Notes: I was debating this installment for quite a long while, unsure of what I should do for the second chapter. It was actually to the point that I was rather frustrated with it. But, special thanks goes to wolvknight again for the simple fact that he still continues to encourage me, even when we haven't talked in a while. :D Go read his stuff! You know you wanna! But, shameless promotions aside, I finally broke down and got a new CD, and Immi is always a big inspiration for my writing. The title of this chapter is the title to one of Frou Frou's albums, simply because Frou Frou is awesome, and Immi's voice is truly inspirational.
Warnings! Semi non-graphic suicide in this chapter. Deal with it.
Disclaimer: No. I don't. Stop asking.
People didn't really know Hatake Sakumo all that well— the guy was a little bit of a prude in that aspect. Not that Jiraiya had been able to completely blame him for it. After all, being a homicide detective was difficult work, and murder wasn't an entirely unconceivable act. It'd taken a bit to figure it out, of course. Jiraiya had only ever met him once or twice at a particular bar that he happened to like somewhere down town of the more upscale areas. They were in the same field of work, but ran in entirely different circles, back then. But it'd been just a few times of drinks and talking for a bit before either of them knew what they were getting into, really.
"You're just a cop?" Sakumo had asked, hunched slightly over the bar counter, which was odd within itself. Sakumo was ageless. Timeless. He looked just as young as any of the newer rookies did. Just one of those types: messy silvered hair that fell around his head from scratching at it too much, dark eyes, a frame meant for sitting up straight and not slouching. It was hard to tell he was experienced.
Slouching just seemed like something so… basic for him. He was so rigid that it was difficult to remember that there was something human under the brain and calculative skills.
Professional. That's what Jiraiya had pegged the man for. Intensely professional.
"Yeah," Jiraiya had muttered around the lip of his glass, sighing slightly.
"You're too smart for that."
"I don't know… I kind of like it better this way. The work is terrible, but at least I'm not up at all hours. How's the wife?"
Sakumo had tilted his head, and it was an almost strange thing. But his thin, pale lips had quirked up at what must have been an amusing thought. Or maybe it wasn't. Jiraiya had been there to tape off the scene, and losing two close partners wasn't something that went easy. Jiraiya's seen it enough.
"She's pregnant," the man finally said.
Jiraiya had grinned, wide, and immediately called for a drink. "Lady, gimme the best you got! My friend here is going to need it!"
"No. I insist." He's laughed, slapping the man on his back. And although they'd been friends for a long time, now, since those fateful bar meetings years ago, Jiraiya knew enough about people to know how much a child could change their lives. "Trust me, this is going to be the most important time of your life. Fatherhood isn't anything to shrug off. Make sure to ask for more leave when you can."
Sakumo had tilted his head back to where it was before, sitting up more straight, and the edges of his lips quirking up the slightest bit. The kind of face no one could honestly resist. It'd seemed like something phenomenal. In all the time they'd spent, it'd always been Jiraiya laughing and talking loudly and trying to pick up the prettiest girl at the bar, while Sakumo just hung back and sat like a rather large lump on a log. But to see him smile and laugh for the first time was just something that had needed celebrating then. Jiraiya remembered drinking with him until they were both in a stupor, and the taxi that took them back to their respective homes was full of laughter and drunken conversation.
Of course, Jiraiya wasn't entirely sure if that had made him better or not. The guy really was nice. It just took some poking and prodding until the soft insides were accessible. Sakumo was just hard to understand sometimes. He never voiced much. But he was a good man and was going to make a good father.
"You know…" Sakumo's head tilted back in the seat, turning slightly to regard Jiraiya. His face was neutral but his eyes were too sober and too drunk at the same time. "Do you honestly think Orochimaru was capable of something like that? He was always… nice."
Jiraiya hummed, mind clogged and his gut hot from the liquor. "I dunno… he just kinda ran off, so I guess it's suspicious."
"You should go after him."
They looked at each other and blinked, and the drunken half-smile was back on Sakumo's face, his guard down enough to allow it. "Go after him," he repeated. "You're in love with him, right?"
"How in th' hell can ya talk… ugh… straight after that much?"
But it hadn't mattered.
