"Mama! Where are you going?!"

"Sweetie, I have to go out today. It's really really important."

The little girl with her father's sparkling silver hair pouted.

"But it's my fourth birthday! Do you know how often those come around!?" she whined. Her mother laughed, brunette hair bouncing slightly as her husband came down the stairs with an obi for the child's bright blue kimono.

"Kimiko, you shouldn't run off like that! You scared me!" he scolded. Kimiko looked at him and then at her mother, a pleading look in her eyes.

"Ma. Don't worry Kimiko-hime. I'll be back in time for the party! I promise!"

"...Okay, mama. Don't let me down, okay?"

"You have my word. Kakashi?" she asked as he bent down to tie the colorful ribbon around his daughter's waist.

"Hai?"

"You gonna be able to hold your own? You have difficulties with her when she Isn't excited."

"Nami, relax! We'll be fine! You go on! We'll just play a board game or something! Trust me." Nami sighed and stared at Kakashi with big blue eyes.

"The last time you said to trust you, Akari-neesan and I had to rescue you from a horde of angry Kumo nin."

"Well, this is different. This is about Kimiko." Kakashi countered, reassuring her with his charcoal colored eyes.

"...Alright. I'll see you two soon, so be good, Okay? Both of you!"

"Yes Ma'am!" two voices rang, reassuring Nami as much as possible. It still wasn't enough, but she smiled and left for Konoha gate Seven. Nami was to serve as an ambassador for some higher up from Kirigakure, and even now, she was regretting the job wholeheartedly. Oh, how she hated kimono's...

'Note to self: Never, EVER, let four year olds play Ninja style SORRY. It is a Very bad idea.' Kakashi thought, having just repaired the walls that were full of kunai holes and explaining to his daughter just how angry mommy would be if she came back to that. He was bent over, about to wipe a bit of the caulk off of his daughter's cheek, when there was a loud crash from the large kitchen window. The sound of breaking glass sent Kakashi's mind into survive-protect mode, and he grabbed Kimiko, dashing up the stairs and hiding themselves under Kimiko's bed.

Kakashi's chest heaved in as he recognized a voice.

"Haku, you search there, I'll search the kids bedroom."

Kimiko whimpered as her door opened, and Kakashi gently put a hand over her mouth to tell her to be quiet and still. Kakashi recognized the gruff voice as someone he had fought and won against when he was younger and went completely rigid.

It was none other than Momochi Zabuza.

Kakashi would've never admitted it to anyone but Nami, but he was truly scared, no- Terrified, for his daughter's well being. His faith is his own physical ability to protect her was waning, and his hiding place wasn't exactly the best, since he'd had no time to hide her in the cellar like they had planned in case of an emergency like this. His heart pounded in his head when he saw Zabuza's shoes next to the bed, and then saw a knee drop down, hand on the frilly, sky blue, bed skirt. Apparently Zabuza thought otherwise about looking under the bed and stood, and Kimiko let out a small whimper as he withdrew. Haku, Zabuza's apprentice, entered also, and his voice sounded a little too close for comfort.

"Maybe the girl is out with friends? It being her birthday and all."

"How do you know it's her birthday?"

"Big banner in the front hallway." Haku said as he sat on the bed. The springs under him stopped terribly close to Kakashi's ear.

"Ah."

Kimiko squirmed closer to Kakashi, who was, at the moment, the only thing between her and the many toys that would definitely give them away if touched or moved. Kakashi held her close and buried his face in her neck, compelled to, possibly for the last time, tell his daughter that he loved her, but kept silent. He feared the worst, but there was still hope...

He gasped as Zabuza's face glared at him from the other side of the bed. Kimiko screamed as she was wrenched from his grasp.

"KIMIKO!"

"Well, well, what have we here?" Zabuza asked, leaning close to Kimiko's terrified face. She whimpered and started to cry.

"Put her down, Zabuza." Kakashi growled, trying desperately to keep his head as he suddenly appeared from his hiding place. If he lost it now...they'd... they'd kill his little girl... Kakashi derailed the thought immediately and focused on his opponent, noting changes from the last time they had fought.

Momochi Zabuza was leaner now, not so muscle bound, which meant that if it came to a fight, (which it undoubtedly would,) He would be much more agile and harder to land a hit on. Haku was more masculine than before, but still had a lean build. Kakashi groaned mentally. This was going to be a rough fight and he had a horrible nagging feeling that he and Kimiko were totally and utterly screwed.

"Kakashi? Long time no see copy-nin." Zabuza greeted sarcastically. He took a glance at the girl, then at Kakashi. There were more than a few similarities.

"Put her down, and let her go,Zabuza." Kakashi snarled. Zabuza narrowed his eyes, and handed the girl to Haku.

