Son of a Man

When his father died, Kakashi told himself that ninja's didn't cry. It was a strict part of the code; so when his father took his own life, leaving his son, a fragile child of the world alone, he told himself crying would only shame him.

Ever since that day, he only sought to appease himself. His father was rejected for putting the lives of his comrades over the mission. His father had compassion.

So Kakashi chose to have none.

For years he became more like an artificial ninja, emotionless, blank, caring for his mission, and the perfect application of the Ninja Way. It became completely who he was, consuming him into something quite twisted.

The line between everything he was as a foolish young man, and the adult he was now, was fine, but he had grown away from his childhood self. Kakashi could clearly remember the days he'd have left his dear comrades to die if it meant the mission was completed.

The topic of his father was a delicate one, Kakashi behaved like the White Fang was a disgrace, but in honesty, his father was everything but a disgrace. His father had been his hero when he was small, he'd raised Kakashi; he'd held his hand and taught him to fight. He'd said, 'Grow up to be a real man'.

That man was a hero.

But ever since he failed that mission, nobody, not one person would ever call Konoha's White Fang a hero again. The cruel whispers and hate from the village drove his father to take his own life, and even then, people looked to Kakashi with sympathy, 'Pity him, his father was a coward, he must be so ashamed'.

Kakashi's Sensei was a good man, but even he refused to touch the delicate topic of the White Fang with his student.

Infact in the entire world, there wasn't one person who could break through the barriers Kakashi built around himself. For so many years, he hid behind the Ninja Code, his ambition for power… until Obito changed him.

"The White Fang was a true hero."

All he had to say was those words, and the barriers Kakashi thought were strong fell at his feet. He felt like crying…

That was the same day Obito lost his life, and he gave Kakashi his. He'd saved him, and his greatest regret was that he couldn't save Obito, he couldn't even fulfil his promise to him: to protect Rin.

It had been so many years, and Kakashi would stand by their K.I.A. stone, with such strong feelings of regret. He'd lost both of them, if not on that day, over time.

Obito had brought him back to life. Dutifully, he'd ask them for forgiveness every day.

***

On the day he'd lost his Sensei, he met a little boy who'd just lost his parents.

His name was Iruka Umino; his parents had been fighting the Nine-Tailed-Fox, like so many others who lost their lives. After the battle, the survivors were greeting their families, Kakashi who'd been only a young man himself, had been stood watching at the door. Many people had lost their family, but Iruka had stood out to him.

He was all alone, like Kakashi had been at that age. The boy had brown eyes which were filled with hope, yet red from crying, staring at the door, fiddling with his shirt, craning his neck to see if his parents were coming.

Even after everyone else had left, he'd stood there, in the same position, waiting and watching. And then, after a while, he fell onto his knees, and began to cry.

For that moment, Iruka had seemed… very human to him. All he could think about was how much he'd wanted to cry when his father died.

One of the others had gone to go and speak to the boy, but Kakashi raised a hand to stop him. He'd walked to Iruka, and sat down beside him.

The boy had looked up at first, ready to recoil, and ready to run away from just another person who could offer him no comfort in his parents' death. But then he saw Kakashi's face. There was something about that look, which made him feel it was okay to stay like this, just for a little longer.

Later that evening, many of the ANBU said they were surprised at Kakashi. He'd sat with an arm around the sobbing child's trembling shoulders, completely silent, but there was a story in his eyes.

Kakashi had merely shrugged at them, and said he was allowed to have a heart if he was off-duty.

Looking back, the copy ninja smirked to himself as he remembered, and wondered if Iruka too remembered that day. He sat back in his comfortable position in the tree; watching his three students in the field. The mission had been to clean the litter in the field, but he could see they were just playing now.

He rolled his eyes as he saw Naruto waving his litter bag from his head, and chasing after Sakura, who was shaking him away with her fists.

"Life is good, Obito," he murmured, chuckling to himself.

"Hey, Kakashi-Sensei!"

Glancing down, he saw Naruto and Sakura waving at him from the bottom of the tree, with a tired little shrug, he waved back, jumping down.