Title: Teacup Tempest

Author: Wingwyrm

Pairing(s): Kakashi/fem!Naruto

Rating: 14A

Disclaimer: I do not own the concept of Naruto. Kishimoto owns Naruto. (Hito is mine, though :)

Warnings: mentions of rape, under-aged pregnancy, graphic language, adult themes, mature situations.

Summary: Naruto has been hiding something since the time she was ten. Now she's finally graduated from the Academy only to find that the guy she's sorta-kinda been dating is her sensei. And he doesn't know. All Kakashi knows is that Naruto is scarily familiar. And his girlfriend has secrets that he only thinks he knows. And once he knows them, he's a little... squicked. And yet, he still loves her.

Notes: The majority of this was written in three days. And then there was a month (or two) pause (with much agony of trying to think up what to write) and then the last of it was written in the last week before the 31st. I'd sort of been planning a Naruto-in-the-academy-pregnant for a while and then I signed up for the BB and figured, 'Hey! I already have a plot :D'. And so I have ficcage. And then the fluff almost killed me XD

A few definitions:

Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai (ANBU) Special Forces Tactical Corps

Ansatsu Tokubetsuna Yūwaku Butai (ANBU-Yu) Special Seduction Assassination Corps

jutsu technique

Tatsumaki Tornado

Hirohito Abundant Benevolence

Yamamoto (one who lives at) the base of the mountain

Many, many thanks to Romantiscue and Permetaform! My darling wife, and other woman :D

*-Teacup Tempest-*

Naruto stared at herself in the mirror. She was only wearing an orange tank top and pair of underwear and she was angled sideways from the mirror.

A hand coasted over her belly button, which was bulged out a little. Her hand stopped and she cradled the tiny bulge.

"If-" Her voice broke and then she regained control, "If you're what I think you are..." She trailed off, unable to continue.

A baby. She might be pregnant.

It seemed impossible, but sometimes there was no such thing as impossible.

If she was, how could she hide it? She was only a little girl! She still had to go to the academy and graduate and be shinobi and be Hokage!

She couldn't do that if she was going to have a baby.

She sighed and rubbed her tiny bulge again.

A... Baby.

She turned away from the mirror before she could see her own unconsciously wistful smile.

A family.

.o0o.

They all thought she was a boy. Well, the younger ones did. She was sure that most of the older folks were supposed to know that she was a girl, but since she never dressed in pink or did her hair or played tea party, instead running with the boys and messing in the dirt for the first ten years of her life, they must have pretty much forgotten that she wasn't a he. It wasn't like she had guardians to remind them by talking about her anyway.

She didn't really care. They could think whatever they wanted. And now that she was-

-pregnant, she figured that it would only help her cover.

Thankfully her too-large orange jumpsuit hid most of the belly and a tiny distraction henge over that area minimized the growing bump; and when she wasn't feeling up to hiding, she just skipped the Academy altogether.

So she looked at the average women in the streets, rather than the hookers and magazine ladies and she decided on a new form that was far more average than her Sexy form. There would be no whisker marks on her cheeks, her hair would stay the same as it was when she was normal. She'd just be... a bit more girly.

And pregnant.

So now she was fourteen, instead of ten, and she was standing outside of where she'd seen several shinobi drop off their children for the day. Sometimes for more than one day; but hey, that meant that they could care for the baby for as long as Naruto didn't want to look after it, right?

"Excuse me?" Naruto called out, opening the door cautiously.

She was met by a large lady with red circular marking on her cheeks. The woman smiled down at her, "Hello there, Dear. What can I do to help you?"

Naruto brushed her hand over the gentle swell of her belly, "I- I'm pregnant." Her voice was startlingly small and the woman gasped, bringing a hand up to cover her mouth as her eyes widened. "I just wanted to see- see where shinobi children go when their parents are on missions. You know, if there isn't a babysitter?"

Naruto had long decided that when she was in her new fourteen year old form, she'd refer to the academy as a mission. It would be easier to remember not to mess up then.

"Of course, Dear. I'm Akimichi Mito," Mito bowed a little to her, "-and this is the Day Care."

Naruto bit her lip as she introduced her new Sexy form to the woman, "Yamamoto Tatsumaki."

"You're very young to be having a baby, Yamamoto-san," Mito commented as she showed Naruto around the Day Care. Naruto wasn't too impressed with the simple name of the place, having a liking for grand gestures and names and things.

"I might not be keeping it," Naruto muttered. However young Mito thought she was, Naruto was a lot younger. If the woman thought that fourteen was too young, Naruto wondered what she would think if she knew that Naruto was only ten.

Naruto had chosen fourteen for her new body for several reasons. One was because it was young, which she was; another was that in her twenties she would be able to merge her new Sexy and her real body. No one would comment on the missing or extra years and then she wouldn't need to be under her jutsu other than covering the markings on her cheeks. And she wouldn't have to be Uzumaki Naruto, either.

Naruto didn't like being herself.

"You might be giving the child up for adoption?" Mito asked, curious.

"Well, as you said, I'm really young. But I sort of wanted to check out my options, you know? So, you babysit for shinobi?" Giving the child up wasn't what she had been thinking, but she didn't want to commit to anything.

Mito nodded, "Most shinobi are either orphans or have small families if they aren't from one of the seven major clans." She paused and then amended quickly, "-Six clans. It's rare that a shinobi will marry, or live with, a civilian who is willing to be the 'stay-at-home' parent. Since children are precious, we have several types of defences, those of which include seals on all the doors and windows. We have three full time employees and a genin team that is assigned to us for a week at a time."

Naruto nodded as she listened, taking in the brightness of the place and the laughter of the children as they played. "Uhm, not to sound stupid or anything, but do you have shinobi training?"

"Oh yes, Dear, I'm chuunin, as are my two other full time employees. The genin team comes with their jounin-sensei and we have a rotating crew of jounin volunteers who take shifts and act a guards for the children."

Naruto thought that was very good. Knowing that your child was protected by jounin volunteers, elite ninja who would give their life for your child, was comforting.

She just had to make sure that no one saw through Tatsumaki.

That was, if she kept the child.

.o0o.

Having a baby was excruciating, Naruto found out, panting in pain and fear, laying on her bed with her legs spread and her hands clenched in her sheets.

It was probably only made worse by the fact that she was too young, and too small, to be having a baby and that she was having her baby by herself without a midwife.

And she was missing her graduation exam; stupid baby couldn't wait a few day's or have come earlier; no, it had to be born today. That part really galled her.

But she knew that she wouldn't be able to hold her Tatsumaki jutsu while pushing a damned baby out, so she was doing it herself. She was used to doing things without help anyway.

Another labour pain came and Naruto threw back her head and screamed, thankfully knowing that the soundproofing jutsu on her apartment would hold. She'd tested it before and it had held up to seventy-four hours of intense noise even while she'd stabbed herself in the hand, testing it's integrity when she was in pain.

When the labour pain waned she fervently swore that she would never have another baby. One was more than enough.

And damn was she glad that she'd been able to hunt down and kill the manipulative bastard who had gotten her trust and then raped her! He certainly hadn't expected her to get up off the ground a minute after leaving her in the alley and follow him into the red-light district and proceed to stab him in the kidneys, cut off his balls, then everything else, then stab him in the neck, letting him bleed to death while she watched with fire in her eyes, still bleeding from the assault. It had been a heady experience to kill, but the sense of vengeance that she'd experienced while doing so had soothed her wounded soul a lot.

Thinking back to what several of the pregnancy books had said about having a baby at home, she hauled herself to her feet and shuffled around her bedroom, a hand pressed lightly to her belly and another to her back.

She didn't know how dilated she was since she refused to look at herself in a mirror, but she knew that it was close. She'd already been in labour for eight hours. If it went on for very much longer, she'd soon take a kunai to her belly and cut the baby out. It'd be okay, she'd heal.

She didn't know how she could heal like she could, but she now suspected that it had something to do with the great honking black seal tattoo that was flashing with red chakra around her belly button. Which, incidentally, was now an outty instead of an inny. She'd only mildly freaked out when she'd woken up one morning to find that her belly button had popped out. She just hoped that once the baby was out, her belly button would go back to normal.

Another cramp started and she hurried as fast as she could over to the collection of blankets that she'd set up sort of like a nest. She wasn't very tall, so the baby wouldn't fall very far and when she crouched, the baby's head ought to reach the soft nest of blankets before it was entirely out of her. She'd read the books and knew that it was best to either be sitting in a pool of water or standing when giving birth at home. Since she didn't have anyone to help her in the bathtub, there was really only one option left.

Let gravity do it's thing.

Her hands clenched tight into fists and she pounded the wall in pain, screaming as it felt like she was being torn open. The pain continued and she kept screaming and then suddenly, she wasn't the only one screaming.

A thin, soft cry came from the nest below her and she barely managed to move to the side before falling over, hands holding her cramping belly. She rested, breathing hard, relieved that it was over and stared at the bloody, wiggling thing that was laying in the nest.

It had really light hair from what she could see through the blood, and she reached out to the baby, wiping away the blood and gunk from it's eyes. And it's eyes were sky blue.

Recovering faster than she'd ever read about, Naruto pulled a towel and the bucket of now lukewarm water to her and carefully picked the slippery baby up, putting it in her lap and cleaning it as gently as she could.

It was a boy, she quickly found.

She... had a son.

.o0o.

Hirohito wouldn't stop crying. Naruto didn't know what to do; she'd changed him, she'd feed him, and hadn't that been weird, milk coming from her nonexistent and still completely flat boobs? She'd even damn well sung, which she'd never been very good at.

She hadn't yet started to regret not putting Hirohito up for adoption, but it was getting close.

Finally having had enough, Naruto quickly jutsued into Tatsumaki and got together the baby bag. She wrapped Hirohito up in his red, orange, and yellow baby blanket and tucked him in close to her body.

She had walked two blocks in the direction of the Day Care when she realized that Hirohito wasn't screaming anymore. She looked down in surprise to find the baby was smiling happily, his bright blue eyes staring at everything he could see. Deciding to just keep walking, she started to hum under her breath and within a half hour, Hirohito was sleeping like a log.

What a relief, she thought to herself, careful not to disturb his rest as she adjusted him in her arms and she turned back in the direction of her apartment building to go home and put the kid to bed so she could go back to sleep.

Almost immediately she stumbled over something, she wasn't sure what it was, but she tripped and halfway to the ground, more than two strong arms and hands caught her and settled her back upright.

Naruto frantically checked Hirohito over, making sure he wasn't hurt by her near fall. To her surprise he hadn't even woken up.

"Excuse me," an owner of some of the hands which had caught her spoke up, drawing her attention to the older woman, "Are you alright, Miss? The baby?"

The women was wearing a white ribbony dress and a hitai-ite. Naruto smiled broadly, "I'm fine, so is Hirohito-chan. Thank you..." She trailed off, hoping for a name.

"Yuhi Kurenai," the woman smiled, her red eyes brightening at the news that the baby was alright, "Jounin of Konoha."

"Thank you, Kurenai-san," Naruto finished her thanks, "I'm Yamamoto Tatsumaki. This is my son, Hirohito-chan."

Kurenai looked her over with a stern eye, "Tatsumaki-san, not to be rude, but you're very young..."

"To be a mother. I know," Naruto chuckled low in the back of her throat, faking her humour, "So I've been told." She looked to the other person who had helped catch her and was stunned almost speechless by the shear amount of green before her.

"I am Maito Gai!" He exclaimed in a whisper, "I am Most Pleased that Hirohito-chan is Safe and Well!"

"Thank you, Gai-san, for helping Kurenai-san catch me and protect my baby."

"I am Most Pleased," Gai repeated, bowing to her gallantly. "Would you like Accompaniment to your Place of Residence?" He asked her in his bold voice.

Naruto shook her head, "I'll be okay, but again," She looked between the two jounin, "-thank you."

"Tatsumaki-san," Kurenai mused slowly, "How old is Hirohito-chan?"

Naruto frowned, "He's a month and a half," she said, a warning note in her tone. She was thankful that they had helped her made sure that Hirohito hadn't been injured, but there were limits to her generosity. Information about her son was precious and not to be tossed around like party favours. "Why?"

Naruto felt a splash of surprise when Kurenai blushed, "Oh, just... I've always liked children," she said, her eyes not moving from Hirohito's face.

Gai moved suddenly, "I Believe that Hirohito shall be-" He broke his speech, looking at the badly flinching teenager in front of him. He lowered his voice and moved back a few steps, "I am Humbly Sorry that I have Caused Distress within you, Tatsumaki-san!"

Trying to steady herself, Naruto wondered if she would ever get over her irrational fear of men. She was only ten, almost eleven, and she flinched even when Iruka turned to her suddenly in the classroom. She didn't like being so weak.

"There is nothing to be sorry about, Gai-san," She forced herself to say evenly, "I was just startled by how fast you moved." A sardonic smile lifted her lips, "After all, I did just trip."

Gai nodded though the look on his face said that he didn't really believe her. Kurenai still hadn't managed to tear her gaze away from Hirohito.

"Tatsumaki-san," Kurenai spoke up, "Would you mind terribly... if I held Hirohito-chan for a few moments?"

Naruto frowned and looked Kurenai up and down. Finally she nodded. She didn't want to give her son over to someone else, but Kurenai had just saved her a tumble and at worst, Hirohito's life. She should at least give the woman something in return.

"Come here," Naruto said and Kurenai's face lit up, "Be careful with his neck, he's very fragile. If you wake him up, so help me, I'll make you be the one to get him back to sleep."

"Of course," Kurenai whispered, carefully adjusting the baby in her arms.

Naruto watched the jounin with a keen eye even as she turned her face slightly towards Gai, "Would you like a turn holding Hirohito-chan, Gai-san?" She didn't really want her son, her only family, to be passed around like a party favour, but Gai had also helped her when she had stumbled. She was sure that he wouldn't do anything to harm a baby he'd just helped to save.

She wasn't expecting to see a look of shock fill his eyes that he shuttered away so quickly she wasn't sure she'd actually seen it, "That is Quite Alright, Blossoming Flower of Konoha," He was still whispering, "I do not Wish to Part you and your Youthful Son!"

A little dazed and a little wary of the man, Naruto could still see that Gai was powerful. Given that he was showcasing his body like nuts in the odd bodysuit that he wore instead of a regular uniform, Naruto was pretty sure that he was very good at physical pursuits.

Striking up a conversation, Naruto nodded to his clothing, "I take it, Gai-san, that you are a physical person?"

"Ah! You have Noticed my Beautiful Power Suit!" Gai struck a pose and Naruto was sure that he was moving slower than he usually did because of her earlier reaction to him, "Indeed, I am an Expert in Taijutsu!"

Curious, Naruto pursed her lips, "Have you mastered many styles of taijutsu?"

"I have Mastered all the Great Styles of Taijutsu that I have Seen," Gai exclaimed in a quiet voice, "I have a Dedication to Taijutsu in All It's Forms." Gai looked her up and down and Naruto repressed a shiver at being so closely examined, "You are Shinobi as well?"

"Yeah," Naruto smiled brightly. Technically not a shinobi, but she was in training to be one and that counted for her. "I'm pretty bad at taijutsu though, so I wouldn't be the best person to talk with about it."

"I Understand," Gai nodded, almost seriously. Naruto found him much too quirky to take very seriously, "Would you be Willing to Work Hard if I were to Offer Lessons to you?"

Naruto blinked and then blinked again. What the hell? So because she was someone else, someone not Uzumaki Naruto, she was offered free lessons right off the bat? She didn't even know the man and he seemed completely serious about teaching her hand-to-hand fighting.

"I-" She bit her lip and then nodded, "I would like that, thank you."

"We shall Most Gloriously find a Fitting Style for you to Train in and Utilize!"

Kurenai looked over her shoulder at Gai then with a glare and hissed, "Hush, you loudmouth. You'll wake Hirohito-chan up."

.o0o.

Another graduating exam. She could totally deal with it. At least this time she wasn't giving birth.

Not that she didn't love Hirohito very, very much, but really? A child at such a young age? Not something she wanted to repeat for a very long time. Though, she had found that Hirohito was something of a balm on her soul when she would pick him up from the Day Care and take him home. He was someone that loved her unconditionally, whether she looked like herself or like Tatsumaki.

She had decided that she would take Hirohito to the Day Care for three days of the week, and never the same three days, while she skipped out of class on the other two days to play with him. She still occasionally pranked people, but only enough to keep it in their minds that that's what she did.

Iruka would sometimes ask her if everything was alright, but she never let on that she was a child mother. She didn't want Hirohito taken away from her.

So, exam time again and then Hirohito's birthday when she got home! She was pretty excited about that.

She was able to barely pass the taijutsu portion of the exam, thanks to her Saturday lessons with Gai. He'd been wholly unimpressed with her taijutsu when she'd shown him what she did know and he had quickly started to correct her stance and understanding of that style of combat. Thankfully he didn't expect her to grow proficient very fast due to the fact that she was an active shinobi and a single mother. At least, he thought she was an active shinobi.

