IT HAD ONLY been a few days since the almighty Kyuubi had viciously attacked Konoho. The Sandaime had been reappointed, in lo of the Yondaime's death, and had been put in charge taking care of a small boy. His short, downy hair was blonde and his large blue eyes lit up when he smiled and giggled. However, Sarutobi could not care for the young forever; but, he didn't know who could take in such a boy. All the shinobi of the village knew that this child, this very boy that he cradled in his arms, carried the Kyubbi deep inside of him. Who would ever accept the carrier of such a monstrocity?
Kakashi Hatake had been summoned to the Hokage's office, with the Hokage's hope that he would take the baby, but the Sandaime was quite disappointed.
"So, this is Minato's babe, ne?" drawled Kakashi. He was only fourteen; he still had much growing to do before he would earn the name of the Copy-Cat ninja. However, even at this young age he was war-hardened, having already lost his best friend. His hiate covered the reminder of his past; everyone knew better than to ask about it. The Sandaime had a feeling he might have to bring it up in order to influence Kakashi to accept the task, though.
"Yes; he needs a proper father. I won't be around forever... A shinobi's life can be over any second," said Sarutobi, quietly rocking baby Naruto. They were not Sandaime and soldier now. They were Sarutobi, Kakashi, and the baby that would form a bond between them forever, should Kakashi accept the mission.
"What? You don't think..." When Sarutobi nodded in confirmation, Kakashi's visible eye narrowed. "No." He spoke firmly, neither intending to weaken his resolve or even consider Sarutobi's request. "I'm still a kid myself. I can't be a father..."
"Why not?" Sarutobi demanded, unintentionally growing combative. "You're smart! You're... connected. I know that you may not have always been that way, but you've said it yourself: those who don't care about their companions are worse than trash."
"He's not my companion!" protested Kakashi, the customary drawl disappearing from his voice. "My father never... He was hardly ever there, how in the Hell am I supposed to know what to do? He was so concerned about his teammates he didn't do what he was supposed to. Then he killed himself because of them. H—"
"You are stronger than your father, Kakashi. What would Obito say?" asked Sarutobi, his voice soft and curious. He had no intention of berating the boy; he'd been through a lot. "You know that Minato was more of a father to you than anyone else ever was... He's not your son that much is true. But he could be. You have a chance to redeem your family's name!
"You and you alone are the one who must take in this baby. If we can't treat him as a hero, as Minato wanted... at least let him have a normal life!" pleaded Sarutobi, his eyes boring deep into Kakashi's lone, dark orb. Kakashi looked away; the old man's look rattled him. It felt as though he was leering deep into his soul. "I mean look at him... Don't tell me you can say no to this face?"
Sarutobi held up the baby, turning Naruto in his hands so that he face Kakashi. He was holding him gently, with his hands tucked securely under the baby's arms, at the armpit. "His name is Naruto..."
Kakashi took a step closer, a peculiar expression plaguing his features. He was thinking of himself as a father. Sarutobi could see the wheels turning behind the eye of the ninja whose emotions were usually cloaked in secrecy. It was a privileged display of emotion that hardly any ever saw, let alone lived to talk about. Sarutobi rested the infant on his knee; holding the child up for too long would look strange.
When Kakashi said nothing, Sarutobi spoke instead. "Sleep on it, all right? I expect to see you back here at noon, tomorrow."
Wordlessly, Kakashi offered a curt nod in response before sighing and turning to leave. The Sandaime watched him go, almost immediately resuming thoughts of the task at hand now that he was back on the clock. The Sandaime's gaze flickered back down to the child in his hands. Naruto was still resting on his knee. Sandaime smiled when Naruto cried out, stretching his arms out for a bottle.
"Ah, little one... You remind me so much of my own children. Ah... Sometimes I wish they'd never grown up. It'd be nice if they just little children." He smiled at Naruto and the baby giggled as it smiled back, it's lips around the nipple of the bottle.
The Sandaime sighed, smelling the wretched stink of Naruto's diaper. It was a good thing this little guy wasn't potty-trained; he'd have been thrice tempted to keep the child for himself.
KAKASHI TOSSED AND turned all that night. He dreamed that Minato, his dead sensei, was angry with him. Yelling, pleading, even... Minato refused to leave him alone. Kakashi awoke in a cold sweat. He could not fall back asleep. Around six in the morning he rolled out of bed to throw on some clothes.
His apartment felt even lonelier than usual. Kakashi couldn't help but notice the feeling of anger that reared its ugly head deep within him. The portrait of his father, which was hung on the wall over the small fire place, mocked him with every passing moment. Sarutobi had done this to him; he was responsible for the sleepless night, the feelings of lonliness, and even worse... the brief flickers of timid hope that were beginning to burn in his chest.
