his expression fall at the white-haired man that stepped inside. "Oh... Welcome back, Jiji."

Jiraiya frowned as he closed the door behind him, not bothering to remove his sandals, "Hey, brat, is that anyway to greet your famous uncle(3)?"

Kakashi shifted guiltily, then looked up, "I really am glad you're back, Jiji... but..."

"You were expecting someone else?" Jiraiya prompted. He laughed, ruffling the boy's hair, "Don't worry, your dad'll be back soon, I'm sure." He stretched a bit and reached inside his jacket, "Meanwhile—I've got something for you!"

The boy looked up with interest—it wasn't often Jiraiya brought him anything. The man pulled out a small book with a blue cover and held it out for the boy. Kakashi took it, frowning slightly.

"What is it?" He asked, reading the title.

The man shrugged, "It's an adventure story, the flower(4) I got it from said it's really popular with young boys."

"An... adventure story?" Kakashi questioned.

"Yeah, you know," Jiraiya confirmed, "Boy beats up bad-guys and gets the girl—or something like that. Anyway, I'm sure it's more interesting than Sakumo's old scrolls, ne?"

Kakashi blushed a little, "But those are interesting!" He defended, "I learn a lot from them, Jiji!"

The man shrugged, "Well, it's your own loss. I just don't want you growing up to think books are boring." He led the way to the kitchen, "Got anything good to eat in here? The food at my place's got to be rotten by now."

Kakashi perked up, setting the book on the table as he followed the man, "We have lots of food," he confirmed, "I went shopping."

Jiraiya paused in his tracks and looked back at the boy, blinking. "What?"

"You know," Kakashi said, "For groceries. At the market."

Jiraiya raised an eyebrow, "What were you doing shopping? Doesn't your dad hire people for that junk?"

Kakashi frowned, "I'm just as good as a Genin, Jiji."

The man stared at him for a moment and then started laughing, "Is that what this's about?" He asked, laughing, "As good as a Genin, eh? I'll have you know, Kakashi-chan, it isn't grocery shopping that Genin like. That's just busy work we give 'em to bring in a little revenue while we train 'em up for the real jobs!"

There was silence for a beat and then, "What real jobs?"

Jiraiya's mouth opened to respond with the obvious when it suddenly occurred to him that he was talking to a three—no, four—year old. He promptly shut his mouth and tried to think of a better answer. None was immediately forthcoming.

Both males looked up when they heard a sound at the door. Kakashi glanced at Jiraiya, wondering what he was going to say, then pushed the thought aside in favor of hurrying to the door.

"Otousan!" He greeted as it opened to reveal the White Fang in all his post-mission glory. That is to say, considerably dirty and tired. Still, he smiled as his son approached.

"I'm home," the man announced wryly, ruffling his son's hair when he came close.

"Otousan, I'm ready!" The white-haired boy announced confidently.

The man blinked, frowning slightly, "Ready for what, Kakashi?" He asked, glancing up at his friend. Jiraiya shrugged.

"To become a shinobi," Kakashi answered as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "I got everything from the market, and that's usually a Genin's job, so I'm ready to be a shinobi."

The two men exchanged glances again.

"Now, now, Kakashi, it isn't exactly that easy," Sakumo pointed out reasonably, smiling slightly at the child's logic.

The boy frowned at him, "Why not?"

"There's more to being a shinobi than buying groceries, kid," Jiraiya pointed out.

Sakumo nodded, "And you have to graduate from the Academy first, anyway."

"And you aren't even in the Academy yet," Jiraiya finished.

"Then let me go to the Academy," Kakashi said, then, seeing the frown on his father's face, he added, "Please, otousan?"

"... Let me take a shower first, Kakashi, and then we'll talk about it," he decided neutrally. Then he smiled and mussed the boy's hair again, "Besides, I want to hear all about your shopping trip, too. It's the first time you've went by yourself, I'm sure you have some interesting stories."

Kakashi continued to frown for a moment, then his expression lightened again and he grinned in anticipation of an eager audience, "I have a lot of stories, tousan," he assured the man, "The market place is really weird."

A few points I want to leave you with, in case these things confused you...

(1) There actually is a snack like this in Japan. It's just peas coated in wasabi paste, which is very spicy. I've heard they're pretty good, if you eat them quickly.

(2) Of course, the woman knows his name from the incident with the fish seller...

(3) No, I'm not saying jiraiya's really Kakashi's uncle. He's close friends with Kakashi's father to the point where he's familiar to Kakashi like family would be.

(4) By flower, Jiraiya, of course, means a beautiful young woman.