She totally bombed the written test though. As she looked over her test, the red splashes of colour vibrant and mocking, she wondered if maybe she should have been studying her totally idiotic textbooks instead of using them for target practise...

"Alright, now we'll be testing ninjutsu, the last portion of the exam," Iruka spoke loudly and clearly from the head of the class. "We'll call your name and you will go to the neighbouring classroom. There we will randomly ask for you to preform either a bunshin, a kawarimi, or a henge. How well you preform your designated ninjutsu will be marked by two teachers and an average grade will be given to you from those marks. After receiving your final mark, the teacher will combine all three marks and the average grade for the entire exam will be assigned to you. You will be told after you complete the ninjutsu part of the exam if you have passed or not." Iruka looked around the classroom sternly, "If you pass, you will be given a hitai-ite and become a fully fledged shinobi of Konohagakure. If you do not pass, you will not receive a hitai-ite and no amount of begging will change our minds. How hard you work determines if you deserve to serve this village as shinobi or not."

Everyone in the class room was silent.

Iruka perked up, "We will be calling you alphabetically, starting with the A class. When we have called everyone from all four classes, we will continue on to those who signed up to take an early graduation exam."

Naruto exclaimed wordlessly, pounding on the desk she was borrowing for the duration of her early exam, "What'da mean, Iruka-sensei! Why do I gotta go last?"

That was complete and utter bullshit! She had to hang around this stupid classroom for hours, waiting for her name to get called when she was the only early participant! She had things to do today! Like Hirohito's birthday!

"Shut up, Naruto," Iruka sighed, rubbing his forehead, "We allowed you to sign up for the early exam again even though you blew off last year's. You sit right there and don't you dare walk out." Iruka's face got really scary and he leaned forward, his eye twitching, "If you leave that spot right there, I will hunt you down and drag you back."

Naruto flinched back and then shook off the feeling of being cornered. She had a whole room behind her, she wasn't cornered.

"Whatever, Iruka-sensei!" She huffed loudly and slumped into her chair.

So she sat. And she waited. And waited some more. And spat spitballs at the three Hyuga's in the class because they kept spouting off about their 'all seeing eyes' or whatever. The fact that they couldn't see the spitballs hanging from their long hair just made her laugh.

It made a lot of the other kids laugh too, and thankfully the stuck up bastards were called to the other classroom before they'd realized why everyone else was laughing at them.

After the Hyuga's had gotten called, it was the Inuzuka kids and then the Nara's. There were other kids, from civilian families or small shinobi families, but it was the clan children that all came back with a look on their face that said 'Of course I passed. I'm so-and-so-clan'. It was like they were guaranteed passage into the shinobi world by way of their family.

When the final Yamanaka and the one last civilian kid had been tested, Iruka looked at Naruto.

"Your turn, Naruto-kun."

Naruto heaved a loud sigh, unable to hold it back, "Thank the gods! I've been here for hours."

"It would do you well to learn a little patience," Iruka commented lightly as he led Naruto across the hall. He sat behind the desk with another teacher, Naruto recognized her as Hitomi-sensei, who had taken the assistant teacher's position when Mizuki had been found dead and mutilated in an alley, mysteriously murdered nearly two years ago.

Hitomi rested her weight on her elbows and leaned forwards, "Okay, Uzumaki-san. Your ninjutsu test is the creation of three clones."

Naruto could feel the whole world fall out from underneath her. She couldn't do clones. She could do every other type of E-rank they could possibly ask, but not the bunshin. She'd already failed the written test as well.

She was so screwed.

But she tried anyway.

"Bunshin no Jutsu!" She cried out, her hands perspiring as they held the sign required for making clones.

Not a single clone appeared, much less the asked for three.

Iruka shook his head, looking over the marks that he had in front of him. He didn't need to average out Naruto's grade. Naruto didn't even need to average her grade. Two out of three bombed tests equalled a big, fat fail.

.o0o.

Hatake Kakashi smiled as he watched the children. He was on one of his many volunteer shifts as a guard over the shinobi day care centre for the children of ninja on duty who needed a babysitter that could be called upon at any time, day or night.

A tiny hand tugged on his pants and he looked down to see the cutest little silvery blond haired kid ever looking up at him.

"Ara?" The child couldn't have been more than eighteen months old and the fact that he was walking, or at least toddling with a minor amount of falls, spoke of either high intelligence or high curiosity. With children, it could be either. Or both. Most likely both.

"Hello," Kakashi hunkered down on his toes, crouching and settling his hands under the child's arms to steady him, "And what are you doing all the way over here?" He asked, his eye curving up in an upside down smile.

The child stared at him with the widest, bluest eyes Kakashi had seen in years and reached out to his face. Kakashi chuckled as the child fumbled at the mask covering his face. He wasn't dexterous enough to get his fingers under the edge of the mask to pull it down, but he was valiantly trying anyway.

Standing up and settling the child on his hip, Kakashi made his way back to the main area of the day care. The child continued to fumble at his mask and Kakashi couldn't help but keep laughing because instead of getting angry at his failure, the kid was giggling gaily at the challenge.

"Oh, Kakashi-san," An Akimichi strode over to him and the boy and reached out for the child, "Thank you for bringing Hito-chan back. He just keeps slipping away from us." Kakashi regretfully handed Hito off to the day care worker as she turned her attention to the boy, "And you just keep getting out of that dreadful pen!" She cooed, "You really are your mother's son, Hito-chan, vanishing without a trace." She gave him a gentle Eskimo-kiss, rubbing their noses together and Hito laughed at her antics, patting her cheeks gently.

"Maa, it's no trouble," Kakashi murmured.

"Thank you anyway, Kakashi-san," The Akimichi looked over her shoulder at the jounin as she walked back to the 'dreadful pen' that Hito had already escaped once from.

Unable to stop himself, Kakashi took a step after them, "Did you want me to keep an extra eye on Hito-chan? In case he gets out again?"

"Oh, you don't have to-"

"I'd like to," Kakashi waved her protests off, "I have a special feeling about that kid. He's going to be a handful."

She laughed and shook her head at him, "He already is a handful, but if you're willing to keep an eye out for him, I would greatly appreciate it; he's a little escape artist. Thank you, Kakashi-san."

As she walked away, back to the other children in the play room, Kakashi murmured to himself, "More than willing."

.o0o.

Someone cleared their throat from behind him and Kakashi looked over his shoulder at the blond teenager that was staring at him with laughter in her blue eyes.

"Can I help you?" He asked, thinking that she was another volunteer guard for the Day Care.

"I'd like to go home," She smiled broadly, her face lighting up. She tucked a short lock of hair over her ear and Hito, still in Kakashi's hands squealed.

"Kaa-chan! Kaa-chan!" Hito made grasping motions at the young woman and it took a moment for Kakashi to realize that this teenager wasn't a babysitter or guard, but a family member. The boy was obviously confusing his mother with his sister.

He looked down to Hito and then to her and he could very clearly see the resemblance between them. If Hito's whole family looked so similar it wouldn't be a surprise that Hito couldn't see the differences as young as he was.

"I apologize," Kakashi murmured, standing up and cradling the fifteen month old to his chest, "I hadn't realized you were Hito-chan's sister."

Instead of laughing or waving it off, the blond frowned, "I'm his mother," She said flatly, all humour draining from her.

Kakashi balked. "How old are you?"

"It doesn't matter," She shook his question off, "I am Yamamoto Tatsumaki and you have my son. I'd like to go home now, please."

"Of course," Kakashi rocked Hito a bit before handing the boy to his mother, Gods but Kakashi was shocked by how young she looked.

Tatsumaki smiled brightly at Hito and kissed his nose. "Hey there, Chibi," She whispered to him as she started back to the desk to sign her son out of the log book.

Kakashi watched the teenager leave and when he couldn't see her anymore, went to the desk to talk to the head of the Day Care. "Do you know how old Yamamoto-san is, Mito-san?"

"I don't think it's any of your business," Akimichi Mito said in a warning tone, "You're too attached to Hito-chan in the first place."

"I'm not going to stalk Yamamoto-san or Hito-chan," Kakashi replied with a bit of bite to his words, "I was just wondering when it had become acceptable for a thirteen year old to get pregnant."

"All teenager's experiment," Mito sighed, "I guess it just went too far. Yamamoto-san is taking responsibility for the baby though, so that speaks well of her."

Curious now, Kakashi cocked his head to the side, "Do you know who the father is? Hito looks just like Yamamoto-san, I couldn't see any influence of the patriarch except a little in the hair colour under the sun." Hito's hair was gold, just like Tatsumaki's, but at times, under most light sources, it would shimmer with silver highlights.

"Yamamoto-san didn't say," Mito commented, opening the file drawer and pulling a file, "Ah, here," she flipped the file open and browsed it, "No, she didn't state a father, though she did say that the other parent is 'deceased'."

"I see," Kakashi murmured to himself. 'Deceased' could mean a lot of different things for shinobi. She could be hiding who the father was or she could be telling the truth. No one would know unless they knew her and her situation. She was a little bit of a mystery and Kakashi liked mysteries because he rarely found one that he couldn't figure out within moments. "How long has she been bringing Hito-chan here?"

"Well, she first started visiting when she was pregnant," Mito looked over the file again, "Her file says that she requested to be allowed to observe the Day Care to see if it was what she wanted. I remember her from her first visit," Mito put the file down and leaned back in her chair, "She mentioned in the beginning that she wasn't sure that she would be keeping the baby, but as you can see, she didn't put Hito-chan up for adoption or give him to the orphanage, so we know what she decided."

"She was going to give Hito-chan up?" Kakashi frowned, "She obviously loves him immensely. Why would she be unsure whether she was keeping him or not?"

Mito shrugged and shook her head, "I can't comprehend giving a child up, but perhaps her family was forcing her to get rid of the baby once she refused to abort it."

"What does the file say about her family?" Kakashi asked, his curiosity growing, "Who are the emergency contacts?"

"Hm," Mito frowned as she read the file, "Nothing about her family and as for the contacts... just her," Mito's voice was confused, as though she didn't know what was going on, "I don't understand. We don't allow children into the Day Care without two contacts, especially the main contact is an active shinobi. We need someone that can be responsible for the child even if it's a neighbour."

"Curiouser and curiouser," Kakashi muttered.

Mito sighed, "I'll have to ask her tomorrow morning for another contact number. If she can't provide one, we'll have to turn her away."

Kakashi shot a sharp look at the Akimichi, "What are you talking about? Hito-chan's been coming here since before he was born, and just now you're going to refuse to take him in? What is Yamamoto-san supposed to do then? She's shinobi, she has missions."

"I apologize, Kakashi-san, but under our rules, we need to have two contacts for every child. She can go to the orphanage to get another contact number in the most dire of circumstances, but we don't raise children at the Day Care, we babysit." Mito was honestly feeling bad about having to tell Tatsumaki that the Day Care couldn't take Hito in the morning, Kakashi could see that.

Biting his lip, Kakashi looked at Mito with a dark eye. "Mito-san, do you trust me?"

Mito looked at him with wide eyes, "Of course, Kakashi-san."

"Put me down as Hito-chan's second contact, his emergency contact."

"Kakashi-san!" Mito exclaimed, shocked.

"I'll tell Yamamoto-san tomorrow that I'm her son's emergency contact, and that for now, she can use me. When she finds someone else to use, that's fine, but for now," Kakashi shrugged one shoulder, "I like Hito-chan. I wouldn't mind taking responsibility for him for a while if something happens to Yamamoto-san."

Mito stared at Kakashi with still wide eyes, but put the file on the desk and got out a pen. She continued to glance up at him while she put his name on the file.

Kakashi couldn't help but smile at Mito and wave good bye as he left. He felt surprisingly alive at the moment. Maybe he would visit Gai and see what game his old friend would challenge him with.

.o0o.

"So, why did you have Hito so young anyway?" Mitarashi Anko swung her feet back and forth as she leaned back on her seat, watching Tatsumaki out of the corner of her eye. She'd been introduced to the young mother by Gai several months ago and had taken an almost instant liking to the blond and her son. "I mean, you're what, sixteen? That means you got pregnant when you were late thirteen or fourteen because Hito's almost two, right?"

Tatsumaki went very still and blinked slowly, "I was very young when I got pregnant, yes." She tucked a short lock of blond hair behind her ear and looked down at the ground, "It wasn't planned, Anko-san."

Anko smirked, her crassness coming out in full force, "So where's the father? Your boyfriend diddle you and run off?"

"Oh," Tatsumaki's tan face went pale and all emotion fled her eyes, "I was 'diddled' alright." She stood and walked away, never turning back even with Anko calling after her, first in patronization and then worry.

Anko watched her young friend walk away and suddenly she realized what had happened to make the boisterous teenager so quiet and shut down.

Hirohito was the result of rape.

It must have happened on a mission, Anko figured, a little horrified to realize that she had brought up some very bad memories that Tatsumaki had obviously never had the chance to deal with.

"Anko?" Yuhi Kurenai's voice startled Anko and the tokubetsu jounin turned wide eyes to the genjutsu expert.

"You know Tatsumaki-chan, right?"

"Yes," Kurenai drew out slowly, unsure of where Anko was going with her enquiry, "Why?"

"You know her son?"

"Hito-chan? He's an adorable kid."

Anko bit her lip in indecision before nodding sharply to herself. "Tatsumaki got pregnant on a mission. By an enemy shinobi."

Kurenai's face blanched, "But that means she would have been-" -raped. She wasn't able to say it out loud.

"Yeah," Anko spat at the ground, furious at both herself for bringing the subject up and at Maki's jounin sensei for not helping the woman when she'd needed it, "Her jounin sensei never got her any counselling either."

Horrified, Kurenai sat carefully beside Anko, "How do you know?"

"I asked her where the father was and she just shut down. Completely."

Red eyes wide, Kurenai could feel worry creeping up her spine, raising goosebumps on the back of her neck, "Anko-" Her voice was harsh and quiet, "Do you think Tatsumaki-chan would do anything... dangerous in her state of mind?"

The same horror in Kurenai's mind reflected back to her from Anko's eyes as the hebi shinobi thought hard and fast about what little she knew of her friend.

"I- I want to say no, because she has Hito-chan... but... I- I can't. Oh gods," Anko stood up, her body practically vibrating with worry, "Do you think...?" She trailed off and Kurenai stood just as fast as Anko had.

"Go to the Day Care. Find out if Tatsumaki has already dropped Hito-chan off or not. If not, warn Akimichi Mito not to let her leave when she gets there. Then go to training ground fifty-two; I sometimes see her there with Gai-san."

"Wait," Anko grabbed her elbow, "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to check in with everyone who knows her."

Anko's face dropped, "What if we don't find her?" She whispered in fear.

"I- I don't know. Just-" Kurenai shook her head, "If Hito-chan is at the Day Care, tell Kakashi-san to keep a close eye on him and to not let Tatsumaki take him if she comes back for him until we know that she's stable."

.o0o.

Kakashi had listened closely to Anko's warning and to her information as to why it was important that he not let Tatsumaki leave his sight if he saw her.

It was a little horrifying for him to know that the cute child in his arms, trying to finger paint his mask in pink and orange, was the result of a brutal assault. He'd had a special place in his heart for Hirohito ever since he'd first met the boy and knowing the pain in Hito's mother's past was just so horrible.

Thankfully it was nearing the time when Tatsumaki would normally pick Hito up, so Kakashi was almost impatiently waiting for her to show up. Anko and Kurenai had reported that no one could find her and the mission desk nin hadn't given out a mission to the blond chuunin. At least, that's what everyone had decided she must be, she was too powerful to be genin, but not controlled enough to be jounin. Pretty much anyone who knew the girl was standing watch for her.

Maito Gai had showed up at the Day Care several hours ago, so far in his worry as to forgo his usual training to wait with Kakashi and Hito. Kakashi hadn't known before that afternoon that Tatsumaki would sometimes train with Gai. Gai mentioned that her taijutsu was pretty bad at first but quickly began picking up, as though she had learnt it before but had gotten out of practise. That or she was just a natural kinesthetic learner. It made sense for the former though, given that she had only started back to work after presumably going on maternity leave.

Hito giggled in his arms and placed his hand against Kakashi's mask, fingers spread, orange paint getting on to his hitai-ite. Kakashi smiled and Hito could feel it under his hand. The boy giggled again and Gai turned his attention to the pair.

"My Friend," Gai rarely addressed Kakashi as a friend instead of a rival, but in times of trouble the taijutsu expert became as serious as was needed, "Tatsumaki-san is Late."

Kakashi tickled Hito's ribs absently, "Only by fifteen minutes, Gai. She'll come."

"How are you Sure of this?" Gai asked, concerned.

"She loves Hito-chan," Kakashi muttered, letting Hito nuzzle his neck. The boy was surprisingly animalistic at times. He wondered if it was something that he'd inherited from one of his parents or if he had learnt it from watching Tatsumaki.

Tatsumaki could be occasionally more feral than an Inuzuka. There had been minor speculation among her friends if there was any relation between her and the Inuzuka clan, but the rumours had gone no where and were eventually dropped.