Kakashi grabbed a cup of tea on the way out, slamming the door behind him with such aggression that the portrait of his father fell off of the wall, narrowly avoiding a fiery end.
SARUTOBI JOLTED AWAKE when he heard a knock on his door; he'd expected Kakashi to change his mind, but this was not what he'd had in mind. He wasn't as glad as he should have been that Kakashi had showed up to announce his change of heart, but being the grumpy old man that he was, it was acceptable to answer the door with a dry, sarcastic, "Yes?"
He'd been up all night trying to soothe Naruto. Sarutobi had been doubly frustrated by Kakashi's immediate refusal, because almost a half hour after Kakashi had left, little Naruto had realized he wasn't coming back for a while. Getting the little bugger to fall asleep had been a great ordeal. Sarutobi wasn't about to tell the gray-haired ninja standing before him about that, though. No need to scare him away.
"Give me the damn baby." Kakashi snapped impatiently. One hand was stuffed deep in pocket, the other self-coconsciously stroking the back of his neck.
"You'll have to wait till a more appropriate hour to march over here and make such demands. Now go home. If you're sure, come back at noon. Like I told you to do." Sarutobi repressed a smirk, knowing that he was working the boy just as he hoped to. By insinuating that Kakashi was making a rash decision and didn't know whether or not he actually wanted to baby would ensure that Kakashi would begin to think about how sure he was that he was doing the right thing.
With a frustrated scowl and a nod, Kakashi heaved a loud, dragging sigh before disappearing from Sarutobi's doorstep. Sarutobi watched him roam down the street, a frustrated jaunt augmenting his normally lazy, ambling gate. With a chuckle, Sarutobi shut the door
IT WAS FINALLY noon; Kakashi was actually on time to see the Sandaime.
"This isn't something you can just change your mind on, you know. You can't change your mind and just bring him back once he becomes your child," warned Sarutobi, his stern gaze roving over Kakashi's form, looking for any body language that indicate anything that radiated a negation of the shinobi's otherwise confident stature.
Kakashi nodded, holding his arms to accept the infant. Sarutobi gave the child one last hug before proffering him to Kakashi, who smiled in spite of himself. The young ninja cradled the little boy to his chest, marveling at how small and fragile the creature was. Naruto cooed at him, laughing when Kakashi smiled back. Kakashi's visible eye did not crinkle with this smile; he wasn't thinking about the mask he war that prevented people from seeing the smile. He didn't need to over-accent the gesture for the baby to know that was smiling. Odd.
"I'll take it you're keeping him?" asked Sarutobi, amusement riddling his voice.
With that, Kakashi was gone, leaving Sarutobi staring at them. He was greatly distracted by the absence of the cooing, gurgling creature that had endlessly provided him company for the few days previous. Sarutobi would miss the little boy, but he knew that Naruto would be better off with Kakashi. He absently wondered what the silver-haired youth would do now; he'd conveniently forgotten to tell Kakashi the various foods babies ate and the nasty little messes they made when they spit up or defecated.
KAKASHI STARED AT the baby laying before him on the coffee table, totally unsure of what to do next. He could smell that the child needed changed, but he wasn't entirely sure on what to do with him. He knew the diaper needed to come off, but what then? Did he put the child in the sink and use the nozzle to spray his poop-covered behind? Was he supposed to wipe the kid's ass for him?
Scowling in determination, Kakashi readjusted his mask and grabbed the roll of toilet paper. This would be interesting. He wasn't sure why he'd neglected to ask Sarutobi what to do about this, but he wasn't about to go ask for help now. Naruto giggled as Kakashi pulled at the sticky tabs on the diaper. Kakashi had an absurd mental picture of Naruto as a teenager, with a girl bent over him trying to pull of his diaper.
Gagging in the back of his throat at both the mental picture and the smell of Naruto's excrement, he pressed the forearm connected to his free hand against his mouth. Peeling the diaper back elicited another gag, but Kakashi persevered. Naruto continued to gurgle mindlessly as Kakashi carefully cleaned, his fingers outstretching for Kakashi's hair. Naruto wasn't even paying attention to what Kakashi was doing. He was too busy staring at the picture above the fireplace.
"You know, if he hadn't me how disgusting this would be," Kakashi muttered, wrapping his hands around Naruto's ankles so he could lift the baby's but off the table as he pulled the dirty diaper free and replaced it with a clean one," I might not have agreed to this."
Naruto chuckled as Kakashi fastened the sticky tabs, stretching out his hands to Kakashi again. Kakashi watched the little fingers as they curled and stretched, grabbing repeatedly for him. "You're lucky you're cute."
Author's Note: Yeah. It's still short; but I like it this way.
Read, Review, and leave me comments. :] Open to suggestions, flamers, or compliments. :] Whatever floats your boat.
Edit Date: September 15, 2012