Summary: When Rin and Kakashi both were fifteen, they made a choice. It was easy. OneShot.
Warnings: A What-if-story. Last chance to run.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. All characters and the setting is property of Masashi Kishimoto.
It was easy.
Kakashi was only fifteen, and Rin was, too. But both of them had seen the terror of war; had experienced death and injury and had lost loved ones. Amongst them had been their teammate, three – no, almost four years ago – who had sacrificed himself to save them both. There had been many others, but their sensei was the next great loss, the sacrifice of a great man who had never wanted to bear the burden of leading an entire village and who had known he'd die for them but had taken the burden nevertheless. This man had given them the only times in which they had been allowed to be children, so it wasn't difficult to understand that now, after he wasn't there to watch over them anymore, they widely were regarded as adults. Not that they hadn't seen themselves as such. If you had seen death before other children learned to read, if you had killed men when other children discussed their favorite food and competed in children's games, if you had seen the one person who was a father to you die while defending your home, you're not a child any more.
Therefore it was so easy to do what they knew their sensei would have wanted them to do, even if he might have wished for them to wait a few years:
They took his son as their own.
It was easy. It really was. They both wouldn't have thought it would be like that.
They were fifteen, almost sixteen. Kakashi had some money he had inherited from his father after he had died from a broken heart and killed himself and Rin had a little house at the outskirts of Hidden Leaf she had inherited when her entire family was slaughtered. They had jobs – as unusual as other children would have seen it – and they made a living, Rin in the hospital and Kakashi as an ANBU. He left the squad soon after they had decided on what they would do but even with simple missions as a jounin, he still had a decent income. They left behind two tiny, dark, gloomy apartments in two anonymous apartment blocks on two different ends of the village and moved into Rin's family manor. And they took the child with them.
Of course, everyone said they were crazy. Or rather, they didn't say it but they thought so and both Rin and Kakashi saw the glances they received behind their backs. They were fifteen, for God's sake; they couldn't take care of a child! Surely, Hokage-Sama would stop their insane plans.
"We're old enough to take lives," they argued. "Why shouldn't we be allowed to take care of a life? Especially since he is Sensei's son, and he has no one else, you know that."
Sandaime-sama shook his head and nodded and glanced at them sadly from under his white hat with the blood-red symbols. Both tried not to look at it too hard. It reminded them too much of Minato-sensei, how the hat had kept falling over his eyes and he had stumbled around in the office just to make them laugh…
"Having a baby is a great responsibility," the Third said carefully. "You are very young and you have no experience whatsoever when it comes to childcare. And plus, you're both on active duty. We can't afford to lose you."
He wouldn't be losing them. Rin would continue working in the hospital, Kakashi would take missions. They both were ready to learn from more experienced people before they took in the child. Both were willing to ask for help anytime. They were young, yes, but there was one thing they weren't: inexperienced.
Who had had the idea?
They glanced at each other and a smile tugged at Rin's lips, Kakashi's face, as always, was hidden behind his mask. If they had told Sandaime-sama the truth it would have become clear they both had had the idea, the night after they had carried the bloody and broken body of their Sensei and his wife back to the village. Their bodies and the bundle of clothing and blankets, sleeping but whining in its sleep. The three of them – the baby, Kakashi and Rin – had kept guard at their parents' sides until the sun came up and the baby woke. It started crying and because Rin didn't want to leave Kakashi and Kakashi didn't want to leave Rin all three of them left together to find something to feed the baby. It was an hour later, when the baby was fed and cleaned (it had taken them some time to find the right knack in changing diapers) and was sleeping again, they suddenly realized the child was as alone as they were. His father was dead, his mother had died as well, and none of them had any family left. Neither had Rin and Kakashi. They just had themselves. And the baby had them. They fell asleep together; Rin holding the baby, Kakashi holding Rin, and when they woke up again the decision had been made. A few years before, Rin wouldn't have thought of caring for a child and Kakashi wouldn't have thought of caring for Rin. But something had slipped into place. And it was right the way it was now.