Gai nodded to Kakashi's short-hand logic and sat back, as impatient as the Copy-Nin was to see Tatsumaki and know that she was okay.

The gate to the Day Care grounds opened and both nin snapped their attention to it. Hito looked up from where he was chewing on Kakashi's vest collar and started waving his hands in the air wildly.

"Kaa-chan!" The boy wiggled like he was made of Jello and Kakashi had to set him down for fear of dropping him. Hito toddled his way to Tatsumaki who lifted the boy and threw him gently into the air before catching him and cuddling him close.

"Hello, Hito-chan," she murmured into Hito's brilliant, shimmery gold hair that almost matched her own, "Were you a good boy today?"

Kakashi stepped forward then, drawing the teenagers attention, "He was excellent, like he always is. Tatsumaki-san," he pursed his lips, "Are you okay?"

The look she gave him was of pure blank curiosity. Fake blank curiosity. "What do you mean, Kakashi-san?" She enquired back.

Kakashi took another step towards her and wasn't surprised when she shuffled backwards a little, "Are you feeling okay, Tatsumaki-san? Today must have been very hard for you."

"Today was fine," Tatsumaki shook her head, "No different from any other day." She paused and then forced a chuckle out as she looked towards Gai, "In fact, today was very good, thanks to all the training you've been going through with me, Gai-san. I truly appreciate your hard work on my taijutsu."

"Ah, my Youthful Sparring Partner! You Honor me with your Words," Gai bowed to Tatsumaki and she nodded her head back.

Hito ignored everyone and played with his mother's bright hair.

"Thank you, Kakashi-san, for watching my son," Tatsumaki smiled brokenly and turned to walk away. Kakashi wasn't about to let her leave though, not when she looked like she was going to shatter into a million pieces.

Unthinkingly he reached out and grabbed her shoulder to stop her from leaving the day care grounds.

She trembled under his gloved hand and sucked in a frightened breath, "Please, let me go." Kakashi dropped his hand like he'd been touching something burning.

"I apologize, Tatsumaki-san-"

"I just-" She stopped speaking, but turned to face the two jounin, burying her face in her son's hair, refusing to look at them, "I would just like to be left alone for a while, Kakashi-san, Gai-san. I've been around people all day, and I haven't had a chance to settle myself."

Gai spoke this time, catching on to her meaning as fast as Kakashi had, "Which People have you been around today, Tatsumaki-san? We Looked for you Everywhere and asked Everyone who knows you, where you Were." A highly unusual frown made it's way onto Gai's bold face, "We were Concerned."

"No need for you to be concerned, Gai-san." The blond, leggy teenager shook her head and busied her hands with straightening her son's clothing, "I'm undergoing a long term mission. I've been working it for almost five years and I have about three months left to go." She finished with Hito's clothing and then looked a little lost as she muttered, "-if nothing else goes wrong."

Kakashi's mind was all wrapped up in the mystery of Tatsumaki. She'd been on a mission for almost five years. She would have gotten pregnant about half way through it. She didn't want to get pregnant. She also just said that something had gone wrong on her mission already; and Kakashi was pretty sure that she meant Hito, though she obviously loved Hito now.

So then, what was she worried would happen in the next few months? Was it possible that she was being put into situations where she might get pregnant again; that she might be raped again?

"Tatsumaki-san," Kakashi wanted to step closer to her, to reassure her that it was going to be alright, but he knew that he couldn't. She was still afraid of men, she hadn't dealt with her past and she'd had a shock this morning that she hadn't recovered from. As well as worrying about being raped again on her mission.

She blinked, shaken out of her memories and fears and nodded curtly to Kakashi, "Again, thank you for looking after Hito-chan. I know he can be a handful since he's got my energy." With nothing else for her to say, she turned back to the road and this time, Kakashi let her go.

"My Friend?" Gai spoke up, curiously. He was jounin of course, but he wasn't a genius like Kakashi was.

"She's afraid that it'll happen again," Kakashi muttered, staring after her retreating form, "She thinks she's in danger in her mission, and that she might be raped again," Black despair filled his heart, "-and we can't do anything to help her because it's a mission. If we interfere with her mission, it could cost her her life, not just her body."

Gai's hand settled on his shoulder and Kakashi wondered when it was that he's started to trust Gai with not only his professional life, but his personal one as well. Kakashi was a very private person, but Gai seemed to have managed to worm his way in. "We'll do All that we can to Help Protect her," Gai told him softly, knowing what was in Kakashi's heart as well as Kakashi knew, "And we'll do All that we can to Help her Recover once her mission is over."

Gai knew, just as Kakashi knew, that they would not be interfering with the mission that she was on. It was horrible to think that such a young teenager had been given such a mission, but they all knew the risks when joining the shinobi ranks and there was nothing that could be done.

They could make it worse than it already was if they interfered, or followed her, or tried to get information about what she was doing. So they couldn't do anything at all.

.o0o.

"Oh my gods!" Tatsumaki slumped against Kakashi side, "You wouldn't believe how freaking immature they are!" She whined, "I mean, I know kids that age are supposed to be immature, but really?" She rolled her eyes and gestured with a free hand, the other holding the ice cream cone Kakashi had bought for her. "Fuck, sometimes it makes me want to bash my head in." She chuckled and brought the ice cream up to lick at it.

Kakashi couldn't help the small smile that was turning his lips up, "You've been dealing with young children?"

Tatsumaki glanced up at him, pausing mid-lick, her tongue stuck out of her mouth and covered with white frozen cream. Kakashi tried very hard not to let that effect him. She huffed, and pulled the cone away, closing her mouth and swallowing the ice cream, "I can't confirm that," She straightened from her slouch against him and rubbed the back of her head with a bit of a blush covering her tan cheeks, "But if I am, they aren't my children and they aren't as young as Hito-chan."

Kakashi responded to her smirk with a barking laugh, amused by this amazing woman. Here she was, on a long term mission, fearing for her personal safety and raising a child conceived of rape and yet... she was so energetic and happy and open.

He had invited her out to have some time for a break because she was only about sixteen years old and had been working so hard and he knew that even at twenty-four he still liked ice cream so that was what he'd ended up suggesting. So they'd both hugged and kissed Hirohito, mentioned to Mito that they'd return in a bit and went out for said ice cream.

Kakashi was relatively sure that he was going to be questioned about his 'date' with the ever elusive Yamamoto-san when he returned to the Day Care, but he didn't really consider this a date. This was more of a 'get-to-know-you-better' moment. Shinobi didn't usually have time to go out in groups of friends and then pair off with the most compatible mate they found, so they'd outlined a few pre-dating activities so that both parties knew what they were actually being vetted for dating.

Ice cream wasn't on the 'list', but coffee was. Kakashi had asked Tatsumaki if she wanted to get coffee, but had been told that the young woman didn't drink coffee. Tatsumaki had been the one to suggest dango, but Kakashi felt that hit on 'date' to much so they'd compromised on a nice walk in one of the parks and a cone of ice cream.

"So, do you have any other children Tatsumaki-san, or just Hito-chan?" Kakashi asked when they'd both been silent for a short while, wanting to know more about the young woman he was starting to really like.

"Oh please," Tatsumaki waved a hand in the air, "You can call me Maki; and no, I only have Hito-chan."

Kakashi felt his heart flutter in his chest when he was told he was allowed to call her by a familiar nickname. He hadn't thought that she liked him that much. "Only Hito-chan," he repeated, "Did you have plans for more children in the future?"

Maki rolled her eyes, "Yeah, no. I'm far too young to be thinking about having more children right now. Maybe in eight to ten years I'll have another child, but Hito is more than enough at my age." She signed then, "I always imagined a big family when I was younger though, so I'll most likely want more than two altogether."

Not really surprised, Kakashi nodded along with her. She'd been raped and impregnated so young that he could understand that she'd want to wait until she was twenty-five to have more children. That she wanted at least two more children was a good sign for him as he himself had plans for two to three children. Two of his own and Hito? he mused silently to himself.

"What do you like to do in your off time, Maki-san," Kakashi asked, curious. She had to have personal pursuits as well as her job and child.

Biting her lips, Maki hummed under her breath, "I don't know. I like to train. I like, uhm, well, I used to pull pranks all the time, but I've sort of switched those over to shogi and go for the planning and execution of strategy and tactics since Hito-chan." She mused some more, than smiled up at him, "I like to read adventure books. I don't like textbooks, and I don't have an opinion of history books, though I like to learn about shinobi history. I've been told that I'm an auditory and kinesthetic learner, not a visual person. I don't do lectures either, but if you tell me something interesting, I'll remember it."

Considering that information, Kakashi offered up some information on himself, "I like to train as well. I enjoy reading- various materials, including textbooks," he gave Maki a sly grin and she chuckled at their differences rather than scoffing, "I like to learn every which way possible; but then, I'm a bit smarter than the average person."

"Really?" Maki wasn't questioning his claim, she was trying to quantify it, "How much smarter?"

"I became chuunin when I was six." Kakashi remarked off offhandedly. He wasn't bragging, and he knew that she understood that, "I made jounin when I was fourteen and created my first original jutsu then. I could read by the time I was thirteen months old and spoke my first word at the age of seven months."

Maki stared at him with wide eyes, "Wow. That is totally amazing. You're like, a genius!" Kakashi was about to respond when Maki continued, not giving him space to talk, "I bet you know the most awesome of jutsu if you've been jounin for so long! Could you teach me some? I mean, I've been training with Gai on my taijutsu and I probably don't know half of what I should know to be a battle shinobi, but I wasn't exactly trained that way in the first place. I love sparring! If I could, I would totally be on a front line team. Hell, I have chakra reserves up to my fucking eyeballs, but apparently I have- other talents." Maki trailed off and Kakashi had to fight from reassuring her that he didn't just like the way she looked.

He had figured out quickly that she'd been trained primarily in infiltration and seduction straight out of the Academy, so obviously she wouldn't know the battle skills that most chuunin had. It almost made him sick to his stomach that Maki had been chosen to learn the seduction arts over her own wishes to be a battle shinobi simply because she was beautiful. And it wasn't a surprise that she'd not use the skills she did know outside of her missions if she hadn't have wanted them in the first place.

"I'd be more than happy to show you a few jutsu, Maki-san," Kakashi slowly, cautiously, extending his arm and Maki didn't flinch away from him, but wound her own arm around his, locking their elbows together, "Do you have any chakra control exercises?" If she wanted to move from the Seduction Division in ANBU to be a battle shinobi, she'd need to cover pretty much everything from genin training up.

Though now it made a lot more sense about her taijutsu. A seductress wouldn't need taijutsu so all that she would have learnt would have been the basic academy taijutsu, being too busy learning a horizontal 'taijutsu', and the academy had been years ago for Maki. Her quick study was easily be attributed to her dedication and kinesthetic learning ability in his mind.

"Ah, no?" Maki winced and bit her lip, "I can't make clones, but I can do body switches, transformations, rope escapes, and the cloaked invisibility. I know most E-rank jutsu and a few D's." She sounded embarrassed and Kakashi was sure it was because the ones that she had explicitly stated she knew, where used mostly by the ANBU Seduction Division after a shinobi had made chuunin. Very few battle chuunin would use simplistic forms of jutsu; battle shinobi needed more powerful jutsu to counteract an enemy's powerful jutsu. Seduction shinobi rarely were sent on a mission they couldn't get through using just E rank jutsu as they mostly dealt with softer, civilian targets.

And anything more powerful that Maki knew, she wouldn't be telling him because the ANBU Seduction Division were very secretive about their jutsu. Besides, Kakashi was sure that the more powerful jutsu that she knew would involve a lot less clothing and morals.

There was one thing that bothered Kakashi though; "You can't make a clone?"

"Yeah! I don't know what's wrong with the stupid things, but they come out looking like their high on something and then they just, explode!" Maki shook her head, "It's very annoying!"

"Have you tried to make water clones, or even shadow clones?"

Maki stopped walking, pulling Kakashi to a halt by their still connected arms, "Excuse me? Listen, oh Great One, I can't make regular clones. What makes you think I'll be able to make elemental clones?" She frowned, "And what the hell is a shadow clone?"

A smile played on Kakashi's lips, "Well, you did mention that you have a lot of chakra. It's possible that you're overloading your clone, causing them to look weird and then explode. Shadow clones have so much chakra in them that they're solid clones that can take a pretty serious hit before dispersing."

It took a moment, but then Maki snorted, "You suck. Totally." Kakashi cocked his head in silent question and Maki explained herself, "I spent years in the academy, not being able to do a clone, and here you are; you listen to my explanation of what happens and poof! You have an answer. If only you'd hung out around the school."

"Aah," Kakashi mocked her lightly, "-but then I could have been mistaken for a stalker. I mean, I'm ten years older than you. Do you really think you wanted an eighteen to twenty year old stalking you when you where in the academy? That surely would have effected your ability to concentrate."

Maki laughed with him, sing-songingly mocking as well, "But I would have been able to do the clone!"

They continued laughing together for a bit as they finished their cones.

A sudden thought occurred to Kakashi and he looked down to the woman who was contently hanging onto his arm, looking around the park with interest. "So, you haven't asked to see my face," he commented lightly. He'd never before meet someone who hadn't asked within the first two days of knowing him. Maki had known him as one of her child's guardians for almost five weeks and now they'd just spent about an hour together and she still hadn't asked, or even looked closely at his face.

Maki didn't even look away from where she was watching some of the upcoming graduating class of the academy play-slash-train, racing through the trees, a game of capture the flag at it's finest. "Don't really care what you look like," she muttered, her emotions dipping for some reason, "At least you like me and invite me out to do stuff."

Warmth filled Kakashi and he stared at Maki with wonder. She liked him. She didn't care if he was handsome, or cute, or scarred, or that he looked like his father, she just... liked him. For him.

It was a novel experience for Kakashi. All the enemies Kakashi had, he had because of his reputation. Everyone he considered a friend, even Gai, had wanted to know him in the beginning because of what he was, instead of who he was.

Maki liked him for who he was.

As they made their way back to the Day Care, Kakashi could feel his heart beating heavily with something. Maki liked him.

They were met by Hito clinging to the gates of the Day Care fence. When the toddler spotted his mother he yelled and clapped with excitement. Kakashi realized that Hito was used to getting picked up generally around five and that by asking Maki to spend time with him instead of her son, he was asking her to chose between him and her son.

He wouldn't do that again. Next time it would be planned. Next time Hito could come as well. He didn't want to separate Maki from Hito.

"Hello, darling!" Maki cuddled Hito to herself, petting his hair and kissing his cheeks and nose. Hito kissed her back enthusiastically, his tiny hands cupping her ears. Both of them giggled and Kakashi couldn't help but smile at the sight of them. Hito was practically a male clone of Maki and seeing them together was adorable.

"'Tashi-chan!" Hito turned from his mother to Kakashi and reached out with both hands towards the jounin, leaning away from Maki and making her support his body so that he didn't fall. Maki laughed at Hito's antics and nodded for Kakashi to take the boy.

"Why, hello there, Hito-chan," Kakashi bussed Hito's forehead and the toddler, to Kakashi's surprise, reached for his own neck and fumbled for a moment before lifting his orange shirt up and pulling it over his nose before pressing his covered mouth to Kakashi's chin and making kissing noises.

"Awww!" Maki cooed at them, her hands pressed up against her chin, "You guys are so adorable!"

A blush made it's way over Kakashi's cheeks, thankfully hidden by his mask, and he cuddled Hito to his chest. What a strange feeling he had in his chest. He wasn't sure what it was, but he'd figure it out. All he knew right now was that he didn't want to give Hito back to Maki so that they could go home.

Maki laughed again, this time at his embarrassed silence and she stepped into his personal space to collect Hito from him. She had to pry the child off of him, but Kakashi wasn't really against the hold Hito had on his vest.

"Okay Hito-chan, you have to let Kakashi go now, so you can go home," Kakashi told Hito gently as he helped Maki disengage her son from him and they chuckled at his grasping hands, Hito not wanting to let go of Kakashi at all. Once Hito was safely in Maki's arms, Kakashi paused for a moment then leaned down and kissed the top of Hito's head, and Maki's, before backing away. "Have a safe trip home," he said quietly.

Maki smiled at him softly and nodded, "You too, Kakashi." And then she turned and left with Hito hanging himself over her shoulder, waving goodbye frantically to the jounin.

Someone poked his side and Kakashi was surprised to realize that someone had snuck up on him.

"So you're dating Yamamoto-san!" Akimichi Mito cooed, "She's been alone for so long! I think you'll do each other well!"

Kakashi lifted a hand, backing away, "Not dating, Mito-san. We just went for a walk."

Mito eyeballed him, "You had ice cream," she said it like it was hard evidence of something, "-and Hito-chan likes you too."

"Mito-san," Kakashi started only to be interrupted.

"Of course, Hito-chan likes everyone, but he never emulates anyone but his mother. That means that he wants to be like you," Mito told him sternly, "And that means that you have to step up and be a man!"

