One-shot story born from a conversation with Kantayra. Because darn it, someone should tell Naruto.
Warning: spoilers for manga.
Thanks: To Kantayra. Always.
Feedback: is always appreciated.
Naruto sighed, loudly enough that Kakashi would hear him from the bathroom. He didn't want to repeat – for the third time – that they had to hurry or they'd be late. The Fifth had promised Naruto there would be hell for him to pay if Kakashi was late today. How keeping Kakashi on time was part of Naruto's ANBU responsibilities, he had no idea, but he took the job seriously – or as seriously as he took any job. He had showed up at Kakashi's apartment two hours early. Of course if Kakashi didn't finish getting ready soon, they'd be late anyway.
Bored out of his mind, Naruto looked around the small bedroom. There wasn't much to indicate that it was Kakashi who lived there as opposed to some random person. Except… A sad smile pierced on Naruto's lips as he ran a finger along the carefully lined-up books of the Icha-Icha series. Damn, but he missed the perverted hermit.
His finger stopped on the last book, and he frowned as he read the title on the spine. Puzzled, he picked it up. He'd never seen Kakashi read that one. He flipped to the back to read the summary, and his surprise grew even more.
"Kakashi-sensei! You never told me you had a book about a boy that's named like me!"
"What?" Kakashi's head peeked out of the bathroom, his hair sticking in every direction as he finished toweling it dry. Pausing, he looked at the book in Naruto's hands and his right eye narrowed slightly. "Oh. Yes. I had forgotten about that one. It's the first book Jiraiya wrote."
He disappeared into the bathroom again. Resigned to waiting a little longer, Naruto sat on the window ledge and flipped through the book, reading random sentences. Strange… He looked at the cover again and noticed the age rating in the corner. He chuckled. So his teachers – both of them – had not always had dirty minds? It was hard to believe. He waited until Kakashi had come out of the bathroom to tease him.
"No sex in this one, huh? Why did you buy it, then?"
Naruto had expected some embarrassment, or at least an eye roll. Instead, Kakashi seemed to gauge him as he slid his gloves on, then changed his mind and took them off again. They weren't part of the ceremonial attire after all. When he replied, his voice was perfectly level.
"My sensei gave it to me."
Naruto looked at the book in his hands, then back at Kakashi. "Your sensei… You mean the Fourth?"
Kakashi sat on the edge of his bed and started pulling his shoes on. Again, his answer took longer than seemed necessary, as though he were considering each word. "The Fourth, yes."
Naruto flipped through the book again. It was strange to see his name in print like this. He kind of liked it. "Is it any good?" he asked. He hadn't particularly liked his previous taste of Jiraiya's writing.
"It's all right," Kakashi said, and by the tone of his voice Naruto could guess he was smiling now. "The main character is a lot like you, now that I think of it. An excellent shinobi. And he never gives up, even in the end."
Pleased and a little embarrassed, Naruto scratched the back of his head, grinning behind his mask.
"I guess your parents hoped you might be like him some day," Kakashi continued. He had finished tying his shoes and rested his forearms on his thighs, leaning toward Naruto. "That's probably why they named you after him."
Naruto froze, momentarily speechless. The book slipped from his fingers. Kakashi caught it before it could fall on the floor.
"My…parents?" Naruto said, choking a little on the words. His heart was pounding so hard that it hurt. "It's funny, just now you sounded like… like you knew them."
Kakashi didn't seem to notice how much his words had affected Naruto, and he replied in the same calm and normal conversational tone. "I did. Well, I knew your father a lot more than I did your mother."
Emotions flashed through Naruto, too fast for him to truly feel anything until something tightened painfully in his chest. "You… you knew my father?" Without thinking, he slipped the raven mask off and passed a hand through his hair. "All these years, you never…"
He couldn't finish, and let his eyes tell his sensei how hurt he was – how disappointed, too.
"Never told you?" Kakashi finished for him. "I'm sorry. It was taboo to tell you about him. Still is, actually. Though I don't think the Fifth will mind me changing that rule."
The pain disappeared, replaced by confusion. Naruto frowned. Why was everyone so fond of secrets? "Taboo? Who? Why?"
Kakashi shrugged. "The Third. At the same time he forbade everyone from mentioning that the Kyuubi was sealed in you. Though I don't think many people know whose son you are."
Naruto still didn't understand why the Third would have wanted to keep his origins a secret, but he didn't care anymore, not when he finally had someone in front of him who could – and apparently would – tell him about his parents.
"Kakashi-sensei… Please tell me about him. About them. Anything. Please."
Kakashi inclined his head briefly. "You mother was called Uzumaki Kushina. She was from the former Land of the Whirlpool before she came to Konoha."
"Kushina…" Naruto whispered the word almost reverently. It was beautiful.
"And your father" Kakashi continued, his voice quieter now, "was Namikaze Minato."
