**IMPORTANT NOTE: READ THIS**
After sitting down and outlining the changes this fic already made to the canon timeline vs how far the manga has gone (even in just the last year!) verses my ever-shrinking amount of free time... I've come to the conclusion that this will be the last chapter of this fic.
I started this fic three years ago and I'm up to the Chuunin exams. I barely follow the manga anymore, and to continue this even up to the Time Skip all the while accounting for the changes I've already made is... daunting.
No doubt some people will call me lazy, but I'm working two jobs and even the monthly updates are hard to keep up with. I don't want this fic to become a chore. I also don't want it to die out. I know myself: If I get off my monthly update schedule to "take time off", it won't get updated at all. I do not want this to become another abandoned Naruto Time Travel fic.
Despite all that, I've enjoyed writing this fic. I'm pretty sure most of you have enjoyed reading it. :) So here it is, the final chapter of Teach Your Children Well.
Kakashi knew something big was going to happen today. It wasn't that he was that good (although seriously, he was) but he'd been taking care to follow the Chuunin exams closely and knew that the events that had happened in the original timeline hadn't proceeded at the same pace at all. There had been no attack in the forest by Orochimaru. No unusual dead genin team. In other words, everything about this exam had gone exactly as normal. Of course, for the Village Hidden in the Leaves, that was not normal at all.
Kakashi knew Orochimaru was too obsessive to simply let his dream of owning an Uchiha body go that quietly. Sasuke not appearing in the exams would be only a minor setback.
This day, one timeline ago, had been the day that the snake sannin had attacked Team 7 in the forest the first time. One thing that Kakashi was starting to realize was no matter how little or much he changed the timeline, some prime events remained the same.
So Kakashi had masked his chakra carefully and camped out in watchful vigil over the Hatake compound.
He had expected Orochimaru to appear in one form or another - possibly even for him to try to sneak onto the compound and spy. Kakashi hadn't expected an all out attack. But it was most likely that Orochimaru had other ways of invisibly spying. He must have seen Sasuke alone, with only the protection of his genin teammates and the Sand Siblings.
It must have made a tempting target.
Kakashi still hadn't expected the boldness of the attack.
He flashed out of the tree, pushing up his headband to reveal his sharingan eye. It showed him how the large snake went for Naruto first. And it showed Kakashi, in the vivid detail only a sharingan could, Naruto being swallowed whole.
For a few heart stopping seconds Kakashi knew he had failed the boy. Surely, this hadn't happened in the original timeline. Kakashi had come back, done everything he could - and the failure tasted bitter. The most bitter he had ever felt in his long, tragic life.
Then the scales of the snake bulged out slightly, then a little more, and split with a disgusting ripping sound. Dozens of Naruto clones fell out of the body.
Kakashi smiled grimly under his mask and landed in a crouch upon the courtyard, putting himself in front of the Sand Siblings, Sasuke, and Sakura.
Naruto, still sticky with goo, was crawling away. He looked unhurt, but even if he were injured it didn't really matter. The nine-tails would protect him.
What was left of the snake contracted within itself in front of the horrified students eyes. Kakashi himself was a little more impressed than grossed out, but judging by the sounds everyone made except for Gaara, he was the only one. The snake skin shed itself, crinkled and dried in front of them, then rose up to form a man-sized shell. A man's hand clawed its way out of the shell that was left. Then Orochimaru calmly stepped out.
Kakashi had been the Hokage at one point, and he held nothing back. Even then, Orochimaru was fierce and the sword that he held even fiercer.
Kakashi heard Naruto in the distance screaming his name as if it were a match. Their fight (and especially the attack by the snake summon) couldn't fail to bring the attention of the rest of the village. ANBU flickered to their aid, but they fell whenever Orochimaru turned his attention to them.
Kakashi was a powerful Jonin, but it was all he could do to hold himself against Orochimaru and his evil bag of tricks.
And he knew, knew with bone-deep certainty that he was going to lose.
It had only happened to him once before, when Pain had invaded the village. Kakashi had made a choice then and, looking at his students nearby, he knew he'd have to make another now. Even the best Gaara could do was to build a sand wall to protect them.
