A/N: Okay, this is something I randomly got the idea for at a friend's house. Kaka!Daddy ficcy! Y'all knew it was coming.

Shifting Waters

(Part 1)

He shoved his hands in his pockets and kept his head down, walking against the wind. The cold whipped against face, blowing his hair back and exposing his neck. He hunched his shoulders and burrowed his neck into the collar of his sweatshirt, glaring up into the gray sky as though he could possibly blame it for his misery.

A hand on his shoulder stopped him, and he glanced back–-and up–-into a face half-covered by a cloth mask. "Naruto."

He smiled and turned to face his sensei, shutting his eyes and tilting his head, relaxed now that his back was to the wind. "Yeah, sensei?"

Hatake Kakashi stared at him for a moment before shaking his head and releasing him. "Never mind," he said, drawing the conversation to a close, and continued walking. Sakura peered at Naruto as she followed their teacher, and the blond sighed.

"Why do people always look at me funny?" he grumbled, though he knew very well the reason. He bundled himself up tighter in his thin jacket, let out a breath, the cold air misting around him, and trotted to catch up.

"Oi!" Voices drew them to Ichiraku's, where a few of their comrades were relaxing together. "Long time no see, you three!"

"Yeah, we just got in from that last mission," Sakura explained, sliding in next to Ino with a smile. "It's so good to be back."

Naruto grinned when Chouji slid over and offered him a place to sit down. He laughed when Kiba leaned over Shikamaru to talk to him, and the genius tilted himself forward so the dog master slipped off his stool completely. He said hello to Hinata, smiling kindly when she blushed a fiery crimson in response.

He didn't order ramen.

"I gotta head home," he said after about ten minutes, standing and stepping over Kiba, who lacked the motivation required to climb back into his seat. "Make sure my apartment's in one piece." His friends accepted the excuse readily enough, and bade him farewell. He stopped down the street and turned back to them smiling and waving, putting any of their suspicions at rest.

Kakashi watched him go, frowning. Shikamaru tapped his arm--leaning over Chouji to do so--and muttered, "Follow him. His route's not a safe one." When Kakashi only looked at him, Shikamaru jerked his head back an imperceptible half-inch; Kakashi glanced back--already the villagers were glaring after the boy, and an discomfiting number of the men were murmuring to each other in a way that promised trouble.

'It seems everyone wishes to welcome him home,' Kakashi thought dryly, before standing to announce, "I've urgent matters to contend with, so I must bid you all adieu." They all made faces but were used to his brief appearances and abrupt exits enough that they didn't question him.

He followed his charge via rooftop-jumping. The boy seemed blissfully unaware of the danger lurking behind him--the danger following him, stalking him, plotting his demise...But if that charade wasn't one, Kakashi would beat his face against the alley wall for all his training gone to waste. Sure enough, Naruto paused farther in, waiting with a patience Kakashi had never given him credit for.

"Okay," Naruto said wearily. "We're far enough in. Not that anyone would try to stop you."

Something tugged at Kakashi's heart to see the boy look so tired and worn compared to the bright and earnest smile he'd displayed moments prior...but he shook it off and instead glanced back at the men who'd finally stepped out of the lengthening shadows.

"What do you want this time?" Naruto asked them, crossing his arms. "In case you didn't realize it the last time you tried to mug me, I'm dirt poor. And thanks to you-" He cut himself off when one of them started forward. In sync with the man's approach, Naruto backed away from him, so they stayed the same distance apart.

The man's goal, obviously, was to corner the boy; said boy was, obviously, not going to let that happen. He kept his back to the open end of the alley, eyes trained carefully on the number of men before him, senses alert for sounds of anyone behind him.

"We just want to play with you a bit," the first man--who seemed to be the leader of the group--sneered; Naruto's expression didn't change, but his step faltered. He cursed, righting himself quickly, but the men were already charging forward.

It was a rule Kakashi had established; under no circumstances were his team EVER to harm a civilian. He thought he'd have to enforce the rule at first, and he did; Sakura lost her temper when their clients were a little too ungrateful, and Sasuke...Sasuke used to, as well. But never Naruto; the blond never once took out his frustration on a villager.

Of course he wouldn't start now.

He ground his teeth in frustration and brought his arms up in front of him, waiting for the first strike.

Kakashi had seen enough. Jumping down he landed smartly in between Naruto and his first opponent, nothing friendly in the one dark eye that could be seen.