"Mi…" Naruto's eyes widened. He shook his head. "No. You're joking. And it's not funny."
Kakashi stood and went to his dresser. Naruto's gaze followed him. He wanted to ask what Kakashi was thinking, flinging such lies at him. He'd never thought of Kakashi as cruel before.
When Kakashi returned, he sat on the edge of the bed again and handed a picture frame to Naruto. Naruto took it with shaky hands, and had to force his eyes to focus on the picture.
"That's a picture of my team when I was a genin," Kakashi said. "You look more and more like him every day. Sometimes, I look at you and I want to call you Minato."
Naruto's hands clenched on the frame until the wood started creaking. He unclenched them, and almost dropped the frame. On the picture, three kids smiled, but it was the serious-looking young man behind them Naruto was staring at.
"My father…" The words felt alien on his tongue. "My father was the Fourth Hokage?"
He managed to look up at Kakashi, his eyes begging him to tell the truth – to tell more.
Naruto's eyes returned to the picture. He brushed his thumb on the glass over the blonde man's image.
"That's why Jiraiya was so keen to teach you," Kakashi said after a few seconds. "Minato was his student, and you share many of his abilities."
Naruto barely heard the words, and he didn't comprehend them. His entire mind was locked on one idea, one simple fact he had just realized.
"My father…" The word was even harder to pronounce now. "He was the one who sealed the Kyuubi inside me?"
The mask didn't show much of Kakashi's face, but what it did show seemed consternated. This had clearly not been the reaction he had expected. "Naruto—"
"Why did he do that?" Naruto slid off the ledge and thrust the frame back at Kakashi, his hands shaking again though from anger now, rather than excitement. "I was so sad for Gaara when I learned his father had placed the One Tail inside him, but… it's the same for me? My own father condemned me to all that hate from the villagers? All that fear? All that—"
"No," Kakashi cut in, the word gentle yet strong. "He thought… He thought you would be honored for it. He wanted people to see you as a hero. It was his dying wish."
Naruto gritted his teeth and glared at Kakashi as though he had been responsible. "Well, that didn't work so well, did it?"
Kakashi looked down at the picture in his hands, then up at Naruto again. "I don't know."
Naruto blinked twice. "You don't know? For twelve years, I didn't have anyone who cared about me. No friends. No adults would look at me without hate! The children weren't allowed to play with me!"
Standing, Kakashi put his hand on Naruto's shoulder. "I know. And I also know that this rejection is what gave you your greatest asset."
Naruto shrugged off his hand and snorted. "And what would that be? Bitterness?"
"Bitterness?" Kakashi chuckled dryly. "When have you ever been bitter? No, your greatest asset is your determination. Do you remember that first time we met as Team Seven? I asked the three of you what your dreams were. And you said you wanted to be Hokage. You wanted people to respect you. I'm not sure what you would have become if all your childhood you had been treated as a hero. Some people grow cocky in the face of such admiration, and they never achieve as much as they could have otherwise, if they had been challenged. That's certainly not the life your father would have wanted for you. But the result? The young man who's standing in front of me today? Who will certainly be Hokage when the time comes? That young man is everything a father could want."
Kakashi held Naruto's gaze for a second or two, then placed the picture next to the book on the bed. He went to pick up his robes on the chair by the wall, keeping his back firmly to Naruto as he slid them on.
Naruto's anger slowly drained out of him, replaced by a strange warmth. His cheeks were burning, and the tears sliding down his face didn't help in the slightest. He wiped them off with the back of his hand. His eyes drifted down to the frame on the bed.
"I'm sorry I never told you before," Kakashi said. "And I'm sorry you never knew while Jiraiya was alive. He could have told you a lot more about them both."
Naruto took a step forward toward the bed, then another. Without thinking, he reached out and ran a finger across the glass.
"You can keep the picture if you want," Kakashi said, glancing back. "I wish I had one of your mother to give you, too."
Naruto picked up the frame and pushed the words through his tight throat. "Thank you." He undid the back of the frame and pulled the picture out, slipping it into the inside pocket of his vest. He then grabbed his mask from the window ledge and fastened it back on.
On the other side of the bed, Kakashi had put on the distinctive hat that, very soon, would be the symbol of his new role as Konoha's Sixth Hokage.
Naruto cleared his throat. "Can I… Can I keep the book? Just for a few days? To see… to see who they named me after?"
Kakashi nodded, his mask moving with his slight smile. "Of course. Keep it as long as you want."
Naruto grabbed the book, and they left for the Hokage Tower without another word. They hurried, and by some sort of miracle they even made it in time.
Halfway through the ceremony, Naruto couldn't help himself. Ignoring the disapproving huff that rose on his side from behind Sasuke's fox mask, he opened the book to the first page, and found the inscription there. He'd never been as thankful for the privacy his mask offered him.
Your father would be proud of you.