It was Kakashi's duty - his calling - to do everything he could to protect those under his charge. And he would.
Kakashi sent a prayer up and switched over to the Mangekyō sharingan.
The sword came for him again and this time he used the Kamui to send it to another dimension.
Orochimaru's scream of rage could barely be heard as Kakashi felt himself weaken. The strain on his chakra was incredible. He hadn't bother to try the Kamui since he had traveled back. His body here wouldn't be used to the chakra drain, and he felt it at once. It took all of his effort to block Orochimaru's next attack.
He might have fallen at that point if not had two waiting ANBU rushed into the fray. Kakashi rested his palms on his knees and tried to breathe deeply. Tried to calm his suddenly straining heart.
It took Orochimaru a few moments to dispatch the ANBU. Then he turned his attention past Kakashi to the students. Kakashi saw greed in his eyes. This must be a treasure trove to him. Young bodies. Two jinchuurikis. The sharingan, and young, powerful bloodlines. Even Sakura was well advanced in taijustsu by now.
"No," Kakashi said. Then he activated the Kamui again.
The world distorted around Orochimaru and the Snake Sannin moved as if to flicker free. But something caught him and held on. Kakashi's unfocused gaze caught a sticky patch of sand at the sannin's feet, a single sand tentacle wrapped around his ankle. It would hold him maybe a second or two, but it would be more than enough.
Space itself distorted around Orochimaru. Distorted and sucked in.
Kakashi felt almost as if a piece of himself were being sucked as well. A vital bit of life leeching out into the other dimension. He was falling to the knees even as the last of the former sannin's cry of shock and rage fell away.
He didn't feel himself hit the ground, and it felt like the darkness were swallowing him up. His sluggish heart beat once - twice, then stuttered. Kakashi closed his eyes. Both of them, and let death take him.
Or so he thought.
Kakashi opened his eyes. And looked around. Or rather, he opened his eye as one was covered by the patch over his sharingan eye. The one he had taken to wearing ever since they forced him into the hokage's hat and garb so many months ago.
He stared at the time travel scroll between his hands. Open and waiting.
Someone beat on the door. He heard Sakura's angry, strident voice. "Hokage-sama, why aren't you letting me in? You had a meeting-"
Her voice had grown older in the years. Deeper.
He didn't answer, only stared at the scroll in his hands. What had happened? It had not been a dream. It had been real. He had gone back in time.
But now he had returned.
Then he shifted his stunned gaze around the office and out the window to the village. His village. His whole, unburned, not-being-rebuilt village.
He let a single, amazed, "Ha," as the door crashed down behind him.
Kakashi whipped around.
He'd expected to see Sakura as he had last left her as an adult. Burned and scarred and competent. She was still very competent. The young jounin - for her powerful chakra signature could be none other - was still there, and her limbs had grown strong and sleek with muscle. Her hair was cropped short, but there was... no scarring on her face whatsoever.
She gave him an annoyed look. "Kakashi-sensei," she said, and she must have been pissed at him if she was calling him that and not the title of Hokage. "You know that you had a meeting with the hospital staff over an hour ago. I reminded you twice already."
Something in his gaze must have clued her in that something was wrong because she paused before speaking again. "Kakashi-san? The one meeting with Sasuke, you remember?"
Yes. It came back to him, then. He had a meeting with Sasuke. The young healer had taken over the hospital by storm over the last year or so. He did enjoy his rules and schedules. He was brutal and efficient with it, even more than Tsunade had ever been. But... that was wrong, somehow, wasn't it?
Something was off here. A concept he couldn't fully grasp slipped in and out of his mind like sunlight over a rippling stream. Kakashi looked again to the outside, to the village that seemed so wrong whole, when... something had happened, hadn't it? Why was he remembering a larger memorial stone?
"Is something wrong?" Sakura asked again, echoing his own thoughts.
Kakashi again looked down at the scroll in his hands - he meant to examine it later. Ah, that was it. He must have lost track of time deciphering the odd symbols. Something about manipulating time and space, much like the Kamui. Then he quickly rolled it up.
