Chapter One: Titles
Sakumo Hatake felt the first warm breeze of the evening ruffle the long hair tied behind his back. His ponytail thumped against his blue yukata softly as the last rays of the sun caught its silver shine. It was September, but summer was still fading away slowly. Soon the leaves would start falling from the trees, and the heat that made Sakumo sweat so much on missions (though he preferred his custom short sleeves to the designated long ones) would cease. And he knew many more changes would come.
Several months ago, back in the winter, Sakumo's wife, Ayano, had told him she had big news - the two of them were going to be parents. At first, Sakumo hadn't been sure how to react. The couple hadn't been married long, but starting a family had always been part of their plans for the future. Me, a father. Can you imagine? The strong jounin had never been so afraid. If you had asked anyone in Konoha, they would have told you there was no way this man could ever be scared of anything. He was the White Fang. One of the village's strongest shinobi. But no mission Sakumo had ever accepted was as difficult as he imagined being a father would be. What if he failed? He couldn't shake the guilt he knew he would feel if he ruined a life he was responsible for - the life of his own child. There was so much pressure, but at the same time, so much potential to do something good not only for his family, but for his village too. He wanted to be a good father and raise a strong ninja to protect Konoha the same way he had for most of his life. He wanted to pass on his skills and everything he had learned throughout the years to someone who could continue to make use of them, even after he was gone. Sakumo wanted to be important in that person's life, more important than he could ever be to the people of Konoha. More than anything, he wanted to be someone his family could be proud of.
Sakumo could smell something good coming out of the house as he sat out in the courtyard, not far from the door. Beef yakisoba, of course. His favorite. He smiled and rose to his feet. The silver-haired man made his way over to the entrance and slid the door back before taking off his sandals. He walked into the kitchen where a tall, dark-haired woman stood.
"Smells good, Ayano."
"Sakumo," she answered with a wry smirk, "What kind of husband are you? Leaving your pregnant wife to cook dinner while you go stare at trees in the courtyard?"
Sakumo smiled back playfully.
"I would be serving you dinner in bed if you'd let me anywhere near the cooking utensils."
His wife shook her head.
"I think you know I have my reasons for not wanting the house to burn down."
"Hey! I'm an elite ninja! Do you really think a little thing like this is too much for me to handle?"
"I just know that cooking is not one of your 'elite ninja' skills. You can't be good at everything, dear."
Sakumo walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around his wife, resting his palms on her round belly.
"That's why I'm lucky I have you to balance me out," he whispered in her ear before kissing her cheek.
"True," she grinned, turning around to return the kiss.
Between them, the baby kicked.
The next day, Sakumo prepared to leave the house. He always regretted leaving his wife alone, especially while he had to go off on missions. She had been on maternity leave for several months now, but the two didn't see as much of each other as they would have liked. Being such a skilled ninja had its pros and cons. On one hand, the constant high-ranking missions not only gave Sakumo much prestige, but provided a generous income that allowed his family to live comfortably. At the same time, however, more missions meant more time away from home, not to mention greater risks that came with the dangerous assignments many ninja often didn't return from, neither of which was reassuring to expecting parents. Luckily, today's "mission" was of a different kind.
"Be careful," Ayano told him for what must have been the third time before he walked out the door.
There was a joking tone in her voice that told him she was just trying to annoy him, however.
"I doubt anything's going to happen to me on my quest for eggplant," Sakumo shot back.
"You never know," she replied, "The marketplace could be overrun by mutant vegetables – some kind of crazy jutsu gone wrong, maybe?"
"As long as they're not S-rank vegetables, I should be fine. I'll get you all the ingredients for that soup you've been craving."
Ayano grabbed him by his ponytail and yanked him back slowly. They shared a long, tender kiss before she finally released him, and Sakumo went off to the marketplace to gather everything on the list his wife had written for him.