When Jiraiya had woken up with a particularly nasty hangover, he found a note on the table from Tsunade next to some of those weird-tasting brand muffins that she liked and he'd always eaten anyways. At fist he didn't want to believe it. Her? Leaving the hospital? Sure, she had a thing about blood, but she was a good surgeon. And she'd done this sort of thing before… Only, Shizune had shown up. He hadn't known what to do with her, or what to say, or even how to understand it at all.
Jiraiya ended up fallowing Sakumo's advice— saying his good-byes.
Minato had clung to his arm, looking at him like he'd betrayed him.
"You said you would stay!"
"Sorry kid. Take care of your girlfriend, okay?"
And that had been that.
He went on search of answers, he supposed he knew somewhere in the back of his mind, if only a little, that he knew he'd never find. It was as if Orochimaru had disappeared off the face of the planet. And Jiraiya just couldn't bring himself to go back and look at Sakumo's disappointed face, or the blonde kid that visited from down the street… those were kind people that didn't need his troubles.
"Sakumo?" Jiraiya squinted at him, arms folding against his chest as the chill set in. People were bustling around them, giving them odd looks; Jiraiya didn't care. "What in the world happened to your eye?"
And, slowly, it began to make sense.
He was remembering a man from decades ago.
This wasn't him at all.
And it was the red-haired woman that gawked at him, slender hands gripping her groceries to the point that her knuckles were white. "Jiraiya! What are you doing here? I thought you'd left for good!"
Sometimes, it was easier just to let things fall apart rather than try and salvage them.
Jiraiya found himself wondering how everything could just go from bad to absolutely mind-numbing worse in less than twenty-four hours of being back in town. But, when he glanced at Sakumo-but-not-Sakumo, he found that, in his life, in his age, anything and everything was bound to do that. Never mind that the blonde was shouting and that, quite suddenly, the Sakumo look-alike had to scuttle aside and use his inhaler, clutching at his chest and clutching to the redhead's shoulder. She shoved her groceries at the blonde, telling him to run and put those in the car, quick, while she called for help.
"Kakashi! Another attack?"
Jiraiya was numbed by it all. He was looking in, detached, like when the TV was on and there was nothing really to watch. He supposed it was the part of him that still needed to help others that lead him to catching the Sakumo look-alike's arm, the woman smoothing the man's hair from his face and running thin fingers over his too pale face and almost half-lidded expression as he gasped and choked for air.
"Someone! Call an ambulance!"
Confusion exploded out— Jiraiya was steadying the guy while she was running into the store. People were staring and calling out, a few pulling phones from pockets, and Jiraiya just still felt so quietly detached from it all. Especially when those dark eyes were just staring at him. The guy wasn't shaking, though, not anymore. He was just sucking in air through his nose, as slowly as it seemed possible for him, in and out. It made Jiraiya wondered what in the hell he'd just gotten himself into.
To say that no one knew Hatake Sakumo was a bit of an understatement.
Kakashi knew him.
His father had always been a man who stood up for the weak, for the wronged. He solved people's deaths with his thoughts and actions and would always have time to come home and tuck him in at night. Or… well, used to. Kakashi knows that much about him, at the least. Knows that he was one of the good guys in the cartoons on Saturday. With large, strong hands and a quiet voice that said that rules of the law were in place because it kept people safe. Sure, he was a bit distant, but when you worked like his father did, anyone would be.
It's been on a night like that, when Sakumo would walk in and shrug out of his coat, the rainy kind of days.
"Tadaima…" the man murmured.
Kakashi scrambled from the kitchen table, feeling like he should smile at least, but finding it a bit hard when he father just looked too tired. "Okaeri," he answered.
Sakumo's lips tilted up slightly as he placed a hand on the boy's head, ruffling the light hair there. "Did you do well in school?"
"I put the report card on the table."
"So I take it home schooling has been better?"
Kakashi nodded silently, sighing as the hand on his head slipped to hold the side of his face for a brief second.