"Sorry. Can't do that. I'm getting paid a lot of money for the bounty on her head." Zabuza said coldly. Haku held Kimiko with a vise grip and she squeaked as she was suddenly pulled toward the young hunter nin. Zabuza swung his massive sword around, pointed it at Kakashi, and charged.

His vision swam, his body ached, and he could feel the blood draining from his torn and beaten limbs. But still, despite the injuries, Hatake Kakashi would fight until he died if he had to. They were Not taking Kimiko from him! He silently semi-thanked Kami for making Haku jump into the fight. He had let go of Kimiko and Kakashi knew she had run to her hiding place. But knowing Zabuza, it probably wouldn't be enough to keep him away from his little Kimiko-hime. He had to keep fighting! After a while, though Haku was out cold, Zabuza easily sidestepped a punch that, despite Kakashi's best effort, was so slow, a small child could've dodged it and sighed.

"Kakashi, why are you still fighting? You lost. Get over it. The girl is coming with me."

"N-NO!" Kakashi choked out. "Y-You can't! You can't take her away from me!" Zabuza cocked an eyebrow at Kakashi. He took in the tears streaming down the face of his opponent, mask torn and ripped, and the small steps Kakashi had to take to steady himself as he turned around. Zabuza shuddered at the injuries, and wondered why in the world Kakashi would fight this hard. The man was about to either pass out from extreme exhaustion or a horrible case of blood loss, yet the little girl hiding in the storm room in the cellar was so important to him that he still fought to keep her safe.

"Kakashi, You're about to pass out. There's nothing you can do."

"YOU CAN'T TAKE HER! P-please... don't take my daughter from me! Please Zabuza. She and her mother are the only things in this world that I truly love... Please! Please don't... " Kakashi pleaded. His knees gave way as they could no longer support his weight, and Kakashi gasped at the wave of pain that shot through his body. He coughed up blood, but still shakily stood up again to face Zabuza, ignoring the way his entire body shook because of the extreme abuse. Zabuza's eyes widened.

"Y-You're daughter?" Zabuza asked. Kakashi nodded.

"Yes... Please...Please just leave us alone..." Kakashi begged. He had no other options. Zabuza was right. Kakashi was beaten, in every and all sense of the word. If Zabuza wanted to just kill him now and take his daughter, he could do it easily. Although having died before seeing Kimiko hauled off, was better than living and having to helplessly watch, Kakashi reasoned. Zabuza lowered his ten foot long sword to the floor, mulling over the fact that the little girl that he'd been about to take away was Kakashi's daughter, and how faithful a father Kakashi was to her. He looked at Kakashi, who had crouched down, shakily clutching his middle, either due to pain or fatigue. Possibly, (and probably), both. Zabuza sighed, eying Haku's unconscious body lying by the door.

"You have exactly two years before I come back. I'll give you that long to say goodbye, but if you try to fight me after that, I'm not going to let you or her mother live..." he said as he picked up Haku and disappeared. Kakashi stared after him for a moment, let out a relieved sigh, and passed out.

Kimiko cried with relief when Kakashi finally woke up in the hospital. Nami stood beside her, looking at Kakashi with red, puffy eyes. He could tell, throbbing and foggy as his head was, that she'd been crying too. He sighed, reliving the last few moments before he passed out with dread. How was he going to explain this to Nami? To Kimiko? He shook away the thought and smiled as his daughter climbed onto the bed and hugged him.

"Daddy!" she wailed into his chest. He rubbed her back slowly.

"It's okay. It's okay, Kimiko. It's alright..."

6 months later:

Nami scowled at the man sitting behind the hokage desk and glared hard.

"This man is after my daughter! How do I know if he's punctual or not!? For all I know, he could be lying, Naruto!"

"I know that! But we're on the brink of War, Nami. I can't give you an entire month. I can barely give you a week at most!" he yelled.

Nami scowled. The look on his face said he wasn't budging, so she admitted defeat and sighed.

"Fine. A full week. Nothing less."

"Alright."

A year and a half afterward:

Kakashi laughed as Kimiko splashed water on him, Zabuza and his promise to return forgotten for a blissful summer day. It was Kimiko's sixth birthday, late in the evening, and she was playing with her mother in a small blow up pool in the backyard.

"Daddy, Look! Look at that big star!"she exclaimed, just as the doorbell rang. Kakashi laughed with her, before remembering the time and wondering who,exactly, would be ringing someones doorbell at this hour. He went inside and put his hand on the doorknob when Zabuza's parting words flooded back into his mind.

'"You have exactly two years before I come back. I'll give you that long to say goodbye, but if you try to fight me after that, I'm not going to let you or her mother live..." ' he gulped, all color gone from his face.

'No!' he thought. 'Oh, Kami, please! No!'

