Ten Swords for Solace
A Xenocide Production

AN: One more sword to go, dear readers. Suggestions are welcome, if you care to make them.

Enjoy and review…please?

Summary: A keen blade can be as soothing as a mother's lullaby. Unsheathe me, child, and I will sing for you.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Thank God.

9. In the Academy, the children are taught that dying for your village is the noblest and most glorious thing that any shinobi could ever hope to achieve. They are taught songs and rhymes that glorify past martyrs of Konoha, the valiant Senju, the steadfast Aburame, the wild Inuzuka, and yes, even the fierce Uchiha who loved their home and defended it unto their dying breath.

The boys longed to be as great as their heroes, to fight against unimaginable odds and somehow come out all right in the end. And even if they died in the course of battle, what was death but the chance to become gods in the shinobi's pantheon of deified dead? They lived and breathed the tales of the Wily Professor, their venerated Third Hokage, the Toad Sage Jiraiya, master of fuuinjutsu and as chivalrous as he was perverted, and the Fourth Hokage, the strongest shinobi of his generation and who made the ultimate sacrifice in the battle against the most heinous of all demons. Yes, being a hero was everything. And dying was even more.

The girls, well, they were short on heroes of their own ilk, but they nevertheless were inspired by the tales of tragic romance, sly and cunning female assassins, and women who could level mountains with a single blow of their fists. Who would not wish to be embroiled in a grand romance with a man worthy of their skills as shinobi and perhaps even die alongside them in battle, to be remembered as women of peerless skill, ferocious spirit, and boundless beauty? What girl would not wish to die in the arms of her lover, after avenging his death at the hands of his enemies? Who would not cherish the idea of being an idol to every little girl who ever dreamed that spilling blood was a glorious thing? Tsunade, the Slug Princess, became the pinnacle of every female shinobi's ambitions. No girl ever imagined that Tsunade had withstood more pain, seen more death, and spilled more tears than they could ever fathom getting to where she was.

Many children discovered far too late that the songs and stories they had been taught in the Academy were merely that: songs and stories. They did not aid you when the enemy had his hands around your throat, smiling grimly as he choked the breath from you. They did not ease the pain and bewilderment of the walking dead, disemboweled by a slicing blow of a kunai and vainly trying to stuff their insides back under their skin. They provided no comfort to the dying as their vision faded and they cried aloud for their mothers.

As Kakashi lay buried up to his shoulders in rubble, tired, defeated, the life ebbing from him in crimson droplets and waves of weariness, he fleetingly thought back to his childhood, before the death of his father, and marveled at how very much he wanted to be his father, the savior of a village, and a hero to his son. Sakumo never told his son war stories, but Kakashi had heard more than enough of them from his friends and his father's comrades. How splendid it would be, if the son could follow his father's footsteps, become a hero, and possibly perish defending the people and the village he loved.

But, as houses built of childish dreams and playing cards are wont to do, it all came crashing down when his father died in disgrace and dishonor. Kakashi's views of heroism and death were tarnished by the suicide of his father and with each successive death that he witnessed in the War.

Kakashi buried his idealism and his dreams with Obito's corpse, spat on his childhood when Rin became MIA, and he became an embattled soldier, desperate to keep himself, and perhaps what few comrades he could, from a cold grave. There was no glory in dying. There was no honor in killing. You fought for the soldier next to you and prayed that you lived to see the next day.

When his eyes began to droop for the final time, Kakashi's last thought was that he'd be damned if anyone sang any songs for him or told stories of his exploits. No child would die with Kakashi's name on their lips.

Kakashi blinked, and found himself a few paces away from a merry campfire and a familiar figure that sat upon a log, idly poking the coals with a stick. He hesitated for a long moment, then walked forward, finding his own seat on a log.

"Hello, father. I have a story I'd like to tell you. Please listen."