As he walked down the street, he was greeted by fellow ninja and civilians alike. Hatake Sakumo was very well-known in the village of Konoha. Tales of his performance on missions and incredible skills had spread, and he had earned enough respect to place him at the same level as the Sannin. Over time, he had eventually gained a title of his own which was of course, Konoha's White Fang. He beamed every time he thought of his future son or daughter being known as the White Fang's child.
He finally reached the stand he had been looking for and started rummaging through the eggplant. Too small. Too hard. Too dark…
"Sakumo!" a loud voice called.
The silver-haired man looked up and grinned as he saw his friend Jiraya, one of the Sannin himself, coming towards him. The two didn't spend too much time together, but they had known each other for a long time. The tall toad hermit always teased his friend about trying to steal his hairstyle, though Sakumo's ponytail was a lot shorter than the large white whip that was Jiraya's hair.
"Good afternoon, Jiraya-san," Sakumo greeted.
"Drop the 'san,' Hatake. You've known me long enough," the Sannin replied, giving his friend a light smack on the back by way of greeting.
"Most people call you Jiraya-sama," the White Fang replied with a smirk.
"You're not 'most people,'" Jiraya told the jounin, "In fact, I hear you get to add 'Otousan' to your titles soon."
The taller man leaned against the side of the vegetable stand. He smirked amusedly at the puzzled look Sakumo was giving the eggplants he was holding. Jiraya gave the White Fang a light tap on the temple.
"Your chakra flow is a bit shaky. Are you that nervous?"
"Of course not," Sakumo replied almost indignantly, embarrassed that he had noticed, "I just – don't know what to expect."
Jiraya's teasing expression turned thoughtful for a moment.
"You know, Sakumo," he said, "being a father is a lot like being a sensei, I think. You have to watch over the little monsters, keep them out of trouble, and teach them what they need to know. It's not always easy, but it's something a guy like you can manage. Of course sometimes they end up being fast learners like this boy. Hey kid, get over here!" he called to a person waiting in the midst of the crowd, not too far from where Sakumo and Jiraya were standing.
Sakumo turned to see a young blonde man coming their way. He already had his jounin vest even through he was still just a teenager. He greeted Sakumo with a friendly smile.
"Have you met my former student, Sakumo? He went off on his own a few years ago when he was promoted to jounin rank. I just met up with him on my way home before I saw you."
"I haven't, but I have heard a great deal about you, Uzumaki Kayaku – the Yellow Flash?"
The boy looked a bit embarrassed but proud at the same time. His title was still new to him, but he liked that so many people knew him by it already.
"Yeah, that's me. Jiraya-sensei's told me a lot about you too, Sakumo-san."
"Hopefully they've been good things," the silver-haired man said with a laugh.
"You can't say anything bad about the White Fang," Jiraya grinned, "It's dangerous."
Sakumo smirked at him.
"I haven't seen you around Konoha for a long time," he told the toad hermit, "Did you just get back?"
"The Hokage had me out on border patrol. I just got back from a spy assignment in the Rock Country. They've been aggressive towards us recently, so I was supposed to watch for any suspicious activity. I was there for a solid month, and nothing! At least now I can get back to my research…"
A lecherous grin spread across his face, and his cheeks reddened slightly, though not in embarrassment. Sakumo looked amused.
"Coming out with a new book, then?"
He tried to keep his voice from sounding too hopeful. Jiraya wasn't fooled, however. He clapped one large arm around his friend's shoulders and grinned.
"Just finished, actually. And for you, I have the first copy."
He pulled it out of his bag smoothly and presented it to Sakumo. The White Fang's eyes went wide, and his whole body shook slightly in a way no one would have ever believed it could have. If the legendary jounin's weakness was known, it would be trouble for Konoha.
"T-this? For me?"
"Of course!" the larger man laughed, "The first copy's always yours, Sakumo!"
"Thank you, Jiraya," Sakumo said with a slight bow.
It took all of his willpower and disciplined training not to jump the man in public. Nothing made him quite as happy as Jiraya's books. I'll have to hide this from my wife…
The Yellow Flash shook his head disapprovingly, but hid a smirk. By now he was far too used to his perverted sensei. He had just expected something different from the famed White Fang.