Well, he thought, Father didn't need words. Sure, he was only five, but that didn't mean he hadn't learned to take things in stride. Those actions always spoke more of what was on his mind than what mere words could do…
The Hatake house was much too large for just two people— almost traditional in a sense, since it was a rather old one, with the main room sprawling out from the door and smaller compartments leading back from hallways past the somewhat small kitchen. Most of them weren't really used. They just sat there. And when his father flopped onto the leather sofa (it seemed so new, but it wasn't, not really), Kakashi just watched for a moment.
"Sensei decided to bring in Obito to our class."
"Did he now? Are you being nice to him?"
Kakashi scoffed, crossing his arms over his small chest, but he didn't really say anything about it. Instead, he asked, "Tou-san, did work go well?" It's a formality that had been drilled into him since he was able to talk.
Sakumo looked at him, blinked slowly, and then just sighed and shook his head.
"No," he whispered. "No it didn't, Kakashi."
"Did something happen?"
But there wasn't a reply.
Kakashi didn't press it, even while something like child-curiosity rose up in his heart, swelling, a little bird wanting out of its cage. It took a bit to squelch it down. He managed, though, and wandered off past the kitchen. He trailed small, pale fingers across the table, over the chairs, pondering them for a moment— his sensei had been sitting at one of them, and had fallen asleep until Rin-chan poked him awake. He didn't really know what to make of Obito yet. He'd tracked in mud when he'd forgotten to take of his shoes, and it was so rude of him to that!
When it was raining, the boy wandered around the house. Sometimes Nana, the family dog, would trail after. She was a good dog. She'd follow him to a small room that he wasn't supposed to go into but did anyways. Only sometimes. That night, he was alone.
His child hands pulled open the door to the small room at the very end of the hallway, his feet padding across the tetami when he walked in. It was dark. Lightning, quiet, without the rain at that moment, flashed and wreaked light havoc across it.
Sakumo had simply packed all of her stuff, even though she's been dead for years now.
Kakashi pulled himself up to the drawer, reaching with tipped toes to the midway one, searching for the book and flashlight. It was an old album, of all the people from his family. His mother had been keeping it. Then he curled up on the futon that smelled vaguely like what he supposed she had once been like, warm, under the hand-stitched blanket, flipping through it with only his flashlight and the lightening silently attacking the sky as company. Kakashi would trail fingers over her picture, the one where she's holding Father's hand and laughing and smiling. But, oddly enough, when he tries to entirely recall her when he closes his eyes, he could never seem to remember.
He fell asleep like that, just like he always did. And if his father was angry with him, he never showed it.
Maybe that was how all children fell asleep. Kakashi was never sure. He was dreaming of something nice, he knows, half awake as he was, and he thinks that maybe that voice was just something he was thinking of at the time. Or maybe because it was hot. Spring usually was sometimes. Kakashi stirred for a second, blinking at the sudden early morning sunlight warming him in the face, twisted and buried and cocooned in the white and grey and red material.
The picture album fell to the floor, along with the run-down flashlight, clattering a bit, and the early morning silence swallowing it up.
Kakashi rubbed at his eyes for a moment. He felt… funny. Not in a good way. Maybe it was the fact that Minato-sensei couldn't cook at all, and if Kushina-san hadn't saved them from a ramen-y fate they all would have starved.
Was ramen supposed to mix with milk?
Yawning, the boy pulled the album from the floor and left it on the bed as he walked out. He'd put it back later.
"Tou-san?" he called. "Tou-san, I'm sorry for sleeping in there again… Tou-san?"
There are two different kinds of terrible silences.
One was the kind that was awkward and terrible and happened in movies or when adults talked about some things. It was the kind that ate up at words and feelings until it left only a hole. The other was the kind that didn't do any of that. A kind of early-morning thing, only more… different. Whole. Intact. But what it did was making things a little too spooky for anyone's liking. It sat heavy on the ears, waiting, watching. If silence could have eyes, that would be the one. Kakashi wasn't familiar with it, though. He just walked down slowly, the walls dark, and Nana was scratching at the door to the kitchen.
Kakashi stopped to pat her on the head. "Shh…" he hissed, pressing his finger to his lips and then his ear to the door.
The boy blinked. Did father leave the facet on a little? His hand pressed to the edge of the sliding door, and his heart had the curious bird feeling again, like last night, only with a little edge to it. "Tou-san?"
