Note: Story runs along the same AU as Baby Talk and Colours.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
The living room was warm and bathed in dim lighting. If an outsider was to enter his domain, they would probably remark upon how unbearably temperate it was and find a light switch because tripping around in semi-darkness was just not logical. If this hypothetical outsider was a straitlaced housewife, they would glance at distaste over the haphazard furnishing (some chairs were upturned by overexcited nindogs); they would pick at the clothes on the floor (that needed washing – both floor and clothes actually); and they would swipe a finger across surfaces and antagonize the dustbunnies (because they were health hazards). In fact, if they were obsessive-compulsive, they would also screech at the sheer amount of unwashed dishes lying around while making it their duty to pick up the stray scrolls and books from places where scrolls and books have no business to be at (like the dishwasher, for example).
As it was, Kakashi Hatake had no guests or obsessive-compulsive outsiders crawling around his apartment. In fact, he could care less about their opinions on his living conditions. He had other, more taxing concerns to occupy his time with – like his health, for one. Sprawled boneless on the couch and swathed with a stray blanket, the legendary Kakashi of the Sharingan – the Copy-ninja, son of the late White Fang, one of Konoha's elites, and other miscellaneous names he acquired – was suffering, incapacitated even, from the illness known as influenza.
…An illness that he was beginning to loathe.
Blurred vision. Aching limbs. Coughing. Fever. The fatigue was overwhelming enough that he was too tired to drag himself onto his proper bed.
So it was only understandable that he groaned into the couch cushions when he heard a pitter-patter of knocks against his front door. If he had the strength of will (or general strength, for that matter), he would have thrown several kunai at the perpetrator interrupting his rest time.
Instead, he rasped out pathetically, "Go away…" Significantly bleary eyed, Kakashi lifted his head from the pillows. "Pakkun…"
There was no response from his faithful, if sometimes dour, pug and it was then did he remember that he ended the Summon an hour ago.
"Damn…it…" He coughed into his hand, chest heaving painfully.
As if sensing his distress, the pounding on the door stopped for a few seconds only to be renewed with vigour. A distinctive familiar wail could be heard outside and it left Kakashi without a level head.
"…Naru-to?" Grimacing – exhaustion be damned – he left the cosy covers and slinked towards the door, arms heavy at his side. Without his usual grace, fingers fumbled over the locks and slowly, the wooden door was inched open.
The sight on his welcome mat tugged violently at his heartstrings.
It was a cold night. The blond child of the Hokage was thoroughly soaked by the November rainstorm. In fact, he was sitting on his doorstep shadowed by the darkness, desperately sobbing into tiny hands. Watchful eyes could not discern any physical injury but it was clear to him that Naruto was hurt.
He was also alone. Where were his parents?
Kakashi gripped the door handle tighter, his chakra slowly spiralling with killing intent – precious person, hurt – that was until he felt a dizzy spell overcome his senses, leaving him drained and faltering at the entrance. He rubbed at his chest with the heel of his hand, grey eye easing close. Stupid flu.
But his slight scuffling caught Naruto's attention. Watery cerulean eyes looked up and an emotion close to relief and safe could be seen. Immediately, the yellow-haired child bounded forwards and hugged his leg ferociously. "Kaka-hic-nii!"
Weary eyes glanced down at his new charge. He carded a gentle hand through the soft hair pressed against his knee. "Why are you here, Naru-chan? Where's your mom and dad?"
Naruto seemed to frown unhappily, scrubbing at his face, and asked in a small voice, "You…You don't want me-hic-here too?"
Realizing he wouldn't receive a direct answer, he sighed, slightly fond, and murmured, "Of course not…" With slow movements, he guided the child into the stifling warm apartment and commented, "Let's get you changed and settled."
He could feel the moisture of rainwater and tears soak into his cotton pants.
"…'Kay…" It was spoken with despondency and Kakashi frowned in concern.
(Before he closed the door though, he felt a brief flair of chakra from the opposite building and recognized the ANBU signature. So ANBU shadowed the boy to his apartment but then…What about his parents?)