"Of course, Mito-san," Kakashi bowed his head to her and flickered away, hoping to get away without her following him.

He couldn't help but think about what she had told him though. It wasn't exactly ego boosting to have a child emulate him, but there was something that made him feel giddy to know that Maki's son liked him enough to treat him like family. He wondered what Maki thought of her son copying him.

He hoped she was okay with it.

.o0o.

Anko stared. Hito stared back. Anko leaned in a little, raising an eyebrow. Hito blinked innocently.

"Fine! You win!" Anko threw up her arms and slumped back in her seat, pushing the last ball of Dango over to the kid. If there was one thing she liked about babysitting, it was that she could fill the kid up with candy and sugar and send him home.

Gai watched them in loud amusement, "I See that Tatsumaki-san has Allowed you to Watch Over her Son for her." The man bounced on the balls of his feet and Hito turned to stare at him. Gai gave the baby a huge grin and Hito giggled, reaching out for the shiny teeth that had caught his attention.

"Kid's just like his mom. Gods, always distracted by shiny stuff," Anko pulled a senbon from her weapons pouch and waved it in front of Hito's face. Hito's eyes latched onto it immediately. "So what're you doin' here, Gai-san?"

"I was only just on My Way Home from an Extensive Taijutsu practise with my Youthful Genin Team when I saw you and Hito-chan having a Glorious Moment of Rest and I just had to come over and Youthfully Greet you on this Beautiful Day. Also, I am Curiously Wondering where Tatsumaki-chan and Kakashi-san are, as they usually have Hito-chan With Them when it is after five o'clock."

"Eh," Anko kept one eye on the boy as she spoke with Gai, "Tatsumaki-chan said something about a date and Kakashi was trying to get her to let Hito-chan come with them, but Tatsumaki insisted that Hito didn't have to go with them every single time."

"Oh?" Gai blinked, "How Long has My Eternal Rival been dating Tatsumaki-chan?"

Hito grabbed the dancing senbon from Anko's hands and plopped himself down on the counter of the dango store, happily playing with it. Anko was mildly concerned until she remembered that Hito was Tatsumaki and Kakashi's son. She was sure that both of his parents had taught him not to play with sharp objects. Obviously he was keeping his hands away from the ends of the senbon.

She cooed at the pretty, weapons entranced baby before turning back to Gai, "I don't know, but you know that Hito is Kakashi's, right?"

Gai blinked at the tokubetsu jounin for a moment before he leaned in and spoke in the quietest voice she'd ever heard from the man, "You have realized that Tatsumaki-chan was only just fourteen when she became pregnant, correct?"

"Oh, pshaw." Anko waved her hand at the Green Beast of Konoha, "Obviously I know that, I was the one that figured out how she got pregnant. I meant that Kakashi's in love with Tatsumaki-chan and he wants to adopt Hito when they get married!"

There was almost an audible snap when Gai straightened in a startled movement, "They are to be Gloriously Wed?"

Anko nodded, checking on Hito only to see that he was perfectly fine. Well. The baby was fine, the senbon had managed to find it's way to the back wall of the dango hut, pinning one of the cook's large white hats to the wall. Hito was clapping and pointing enthusiastically and Anko was sure that even if Kakashi wasn't the biological father, Hito still took after him.

Who else but Kakashi's kid would have such aim, so young after all?

"I dunno if Kakashi's asked her yet, but he will. He's head over heels."

"Hey, whoa there, Darlin'," a fellow tokubetsu jounin stopped walking past them and hurried back, "Did you just say that Hatake Kakashi is in love?"

Anko gave Hito another senbon, this time watching him to see how he threw it, "Yeah, Genma, I said Kakashi is in love."

Genma leaned on the counter, looking at her and Gai intently, "With who?" He sounded vaguely incredulous and Anko laughed when Hito threw his second senbon and hit the hat that was pinned to the wall again. The toddler turned to Anko and held out his hand.

"'Nother one, p'ease Anko-ba-chan." Genma looked to the toddler in surprise and then did a double-take. Hito reached for the senbon that was in his mouth, "Shiny!"

"Whoa there, little guy," Genma leaned his head back, rolling the senbon to the other side of his mouth, out of reach and Hito crossed his arms, pouting. "So, uh, Anko-san. Who's kid?"

Anko laughed a little evilly, "This is Yamamoto Hirohito," Genma gave her a blank look, "Tatsumaki's kid. The girl that Kakashi is in love with."

Genma looked from the toddler to the wall with the two senbon in it to the toddler again, "Kakashi-san's aim?"

"His or Tatsumaki-chan's," Anko shrugged. "Not that she was very good to start with, but Tatsumaki-chan is a quick study. And I have yet to see Kakashi not learn something on the first try."

"Wait," Genma settled in a free seat, "Hirohito-chan is Kakashi's kid too?"

Anko smirked, "Well," she looked at Gai, "They are going to get married once Kakashi gets up the balls to ask her. I mean, she loves him too, you know? I don't think he's realized that he loves her back though."

"So," Genma blinked, trying to reconcile this news, "Kakashi-san is in love. He has a son. He's going to ask the mother of his child to marry him once he gets his head out of his ass."

"Yes, yes, and yes," Anko purred. She would relish the rumour mill having something to talk about in regards to Kakashi. It would probably be the first time that anyone would have the gumption to gossip about the genius, but with rumours like she was putting out, no one would be able to resist!

.o0o.

A knock on his door startled him and Kakashi rolled off his bed, leaving his bedroom and heading down the hall towards his front door. When he opened the door, he was shocked.

"Maki-san? Hito-chan? What're you doing here?"

"Um," Maki pursed her lips, adjusting the bag over her shoulder, her hair mussed and her face pinched. "You, uh, once offered up your place if I ever needed somewhere to go?" She sounded far more apprehensive that Kakashi had ever heard her before.

"Of course," He opened the door wider and let her inside, checking the hall behind her as he closed the door. He was only a little relieved that no one seemed to be paying attention to the beautiful mother knocking on his door.

"Thank you!" Maki let the child down, who then toddled off to the living room, and straightened up with a huff. "I didn't want to intrude, but I only need a place to sleep for one night."

"What happened?" Kakashi took the bag from her and showed her where she could put her sandals and hang her light coat. She was wearing a rather endearing shirt that proclaimed her the best mother in the world under her coat and Kakashi hid his amusement, worried about why she was at his place.

They were only just moving from pre-dates to actual dates and he wasn't entirely sure what was going on.

Rolling her eyes Maki sniffed a little haughtily, "They're fumigating my apartment building, but they never bothered to inform me, so I was packed up and kicked out just half an hour ago. I can't afford a hotel room for a week, but I can for five days, so I figure that I can stay with you tonight, get a hotel tomorrow and then for the last night Hito can stay at the Day Care and I'll... do something." She finally shrugged.

"Aa," Kakashi smiled then, "You know," he said as he showed her around his small apartment, the kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and bathroom, "You don't have to go to a hotel, Maki. You can crash here all week if you need a place to stay." He didn't really want her doing 'something' on the last night that she didn't have plans for. Whether she was sleeping in a tree or in someone's bed that she conned herself into, he didn't want her to have to do it.

"I don't want to intrude," Maki sighed as she settled on his couch with him, watching her son, "I'm sure you weren't expecting two totally uninvited guests for one night, never mind a week."

"It's not a problem," Kakashi was about to push it until his brain actually kicked into gear and he remembered that she'd had bad experiences with men and he didn't want to make her uncomfortable. Hito toddled over to his book shelf and Kakashi looked to Maki, "Can he read?" It wasn't as stupid a question as most would think because he had been able to read when he was two.

"Not yet," Maki smiled softly at the golden boy as he pulled out the brightly coloured books, "But if you have the Icha Icha special editions with pictures and let him open them up, I'll hurt you."

Kakashi sighed in relief and sat back, a bit more comfortable. He smiled broadly, "I keep those editions in my room," he told Maki with humour and she chuckled.

"Yeah, I was pretty sure you'd have the 'illustrated' copy." She looked at him slyly out of the corner of her eyes, "You seem childish like that."

Kakashi couldn't withhold a burst of laughter that didn't even startle Hito as he continued to pull books from the selves. Maki laughed with him and they settled down.

A feeling of contentment bubbled up inside and Kakashi had to push it aside because he didn't want to act outside of what Maki's expectations of him were. They were at a fragile place in their relationship and Kakashi wasn't sure where Maki wanted to go with it.

"Would you like some tea?" He asked quietly, gesturing to the kitchen, "I have peppermint and Sencha green."

Maki sighed, tired, "Peppermint would be nice. Does it have a lot of caffeine?"

"Caffeine-free," Kakashi said over his shoulder as he pulled the old tea kettle from the cupboard and filled it, "I usually have tea before bed and I certainly don't need something with caffeine after a hard day." He might have to go out and buy a proper tea-set if Maki liked to have tea often. It didn't feel right to make Maki drink tea out of his old kettle and a battered coffee cup.

"So true," Maki moaned and stretched out on the couch. Kakashi set the water to boil and leaned back against the counter, just watching her. Hito toddled across the floor and pulled himself up onto the couch, crawling over his mother and settling between her and the back of the couch under her arm.

Absently he smiled, his eyes softening, "You seem tired. Did you have a bad day today?"

"Oh, nothing too bad. Just... stuff," she whispered as she waved her hand in the air, "I mean, I have like, less than a month left, barring problems. I'll be doing regular missions after that."

Kakashi couldn't hold back a sigh of relief and Maki looked over to him curiously, careful not to wake the child sleeping on her. Kakashi just nodded to her, "It's good that you'll be able to stop and get to do real missions." He went over what he said and then checked himself, "Not that what you're doing right now isn't a real mission, but I mean that you said you wanted to be on the front line. After your long term mission is over you should be able to do whatever you want, right?" The ANBU-Yu usually only had people spend two to four years with them because of the high breakdown percentage after four years on the job.

To know that Maki was almost done her time with ANBU-Yu was good. Excellent, even. It created a feeling in him that he didn't know how to classify.

"I hope so," Maki nodded. The water began to boil and Kakashi turned back to grab two cups and two peppermint tea bags.

"Cream or sweetener?" He asked over his shoulder as he dumped a teaspoon of honey into his own mug. Maki murmured a negative to both so he collected the mugs and made his way back to the living room.

She sat up carefully, making sure that Hito didn't wake and took her cup, blowing over the top before taking the tiniest sip. "Hmm." She smiled over the rim of the mug and Kakashi couldn't help but smile back.

"So, you don't have any family in Konoha?" Kakashi opened the conversation, hoping for a little more information about Maki. Since she had to resort to staying at a friend's place, he was assuming that she didn't have any family, but wanted confirmation.

"No," She sipped at her tea, "I'm an orphan." She stopped and bit her lip, "At least, I hope I am." Kakashi was confused and she could obviously see the question in his grey eye, "Well see, I was found after the Kyuubi attack and sent to an orphanage. I wasn't claimed or even looked for, that I know of. I'd rather have dead parents than deadbeat ones." She shrugged, "Pretty brutal, I know, but," she shrugged again, "That's just the way I feel."

She would have been about four during the attack, Kakashi realized. "You don't remember anything from before?"

"No," She shook her head, "They even gave me a birthday of October tenth because that's when they got me."

Kakashi winced, "That must have been hard, having a birthday then?"

"It certainly isn't a picnic," She snarked, "At least Hirohito was born in the summer."

"When is Hito's birthday?" Kakashi leaned back in his chair, watching Maki pet Hito's gold hair gently.

The young woman smiled softly at her son, "Four weeks. Almost to the day- 25th of June. He'll be two."

Curiosity, and the fact that Maki was answering his questions, drew Kakashi out to ask another question about something that he thought odd, "So, his name." Kakashi smirked, "Pretty epic?"

Maki chucked under her breath, "I like epic," she smirked back and Kakashi rolled his eyes a little, "Besides, you only get to name a child once. I thought I'd go all out."

"What were your other choices?"

"Uh," Maki blushed suddenly and Kakashi perked up. This ought to be good. "I had thought about Hiruzen, after the Sandaime. Or Hashirama for the Shodaime." Her blush deepened, "And I don't know why I'm telling you this, but I had thought about Sakumo as well."

Kakashi coughed, startled. It felt like Gai had punched him in the face unexpectedly. "S-Sakumo?"

"Yeah. I told you that I like learning shinobi history as long it's not from text books and I heard your father's story when I was younger from... someone who had known him. I think Hatake Sakumo was a great man. I would have been proud to name my son Sakumo."

Still stunned, Kakashi studied Maki and Hito for a bit. Maki fidgeted under his gaze, but didn't look away. Finally, Kakashi nodded, "I think... he would have liked that." His father had been doing what he thought was right after all. And since Obito's death, Kakashi had a new appreciation for his father's sacrifices.

Maki graced him with a thankful smile, glad that he wasn't mad at her and Kakashi turned his attention to his tea, unsure of how to react in the settling awkwardness.

They were silent for a time, and then Hito half woke up, crawling into Maki's lap. Maki cuddled the boy close. "It's late," She whispered to Kakashi though she didn't look away from Hito, "I should go to bed. I have work tomorrow."

"Of course," Kakashi stood and held out a hand. Maki stared at it for a moment before taking it and letting him help her to her feet. "I'll get the extra futon out of the closet for Hito-chan."

Maki nodded and disappeared into the bathroom with her bag and son to get ready for bed. Kakashi set the futon up beside the guest bed. If either of his beds had been a double, he would have let Maki have that one since she would have been able to sleep with her son right beside her but unfortunately both his bed and his guest bed were singles. Kakashi figured that Maki would rather her son be on the futon to stay closer to the floor so he didn't roll off it and hurt himself.

There was a shuffle by the door and Kakashi looked up from where he was tucking in the ends of the sheet. The sight of Maki standing in the doorway wearing, what he guessed to be, only a long tee-shirt and a pair of panties while holding her son in his pj's practically stopped his brain. He would have reacted if he hadn't had a lot of experience keeping his mind in a tight situation.

"I changed the sheets and got an extra blanket for both of you. I apologize but sometimes it gets cold in the apartment at night."

"Thank you," Maki murmured, watching him like a hawk. He stood and went to the edge of the room. Maki blinked and shook herself before entering the room, carefully leaving lots of space between them as she settled Hito under the covers of the futon and kissing his forehead. She turned to look at him as he walked calmly to the door and stepped outside of the room.

"Have a good night, Maki-chan," Kakashi said softly before closing the door in his own face and going to his room. He closed his own door and spun, slumping against the door and looking up at the ceiling, biting his lip. "Oh dear gods, what are you doing to me?" He muttered before shaking the feeling off and changing into a pair of sweats and going to bed himself.

He debated for a moment of sleeping with his mask on, nothing he hadn't done before on missions, before shaking his head and taking the material off his face. He was at home, he didn't need to hide.

And if Maki or Hito saw his face in the morning, he was strangely okay with that.

.o0o.

Whimpers from Maki's room woke him in the middle of the night. Maki and Hito had been sleeping in his apartment for five days now and Kakashi had gotten used to midnight toddler wake-ups, but the whimpers he could hear now weren't Hito's. They were coming from Maki.

Moving carefully, Kakashi made his way to Maki's door and knocked lightly enough that Maki should hear it, but that it wouldn't wake Hito.

"-mm-no, pleas- ugh- mm-"

Maki's voice was low and pain filled and Kakashi couldn't stop himself from opening the door to look in on the young woman. "Maki-chan?" He called softly, hoping not startle or scare her.

She moaned in pain again and tossed on the bed, half fighting an invisible foe in her sleep, "-nooooo-"

Kakashi quickly stepped around Hito's futon and sat on the edge of the bed, "Maki," He whispered, "Maki, it's just a dream, wake up, it's okay." As he talked to her, he reached out and took one of her half flailing hands.

Maki woke suddenly, flinging herself away from Kakashi, blue eyes wide in terror and a scream on her lips. She managed to choke the scream off, and huddled against the wall, teeth clamped into her fist and tears pouring down her cheeks as her chest heaved in an attempt to breathe.

Keeping himself very still, Kakashi waited for Maki to calm enough to realize that he wasn't following her. When the sheer terror left her eyes and she was able to look away from his dark figure to search the rest of the room for any other danger, Kakashi allowed himself to relax a little.

"Maki?" However much her would have liked to add 'chan' to her name like he had been for the past few days, Kakashi knew that he couldn't. "Do you know where you are?"

She looked back to him wildly, her entire body shivering and jerking as though she were keeping herself from running. "-no?" She finally whispered, blinking frantically. Kakashi felt his heart clench and he opened his mouth to tell her where she was when she shook her head and spoke again, "Yes? Kakashi?" She sounded confused and scared, but calming.

Relief flood through Kakashi as he responded, "Yes, I'm Kakashi. You know that you're at my apartment?"

"-hai? Uhm," She painfully started to untense, her limbs slowly stretching out from her huddled foetal position, "-I needed- I had to go somewhere because- because they did something to my building." As she recounted to herself how she had ended up in a man's house, Kakashi watched her with a concerned eye.