After registering his status as a shinobi, they were more or less dissuaded from fighting; they'd long since discovered Naruto wouldn't fight back, but that didn't mean other ninja wouldn't. Kakashi asked them ever-so politely if they would please return immediately to their homes, and they complied quickly.

Then he turned to face his student. Naruto shrank back a bit from the silver-haired Jounin's wrath. "Naruto, why didn't you defend yourself?" he said in a voice that was as close to a murderous snarl than it would ever get. "Those men think you're easy prey now." He realized he was being a bit unfair, and sighed; "I'm going to amend the previous rule, alright? You can fight back in self-defense, and only if there's no way out. Sound good?"

Naruto looked a little confused, but nodded. "Yeah."

Kakashi crossed his arms. "And another thing; you've met those men before?"

"Yeeeup."

Kakashi frowned behind his mask at how genuinely nonchalant the boy was. "And what did they say?"

"Didn't say much," Naruto said. "They mugged me. It was kinda sudden, but not too surprising. I've been getting mugged since I was seven."

It was so hard to hear those words out loud.

And when he turned around, Naruto was long gone.

--

If it had been any other day; any other situation, Kakashi would have let the matter go until the next time he, Sakura and Naruto met for ninja-purposes--boy wouldn't miss a mission for anything. But now he found himself standing at the door to the boy's apartment, knocking lightly.

"Naruto," he said in his usual deadpan. "Open the door." This was a command, and it was firm.

The door cracked open, and through the sliver Kakashi could see one brilliant blue eye peering at him. He always felt a chill rush up his spine when he met Naruto's gaze; it felt like those eyes were seeing through all his outward appearances and into the core of his very being, searching until they found only the true intentions. Kakashi was always very conscious of when he thought about lying to the boy, who wasn't quite as dense as he let on.

Assured at who it was, Naruto pulled the door open wider; Kakashi could see he'd been tending to various wounds the latest mission had delt him. Other scars stood out on the boy's tanned skin, some from missions...others, not.

"Can I come in?" It wasn't a question.

"I don't know where you got your manners from, but maybe you should send them back," Naruto grumbled, leaving the door open and trudging back inside. His apartment was all pretty much one room; the kitchen and dining room/den made up half of the abode, in a third corner was the bedroom area, and there was a door leading to the bathroom in the space left. Other than that, there was nothing more than met the eye.

Kakashi pulled a chair out from the small kitchen table; the only chair, he noticed, since Naruto usually ate alone. "So," he said after a moment's silence, watching Naruto, perched on his bed, struggle with some bandages, "what's the story with those men?"

"Villagers," came the short response, as if that said it all.

"I may need a little more than that," Kakashi replied, unmoving.

"Sounds like a personal problem to me."

"When you're out shopping for real food, don't forget to buy yourself some respect."

"Well, I'll just go with you while you're out to pick up some courtesy, I'm sure I won't forget it then."

Kakashi didn't snap the comeback he'd prepared; instead he let the silence hang. Naruto, however, was more than willing to wait for conversation to come to him; once finished with the medical supplies, he dumped it all back into the kit and trotted back into the bathroom. Returning empty-handed, he sat on the bed and stared his teacher down, eyes glinting brightly in the dim room.

"I'm not going anywhere," Kakashi said when it seemed appropriate.

"You're in for a long wait, then," came the sharp retort.

The Jounin made himself comfortable in his chair; he'd long since decided not to underestimate his pupil.

--

Naruto fell asleep; Kakashi hovered over the youth in the bed, twitching slightly.

'Little cheat,' he thought, inwardly enraged, though outwardly expressionless. 'What better way to win a silent contest than falling asleep?!'

What made it all the more humiliating was the knowledge that Naruto had fallen asleep knowing full well Kakashi wouldn't wake him up. And who would? The kid was obviously exhausted--he would NEVER have fallen asleep in the presence of someone he weren't--and besides that...

He looked so CUTE when he was sleeping, if Iruka had anything to say about it; and he did. In matters concerning Naruto, he ALWAYS did.

So Kakashi settled for pulling the worn quilt over his student and shutting the window letting in the cold draft, resolving to talk more in the morning.

--

And that plan would have worked so WELL if Iruka hadn't intervened. When Kakashi came back the next morning, there was a note taped to the door; 'Sorry, Kakashi-san--Naruto said you'd be coming around. It's his birthday, so I'm treating him to ramen. -Iruka'.

So...not only was his scheme foiled, but he'd also missed the kid's birthday.

'I'm on a roll today,' he thought bitterly.

(Part 1) -

End