"I better finish up my shopping so I can get back home quickly," Sakumo said suddenly, stowing the book away where it would be safe – and hidden.
"Your wife waiting on you? It's so gentlemanly of you to do the shopping," Jiraya smirked.
"She's well into her last month now," Sakumo said, finally selecting an eggplant, "The baby could come at any time! Tonight, I'm making her the miso soup with eggplant that she's been craving."
"You finally learned how to cook?"
"Well, no…but she said she'd supervise me."
"That's still like making her do some of the work. Let me loan you this kid. He could make it as a chef if he wanted to."
"Sensei?" the blonde boy said, surprised.
"I'm sure Kayaku-kun has better things to do than cook for me and my wife," the silver-haired man laughed, putting his hands up before him, "Really, I can manage."
"I'd be honored to cook for you if you want me to, Hatake-san."
"See? He's a good kid. I'll come along too if you don't mind."
"Ha! So you just wanted a free meal, Jiraya-sensei!"
"N-no, that's not it at all! I just wanted to help out a friend!"
"I don't believe you."
Sakumo smirked to himself as he listened to them bicker back and forth. He almost had all the ingredients by now, and by the time sensei and former student had stopped, he was ready to go home. I hope she doesn't mind the company…
"Oh, Sakumo, you brought friends over?"
The White Fang's face reddened slightly.
"You remember Jiraya?"
"Of course I do! How could I forget that you're friends with one of the Sannin?"
"Good to see you again," the toad hermit said, "This is my former student, Uzumaki Kayaku."
"Nice to meet you," the blonde boy said with a bow.
"You're- the Yellow Flash?"
Kayaku blushed slightly and grinned.
"Yes ma'am. Hatake-san invited me to cook you dinner."
"Oh did he, now?" she replied, amused.
She gave Sakumo a private look that told him they'd have a nice discussion about this later. The White Fang returned it with a nervous smile.
"Let's get started then, shall we?" he asked Kayaku.
The Yellow Flash nodded eagerly. They brought all the groceries to the kitchen and started cooking. Soon, the room was filled with a delicious scent that drifted throughout the house. Ayano smiled from her resting spot on the floor, on a cushion next to Sakumo's.
"Smells great, Kayaku-kun."
"Just a basic recipe," the blonde boy replied, "It'll be done in just a minute."
"Where'd you learn to cook?" Sakumo asked.
"My mother taught me some," Kayaku replied, "but after she passed away, I had to learn myself – so I could feed my father. He's hopeless."
"Sounds like someone I know," Ayano snickered.
Her husband frowned at her. She smiled at him apologetically and leaned in for a kiss. Her lips easily flipped his into a smile. Ayano pulled away slowly, conscious of the company. Her cheeks tinted slightly red, but she kept smirking. Sakumo grabbed onto his wife's hand, and she clutched his gently, staring into his marble gray eyes until suddenly, she winced. Her hand tightened around his forcefully, and then, she let her grip slip away until her hand had dropped.
"Ayano?" Sakumo asked, slightly panicked.
His wife bent over and clutched her belly.
"Sakumo," she gasped, "I think it's time."
The White Fang was on his feet immediately. With ninja speed, Jiraya and Kayaku were practically at the doorway in an instant.
"Can you stand?" Sakumo asked, but Ayano was still leaning over and grunting with each contraction.
"We shouldn't move her," Jiraya said seriously.
"You think she should have her baby in the kitchen, Sensei?" Kayaku asked, wide-eyed.
"Go fetch Tsunade," his teacher ordered, "Sakumo, help me get her to somewhere she can lie down comfortably. Somewhere close."
The White Fang nodded and slipped an arm under his wife's shoulder. Jiraya took the other side, and together, they half-carried, half-dragged Ayano into the next room, where Sakumo laid down a futon for her. Kayaku sped off to find the famed medical ninja, another of the Sannin.