Her reaction to her dream, her nightmare, and her reaction to him was extreme. He wondered with horror just what kind of long term seduction mission she was on. Was the mark abusive? Had she been raped more than once? Had she been raped outside of her mission? Why hadn't the Corps made sure she could deal with this kind of stuff? Or... maybe she needed to be like this for the mission? That was a horrible thought and he pushed it from his mind, refusing to think that again. Konoha wasn't like that.

He wondered just how much longer she could do what she was doing. She only had three weeks left - and wasn't that odd that her mission would end on her son's birthday? - but she'd been doing this, whatever it was, for five years already.

"How are you feeling?" Kakashi asked softly, hoping that she had calmed significantly.

She blinked several times and came away from the wall slowly, "Better. I-" she paused, giving him a grimacing smile, "I apologize for waking you up, Kakashi, I didn't mean to."

"It's alright," Kakashi gently rested his hand on the covers of the bed, palm up. Maki stared at it for a long moment before cautiously resting her small hand in his. "Can you tell me what you dreamt of?"

She blanched and glanced quickly to her son before looking back at him, lips pursed, "A bad experience," she muttered, curling her knees up to her chest, wrapping her free hand around her legs, hugging them close.

Kakashi nodded, sympathetic with understanding as she rested her head on her knees and stared at him, "I understand." He did; he understood that she's had a nightmare about her assault, that she'd had a nightmare about being powerless and unable to escape. That was one of the reasons that even though her hand was in his, he hadn't closed his fingers around her hand in a trapping movement. He wanted to her know that he would never trap or control her.

She slowly withdrew her hand and his and though the action made his heart heavy, he didn't stop her.

"Is Hito-chan still asleep?" She whispered softly and Kakashi checked over his shoulder to the toddler still sleeping peacefully.

"Yes, he's fine." When he turned back to Maki, she had already crawled under the bed's covers, pulling the blanket to her chin, holding the edges of the duvet in a hold so tight that her fingers where a little white. "Would you like me to go?" He asked gently, not wanted to scare her more than he already had.

Maki hunched her shoulders under the blanket and then nodded, shame in her eyes, "Please?"

"Of course," Kakashi leaned away and when he stood up, he took a simultaneous step away from the bed, knowing that Maki would be more comfortable if he wasn't looming over her. "If you need anything, I'll be in my room, okay?"

Nodding miserably, Maki managed a short wave to him before he closed the door behind him.

As he settled back into bed, knowing for a fact that he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep but not feeling like reading or staring at the wall for a few hours before the sun dawned, Kakashi realized something important.

His hand reached up and brushed across his jaw, feeling a light stubble.

He hadn't been wearing his mask. Maki had seen him without his mask, or hitai-ite. No wonder she hadn't recognized him for a moment.

Well, that was one more thing that he didn't have to worry about then; Maki seeing his face.

A clatter of dishes woke him and Kakashi blinked sleep out of his eyes. He stared at the ceiling in shock that he'd fallen asleep after Maki's nightmare. He had been sure that he wouldn't be able to sleep after going back to bed, but the fact that he'd just woken up had belied that.

"Kakashi!" Maki's voice called through the apartment, "Breakfast is almost ready! Get your lazy ass outta bed!"

Kakashi wasn't sure whether to be relieved or not that Maki was so lively and happy sounding this morning. "Coming!" He called back, shifting the blankets off and settling his bare feet on the floor. He was worried that Maki was pushing the trauma away in the light of day, but she was always so alive that he wasn't sure if the nightmare had been a one off because she'd been sleeping in his apartment for so long or something that she regularly dealt with.

As he was about to strip his tee-shirt off, his bedroom door was pushed open cautiously and Hito poked his head inside, "'Tashi-chan?"

Kakashi couldn't help but smile at Hito, no matter how conflicted he felt at the moment, "Good morning, Hito-chan." He dropped the edges of his shirt back down over his stomach, thinking that the best course of action would be to just go about his morning in his tee-shirt and sweat pants until his company had left for the day.

"'Tashi-chan!" Hito pushed the door the rest of the way open and toddled his way to the bed, clinging tight to Kakashi's legs. He started to babble wildly and Kakashi's smile widened. He stood up and swung Hito into his arms, settling the boy on his hip. Hito continued to babble at him as he gave himself a discrete sniff and decided that he was okay to eat before having a shower.

Maki looked up from where she was setting the small table and Kakashi smiled at her softly, his left eye uncovered but closed. She smiled back and went back to what she had been doing without a single pause to study his uncovered face. "So, ready for the weekend, Kakashi?" She asked brightly, going to the oven and pulling it open.

The smell of apples and cinnamon filled the air and Kakashi took an appreciative sniff of the air, "Most definitely. Is that Apple Coffee cake?" He asked as he set Hito in the baby seat that Maki had clamped to the table.

With a bright laugh, Maki nodded, "It is! I know that you like apples and I wanted to make something special this morning."

She set the dish on the hot pad on the table and Kakashi leaned over to look at the golden brown breakfast cake with a wide eye, "Gods that smells delicious."

Their breakfast was loud and full of laughter. Kakashi volunteered to do the dishes since Maki had made the food and so while he did that, Maki cleaned both herself and her son up, getting ready for the day.

Kakashi was lounging against the counter with a steaming cup of coffee in hand when Maki emerged from the hall, Hito in tow. She was wearing a pair of bright blue khaki pants and a white tank top with brilliant orange stripes on it. Hito was dressed in orange pants and a blue shirt, as well as a small blue scarf around his neck. Hito caught sight of Kakashi and giggled, pulling free of his mother's hold and running to Kakashi. He careened into Kakashi's legs and the jounin crouched to steady him. Hito giggled again and pulled at the scarf at his neck, thrusting it up over his face and covering his nose.

Maki laughed at the humorous look Kakashi graced her with.

"Maa, so you want to be like me?" Kakashi asked the little boy and Hito nodded, his blue covered cheeks pushing his eyes closed with his wide smile. "Well, I don't think I mind, and given that your mother is the one that gave you this," Kakashi stroked Hito's cheek gently, indicating the scarf even as he adjusted it so that it matched the way his own rested on his face, "I don't think she minds either."

There was a particular feeling fluttering in his stomach and he'd felt it before, but he still hadn't figured out exactly what it meant so far.

Hito babbled some more before Maki stepped forward and Kakashi passed the toddler back. They shared a look, though it was more like an eye roll, when Hito bawled loudly for a moment before quickly getting over being taken from his favourite silver haired nin.

"When will you get back?" Kakashi asked with contentment in his body language and voice as Maki slipped on a pair of blue nondescript ninja sandals.

"After lunch I think." Maki swept her ruffled bangs from her eyes, "I was going to take Hito to the park and then I thought we could have lunch with Kurenai. She likes to play with Hito," Maki smirked, "I think she wants a kid of her own, actually. Anyway, so after lunch I'm going to do a little shopping, mostly grocery to replenish your stores," Kakashi looked over his shoulder when she paused, eyeballing his kitchen. He had no doubt that he had very few food items left since he'd been feeding three people instead of one for a week. "Exactly," She laughed when he redirected his gaze to her, "I'll come home after that."

"Sounds like a good plan," Kakashi followed her to the door and waved good bye to her as she bounced down the hall, waving back over her shoulder.

The moment she had vanished down the stairs, Kakashi felt a presence beside him and he slipped a genjutsu mask over his face before turning to see Sarutobi Asuma, one of his fellow jounin, staring at him in shock.

"Asuma?" He asked, wondering what was wrong.

"Did- Was that kid wearing your mask?" Asuma asked, blinking slowly.

Kakashi raised an eyebrow, "He was wearing a mask, yes."

"Oh my gods." Asuma's blinking sped up, "I just- I hadn't realized that you'd procreated already." The broader and taller man reached into his pocket and pulled out his pack of cigarettes, "Though she looked pretty young, Kakashi."

It took a moment for Kakashi to break through his confusion and disbelief, "Hito-chan isn't mine, Asuma. And Maki-chan is..." How was he supposed to explain his complicated relationship with Maki to Asuma when he didn't even know how to explain it to himself?

Asuma cocked his head, lighting the cigarette, "Maki-chan is...?" Kakashi snarled and then stopped, stepping back a bit. Asuma stared incredulously at him, cigarette hanging limply off his lips. "Did you just growl at me?"

"Sorry, I just... Her name is Tatsumaki. Don't call her chan." Kakashi ran a hand through his mussed hair, leaning against the door frame. "Damn it."

There was a laugh and Kakashi shot a questioning glance to the Sarutobi. Asuma smirked widely, "You got it bad, don't you?"

"I enjoy her company..." Kakashi drawled out, unsure of where this was going.

"And if you saw her with another man?"

Killing intent rose, sudden and unbidden, "I'd rip him apart-" Kakashi snarled again, thinking of the nightmare that Maki had suffered through just last night; thinking of how scared she had been of a man even being in the same room with her.

Asuma backed up, lifting his hands defensively, "Whoa~ Calm down, Kakashi, I wasn't about to make a move on your woman-"

Rational thought reinserted itself in Kakashi's mind and he bowed his head. "It's complicated." He finally told Asuma, feeling weary without a reason. It felt very strange.

Asuma frowned heavily and gestured to Kakashi's door, "You want to talk about it?"

"I won't betray her confidences," Kakashi warned the bearded man, leading him into his apartment. Asuma nodded, slipping his sandals off at the door. "Here," Kakashi passed the other man a cup of coffee, "Maki-chan made too much for me to drink this morning. She doesn't like coffee."

Taking the cup, Asuma sat down at the table and stared at the chair with the booster seat attached to it with open curiosity. "So, how long have you known them?"

"I met Hito-chan first, about six months ago. He stays at the Day Care when Maki-chan is on her mission."

"Single mom, eh?" Asuma murmured to himself, "And you noticed Hito out of all the other babies there?"

Kakashi chuckled, rubbing his face, "Hito managed to escape Akimichi Mito's toddler pen. You know the one, with the baby-proof jutsu on it?"

Asuma rolled his eyes, "Yeah, I know that one. And the kid got out?"

"Six times in an hour," Kakashi muttered, "I stood there and watched the little guy do it again and again after he found me the first time."

"So you're saying that Hito managed to escape The Pen six times in a row. The same pen that adjusts itself so that all previous methods of escape are closed off? And that he found you?" Asuma shook his head in disbelief, "Were you hiding?"

Kakashi shrugged, "I wasn't exactly standing out the first time." The Copy-Nin shrugged, "It was a couple weeks later when I was actually there when Maki-chan came to pick him up." He laughed at himself, "I mistook her for Hito's sister, even though Hito called her 'Kaa-chan'." Asuma's gaze on him sharpened. "Yeah, I know. 'Never underestimate children'. I just couldn't believe that she was old enough to be his mother."

"How old is she?" Asuma asked, his voice rather quiet.

"Oh. She's turning seventeen in October. Hito will be two in just over two weeks."

"Why is she living here?"

"Well, I asked her on a few Pre's, and I think we've moved from Pre's to actual dates and I off handedly offered my apartment as a place she could stay if she ever needed it. Her apartment building is being fumigated this week and they didn't give her any notice, the bastards..."

"Wow," Asuma broke Kakashi's words off, "You really like her."

"I just said that," Kakashi frowned.

Asuma took a close look at Kakashi and then his lips twisted up in a stunned smile, "Holy shit."

"What?" Kakashi was cautiously curious about what Asuma was thinking and Asuma waved his question off.

"Oh, no, this? You need to figure this out on your own." Asuma laughed to himself and stood up, "It's good that you like Hito-chan too," He mentioned over his shoulder and he put his sandals back on and left Kakashi's apartment.

Kakashi stared at the door in confusion before shaking himself out of it and dropping the genjutsu mask. He needed a shower and then he could get dressed and put a real mask on. He didn't feel comfortable without the material rubbing against his face and neck.

.o0o.

He would rather not be taking a genin team when his personal life was just starting to come together. He didn't want to watch over three completely immature brats as he tried to give them the skills to survive as a shinobi.

Taking a genin team also meant that he would have to cut down on the hours he spent volunteering at the Day Care.

Although, he shouldn't worry about it just yet because the Sandaime had been trying to get him to take a genin team for seven years now and he'd never passed any of them.

There was a difference with this team though.

Uchiha. Uzumaki. Two children he didn't want under someone else's watch because he couldn't be sure that someone else would be able to give those two children what they needed.

The moment he poked his head through the door and the black board eraser fell on his head, which he was indeed expecting given the door was parted the exact width of an eraser, he decided that he wasn't impressed, even though he didn't want to give them up.

He looked over the two thirteen year olds and the one twelve year old.

Uchiha Sasuke. Black hair, black eyes, hands folded under his chin in a controlled manner.

Haruno Sakura. Pink hair, green eyes, shivering in terror at him that he hasn't earned yet.

Uzumaki Naruto. Blond hair, blue eyes, laughing.

But only for a moment. The second they locked eyes, Uzumaki stopped laughing and Kakashi's mind was drawn to the woman he's dating.

They looked-

-like siblings.

His mind stuttered to a halt.

Could Maki-chan be his Sensei's daughter like Uzumaki was his son? Were they half siblings?

Gods, but Hito looked exactly like Minato and Uzumaki.

He told them to meet him on the roof and flickered away, stunned at how Uzumaki had looked at him, had seemed to see past all of his masks.

He told them to introduce themselves. Haruno asked how to go about doing that. He thought that she wasn't as smart as she was lauded to be.

But he couldn't tell them that he liked Maki-chan and Hito-chan, he couldn't tell them that he didn't like ANBU-Yu for what they'd done to Maki. He couldn't tell them that his dream for the future was to keep Maki-chan by his side and help raise Hito-chan and maybe his own children. He couldn't tell them that his hobbies were dating Maki-chan and reading porn.

They aren't old enough to know any of that and he wasn't about to give out that much personal information at their first meeting.

Besides, Uzumaki still looked like Maki-chan. And it pained him to see that Uzumaki even moved like her. They had to be related.

Had to.

There was only four years between them. It was possible that his Sensei had a child before getting together with Uzumaki Kushina.

Naruto's voice was so similar as well. What he imagined Maki might have sounded like four years ago.

He quickly found out that Uchiha wanted to kill his only remaining family, that Haruno wanted to give Uchiha a family and that Uzumaki... liked ramen. How strange it was for him to hear an introduction that didn't have any personal information in it. Uzumaki was almost as good as he was as disseminating attention.

He told them that there would be a secondary test and told them not to eat anything and then he flickered away. He couldn't really stand to be around Uzumaki when he so clearly reminded him of Maki-chan.

He was allowed to pick Hito up from the Day Care, having never been taken off Hito's file as the emergency contact and he waited for Maki to join him near the ice cream stand where they'd first started to get to know each other. She had told him that it was her last day, that she would be doing regular missions after today.

And it was Hito-chan's birthday.

"Kakashi!" Maki bounded down the road, waving at him and Hito with vigour, "I'm done! I did it! I got it!" She stopped beside Kakashi and huffed, her cheeks red and her hair flyaway, "Well, there's one more thing for me to do tomorrow, but after that! I'll totally have escaped for ever and ever and ever!" She pulled Hito from Kakashi's arms gently and spun in a circle, laughing loudly.

"Congratulations, Maki-chan," Kakashi smiled at her, happy that she was happy. He wasn't sure how to take the news of 'one more thing', but if Maki wasn't too worried about it, he'd try not to be either.

"Okay!" Maki settled Hito on her hip and threaded an arm around Kakashi's waist, surprising him with her invasion into his personal space, "So, we have a birthday party for Hito-chan tonight, eh?"

Hito smiled and babbled, like he'd been doing for some time. Kakashi had heard Hito use actual words before and therefore knew that the kid knew most of the words he wanted to say, but neither shinobi had insisted that he speak properly. There would be time to get around to that, Hito was only two after all. Kakashi and Maki had agreed that he was just being lazy about pronunciation and they were okay with that. Maki had already told him that she found it amusing that her son was hyper and lazy at the same time.

"Yep," He agreed with his girlfriend and hugged her just a little, relaxing immediately so that she didn't feel trapped to his side. "It's good that you had a good day."

Maki smiled up at him, "I think so too. What about you?" There was something in her voice that indicated that she had some idea of what he'd done during the day and it made him curious. Though he'd already mentioned that he was testing a genin team that morning, so he couldn't really say what she knew and didn't know about what he'd done.

"It was a good day. I told the kids to meet me at training ground seven, the one with the red bridge?" Maki nodded, gesturing for him to continue, "Told them not to eat anything and that there is a sixty-six percent failure rate."

"Trying to scare them?" Maki smirked at him and Kakashi smirked back.

"Exactly."

"So what do you think of your genin?" She asked him, curious.

Kakashi shrugged a shoulder, "Well, the Uchiha is a little black ball of hate, the Haruno is a pretty dedicated fan girl and the Uzumaki..." He trailed off and looked down at Maki. Maki looked back up at him, eyes wide as she took in everything he was saying.

It was nice to know that she wanted to hear how his day went and who he meet and what he thought of them.