It was an ancient thing, found by Naruto and the rest of the excavators. Part of Kakashi's plan to strengthen the village was to expand the new academy grounds, and Sasuke had donated some of his family land to the cause. Kakashi remembered now.
"Ne, Sakura, you know how old men are," he said to cover the moment.
"Old men!" She snorted. "You're only forty."
"Aye, do you remember..." he scratched his chin over his mask. "Do you remember when Orochimaru attacked?"
"And you nearly got yourself killed? And Sasuke had to revive you from chakra exhaustion?" Her eyes narrowed. "What is this about? Are you trying to guilt-trip us again? We were only genin at the time and we couldn't help you - Are you in trouble with Iruka? What have you done to piss him off now?"
Kakashi smiled at the thought of him. Some men liked flowers as apologies after arguments, but of course Iruka was a hard person to apologize to. Thus the reason the academy was being expanded.
"No, no," Kakashi said, then shook his head. He remembered something. It danced at the edge of his mind - there and gone again. Perhaps his sparring with Maito Gai had been a bit too vagarious this morning.
He should have Sasuke check him for a head wound. Or maybe not. The Uchiha's bedside manner had never really improved.
People had thought Kakashi insane when he had decided to train the troubled boy as a medic, but of course Kakashi had known best. Though thinking about it... why had he decided to make Sasuke a medic again? Ah, it didn't matter.
"What else was on my schedule today?" he asked with false cheerfulness, knowing it would annoy his assistant.
She gave him a look. "The contingent from Suna has arrived and Gara has come to greet us as the new Kazekage."
Kakashi smiled again. "Do you think Naruto will forgive him for becoming Kazekage before he became Hokage?"
She snorted at that. Naruto was a terror wherever he went, but his friendship with Gara was one of legend. The two boys could take apart the world and put it back together again. And something briefly struck Kakashi as odd about that, too. But when he tried to chase down the flickering thought it vanished into the ether.
He tucked the rolled scroll into one of the wide pockets his uniform was so very good at providing, and then signaled for Sakura to proceed him.
"Well, I better not keep them waiting," he said, knowing he was probably late already.
Kakashi shut the door and walked out behind her. The odd scroll and it's caveat about side-effects with the Kamui forgotten.
After all, he had been sensei to Team 7, then sensei to the Sand Siblings. Now he was sensei to an entire thriving village. He had work to do.
So that's it! I always think you've mildly failed if you have to explain in notes about what just happened, but this may still be confusing, so here goes:
The Kamui, being jutsu that alters space and time, had a bad (or good, depending...) reaction to the time travel scroll Kakashi activated in chapter 1. A part of his awareness was shot forward in time - a changed time, thanks to his efforts in the story. The time loop complete, he began to forget he had time traveled in the first place and accept his new reality as one he's always had. Clear as mud?
Anyway, here are my thoughts about how the kids developed.
Sakura: Became a Jonin Taijutsu master (though, perhaps, one not as dedicated as Lee.) Unless she's off-mission, she functions as Kakashi's overworked/underpaid assistant. She also holds special taijutsu classes for girls at the academy to make sure none of the female students are lacking in physically kicking butt.
Naruto: Is also Jonin and his knack for advanced, high powered techniques has created quite a name for himself (and in the bingo book!). He's best friends with Gaara and is planning to travel to Suna soon to help strengthen relations there (and if he learns a couple cool A-rank techniques from the Sand-nins, well...)
Gaara: Has become the new Kazekage for Suna. He leads with strength and wisdom (and sanity) with his brother and sister as helpful assistants, and is best friends with Naruto. The relationship between Leaf and Sand haven't been stronger.
Sasuke: Found his niche in the medical field, and became one of the head healers there. He never really learned the whole "compassion" thing, but his intelligence and perseverance are assets. He finally found himself respected for who he is, rather than who his family is. It helped to fill the hole for revenge in his heart. He DID eventually activate his Sharingan eye, though he uses it for delicate surgical procedure and chakra-pathway healings rather than battle.
Iruka: Finally snagged Kakashi. They live in a small home, and Kakashi makes sure the academy program is being expanded and gets all the funding it needs.
Thanks again everyone!