Tucked in by three blankets, Kakashi rested his tired head against the arm of the couch with Naruto – dry, warm, and significantly miserable – curled against his side. The boy was currently doing an excellent impression of a kicked puppy, donned in clothing he hadn't seen since his younger years. Slightly groggy, Kakashi considered how Naruto refused to tell him anything and decided to try again.
He tried to cajole the sniffling little bundle on his couch. "Naruto...I need to know what happened..."
The blond child furrowed himself closer against his ribcage and responded, "...Kakashi-nii..."
Ruffling his charge's hair gently, he murmured, "Naruto-chan."
"...Naru-chan...Tell me please?"
"Naru-chan." He sighed deeply, chest aching; Naruto reciprocated with a sob.
"Kaka...nii...I...I...got scared so I came here..."
"Kakashi-nii...You won't yell right?" came the muffled question.
"I..." He coughed, startling the boy, before he responded tiredly, "Why would I yell...?"
Naruto tucked his head closer to Kakashi's heart. "I don't like yelling...Mom and dad...They..."
Kakashi breathed deeply, understanding the situation with increasing clarity. His parents must have gotten into a loud argument and Naruto, scared by the uncontrollable situation, ran off.
'He ran to me' was quite poignant in his befuddled mind and the only passable response he could manage was, "No...Naruto-chan. I won't yell at you."
"Good..." Sniffling, Naruto pressed his wet face against his shirt and fell silent.
Kakashi shifted lightly, wincing as his limbs ached terribly with each move. He managed to wrap the blanket securely around them both, eyes drooping with exhaustion. Deciding that he wasn't lucid enough to deal with this mess, he wondered if he had enough focus and energy to summon Pakkun again. After all, he was positive that the Namikaze household would be in an uproar right about now with the disappearance of their only son.
Unfortunately he only had those thoughts in mind and wasn't able to act upon them. He soon fell asleep with Naruto in his arms, the child's hands clenching tightly around the loose material of his t-shirt.
For a second time that night, he woke with a start, headache building in intensity and ears roaring with protest. He could hear the knocking coming from his door and groaned quietly. Beside him, Naruto murmured pitifully as he jostled.
The tapping against his door persisted and soon, the chakra signature of the Yondaime Hokage seeped into the room, an unmistakable hint of parental worry mixed into the energy.
He sighed heavily; all he wanted was sleep. Pressing a fevered forehead against the cushions, he pulled himself up from the warm clutches of slumber and stumbled off the couch. He slowly turned around, pausing, eyes searching his charge before releasing a sigh. Forehead scrunched lightly, Naruto slept on, oblivious, twining the blankets more firmly around his tiny legs and arms.
Swaying lightly on his feet, Kakashi rubbed his aching arms and slowly made his way to the entrance, unceremoniously opening the door for his Hokage. In front of him stood Minato, uncharacteristically frazzled as he blinked guiltily, seemingly a tad nervous, awkward, and frantic. If Kakashi was in an articulate state of mind, he would've understood the plethora of emotions more fully and responded accordingly.
As it was, he didn't understand and the Yondaime started to babble, wringing his hands together, "I'm sorry Kakashi for bothering you so late at night but one of them – I mean the ANBU – shadowed Naruto to your place. And I, well, the ANBU alerted me that he came to you – well only after – I mean, what happened was that Kushina and I, we were arguing and I guess it got out of hand…But Naruto – he left and the ANBU told us after we calmed down and I can't believe we let that happen when we should have noticed – I – Naruto probably hates us and-!"
Kakashi finally halted the self-deprecating party, pinching the ridge of his nose. "Sensei. Couch." He gestured vaguely with a shaking hand towards the general area. "He's alright…Asleep."
Azure eyes crinkled. "I-Can I…?"
"Ah...Go...ahead." He leaned against the door, shuddering.
"Did he give you trouble...?" But when he crossed the threshold into the apartment, Minato paused as he finally looked at his last student. The older man peered at him concernedly, one hand reaching out. "…Are you alright, Kakashi?"
Slowly unravelling the question, he nodded tiredly - belatedly. "Yes...No…Couch…" Slightly disoriented, Kakashi turned on his heels, intent to show Minato to his son, but a clammy sensation invaded his senses.
Knees buckling, his vision spiralled into darkness.
He passed out cold.
"Kakashi-nii, you're awake!"