"The Uzumaki?" She prodded and Kakashi nodded.

"Right, the Uzumaki. Maki-chan, do you still not remember anything before the Kyuubi attack?"

She shook her head and there wasn't a single lie in her blue eyes, "Not a thing. What's wrong, Kakashi?"

"Hito-chan looks just like Uzumaki. And Uzumaki looks just like you." Kakashi sighed, "Hell, he moves like you do sometimes. It's a little strange to watch him because pretty much everything he does reminds me of you."

Maki pursed her lips, "What do you think?" She wasn't asking about what he thought about the similarities that he'd noticed, she was asking about what theories he had to explain the similarities.

Kakashi smiled and shrugged, "Maybe you're related." He hadn't wanted to toss that out so quickly, but since she was usually just as blunt as he was being, he figured she could handle it, "You might have the same parents, or shared one parent. Uzumaki's parents died during the Kyuubi attack, so it's possible that's why you were never looked for."

He wasn't lying either. If she'd been kept secret by Minato, then no one would have looked for her.

"Oh," she murmured to herself, absently kissing Hito's gleaming locks.

"So," Kakashi picked up the conversation, "-do you want to know how I'm going to be testing them?"

Maki's eyes sparkled but she shook her head, "No, I don't think so. I'm sure you'll tell me afterwards, right?"

"Sure," Kakashi nodded with her as they continued down the walking path to Kakashi's apartment. They would just have enough time to get cleaned up and ready to go to Hito's party which was taking place at the Day Care. There were several families invited to come, as well as a few of Kakashi and Maki's friends.

It was a good day, Kakashi thought as he watched the blue sky, his arm wrapped around Maki and the sounds of Hito laughing in the air. It was a good day.

.o0o.

Today was not a good day. Kakashi played gently with Hito, worry filling his chest. He was still in the park, waiting for Maki to show up and it was seven o'clock.

He had tested his team, had them pass, told the Hokage that Team 7 was an actual team and then gone to see if Hito had been picked up yet, which he hadn't, so he'd signed the boy out and taken him to the same park he had been at with the toddler and Maki yesterday, near the ice cream vendor.

Maki still hadn't shown up yet.

He wondered if something had gone wrong, but then shook his head. No. Nothing had gone wrong, it couldn't have. This was the last day that she was working with ANBU-Yu.

Nothing could go wrong.

"Kakashi-san?" Kurenai stood over him and he looked up from Hito who was playing on his knees, "What's wrong? Where's Tatsumaki-chan?"

Kakashi swallowed harshly, "Today was her last day. Yesterday was supposed to be her last day, but something happened so today is her last day. Something's wrong. She isn't home yet."

Kurenai crouched down beside him, "Kakashi-san, of what is this her last day?"

"She- Maki-chan works- no, Maki-chan worked for ANBU-Yu," Kakashi distracted Hito from playing with Kurenai's wrap style dress, "She was supposed to be done yesterday but something happened and now today is her last day." He was allowed to say where she worked now. Only active ANBU shinobi wouldn't allowed to tell. Maki wasn't active within ANBU-Yu now.

"Kakashi-san, can you tell me when Tatsumaki-chan usually meets you here?"

Kakashi thought that Kurenai was being awfully cautious with him. "She's usually here or at home around five; she said this morning: five, like usual. We always come here if we aren't going to meet at home."

Kurenai's eyes widened just a little, "At home?" She repeated. She shook her head and licked her lips, "Could she have gone... home instead? She may have forgotten that you were meeting here."

Thinking about it, Kakashi didn't think that it was a possibility. He knew that Maki never forgot where her son was supposed to be. "Kurenai-san," He whispered, "I'm worried about her mission. I've never seen her on her mission and I don't know where it is that she goes, or what it is that she does."

"It's a long term mission, Kakashi-san," Kurenai rocked back on her heels a little, "She could look different on her mission."

Angry on Maki's behalf, scared for her, Kakashi shook his head, "What the hell would ANBU-Yu need with an twelve year old anyway? I mean, she wasn't even put on a genin team, just sucked into their world and sent on a five fucking year long mission and she's scared physically of men, and she's too young to have a child, and she comes home sometimes with this look in her eyes, like she doesn't think she's going to make it." The stridency in his voice lost vigour and he cuddled Hito to his chest protectively, "But then she sees Hito-chan and we'll go for a walk, or play in the park or have dinner and just talk and her eyes brighten up but- I can still see those shadows."

Asuma and Anko had appeared sometime while he had been speaking and both of them held back as they watched Kurenai try to calm him.

"Kakashi-san, why don't you and Hito-chan go with Asuma-san back to your apartment, in case Tatsumaki-chan goes home and Anko and I will stay here and wait. If she goes home, Asuma can come and tell us and we'll bring her home if she comes here. Is that okay?"

He wasn't sure why he was being treated so kindly; like a victim, his mind told him, but he did think that Kurenai's plan was a good one. He had to feed Hito-chan properly after all. Hito must be hungry, he'd only had a little bit of food from the park vendors.

"Yeah," He stood, surprised that his legs felt so wobbly under him, "Yeah, that sounds like a good plan." When Asuma reached out to take Hito from him, he didn't pass the child over, wanting to keep the boy close.

He left the park with one last parting look of worry and despair. He had to focus on Hito now. He was responsible for Hito until Maki got home.

Asuma didn't try to take Hito from him again, even when he was making an easy supper, juggling Hito in his hands with the meal. Kakashi didn't bother to ask if Asuma was going to eat with Hito and him since he was sure that the other man had already eaten. He didn't really want to share his space with Asuma after having shared it with Maki.

With Maki missing, maybe hurt, Kakashi couldn't stand to let Asuma eat in his kitchen, eat at the table that Maki ate at.

"Kakashi," Asuma's deep voice was kind and Kakashi hadn't ever heard that tone directed at himself before, "Kakashi, you have to calm down."

"I am calm," Kakashi muttered, hugging Hito to him.

"No, you aren't." Asuma said gently; pointedly, "You're scaring Hito-chan."

Appalled at himself, Kakashi actually looked at the quiet child in his arms. Hito was wide eyed, staring at nothing, his eyes flickering from moving object to moving object, whatever caught his attention. His little chubby face was blank, as though he were asleep, except that his non-expression was pinched, as though he were in pain.

"Oh; oh, Hito-chan, I'm sorry; shhh, shh, it's okay, 'Tashi-chan's not mad, it's okay," Kakashi tried to reassure Hito, even going so far as to draw down his mask and kiss the child on the forehead, rubbing their cheeks together. Hito clutched at the jounin, tears rolling down his face.

"Kaa-chan, w'ere Kaa-chan?" He hiccoughed into Kakashi's neck.

"Shh, it's okay, Kaa-chan is okay," Kakashi stroked Hito's back, rock back and forth, making sure to keep his breathing steady. Hito continued to cry silently, hiccoughing and refusing to let go of Kakashi until he cried himself to sleep in Kakashi's arms, no longer under the influence of Kakashi's worry-tinged intent.

Looking at the clock on the wall, Asuma grimaced. "Kakashi," he kept his voice low, "You should probably get some sleep. We have team meetings tomorrow morning."

"I- I'll be fine," Kakashi muttered to him. "I don't want to not be here when Maki comes home." He rocked Hito in his arms, looking down at the child, "But maybe... I'll put Hito to bed." He stood and Asuma followed him silently down the hall to the guest bedroom. Though it wasn't much of a guest bedroom anymore, having been attacked with several almost-neon colours of paint by Maki in an 'artistic' mood and the small bed with railings that had replaced the single bed. Maki hadn't slept here since she'd spent the week, but she and Hito had been over every day since then.

Kakashi had thought it an excellent investment to get a child's bed so that if Hito got tired before Maki decided it was time to go home, they could put him to bed. Hito had stayed the night a few times with Kakashi already. The Copy-Nin felt suffused with warmth and his chest tightened every time he thought about how much Maki trusted him, letting her son stay the night with him.

As he expertly changed the drowsing boy into a pair of blue pajamas with orange toads and brown dogs on them, Asuma watched, a little surprised at how reflexive it was for Kakashi, how easy it was for him to do these things.

Kakashi kissed Hito on both cheeks when he lay the boy down and turned the pale blue night light on before closing the door most of the way behind Asuma and himself on the way out.

"Kakashi..." Asuma trailed off, unsure of how to go about asking his questions, or making his comments.

Throwing himself onto the couch, Kakashi scuffed the floor with one foot, "I just- fuck I'm worried!" He hissed angrily. "I don't know what's happened, I don't know how long she'll be gone. I don't know if she's even alive!"

Before Asuma could say anything, Kakashi continued, "I'm scared of what might of happened. I mean, she had problems yesterday, that's why today was supposed to be her last day. But now she's not home, and I don't know what's going on. I can't even go to ANBU-Yu and ask because you know how fucking uptight they are about their active agents. She's still... active until she comes home." His voice trailed off and he stared at his hands blankly.

He was used to an enemy he could fight and this was an enemy that he couldn't fight. In fact, there wasn't an enemy to fight in this circumstance.

"Tell me, Kakashi; is Tatsumaki-san strong?" Asuma asked after a short while of quiet.

A frown appeared on Kakashi's face and he looked to his friend, "Of course. She's one of the strongest people I know."

"Then you have to trust that she'll be okay. She'll survive, and if she can survive, she'll be able to recover."

Kakashi buried his face in his shaking hands, "Have you ever known anyone when they were in ANBU-Yu, Asuma?"

He doubted that Asuma's answer would be 'yes' because active agents in ANBU-Yu didn't usually reveal their affiliations until after they had gotten out. It wasn't that they were looked down on for being with the Seduction Division; rather, they were looked up to. It took an unusually strong individual to survive ANBU-Yu and everyone knew it.

But ANBU-Yu was private. They held their secrets close and never showed their hand before the ideal time. It had been a shock when Kakashi had figured out who Maki worked with. He'd never heard her say who she worked with though, even when he had vaguely indicated he knew.

"No," Asuma shook his head, "No, I haven't known anyone when they were active."

"It's..." Kakashi flinched, "It hurts." He finally said.

Before Asuma could respond, the front door opened, Anko leading the way into the apartment, followed closely by Kurenai. It took a moment for Kakashi see Maki in between them, Maki being so much shorter than the other women.

"Maki-chan," Kakashi shot to his feet, relief clear on his face and in his voice.

While Maki stared at him in disappointment and fear and self hatred, Anko and Kurenai took a few moments to gape at Kakashi's uncovered face.

Kakashi stopped short of touching Maki, inspecting her visually for injuries. Her hair was tangled and her face red with anger; her clothing was ripped in some places and he could see where she had bled, though the wounds were closed. He supposed that ANBU-Yu nin knew various medic jutsu specified to their needs.

Her eyes though, were the worst. They were shadowed, and empty.

When he reached out his hand for her to take, she flinched away from him, "Don't touch me-" She cut herself off and steeled her quivering jaw. "Where is Hirohito?"

Sharply attentive to Maki's emotions, Kakashi blinked, withdrawing his hand. "Hito-chan is in his room, Tatsumaki-san."

He couldn't call her Maki, not now, not when she was in mild shock. She'd had enough troubles today. No matter what he'd gone through while waiting for her, she had been the one to go through it physically. It felt like he was being stabbed in the heart, the way she edged around him, her gaze flickering between Asuma and him, refusing to let either of them out of her sight.

When she got to the hall, she dashed to Hito's room, closing the door behind her.

"Gods..." Kakashi pressed his hand to his forehead and took a shuddering breath, "What happened to her?"

Anko shuffled her feet, "She arrived at the park pretty frantic. She wouldn't let us touch her though. All she wanted to know was where her son was. We brought her here."

Kurenai pursed her lips, "She must have been using a ANBU-Yu technique because I saw rope burns on her wrists when she got to the park, but they're gone now."

Kakashi wanted to curse, but restrained himself.

Rope burns. Cuts. She'd probably healed the bruises as well.

He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths to calm himself. He couldn't show any anger in front of Maki. She had been injured and traumatized. Again. He could only hope that it was from when she'd gotten away and not because ANBU-Yu had given her a mission where this sort of thing happened all the time.

Hito's door opened quietly and all four adults turned to see Maki poke her head out and look at them. Her eyes were so blue, and so wide that it hurt Kakashi to see. There was a fear in her eyes that scared him too.

He had to wonder if that wasn't one of the reasons that she'd been taken in by ANBU-Yu, the way she looked so waifish and small and broken. He knew that some very sick people liked that kind of look.

Kakashi would rather the strong and bright and lively Maki back.

She stepped out of Hito's room and took a few tentative steps towards the living room and front door, her arms protectively around a still sleeping Hito. "I- I should go. I have to go now."

"Maki-san," Maybe he could compromise between her nickname and a polite suffix, Kakashi thought.

She flinched from him, though less than she had the first time, "Hai, Kakashi-san?"

"I apologize," he whispered and before he could say that he was sorry for scaring her, she reared back in shock, pressing herself up against the wall. He didn't know what he'd done wrong, but she was absolutely terrified of him at the moment.

Anko and Kurenai stepped between Kakashi and Maki immediately, senbon threaded in between Anko's fingers defensively and Kurenai's fingers twisted into a half seal, already calling on her chakra.

"Don't even," Anko hissed at him, "Don't take another step."

Maki's eyes fell from Kakashi to Anko and the teenager licked her lips, reaching out with a shaking hand to touch the tokubetsu jounin's elbow, "Anko, it's okay. He just... startled me."

Anko looked over her shoulder at the young woman and finally nodded, stepping down from her ready stance. Kurenai unfolded her fingers, but continued to stand between Maki and Kakashi.

They were quick to help the girl shuffle out of the apartment, leaving Kakashi to stare at the door, his heart in his stomach.

Maki must have been hurt so badly. He couldn't comprehend the pain she must have been going through.

He could only hope that she didn't decide to leave him completely, that she would allow him to help her. He knew it wasn't fair of him to be wanting her back in his life so much that he'd push her into it, but he couldn't let her go.

But he had to. He had to let her go because otherwise she surely would leave, and leave completely, taking everything she'd brought into his life with her.

"Kakashi," Asuma gripped his shoulder tight and Kakashi looked at him, unsure. "Give her some time. She'll need someone to talk to and she trusts you."

"No, she doesn't," Kakashi murmured, "She took Hito and she left. She doesn't trust me at all."

"She's scared. She'll probably need a few days to centre herself, Kakashi. But, as you said, Tatsumaki-san is strong. She survived, and now she'll recover. You can help her do that."

"How?" Kakashi thought his question sounded a little desperate, but Asuma didn't comment on it.

"By being whatever she needs. If she needs someone to hate, be that person. If she needs someone to confess to, be that person. If she needs someone's hand to hold, offer yours." Asuma gave Kakashi a half smile, having to put effort into it, "It will take time, but you..." He paused, as though he were about to say something else, then changed his mind, "You're willing to wait, aa?"

"Yes," Kakashi nodded, realizing the truth of his friends words. He would wait, and he was most willing to wait. If he could help Maki, he would.

He just hoped that she would let him help.

.o0o.

It had taken weeks to get back to about where they'd been before Maki's last day with ANBU-Yu and Kakashi was happy that she had been letting him help. He thought that she was getting better a lot quicker than she would have if he hadn't have been allowed to.

Obviously the additional help from Anko and Kurenai was good for her as well. Occasionally he worried that she was hiding her fear of him under her training to be a battle shinobi, but that those thoughts were put to rest soon enough.

Having never been a battle shinobi, Maki was working hard at the skills that her friends were willing to show her in their free time, which was pretty much anything she asked. Her taijutsu was coming along nicely, Kakashi had learnt from Gai. He also got an unofficial report from Anko that Maki had excellent aim and hand-eye coordination, but little experience with kunai. She was learning fast though.

From what Kakashi had been told from Kurenai, Maki was either completely unsuited for, or was an idiot savant, at genjutsu. After two weeks of intense work, Kurenai still didn't know which category Maki fell under.

There was something brewing under all of Maki's returning cheer though, and Kakashi was worried about how it would come out.

Deciding that he had to confront Maki about the underlying problem with him, so they could get it out and discuss it and work it out, he made sure that all four of their friends: Gai, Anko, Kurenai, and Asuma, knew that he was going to be talking to her seriously. Anko and Kurenai promptly put in a bid to babysit the two year old who had started to actually speak instead of babble, and Kakashi agreed.

He trusted the Day Care, but he trusted Anko and Kurenai far more.

"I can get my team to meet me on a Saturday, they wouldn't mind," Kurenai mused, planning a picnic and some fun on the weekend with a baby.

Kakashi frowned and shook his head, "I don't think that's a good idea." He commented, "Your team..." He trailed off, unsure of why he didn't want to say anything more. He didn't want to tell the woman that Hito looked like someone her team had gone to the academy with.

A grin spread over Asuma's face, "Well, we can give Hito-chan one of your masks; hide who he is."