Ayano was not pleased with being dragged by the two light-haired men while she was in labor, but she was relieved to find herself somewhere more comfortable. Not that it made too much of a difference with all the pain she was experiencing. She could feel her ribs stretching and felt as if she was going to break on the inside. She took several deep breaths, however, and bared it stubbornly, like a true kunoichi. Sakumo admired her endurance.
Not much time had passed when Tsunade arrived. She found Konoha's White Fang kneeling next to a panting woman and a bucket of water with a washcloth in it. Her fellow Sannin was waiting outside the door. When he saw her, a smile spread across his face.
"Glad you could make it, Tsunade. It's been a while."
"We'll have to catch up later, Jiraya. How is Hatake Ayano?"
"Could be better," the dark-haired woman groaned from the floor.
Tsunade rushed to her side and checked her condition.
"You're doing fine," the blonde woman told her, "Just keep pushing."
Ayano grunted and squeezed Sakumo's hand until it turned dark purple.
"Hang in there," the silver-haired man whispered to her.
"Sakumo…" she growled, letting go of his hand and reaching for his ponytail to yank him closer than he was already leaning, "This is all your fault."
The White Fang stifled a laugh, glad that she was still herself even during all of this. Ayano smiled weakly and continued to push. Jiraya and Kayaku waited in the kitchen, where the neglected soup was still boiling. The Yellow Flash turned the stove off, knowing that the food would be cold by the time most people wanted to eat it. He and Jiraya each took a bowl, sat down, and waited.
Several agonizing hours later, a shrill cry echoed throughout the house. Sakumo stared in disbelief at what had just emerged from his wife. Before him, Tsunade held a tiny baby boy with a tuft of matted silver hair on his head. She cleaned up the screaming infant and presented him to his mother.
"Congratulations," she smiled, "It's a boy."
Ayano froze as the blonde woman lay him in her arms. Though she rarely cried, tears were slowly coming down the sides of her face as she gazed into the face of her child for the first time.
"Sakumo," she smiled, "it's our son."
The proud man was taken aback. He reached out towards the infant and placed one large hand on his soft, short hair. Everything was real. He was a father.
"He needs a name," the White Fang finally managed to say.
"Maybe we should name him after you," Ayano suggested.
Sakumo shook his head.
"No," he replied, taking the baby gently out of his wife's arms when she offered him the chance to hold him, "He needs a name of his own."
"Then what about – Kakashi?"
Sakumo raised an eyebrow.
"Look," Ayano said, running her fingers through her son's tuft of hair until it was sticking straight up, "He looks like a scarecrow."
"Kakashi it is then," he smiled, "Though if he hates it, I'm blaming you."
Ayano grinned back at him.
"I'll take that blame."
Hatake Kakashi sneezed and wrapped one tiny fist around Sakumo's finger. Despite the wall he had built up around his heart to protect himself from his emotions during his many challenging missions, Sakumo felt something new overcome him. It was a mix of pride, joy, and even a little fear as he felt the weight of what lay in his arms. He was a father now, someone with a title even greater than before. He was the one who would have to set an example for his son to follow, the ninja he would look up to the most. The jounin held his son closer and vowed silently to himself that he'd be a good father, someone the boy could be proud of. No matter what, he would always protect him and see that he grew into a strong, respected ninja. And everyone would know he was the White Fang's son.
To be continued…
A/N: Happy Father's Day! A bit delayed, but here nonetheless. I've cosplayed too long as Kakashi. XD;; I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and I look forward to writing more. I know there's still a lot of questions left unanswered, but you can help me out by suggesting what I can attempt to answer in my own way during this story. XD The questions can have anything to do with Kakashi's life. Ex: When and how did Kakashi start reading Icha Icha? Why did Kakashi quit ANBU? How many other teams did he reject before Team Seven? You get the idea XD I just don't want to leave anything out. Any other suggestions you have are appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Yukata- a Japanese dressing gown or lounging robe of soft, lightweight cotton.
Yakisoba- Japanese noodle dish