Kakashi had looked at the kitchen.
The table and chairs hand been shoved up against one side, near the stove, but in a methodical, neat kind of way. Which was the least of the boy's concerns. It was in the center of the hardwood floor that was drawing him in, and it made him scramble for it, hands hovering over his father's down-faced form. Red was pooled under him, and Kakashi's feet slipped in it— he hadn't seen it and it made his entire body seize up with sudden panic. He knew what red meant. He's seen case photos before.
Sakumo was face down in it, and it took all of the boy's strength to roll him over, and the man stayed in that same curled position.
Kakashi wasn't sure what happened after that.
Just that he sat there, staring, not really thinking of anything at all. It didn't occur to him of the time or that maybe breakfast was in order or that it was Friday and that his sensei would be coming. He didn't even know what to call the mess that had spilled out of his father's body. But what Kakashi did remember was the door opening and a voice. He remembered Minato —he was so far away, blue-blue eyes so concerned, and his voice like honey dripping down on Kakashi's world and like his teacher's hair— gripping him by his arms and hauling him up. He remembered being held, unsure of what to do.
"Oh, Kakashi, I'm so sorry… so sorry… I should have seen it. I should have… I…"
He'd never really cried before. But when Minato started, Kakashi found that he could stop for a long time. Could do much but cling to fists full of his teacher's shirt, shaking, and wanting nothing more than to be back in the room where his mother lived.
Funerals were unfamiliar to him, with no actual immediate family. His father's had been small, and a week after it all. Whatever happened, it didn't even leave Hatake Sakumo with an officer's sending. Nothing. And he'd stood there for so long that he wondered, if maybe, it was just a bad dream. Suicide? Killing yourself? What did those things matter? What had they meant that it was a disgrace? Why was he the only one there?
But, when Kakashi realized it, no, that hadn't been a dream, and that he was just unlucky in life.
The attack was sudden.
Kakashi still had them, sometimes, and thinking about his father was something that he hadn't done in a very long time. There were a lot of feelings that were mixed in with hit. Hate, anger, resentment, agony. Feelings that were hard on his delicate nervous system, at his lungs locked up, his body twisting in on itself painfully. Sometimes these things happened. Kakashi could accept that.
So he held onto what he could to keep standing, his bad leg cramping up, sucking in air greedily until Genma came rushing out, and the man he was looking at… no, the face wasn't that old, and odd how he could think of such things when he was in such a aweful fit of pain. Genma pried him off the man, and the only thing Kakashi could think of was, His hair reminds me of snow…
The ambulance ride wasn't all that great.
Genma was riding in the back with him, gripping his hand as the medics stuck a needle in him. Kakashi supposed it was more for the brunette's comfort than his own.
That was what Kakashi hated most about hospitals. Couldn't they think of other ways to give people medicine? Did they really need to stick you with sharp objects?
"Sorry…" he found himself muttering when his throat stopped seizing up. Ah, good, they were using a sedative.
Genma looked somehow unsurprised. "Hey, it's no big deal. Raido gets 'em sometimes. Fits, I mean. Kushina-san's taking the kid home; she was talking to that guy who was hanging on to you."
"W-who—" An oxygen mask was fitted over his face, the medics reprimanding him with stern looks.
Kakashi didn't bother trying to reply. He was tired, actually. Exhausted.
"Idiot… You and Obito, man. I swear you guys are going to put me in the grave before I even get to fifty."
That had been simply that.
Kakashi had turned away from Genma, his hand going numb from how hard the brunette was clutching it. He didn't mind. Somehow, even after so long, it was good to see him. Maybe today was just too much to ask for a break. Or maybe it was because the details had ended up blurred in his head. Either way, the sirens were giving Kakashi a headache.
He hoped Rin would be at the hospital again. Her smile would do him a world of good right now.
End: Chapter Two
Notes: Again, like the last chapter, some of it was a bit forced. I'll have to find me a beta soon and redo these last couple of chapters. Writing multi-chaptered things is a little difficult, and I'll give you all fair warning that there are probably only three or so chapters left. But, at the least, I'm hoping to strike up a different sort of romance. But, hey! I almost doubled the chapter length!
Feedback is much appreciated!