A slow grin made it's way over Kakashi's face and he nodded, "Hito-chan does like to wear masks, doesn't he?" It was a good plan. Kurenai could convince Maki that she wanted to babysit and take Hito for the afternoon, giving the boy a mask as soon as Maki was out of sight and then she could entertain Hito while his mother and Kakashi worked out whatever there was to work out.

With the plan set, Kakashi waited patiently for Saturday. It came quickly.

"So Kurenai has Hito-chan?" He asked, leading Maki to one of the outer most training areas. It wasn't as far from Konoha proper as the training ground Maki went to with Gai, so she didn't seem worried about the distance between Konoha and where Kakashi stopped.

"Hai," Maki smiled brightly, "She still wants a baby, and who am I to deny her the opportunity to babysit?" She laughed and Kakashi laughed along with her. His laugh didn't sound nearly as happy as Maki's and she noticed immediately. "Kakashi? What's wrong?"

He didn't know how to ease her into this conversation. He didn't want to hurt her though.

"Maki-chan... when you came home from your last day on your mission... I apologized." She blanched and he continued, "I was apologizing for scaring you, but I didn't get to finish telling you that..."

Maki closed her arms around her torso, blinking and lifting her head at a stubborn angle, "And?" She asked, voice fluctuating in intense emotional upheaval.

"Why did you react like you did?" He wanted to know why she hadn't trusted him. He'd spent over six months getting to know her and her son and she'd just run like he was a dangerous stranger.

"I..." Maki lowered her head and turned her face away, "I can't really explain," she whispered, "I just-"

"Was it something that I did?" Kakashi begged for an answer. He had to know how to fix this mistake that he'd made with her, "Was it something that I didn't do?"

"You didn't come for me!" Maki suddenly shouted, looking into his grey eye, "You didn't fucking come for me!" This time is was Kakashi's time to rear back in shock. "It was over and done with at thirteen hundred hours and I was left there, tied down and I couldn't get out and you never came for me!"

"Maki-chan," Kakashi shook his head, "I-"

"I told you! I said that I would be at the park at five," She poked him hard in the chest with an accusing finger, "When I didn't show up, why didn't you look for me?"

"Maki-chan, you were on a mission, I couldn't just-"

"I don't fucking care! You were supposed to like me, I thought you knew me! You were supposed to help me! And you left me for hours by myself, alone, and scared an unable to get away and you- you-" Maki broke down, tears running down her face. Kakashi moved in, opening his arms. Maki lunged at him, curling up into his body, holding tight to his vest. "-you left me, you bastard. And I trust you so much and you stomped on that like it isn't worth anything."

There was only one thing that relieved Kakashi about Maki's outburst, and it was that Maki said that she trusted him in present tense, and not in past tense.

That meant that she still trusted him, even after not looking for her and leaving her alone for hours and hours.

His arms came up around her and held her close, rocking her back and forth as he hugged her and she cried out her anger at him.

He wouldn't do anything to hurt her again, he couldn't. It just couldn't happen because when she was hurt, he could feel it, he could see each hurt in her face and beautiful eyes and it hurt him when she shied from his touch or shivered from fear.

It was a long time before Maki, and Kakashi for that matter, calmed down significantly enough to continue talking with each other. Though now with the major secret out in the open, they found it oddly easy to just whisper most of their secrets and fears to each other, huddled together under a tree in the fading light of afternoon.

When the sun was just setting, Kakashi helped Maki to her feet and they brushed the grass off of their clothing and smiled shyly at one another. Kakashi pulled his mask back up and they made their way towards Kurenai's house, hand in hand.

They found her genin team still there, Hito laying curled up to Inuzuka Kiba's thigh, the white Akamaru clutched tight in his arms.

"Kurenai," Kakashi shuffled towards the jounin in her kitchen while Maki went to the couch and her son.

"Kakashi. How did it go?"

"We managed to get most of it worked out, I think," He told her softly. They watched the genin team look between Maki, Hito, and Kakashi, drawing the same conclusion that Asuma had once made when he'd seen the toddler wearing a mask that matched Kakashi's.

Hyuga Hinata was the one to shore up the bravery and wander into the kitchen and blush, folding her fingers together. "Ano, Kakashi-sensei?" She asked in the softest voice Kakashi had ever heard anyone speak in, "Hito-chan is Tatsumaki-san's son, correct?"

"Yes," Kakashi replied blandly, pretty sure he knew where she was going to go next.

"And you are-" Hinata lowered her voice even more, "-dating?"

"Yes, Hinata-kun," Kakashi smiled, proud that he could see improvement with the girl's shyness in such a sort period of time after working with Kurenai.

"Oh," Hinata blushed crimson, opened her mouth to say something more but then practically bolted from the room before anything came out.

Kakashi and Kurenai shared a look and both shook their head, amused and pleased with the girl.

"Kakashi, we can go home now." Maki stood up from the couch and Kakashi wandered his way over to the teenager and her son.

"Is Hito-chan still asleep?" He asked, stepping into her personal space and looking over her shoulder at Hito in her arms. He was more than pleased that she didn't flinch from him in any way, shape, or form.

She still trusted him.

"Yes," She smiled down at her son and leaned back into his arms.

.o0o.

"Maki-chan," Kakashi called out over the running water of the woman's shower, "I'm going to be home late tonight!"

Hito giggled as he ran past the jounin wearing only a bright blue tee-shirt. Kakashi rolled his eyes at the toddler and turned back to the bathroom door, waiting for Maki to answer him.

"I was kinda expecting you to pick Hito-chan up this afternoon, Kakashi!" She called back, "What are you doing that's holding you late?"

Picking up a set of training underpants and black ninja pants for Hito, Kakashi waited for Hito to run by again before grabbing the giggling boy and tossing him lightly on the couch a foot away. The two year old landed softly and managed to tangle himself up as he tried to scramble to his feet.

"I have to talk to one of my students, Sakura-chan," Kakashi tickled the boy a bit before starting the arduous task of getting him dressed, "I have to start going over kunoichi specialities with her."

"Oh," Maki exited the bathroom, dressed and rubbing a towel to her short hair, "And the other two?"

"Just regular stuff," Kakashi murmured, smiling down at Hito and bending to blow a raspberry against his tummy before tugging the pants on him, "Sparring, some taijutsu. Endurance training, for the most part."

Kakashi was glad that Hito was a fast learner. That meant that even though Hito had turned two only a few months ago, he was already toilet trained. For the most part; he only needed a diaper during the night.

"Sounds fun;" Maki smirked at him, obviously aware of how much fun that kind of discussion would be for Kakashi, "I was invited out for supper with Anko and Kurenai tonight, so I guess that I could take Hito-chan with me. Kurenai would be happy to see him again."

"Well," Kakashi mused, letting the boy up. Hito hugged him around the neck before running to his mother, "If you don't mind Hito being around Sakura-chan, I can still take him. We aren't going to be doing anything other than talking."

Maki frowned, settling Hito on her hip, "But you already said that Hito looks just like your student, the Uzumaki..." She trailed off, "I know how most of the village treats him. I don't want Hito-chan enduring something similar because Sakura thinks it's okay to treat Uzumaki badly."

Kakashi went over to the young woman and nodded in understanding, placing a hand on Hito's messy hair, "I'll put him in a mask, like when Kurenai had her team watch him with her."

Leaning into his warmth, Maki sighed, "I'm pretty sure that Team Eight thinks that Hito-chan is our kid, not just mine, because of that mask."

Heart beating unnaturally fast, Kakashi didn't show his apprehension, "Do you mind them thinking that?" He asked cautiously.

To tell the truth, Kakashi didn't mind being known as Hito's father, if it helped protect either, or both, Hito and Maki.

To tell the truth, Kakashi wanted to be known as Hito's father.

But it was up to Maki, so he waited for her answer.

He hadn't wasted his hope.

"No," Maki's eyes softened and she smiled at him in the most intimate way, "No, Kakashi, I don't mind at all. I just want Hito-chan to be loved and... you do that."

"Thank you," Kakashi took Maki and Hito into his arms and hugged them, whispering his words into Maki's ear. She had no idea how much he cherished being allowed into their lives.

As blood stained and dangerous as he was, they treated him as though he were merely a man and not an occasional monster.

A knock on their door and Asuma's bellow from the hall pulled them apart and they raced around the apartment for a moment, making sure that they had everything that they needed for their day. Before Maki could flicker off with Hito to the Day Care, Kakashi grasped her hand tight and in an absent movement, kissed her forehead when he asked her stay safe for the day while they stood together in Kakashi's open front door.

She stared at him with wide eyes for a moment before smiling broadly and nodding. "I will; believe it." She blushed and ducked her face away for a moment before looking him straight in the eye and kissing his cheek with a broad grin on her face, "You too, Kakashi," And then she was gone.

Asuma strung an arm around his shoulders, "Did I just witness a landmark in the relationship of Kakashi and Maki?" He asked out of the corner of his mouth. Kakashi pursed his lips and then nodded. If there were any people that he could trust, Asuma was one of them.

"I think so."

"Congrats, man," Asuma nudged his shoulder and then detached himself from Kakashi. They parted with a wave and Kakashi wondered how he was supposed to train his genin while he was so distracted.

It turned out that it wasn't that hard. Though when he'd asked for Sakura to stay behind and dismissed the boys, it was strange that neither of them argued with him.

Sakura stared after Sasuke with little hearts in her eyes as he left and Kakashi wanted to palm his face because seriously? She couldn't be a little more mature?

"Alright, we have to go get someone before we start," Kakashi jumped down from the tree he was sitting in and started back into Konoha proper. Sakura hummed and hoed for a bit before she managed to actually to shore up the confidence to question him.

"Who are we getting, Sensei?"

"The most important person in the village," He told her and her eyes got amazingly wide.

"Hokage-sama?" She whispered in disbelief and Kakashi had to remind himself that genin rarely, if ever, understood who the most important people in the world were, who the kings were, as Asuma liked to put it.

"No, someone more important." Instead of explaining, Kakashi turned down the road to the Day Care and when he paused at the gate, Sakura frowned.

"What are we doing at the Day Care, Sensei?"

"You know it, then?" He asked and she nodded arrogantly, as though she was superior to others for knowing something.

"I used to come and babysit on the weekends," She jut her chin out just a little and smirked, "I was the only one in class that had a weekend job and I freely spent my time looking after the kids." She stressed 'freely' like it was important and 'kids' like she wanted to replace it with brats.

Kakashi was not impressed.

"Ah! Kakashi-san!" Mito waved the two of them in. She gave Kakashi a sly smile that Sakura obviously missed, "You've come to pick up your son, then?"

Sakura gaped in shock.

"Yup. Is he ready to leave for the day?"

Mito smiled and nodded, "Genma-san was just helping us get him down from the rafters."

Kakashi had to laugh at that. Hito liked high places. The higher the better. "Sounds like Hito-chan."

"Tou-chan!" Hito came barrelling out of the play room at full tilt and Kakashi barely had the mind to catch the boy.

Hito had called him 'Tou-chan' instead of 'Tashi-chan' like he usually did.

He couldn't shake that off, but he did managed to fake his way past signing Hito out of the Day Care and gestured for Sakura to follow along behind him as he carried Hito back towards Training ground seven.

"Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura was still gaping, "You... you're married?" She blinked, "But, I've never seen a ring?"

Kakashi inwardly sighed as he settled his mind from Hito's surprise. No matter that Sakura had four years of academy and two and a half months of genin training under her belt, she was still very much civilian in mind and deed.

"Shinobi don't wear rings when they're working, Sakura-chan. That's like asking to get your finger torn off." He commented lightly as he landed gently on the ground in front of the memorial rock just outside of the training ground. His hands flashed though a quick parenting jutsu that tied a chakra leash from a child to a stationary object. He used Hito and the Stone itself.

Thankfully Kakashi had done a quick pat-down of the boy because he found and took two permanent markers off the boy before letting him out of his arms. It wouldn't do for Hito to draw on the Memorial Stone.

Fortunately Kakashi was able to skip most of the introductory things he was supposed to talk to Sakura about because she was such an avid reader and never let a textbook go unopened.

The bad part was that she already had the awkward questions ready to ask that she definitely wasn't ready to hear answers to.

"So," Sakura blushed deeply, "These... jutsu that some kunoichi use..." Kakashi resolutely kept his eyes on Hito, "They're used during sex?" Her voice squeaked at the end and Kakashi nodded.

"Some of them, yes. If you were to be chosen by ANBU-Yu you would get full training in those arts."

The thirteen year old girl giggled and hid her cheeks under her hands, "I bet they'd totally give me an edge over Ino-pig!" And then she giggled again.

Kakashi was not impressed. He was going to try and halt her bad behaviour before it became a habit, "Sakura, I have a hypothetical question for you."

She perked right up, "I'm really good with hypothetical, Sensei."

"Say you were taken into ANBU-Yu right out of graduation and trained in all the arts they have to offer, including ones that they don't let anyone outside of their division know about." She giggled again, her blush rising, "Say that you learnt all these arts." She nodded eagerly, "And now imagine that you've been sent on a mission where you are to seduce and have sex with an abusive, cheating husband because the wife wants proof of infidelity. You need to acquire pictures of yourself, having sex with your customer's husband because he beats the ever living crap out of her and she wants out."

Sakura's face was no longer red, but bone white, "Sensei?"

"Now say that you managed to complete your mission, you got the man to sleep with a thirteen year old girl and give his wife the pictures." Kakashi continued, his voice hard and unyielding, "And then, when you go for your physical to be cleared for duty, you find out that you, the thirteen year old girl, are pregnant." Sakura collapsed to her knees, staring at him in something close to horror. Kakashi doesn't take his eyes of Hito, needing to watch the innocence of the boy as he spoke. "What would you do with that baby?"

"..Sensei?" Sakura's voice was tiny and she sounded faint.

"Listen to me Sakura," Kakashi crouched down beside her and finally looked her in the eye, "Being shinobi is not a game. You don't become a ninja to fight your friends over a boy."

"Konoha- wouldn't do that, Sensei," Sakura stuttered, "Konoha wouldn't send a thirteen year old to do that."

Kakashi gave a grim smile, "Yes," He said softly, "It would." He gave her a moment to compose herself. "So now I want something from you Sakura. I want you to grow up. I want you to show me that you truly want to be shinobi; that you aren't just a civilian playing at excitement for marriage prospects."

Sakura looked up at him with watery green eyes, "But I'm the oldest one on the team, Kakashi-sensei. I am grown up."

"Sakura," Kakashi sat down, stretching his legs out in front of himself, "I know a girl who started raising a child when she was a year older than you. She is shinobi. She raised her kid by herself while on a mission. She is grown up. You? You run around playing ninja, wearing make up and perfume that will get your team killed on a real mission, and looking to Sasuke for an indication that he likes you." Hito crawled out of the tall grass and stretched himself out over Kakashi's legs. Kakashi stroked his hair gently.

Sakura sat in silence, thinking about what he'd said.

Hopefully it wouldn't go over her head. Hopefully she'd pull it together and step up, taking her ninja career seriously. Kakashi would prefer a kunoichi with Maki's maturity on his team, rather than one with Sakura's.

Hito leaned back into his chest and played with the metal plate on the back of the shinobi's glove. Kakashi chuckled and moved his attention to his son, letting Sakura think about what he had told her.

.o0o.

Sakura pursed her lips as she watched her sensei. She hadn't known that he was married or had a child. And apparently thought that his son was more important then the Hokage. She supposed that meant that he really did love his family.

To see him reading porn after gaining that knowledge raised her feminine hackles. "Sensei, you shouldn't be reading that," She glared up the tree at the man. He casually rolled his eye over to look at her.

"Why not?" He asked idly. Sakura growled at the inconsiderate man.

"What about Hito-chan!" Her voice was more shrill than she wanted, but she couldn't help getting upset at the man. What he was doing was completely inappropriate.

"Hito-chan can't read quite yet," Kakashi's tone was full of laughter at her and she fumed, "I think he's safe for the moment."

Knowing that she wasn't going to be getting anywhere with him, Sakura shook her head and stomped off. She couldn't help but feel enraged on behalf of Kakashi's wife. If she ever caught her husband reading porn, she would kick him in the balls. Well. Unless she married Sasuke. She'd let Sasuke read porn if he wanted but he wasn't like that so she wouldn't have to worry about it.

Thankfully the day was over so she didn't feel at all bad about leaving the boys with Kakashi and hurrying to Ino. They may have been rivals but Ino was from a ninja family so she'd be able to get some inside information about how shinobi families dealt with marriage and children from the blond.

Not that she thought that Kakashi was anywhere near normal even for shinobi, but there had to be some similarities.

"Ino!" She resisted the urge to add 'pig' onto the end of Ino's name. She was learning a little diplomacy from her sensei after all. Mostly what not to do.

"What do you want, Billboard Brow?" Ino sniffed haughtily and looked down her nose at the other kunoichi.

"Oh shut up," Sakura flung herself onto the bench at the picnic table Ino and her team was lounging around, "Where's your sensei?"

"Asuma-sensei?" Ino sneered, "Lazy bum is getting takeout for Chouji. He'll be back in a bit. Why," She looked curious then, "What's up?"