Finally, when he saw there was no way he could make them change their mind, Sandaime-sama granted their request and Rin and Kakashi became parents.
They moved into the old house, along with a baby cot and two little bags of clothing and toiletries (one for each Kakashi and Rin), a few household utensils they brought from their former apartments, and a bigger, though still quite small bag of baby clothing they had found in the nursery Kushina-san and Minato-sensei had prepared so lovingly. They also brought a picture of both of them and some other memorabilia so the baby would grow up with at least something left by his parents. Sandaime-sama gave them a huge stuffed bear and Gai gave them a tiny holster filled with gummy kunai and Kurenai gave them some beautiful babies' clothes and Asuma some books and a game of shogi. And Genma and Hayate helped to clean and renovate rooms for each the baby, Rin and Kakashi and the kitchen, the bathroom and the living room. And Anko rid the wild garden of a bunch of snakes and gave Rin a screaming fit when she tried to show the baby one. All their friends tried to help and support them but there were enough people out in the village that still gossiped and bickered and generally tried to make their life as difficult as possible. Rin and Kakashi shrugged and when the old woman at the grocery refused to sell them diapers (claiming she hadn't any in stock) they took the longer way to the next supermarket were a friend of Asuma's worked.
They were fifteen when they became parents, and it was easy for them.
Waking up in the middle of the night to prepare another bottle of milk? They were used to no sleep and to nightly intermezzos.
Being silent as not to wake the sleeping child? They were used to moving quietly.
Watching the baby while simultaneously going through the lists of medical uses of jutsu or preparing for another mission? They were trained to always keep an eye on their surroundings.
Of course, not everything went flawless the first months.
The baby – they started calling it Naruto, after a while, it was the name sensei had chosen – was plagued by fierce and painful stomachaches those first years and the first time it happened neither Rin nor Kakashi knew why the child was crying. They carried it around, Rin singing softly, Kakashi making soft noises, but the baby wouldn't fall asleep. Eventually Rin, as a medic, figured there was something else wrong and soon had localized the source. After a three-hour session of weeping the child finally fell asleep on Rin's bed and Rin and Kakashi fell asleep there as well.
Or the first time Kakashi came home late without notice and Rin was alone with the child. She did fine, she fed it and put it to bed, sang a quiet lullaby and waited for it to fall asleep. And then she collapsed on the carpet in the living room and started crying because the silence was unbearable. Kakashi slipped in ten minutes later when she still was weeping, somehow unable to stop, and wrapped his arms around her awkwardly.
"It's okay," he whispered. "I had a mission debriefing that took too long. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
He carried her to her room and put her down on her bed and held her while Rin slowly fell asleep in his arms.
The first time Kakashi was alone with the child, he didn't fare better. It was then when he suddenly felt all the doubts he had pushed aside until now rush down on him: had they made the right decision? They were fifteen, for heaven's sake, just children. How could they take care of a child? They had started down a street they wouldn't be able to leave until Naruto was able to take care of himself, and that would be in many, many years. What if Rin fell in love with some other guy and wanted to leave? If she couldn't stand him anymore? He didn't even want to think about it. Had he been trying to tie her to him when they made the decision? They'd never be free again. What if Rin didn't want to live like that? Rin found him in the dark and this time, she held him.
"It's hard," she whispered. "But we'll do it. Together."
They did it.
Naruto turned one.
Rin worked in the hospital and took Naruto there, leaving him in child care, feeding him regularly and trying to ignore the nurses' whispers about the demon child and its teenage parents. Kakashi left for short missions and worked hard to return as fast as possible.
Naruto turned two.
They went for walks on weekends, visiting the cenotaph and Obito, Minato-sensei and Kushina-san, the child tucked safely inside the small buggy. Rin laughed out loud the day the boy said his first words and Kakashi felt something swell in his heart he had only felt when Minato-sensei had ruffled his hair and smiled at him when he was younger. Or, before Minato-sensei, his father.