He opened the door and shook his head. Momochi Zabuza stood in his doorway, sword strapped to his back, with a look of regret on his face. Kakashi's eyes teared up as he stepped back in horror.

"No... No, please, Zabuza... don't...please!" he begged. In a way, he was begging for his life, because Kimiko meant that much to him.

"Kakashi..." Zabuza sighed.

"Please! Y-You Can't! Don't do this to me, Zabuza! Don't do this to my family! Please don't!"

"Kakashi? AHH!!!" Nami yelled when she saw Zabuza. Kimiko, who had followed her mother in, gasped and started silently crying, clutching her mother's legs with every ounce of strength her little body had. Nami's head shook in disbelief. Zabuza... He couldn't take her baby! NO!

"Zabuza, Please! A-at least give us more time! Please don't!" Kakashi pleaded. The little girl whimpered.

Zabuza's auburn eyes took in the whole scene. Kakashi's wife's eyes were wide with horror, the little girl looked terrified, tears flowing from her pretty blue eyes, and Kakashi was about to start crying too.

"Kakashi!" Zabuza barked. Kakashi jumped and took a step back, tense and ready to jump in front of Nami and Kimiko, to fight off Zabuza so that they could run.

"I'm not here to take her from you. Can I come in please?" He asked. Kakashi, albeit startled and a bit suspicious, moved so that Zabuza could come in. He stopped and bent down in front of Kimiko, who had warily poked her head from behind her mother. "Hey, It's your birthday today, ain't it, kid?" he asked. Kimiko nodded suspiciously, brows knit together in a scared pout. Zabuza smiled and produced a medium sized gray box from behind his back.

"Good, cause I gotcha something. Go on, open it. It might lick ya but she won't bite!" he laughed.

Kimiko looked up at him before taking it, slowly lifting the lid of the box. But before it even hit the millimeter mark, a greyish white blob attacked her, licking her face and barking happily. Kimiko giggled and laughed as the wolf puppy barked at her, tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. She hugged the puppy and set it on the floor beside her as her face went deathly serious. Her mother glanced at Zabuza.

"Mister Zabuza-san...." Kimiko began quietly. "Did you give me the puppy because you're gonna take me away from my mommy and daddy?" she asked. The dog went silent and looked at him. Zabuza sighed and shook his head.

"No. I gave you the puppy 'cause I wanted to get you something for your birthday and to say that I'm sorry for scaring you the last time I was here. Am I forgiven?" he asked. Kimiko glanced at her parents before smiling.

"Yes, Mister Zabuza san. I forgive you. And thank you for puppy-chan." she laughed. Nami smiled and bent down.

"Kimiko-hime, why don't we take puppy-chan outside so we can play with her?" she asked. Kimiko jumped to her feet with the puppy in her arms and dashed into the backyard. Nami glanced at Kakashi and Zabuza before following.

Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief.

'So, Zabuza... What made you change your mind?" Kakashi asked, leaning against the back of the couch with the facial expression of one very relieved father. Zabuza scoffed and shook his head.

"... The man buying her from me turned out to be an abusive pedophile. I'm a mercenary, Kakashi. Not a monster... When I saw what he was doing to that poor little girl that had been there when he hired me... No one should ever have to live through that... I thought of your kid... and as soon as it went through my mind, I socked the teme in the face as hard as I could and helped the little girl off of him. Ironic how she looked at me like I was her savior... The mans dead so you know..." Zabuza said quietly. Kakashi's eyes were wide, and he mused over what could've happened to his daughter- His Kimiko-hime- had Zabuza not had the heart to give him the time he was given.

"There's somethin else, huh, Zabuza?" Kakashi asked. Zabuza sighed.

"Yeah. After that, he realized that Haku and I didnt have your kid. I should never have let Haku alone... He killed him Kakashi. I found out what it felt like to lose someone... I couldnt do that to you, your wife... your little girl...

"Kakashi, your daughters' forgiven me, but she's just a little girl. I hurt you, and terrorized your family. Can you forgive me for that?" Zabuza asked. Kakashi stared at him for a moment, before grinning as he shrugged.

"I guess, since you asked nicely." he scoffed. Zabuza mock punched his arm.

"Baka..."

"Yes, he is, but he's my Kaka-baka, and he's still healing up from some of those injuries, Zabuza-san." a woman's voice chided. Zabuza looked at Nami, ashamed.

"But, seeing as how you asked to be forgiven, I guess I can do that. Now the Forgetting part of the whole "forgive and forget" thing is gonna take a little while. But yeah. We forgive ya." she laughed. Zabuza sighed in relief.

"Thank you... I guess I'd better head out now. See you around Hatake-san." He said before vanishing. Soon, the only thing the couple could hear, was Kimiko, laughing her head off with the wolf pup. They smiled and went to go play with their daughter.