He muffled a groan when he heard the joyful, shrill squeal – a huge contrast to the sniffles – against his shoulder. "Ah. So I am Naruto-chan…" He winced, voice raspy.
"Kakashi-kun, how are you feeling?"
He craned his head to the side and saw Kushina sitting in the uncomfortable plastic chair by his bed. Closing his eyes from the prying hospital lights, he muttered honestly, "Sick."
The red-haired matriarch hummed, displeased with his condition and plucked an apple from the fruit basket. Although the modulations were calm, her voice carried a diamond edge as she explained the situation, "You shocked your sensei." Naruto pouted and poked Kakashi against his side. "We were so worried!"
He rested a heavy hand on the child's shoulder, placating. Well, he did faint, an act that he wasn't usually prone to do, so he wasn't exactly surprised by the reactions.
"You had a 103 degrees Fahrenheit fever."
"Ah." That'd explain why he felt so groggy.
Here, she paused in peeling the apple to frown disapprovingly at him. "Minato mentioned that he nearly saw your genius brain ooze out of your ears."
He sighed knowing that his sensei wouldn't put it in such ineloquent terms. But nonetheless accepting, he uttered monosyllable, "I see."
Kushina sputtered and lectured him, "You're twenty-one for goodness sakes! Take better care of yourself."
"I-" But he was cut off by her rant.
"You were alone! You could have died if we..." Her expression softened, almost pained. "Why didn't you tell us?"
He shifted imperceptibly, uncomfortable physically and emotionally.
Us implied them – Minato, Kushina, and Naruto.
He frowned. "That I was sick...?" Why would I tell you...?
Kushina looked ready to protest once more when she picked up on his uncertainty but he didn't give her a chance. He spoke hurriedly, "I didn't realize it was quite so serious until I woke up just now in the hospital, Kushina-san."
"Kakashi-kun..." She sighed and reigned in her mothering nature.
He observed her tired slouch. "Sorry, Kushina-san," he mumbled sincerely. He wasn't too sure of what he was apologizing for, but gut instincts told him it was right to do so just then.
Imploring, the perceptive child babbled after he was sure Kushina's fiery rage abated. "Yea, don't be mad mommy! I'm sure it's just 'cus Kaka-nii doesn't know better. That's what Kiba's mom always tells you when I'm being naughty..."
Kakashi was grateful for the support even as Kushina smiled indulgently, "That's different, my little fishcake."
Naruto yelped indignantly, which Kakashi perceived louder than usual with the boy so close to his ear. Namikaze's son protested, cheeks expanding, "I'm not a fishcake."
"Then you're my honeybee."
Kakashi stifled the snicker when he saw the moody blush of red stained on the child's cheeks. Thought process more coherent than yesterday, he suggested belatedly at the bundle under his chin, "You shouldn't stay so close to me, Naru-chan...You don't want to get sick."
Naruto leaned against his shoulder, cerulean eyes peering at him happily. "Mommy says it's okay 'cause I got needled already."
Tired eyes flickered to the matriarch questioningly. Kushina supplied helpfully, "He's been vaccinated."
He politely ignored the muttered 'which is more than I can say about you...' and asked teasingly, "Did it hurt, Naruto-chan?"
The proud face told him everything. "Of course not!" Naruto leapt up excitedly and pillowed himself on Kakashi's chest. He was hard pressed to hide the wince as his sore limbs protested.
Thankfully, the ex-kunoichi noticed and immediately chastised her blond son, "Maybe you should get off the bed, honey. Your Kakashi-nii needs his rest."
"But its comfy here!" whined Naruto, bottom lip protruded in a begging pout.
Wilting under the promise of a reprimand if he refused, he replied meekly, "Alright mommy."
Kakashi released an inaudible sigh when Naruto clambered off his left arm and into the chair situated beside Kushina. With amusement, he watched as Naruto stole glances at the comfortable bed then at his mom before picking at the rough texture of the plastic chair.
Bereft of her ire, Kushina sighed and carefully smoothed out his wrinkled blankets, removing Naruto's imprint. Kakashi didn't complain as he observed her actions with mild curiosity.
When she returned to peeling the apple in her hands, he spoke quietly, "I'm alright, Kushina-san. Thank you...but you don't..." You don't have to stay anymore.