Naruto turned three.
Kakashi was gravely injured on a mission to Wave country and Rin travelled there to treat him and to help him recover. She took Naruto with her and Kakashi almost killed them both for taking the risk to come to see him. When the baby slept and Rin had checked him trough and worked her magic he somehow kissed her. She kissed him back. When they returned, they didn't sleep in separate rooms any more.
Naruto turned four.
He was a walking – rather, stumbling – blabbering little plague with absolutely horrible, messy blond hair and deep blue eyes and a smile as wide as the sky. Rin was spending less time at the hospital, trying to be with him as much as possible. Kakashi hastened to complete every mission in record time to be back with them. The child – he never was their son, only their child, but that didn't mean less to them – was a whirlwind, wild and energetic and sometimes really hard to live with. They loved him more than anything.
Naruto turned five.
Rin almost burst into tears one day when he came inside from playing in the streets with the neighbor children and told her he wanted to be a great shinobi, just like the Fourth. Someone had told him about what a hero Yondaime Hokage had been, and he wanted to be awesome cool like him! The sensitive child noticed the only mother he knew was holding back tears and confusedly asked her if something was wrong. She pulled him into her arms and said he'd be a great shinobi, just like the Fourth. When she told Kakashi in the evening, she really did cry. Kakashi made a tea for her and dried her tears and told her they had done quite well until now. Their child was a great boy, and their relationship – at which point Rin silenced him with her lips and they didn't talk much for the rest of the evening.
Naruto turned six, and Rin and Kakashi turned twenty-one.
Eventually, the gossiping in the village died down because Rin and Kakashi still hadn't killed the child, because the child still hadn't killed other children, and because they always were polite and friendly and the child always smiled in that way that touched the hearts of even the coldest person. They started to accept longer missions that would make either Kakashi or Rin stay at home alone for a few days, sometimes weeks. But they always took care one of them always was at home with Naruto. Eventually, Kakashi thought of accepting the Hokage's request of taking up a position as a team leader because he could as well do something useful when he was staying in Konoha, after all. Rin smiled at the idea and told him she thought it was great, and exactly what sensei would have wanted. Thus, Kakashi became a genin instructor.
Naruto turned seven and started attending the academy.
He was bright, he was intelligent, and he had grown up with people who showed him they loved him every day. In the academy, he wasn't at the top of the class but he wasn't at the bottom, either. He soon found some friends – the Inuzuka brat, the lazy Nara kid, the calm Aburame heir and the Akimichi boy. And oh, they did plot some pranks but they were good-natured and with his smile no instructor could remain angry for long.
Naruto turned eight and broke his leg by falling off a tree.
Naruto turned nine and brought home a hand-made gift for Rin and Kakashi (they couldn't decide whether it was a dog or a cow or a walrus but they thanked him and told him it was great. And indeed, it was).
Naruto turned ten and developed a massive crush on pretty Haruno Sakura, who, unfortunately, dumped him unceremoniously for another guy.
Naruto turned eleven and graduated from the academy after training with both Rin and Kakashi for many, many weeks. He was so proud he didn't know what to say when he saw his parents standing in the door, waiting for him to come home. Against Kakashi's and Rin's protests Sandaime-sama made Kakashi take over the team in which Naruto had been placed. Minato wanted you to teach his son, the old man said and smiled.
Naruto turned twelve and tried for chuunin. During the exams he met Gaara, another jinchuuriki like him. It was hate at first sight. The rivalry and anger was huge. They were supposed to be alike but Naruto was kind and wild and had grown up loved while Gaara was quiet and full of hatred and loneliness. It took them both some time to understand each other but they were able to understand, in the end. When the quiet boy with the flame-red hair finally left, the emptiness inside him had been reduced to something that was not quite, but almost, a memory of a nightmare. They had so many things in common. They were so different. They stayed friends.
Naruto turned thirteen and fourteen and fifteen and showed first signs of puberty.
Those were a) a full-blown rivalry with his one teammate, who, fate to be blamed, had to be Uchiha Sasuke, the boy Sakura had been doting over. Fate was even meaner, for his second teammate was Sakura. b) was the unhealthy notion of trying to live on ramen alone, a notion Kakashi laughed and Rin fussed over, c) the habit of wearing only the orange jumpsuit Gai had given him (no doubt to annoy Kakashi), and d) the question where his parents where. He'd grown up with pictures of them and, being an intelligent boy, had an idea that they were dead. But he had to hear it in order to be able to believe it. Rin was afraid to tell him, fearing he'd hate them, and Kakashi didn't want to, either, because he'd have to remember Minato-sensei and it was painful even now. They did tell him. And Naruto – dear, little, big, wonderful Naruto – told them they still were more his family than his real parents ever had been. That was when they knew they were losing him.
It was small relief and immense pain at the same time.
Naruto was fifteen and Rin and Kakashi were thirty and the third one of Konoha's Sannin, who had been deemed dead, returned and almost destroyed their village. Kakashi fought, and Naruto fought, and Rin fought. And they survived, somehow. But Sasuke, Naruto's friend, decided to follow the traitor, hungering for power to avenge his family.
Naruto was devastated.
After one week, Kakashi demolished the door to his child's room and gave him a verbal – and active – beating. He told Naruto he hadn't trained him for giving up that easily and that he knew someone who could help him to become stronger. Naruto embraced the possibility that the two other Sannin had returned after Orochimaru's attack. He asked Jiraiya-sama to train him. The old man told him he couldn't do anything without the Fifth Hokage's consent, the third Sannin, who was a strict, bitter woman. She had taken the title only because Sandaime-sama had asked for her to do it on his deathbed, when he died fighting his student and their teammate Orochimaru. Naruto went to ask Tsunade-hime, was flat-out refused and became angry. He challenged her to a fight (he was a hot-headed boy after all, just like his mother) and was, not surprisingly, defeated spectacularly. But the same way he had penetrated Rin's and Kakashi's armor, the same way he had won the hearts of the villagers and the instructors, the same way he shattered Tsunade-hime's armor and won her heart. The old woman smiled for the first time since she had set a foot into Konoha again. He left one sunny day at the end of summer, waving enthusiastically, following Jiraiya-sensei along the dusty road into the future.
Naruto was gone for almost a year and Rin and Kakashi, who hadn't seen much of him those last five years since his graduation anyway but, nonetheless, had seen him, suddenly were left all by themselves.
At first, it was relaxing, and then, it started to be annoying. And then it became frightening. Kakashi blamed himself for Sasuke's betrayal, Rin blamed herself for Kakashi blaming himself and both didn't dare to look at each other even though they had been living together for fifteen years now. For the first time since long Kakashi slept in his old room again and Rin cried herself to sleep at night. Suddenly, a chasm had seemed to have opened itself between them, deep and black and impossible to cross.
It had been Naruto.
Naruto had been the reason why they first had decided to move in together. He had been the reason for them to stay together, for returning early, for going out on the weekends, he had been the bond between them, the ribbon that tied them together stronger than anything else. Now he was gone and there didn't seem to be a reason left to stay together anymore either. Kakashi went on longer missions and Rin stayed in the hospital longer, partly because she had decided to train a student (she'd chosen young Sakura, who was equally shocked at Sasuke's betrayal and wanted to become stronger, as well) and partly because she didn't want to come home if nobody was there. Maybe they would have fallen apart if not Tsunade-hime had sent them on a mission together. The mission was an utter failure. Kakashi almost died trying to defend Rin, Rin almost died trying to heal Kakashi and they both decided they wouldn't die as long as they had each other.
And that was it.