She returned his sentiments with a dry, incredulous look. "It's only morning and I have a lot of time on my hands, Kakashi-kun, so entertain us for a little while longer?"
He stopped drawing circles on his seat to gaze at them. "Are we leaving mommy?" Naruto tilted his head as he tried to understand the stilted conversation.
Coughing into a closed fist, he replied, "I don't want to be a burden."
"I'll have none of that." Kushina then ruffled Naruto's mop of golden hair and added to the benefit of her child, "No Naru-chan. We're not leaving yet."
"Good." Naruto pressed himself against the railings of the bed and grinned, "We gotta watch Kaka-nii, right?"
"Watch me-?" Kakashi rasped out. "Don't I get a say in-"
"Mhmm...That's right or else your daddy might be disappointed in us," interrupted Kushina as she continued to peel the apple. "And speaking of your daddy, we're also waiting for him to show up so that we can get lunch together...Would you like that, Naruto?"
She also added good-humouredly, "We'll be sure to order some takeout for you, Kakashi-kun."
His stomach protested at the thought of food but he responded cordially, "Ah-thanks."
Naruto swung his legs out for a moment before dropping to the ground, announcing, "I gotta use the bathroom."
Kakashi snorted, before snuffing his snickers-turned-coughs into his pillow. For all his troubles though, he was swatted on the arm – albeit gently – by the unimpressed mother for laughing at her boy.
"Alright then." Kushina nudged her child towards the connecting washroom. "You know where it is, right?"
"Of course." Puffing out his chest proudly, he scampered into the toilet area, closing the door quietly behind him.
Kushina shook her head fondly and halved the naked apple in her hand. "They grow up so fast...I can still remember the days when I cradled him to sleep...And now..."
"You know Kakashi-kun. I still haven't thanked you for what you did yesterday night."
"You don't have to, Kushina-san." Kakashi splayed a hand over his chest and tilted his head to glance at Kushina with one eye. "I couldn't leave Naruto sitting outside in the rain like that..."
Kushina shook her head and cleaved another apple. "I'm really glad Naruto trusts you so much."
"I'm actually – we're actually – quite embarrassed and guilty over what happened...I mean..."
Kakashi was surprised when Kushina ducked her head in actual awkwardness. He waited for her to continue.
"You see...Minato and I...We had an argument but it's so silly in hindsight to argue over something like – like that...And in front of Naruto no less!" She offered a sheepish smile, uncharacteristically coy. "Well...It's just that we...Heh..."
"You don't have to tell me, Kushina-san, if you don't-"
"Wewantanotherbaby," was the jumbled explanation. There was a brief silence until the red-head laughed nervously, her cheeks glowing cherry; Kakashi coughed through the tension. "Oh. Oh what am I saying? You probably-Oh."
"...I see." Kakashi looked away, feeling his ears burn in mortified sympathy before his face heated up belatedly. Why is she...telling me?
She looked down at the nearly forgotten apple and cleaved another quarter. "-Sorry. I shouldn't have sprung that conversation on you."
Kakashi gathered his wits slowly and spoke in a – hopefully – reassuring manner. "No...It's fine."
"We wanted another opinion." She included firmly, mouth smoothing into a lovely smile. "We wanted an opinion that we trusted – one that came from our precious people."
Under the palm of his hand, he felt his heart skip a beat at the insinuation. He was...He was one of their precious people? Despite his self-control, his lips were curving upwards rebelliously.
"But enough of that...I'll never stop blushing if we keep talking about this...Hum..." Eyes twinkling, Kushina appraised him before proffering the piece of fruit in her hand. "Apple?"
Kakashi saw the gentle, genuine smile and gradually, he returned the gesture with one of his own. Taking the fruit between numb fingers as Naruto came bounding back towards them, he wondered idly when he got adopted into the – dare he say –
A/N: Fluff for all :).
I'd like to add – the flu is not fun.
And uh, please ignore that tiny, tiny detail that Kakashi is a kickass ninja at his prime and should theoretically not be as susceptible to influenza, kay? (And he should've also gotten that vaccination since he's ANBU but let's just say there was a mishap at the hospital...)
Plot holes are wonderful, aren't they?