Kakashi made sure to take Rin out on weekends and in the evening now and then and Rin made sure to be at home when he came back from his missions. Asuma asked whether they had ever thought of getting married. Kakashi blushed, Rin smiled and shrugged and they didn't discuss the topic further. They had been living together for fifteen years, been together for almost twelve. A marriage license wasn't what made them love each other.
After a year, Naruto returned. He was so much taller and so much stronger. Both Rin and Kakashi were so proud of him even though Kakashi didn't let it show as much as Rin did. Trainer and students went to bring Sasuke back and Iwa went to war with Suna and Konoha went along with their ally from the Sand. Akatsuki started their hunt for the biju and everything seemed to move too fast for them to keep up. Orochimaru almost killed Sasuke's brother, Sasuke almost killed Orochimaru and then Naruto finished off the Sannin who, as it turned out, had been responsible for the Uchiha Clan massacre. And the four of them returned home.
The children – now not children any longer – were sent to the front lines immediately.
Rin cried after they left. Kakashi held her and told her he had taught Sasuke and Naruto everything he knew and Jiraiya had also trained Naruto. Rin had trained Sakura so everything would work out fine. Somehow. Somehow. And then the two of them went to war as well, back to the dark forests and broken bridges and bloody fights they had known so well when they were children. Watching out for each other they managed to survive. When Iwa finally surrendered they returned home, injured and exhausted and ten years older than they had been the two years before the war had begun.
Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke returned as well, bruised and cut and bloody and with the haunted eyes of people who witnessed murder and were forced to be murderers. Sasuke was a little bit more human now and Sakura was a little bit more realistic, and Naruto a little bit more like his father. And all three of them had grown together into a most imperfect perfect unit.
Times went on.
The village changed.
Jiraiya-sama and Tsunade-hime had died during the war and the new Hokage, Danzo, was a cold man. The Council had appointed him, there was no way they could change that. But secretly, Rin and Kakashi knew who the next Hokage would be. They had known it all along. Other people knew, as well. It didn't matter Naruto was the vessel of the kyuubi. Jiraiya-sama and Yamato had taught him how to live and fight with it.
Many of their old friends were dead. Asuma, for example, who had died in the fights with Akatsuki early in the war. He had left a little daughter whose mother was Kurenai and who followed the Nara boy around like a little puppy. The Nara boy had become a diplomat and councilor and his best friend still was at his side at any time. Faithful Kotetsu looked terribly lonely, doing guard duty all alone. Genma and Raidou still joked around though they fell silent now and then, staring off into empty space. Anko was even bitterer than she had been before; she had taken up her ANBU duty again and was training a new member, the Yamanaka girl. The Inuzuka brat was the new head of clan since his mother died in the war. His sister had refused out flatly when they asked her. The Aburame heir was as quiet as ever but of indispensable value for the village and the Council. As were all of Naruto's friends. Or the ones of them that still were alive. The Hyuuga Clan was changing, too. Rin guessed it had to do with their heiress, who had a quite obvious crush on Rin's child and Naruto didn't seem disinclined towards her. He probably hadn't noticed yet – Rin had, but she watched him through a mother's eyes and the girl with a woman's eyes – but it was his doing that the girl had finally found the strength to stand up to her father.
Akatsuki was a hard enemy.
They already had extracted six of the nine biju and naturally, Rin and Kakashi feared for their child's life. Danzo wanted to use Naruto as his own, personal weapon. He even had the consent of the Council when he was assassinated on a summit of the five Kages. Nobody ever found out who the murderer had been and Rin and Kakashi and not few other people from Hidden Leaf were inclined to be thankful. Kakashi wasn't for long, since the Council spitefully made him temporary Hokage, but Rin laughed and told him to warm the seat until Naruto was old enough.
One year later, Akatsuki made their greatest mistake: they abducted Gaara of the Sands, Naruto's childhood friend, who had become the Kazekage of the village of Hidden Sands. Proving how much they had changed and how much they loved their leader his people sent a request to Hidden Leaf and Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke heatedly tried to convince the Council of the necessity to step in. When Kakashi intervened and sent notice to the other Hidden Villages, an alliance formed from all five countries and Akatsuki was defeated spectacularly when they formed up one last time. Many people left their lives in that last fight.
Rin and Kakashi were among them.
Actually, they didn't mind too much.
Naruto was twenty, an age that still was young for being a Hokage. But he had the Hyuuga prodigy and heiress, and the Nara genius, the Inuzuka brat and the Aburame boy. He had Tenten, and the Yamanaka girl. He had crazy Gai, and Lee, his onetime student. He had the Kazekage's friendship and the villagers' approval and a long, long list of achievements, like helping to defeat Orochimaru, surviving the war, and fighting Akatsuki. And, of course, he had Sakura and Sasuke by his side. Rin and Kakashi were quite sure he would perform brilliantly.
They died when Akatsuki stood up to invade Hidden Leaf.
Kakashi had seen it coming but he hadn't been able to convince the Council of the necessary preparations. Seeing he only was the temporary Hokage, even though he had been doing the job for almost three years, he couldn't do anything else but warn his friends and the Alliance. And wait.
Rin and Kakashi and many others fought. They fought victoriously, in the end, but many didn't survive. Kakashi fell protecting Rin and Rin died by his side and at least they were together and it didn't hurt much. As they died the sun came up and they saw the first streaks of sunlight turn the foliage of the forest into green gold. Somewhere behind them were voices: surviving shinobi searching for other survivors, medical nin checking on the wounded, officers assembling their teams. But they didn't really care. Kakashi searched for Rin's hand and she smiled at him. He smiled back, tiredly, but not in pain.
"So this is where it ends."
She could hear his rattling breath, the way his lungs filled with blood slowly.
"Do… do you regret anything?" He asked, and she shook her head. She was losing blood fast, she knew, but she also knew Kakashi was dying and she would die with him, it was that easy.
"Not a single minute."
Kakashi smiled. "Neither… Neither do I."
She leaned down and kissed him and he kissed her back weakly. When he opened his mouth to say something, blood trickled down his lips. His eyes spoke, instead.
I love you.
"I love you too," she answered and when his last breath left him and his eyes glazed over she laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes.
Two bodies were brought back to Konoha where Naruto saw them and froze in shock. People were talking all around them but he didn't hear anything except the steady buzzing in his ears, a noise that grew louder and seemed to fill his entire body. Finally he was left alone with them and he kept watch the entire day, frozen in pain. In the evening, Sakura and Sasuke came and sat down to his left and right. Sakura put an arm around him.
"They weren't my real parents," Naruto whispered brokenly. "But…"
"But they loved you like parents," Sakura told him, her voice quiet. "And you loved them. They died protecting you and I think that's all they wanted. To know you're safe and can be the next Hokage."
"How can I be the next Hokage when-"
"Idiot," Sasuke interrupted him and Naruto glared. "They wanted you to protect the village. They wanted you to be the next Hokage. They loved you and raised you and died protecting you and you shouldn't dishonor their last wish by whining like a baby!"
For once in their lives, the Uchiha's comments didn't spark a heated discussion. For once, they all agreed and didn't see it necessary to hide the fact.
Standing on the roof of the Hokage's tower, watching the crowd of people before him, feeling the wind in the folds of his long mantle, Naruto remembered his parents. They had died to protect the village, a long time ago. His other parents had died protecting him. He vowed to deem himself worthy of the gift they had given him.
The wind in his hair felt like the hand of his father, ruffling through it. The sun on his face felt like the touch of his mother, carefully cleaning a wound he had carelessly inflicted upon himself. He could hear them, talking to him, being with him, and he smiled.
He would live. He would protect Hidden Leaf. He would do everything they had wanted him to do.
They had loved him.
He would love, too.
It was easy.