Sakura shivered in pent up emotions, both good and bad, and then waved her hands, feeling a need to flail a little, "Kakashi-sensei has a son."

Shikamaru raised his head from the table in a jerk. It was the fastest Sakura had ever seen the boy move. "Hatake Kakashi?" He questioned and Sakura nodded her head.

"Totally! I was with Kakashi-sensei when he picked Hito-chan up from the Day Care and oh my god! Hito-chan is soooo adorable!"

"Really?" Ino blinked and shook her head, "My dad has repeatedly said that Kakashi wouldn't dare procreate without a veritable army to protect his kid. I mean, Iwa hates him! And he's totally the only student of the Yondaime left! If Iwa found out that Hatake-sama had son..." She trailed off and turned to Shikamaru, pensive, "Shikamaru?"

The boy shrugged his shoulders, "It'd be troublesome, but we could ask 'em."

Sometimes Sakura wished that her team was so close that they could have a whole conversation in a few words like Ino's team seemed to be able to do. "You could ask who about what?" She butted in, curious about what they were talking about.

"Our parents," Ino said, "I mean, if anyone knows about the Hatake line being continued, Tou-chan totally would because he's in the TI department. And Shikamaru's dad is totally the smartest person in Konoha."

Sakura frowned, "Ino, I saw Hito-chan. He was totally Kakashi-sensei's son. I mean, he had silvery hair and was wearing a mask just like Sensei."

"You only think that they look alike," Ino scoffed, "You aren't objective anyway, Billboard."

Sakura rolled her eyes as she retorted, "Ino, Hito-chan is totally Kakashi-sensei's."

"You shouldn't be spreading that kind of information around lightly, Sakura-san," A deep voice said from behind her and Sakura flinched, turning her head slowly to see Sarutobi Asuma, the son of Sarutobi Hiruzen, towering over her in a manner she was sure that she would have found menacing before working under Kakashi's tutelage for two and a half months.

"Asuma-sensei?" She questioned and Asuma put the take out boxes on the table.

"Kakashi-san is an infamous shinobi, Sakura-san. He also has a lot of enemies who would love to get their hands on any that he claimed as family." He didn't seem too concerned about it, but Sakura already knew that she was bad at reading jounin. She couldn't even read her own jounin sensei, obviously she wouldn't be able to read Ino's.

Ino straightened, a little intent and Sakura had to wonder why. "Wait, you know that Hatake-sama has a son?"

"He has a family," Asuma shook his head, "-and that is all that need be known."

Sakura frowned. What was so important about not telling anyone about Kakashi's wife and child? It wasn't like anyone she talked to was dangerous.

"Can I ask my dad?" Ino asked, grabbing her box of food and opening it up. Sakura blinked when she saw the girl separate it into two and offer her a pair of chopsticks.

With a smile and a nod of thanks, Sakura picked at the food while she turned her attention back to Asuma to hear his answer to Ino's question.

Asuma shrugged a broad shoulder, "I'm pretty sure that Inoichi-san already knows, Ino-chan." He grinned, "If he doesn't, I'm gonna lord this over him like there's no tomorrow."

"Why would Kakashi hide that he's married?" Sakura asked, still not understanding, "Wouldn't that be something he'd want to share with his friends?" her eyes widened as she had a scandalous thought and her voice rose as she continued to throw out unanswered questions, "Who was Kakashi-sensei's best man? Who gave Hatake-san away? Did they elope?"

"Whoa," Asuma waved a hand in between them and Sakura sat back with a frown on her face.

"Well?" She demanded. She was curious, damn it! She wanted to know.

"I haven't heard anything about marriage," Asuma leaned back on the bench, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. Sakura scrunched her nose up at him. She didn't like cigarettes, or the smoke that they produced. "But they are living together."

Sakura's mouth dropped open and she gaped at the bearded man, "They're living together without being married?"

Asuma blinked and sucked back a mouth full of smoke, "You need to calm down, Sakura-chan, or you're going to have a heart-attack long before you should be worrying about that sort of thing."

"And you're going to die of cancer!" Sakura spat at him absently, her mind furiously going over the information that she'd gathered from her friend's sensei. "So, Kakashi-sensei may or may not be married-"

"-that I can confirm," Asuma cut in.

"-but he's living with her and they have a baby together-"

"Hito's not much of a baby anymore... More like a toddler," The jounin murmured under Sakura's strident voice.

"-and he's still reading porn?" Sakura shook her head, "That's really low! He should be paying attention to his wife and child!"

Ino snorted and rubbed her chin, "Forehead-girl, do you think maybe that one of the reasons he's reading porn is because he's trying to distract people from the fact that he has a family? I mean, he's pretty infamous. I wouldn't be surprised if he was reading porn as an attempt to sway people's opinion of him."

"How can you take this so calmly?" Sakura asked, curious about her friend's seemingly nonchalant attitude about Kakashi's porn reading habit. Ino was always so excited about things and Sakura wasn't sure she liked this calm and collected Ino. It wasn't the Ino that Sakura was friends with.

"I remember what happened to Hinata," Ino said shortly and Sakura paused. "-and I don't want anything like that to happen to anyone else in Konoha. So I'm going to stop talking about Hatake-san and his family with you now."

Sakura watched her friend turn her back on her and direct her attention to her sensei. She felt her heart constrict and for a moment, hated Ino. The moment passed quickly and then Sakura could think straight and she wondered what exactly happened to Hinata to make Ino shut her down like that. She watched the other clan heirs her age start to ignore her and resolved to find out what happened to the Hyuga. If it was that important, she should know.

.o0o.

"So, Kakashi..." Inoichi's voice called Kakashi's attention to the blond man who was leaning against a tree not far from the Memorial Stone. Kakashi patted Hito's head and double checked the chakra leash before leaving his son and wandering over to the curious looking Yamanaka.

"Yo," He gave the man a lazy salute and Inoichi grinned.

"I hear that you got married?" He looked over Kakashi's shoulder and then back to the Copy-Nin and raised an eyebrow.

Kakashi rolled his eyes, "Sakura's got a civilian mouth still, I see."

Inoichi looked taken aback, "That wasn't exactly the denial I was expecting, Kakashi-san." He leaned forward, stepping out from under the shade of the tree, "Are you married?"

"Looks like," Kakashi shrugged, not giving a firm answer. It wasn't that he was going to lie to Inoichi, but he'd had a strange feeling when he'd gone to deny being married. He would have to think about that because he'd never had that feeling before about someone. He wasn't even sexually involved with his girlfriend, which occasionally made him think that he was being very old fashioned, but he really liked Maki and he didn't want to push her into anything.

It made him feel like a heel every time he thought of initiating something that Maki clearly wanted nothing to do with just yet. He wasn't surprised in the least though, since she'd spent the last five years of her life doing things that would probably make his stomach turn if he knew the details.

"That's not much of an answer either way," Inoichi mused idly, "Either you are, and you don't want anyone to know in case an enemy goes after her; or you aren't but you want to be able to protect your son by claiming his mother."

"Could be," Kakashi tossed out nonchalantly, knowing that an answer like that would frustrate Inoichi, but make the man understand that he had reasons for not saying either way.

Nodding that he did indeed understand that Kakashi had reasons for prevaricating, Inoichi turned to watch the two year old playing in the grass.

"So, Hirohito?" He finally asked. He was curious about Kakashi and his son since he hadn't heard anything about the Hatake having children and yet here the boy was, already two years old.

"Tatsumaki-chan named him." Kakashi smiled under his mask, "She likes 'epic', as she puts it." He stood side be side with the Yamanaka and watched the boy Maki had allowed him to claim. Being next to someone else who was a father, Kakashi felt an urge to confide a little in the blond man. Inoichi would likely understand how he felt about Hito and Maki. "She told me once that she had considered naming him after my father."

Inoichi glanced at him from the corner of his eyes and nodded, "That must have surprised you."

"Maa, just a little." Kakashi watched the boy look up suddenly and turn around, eyes wide over the mask covering his face from neck to nose. If there was one thing that Kakashi was surprised about, it was how the child managed to keep the mask over his nose most of the time. Most children he'd watched tended to put things in their mouths or up their noses or what have you; but not Hito. Hito just went about his day happy as a clam with his nose and mouth covered up.

Hito's searching eyes landed on Kakashi and the boy raised his arms up, "Tou-chan! Gotta bugs!"

"Oh really?" Kakashi grinned, making his way over to the child. He crouched down beside Hito and Hito proceeded to shove a fistful of worms into his open hands. "You know, Chibi," Kakashi cleared his throat, "I think Kaa-chan would like these more. She likes worms."

"'orms?" Hito questioned, staring at the wiggling 'bugs' in Kakashi's hands.

"Yes, worms," Kakashi agreed with a grin on his face.

"Okay! Where Kaa-chan?" Hito looked up at him with big, curiosity filled eyes, "Give Kaa-chan 'orms!"

"Kaa-chan is working," Kakashi swung the little boy up in his arms with a chuckle, "But how about we let these ones go, and then when Kaa-chan comes home, we can go look for some more, hmm? How's that sound, Hito-chan?"

"Is good," Hito nodded decisively and Kakashi laughed a little, putting the worms back on the ground and then nuzzling the side of Hito's face.

He waved to Inoichi and Hito waved maniacally as well and then Kakashi left, not wanting, nor needing, to hang around the Torture and Intelligence interrogator. He'd rather not have his entire life laid bare.

.o0o.

Kakashi twitched. Asuma glanced at him, then shrugged and went back to people watching.

Kakashi twitched again. Asuma took a longer moment to stare at him before shifting subtly and going back to people watching.

Kakashi twitched for a third time and Asuma threw up his hands, "Okay, what the hell? What's wrong?"

Shifting awkwardly, Kakashi shrugged, "Nothing."

"You're lying. Really badly," Asuma rolled his eyes, "Obviously there's something wrong; what is it?"

"Maa," Kakashi shrugged indolently, "Nothing really. I'm just... twitchy."

Asuma blinked and then shuffled back half a foot, "Twitchy how?" He drawled from a safer distance away, only half faking his suspicion.

"I'm not sure," Kakashi leaned back and controlled his fall so that he landed softly on the roof, staring up at the blue sky, "I've never been twitchy like this before."

Asuma looked over his shoulder at him and bit his lip, thinking. Then he hummed, "Are you feeling the urge to stab someone with a kunai?"

"Nope."

"Garrote someone with wire?"

"No."

"Challenge Gai to a contest?"

"Gods no." Kakashi shuddered and rested his hands behind his head, staring at nothing. He had been feeling weird for days now, but it just kept getting worse instead of getting better like most feelings got with time. He wasn't sure what it was, but it was annoying the hell out of him. "I can't seem to concentrate," He mused out loud to his friend, "-and I can't block out distractions like usual. My head feels like its stuffed up a little and my body has an urge to do something. Anything, really."

"Could be mission related," Asuma shrugged, "I mean, you do not know how many times I've gotten the shakes since I took my genin team. I'm used to a lot more adrenaline and excitement." He looked at Kakashi out of the side of his eyes, "I'm betting you haven't had this much down time since you lost your eye."

"Maa, I had less than two weeks before something crazy came up," Kakashi waved a hand, brushing the unstated concern aside.

"Two weeks?" Asuma looked taken aback, "Really?"

"I was fourteen when I lost my eye, Asuma."

"And?" Asuma frowned, throwing his hands open, "What has that got to do with it?"

"Kyuubi?" Kakashi prodded the man, "Remember that? That happened just less than two weeks after my eye."

Asuma's eyes widened and he stared at Kakashi for a moment, "Wow. I've learnt more about you in the last six months than I have in my entire life." He grinned then and nudged Kakashi's foot with his own. "Maki-san is good for you, making you socialize like a real person."

"I'm not a social person," Kakashi rolled his eyes.

"But you're getting better," The man replied.

Kakashi wondered about that. Most of the time he still didn't understand why people reacted the way they did. He thought that everything he did was rather logical and yet several of the people he called friends still questioned his actions. He had noticed that the questions were becoming less and less as he followed their patterns instead of how he'd rather act, but he still didn't understand why.

He supposed that it was just something about people. Maki had told him once that she'd only had to think of it for a moment before she realized why he wasn't neurotic about where his stuff was when she and Hito visited since he had a mild case of OCD. She informed him in a lofty voice that he held his girlfriend and son in higher accord than his possessions. She'd then laughed and thanked him by making him supper and allowing him to keep Hito overnight. He'd been very happy that day.

And yet he was still twitching.

"Okay, so lack of adrenaline is definitely on the board for reasons of twitchiness," Asuma mused, leaning back as well. Kakashi eye balled him and then shrugged. If Asuma wanted to help him, who was he to refuse? "What else?"

Kakashi frowned, "'What else', what?"

"What other symptoms do you have? When do you get twitchier than usual?" Kakashi thought about it. Asuma sighed and started to list things off; "Do you get headaches? Is your vision blurry? Do you get twitchy around other shinobi? If so, which ones? Are you twitchy on the 'missions' you go on with the genin?"

"No headaches, no blurry vision. Nothing is physically wrong with me; I'm just a little hyper. I do get tense around large groups of people, but they're all comrades and no one in particular, so I don't really understand why. Sometimes when Maki-chan is over I have a hard time keeping still."

Asuma blinked. "Really? That doesn't narrow it down at all."

Kakashi nodded, "Yeah." And then he realized what was going on.

His body wanted to do something, he was especially hyper around Maki and large groups of people. If he was around a larger group of people it was because he was with Maki. Plus, he was having far more erections that he usually did even considering his porn habit.

Everything pointed towards one thing. He wanted to have sex. He was sexually frustrated.

He'd never abstained from sex longer than a month since he'd started having sex, most of which encounters were one night stands or liaisons during missions, and now here he was, over six months without it. Sure, he'd masturbated, but he hadn't had sex. He was being polite and gentlemanly and concerned for Maki. He hadn't even brought it up.

And he'd never go outside of his relationship for a one night stand.

He wondered if he should tell Asuma what had him on edge, but figured that it wasn't any of his business whether Kakashi was having sex or not.

"Kakashi?" Asuma nudged his foot again and Kakashi shook his head.

"Never mind, Asuma, I figured it out."

Since he hadn't told the man what he'd figured out, Asuma didn't even ask to know. "You know how to fix it?"

"It's complicated," Kakashi murmured, wondering just how he was going to fix it. He wasn't going to approach Maki about it and he wasn't going to have a one-nighter, or hire a hooker. He supposed that the only way to work out the excess energy would be to work off the energy.

That would involve some serious physical labour.

And who better to help work oneself to exhaustion but Maito Gai?

When he woke up the next morning and took stock of his body, he groaned.

He opened his eyes and looked down at the tent in the covers. "Seriously?" He asked himself incredulously. He'd worked with Gai until his body had almost collapsed and yet here he was, hard as a rock and wanting to find relief. Sighing and rolling out of bed, he made his way to the bathroom and stripped, stepping into the shower.

He turned the water on as hot as he could stand it and groaned as it hit his body, soothing his aching muscles. His hand drifted to his erection and he groaned again as he grasped himself. Gods, but it was nice to be able to deal with his horniness so easily. As he stroked, his mind turned to erotic mental images and he mumbled to himself a couple of lines from Icha Icha.

As his strokes got quicker and his hand gripped tighter, his mind turned from Icha Icha to his girlfriend and he moaned as he re-saw an image of Maki in his kitchen, barefoot and reaching up to the top shelf with her back arched to get something and the flash of naturally tanned tummy peeking out of her shirt. The mental image twisted and then he saw her in a pair of tight spandex shorts and tank top, her body contorted into some special taijutsu stretch Gai had shown her. Sweat dripped down her face as she worked, the swell of her breasts under her top as she breathed heavily drew his attention and he moaned again. The image changed again to her bending over the back of his couch to grab something that Hito had dropped and the curve of her ass in her pants...

He orgasmed with clenched teeth, losing it completely as he imagined what he would do to his girlfriend, had she been ready for a sexual relationship.

He placed a hand on the wall of the shower, leaning forward under the spray of water and letting it drown his head, the water washing over his body and wiping away any evidence of his masturbation.

Kakashi felt a little disgusted with himself then; having just masturbated to mental images of Maki, knowing that Maki had been raped and wanted nothing to do with sex.

She was beautiful though, and he was dating her and it was hard not to imagine having sex with her, seeing her writhe under him and beg him for more. Kakashi was a healthy twenty-six year old and sex wasn't something that he'd planned on giving up before realizing that he'd done just that when he'd started dating Maki.

He met up with Maki and Hito later in the day for supper out, having a standing date at the ramen stand. Kakashi wasn't surprised that a taste for ramen had been inheritable. He fondly remembered the times when Minato-sensei would take him out for ramen before he'd died. He found it kind of fun to know that Maki had a similar taste to her father. When he could bring himself to think of Naruto outside of work it amused him to know that the boy's tastes reflected both his father and his sister.

He kept half an eye on Hito, knowing the boy wouldn't go far with ramen so close by and half an eye on his girlfriend.

As he watched, she brought the chopsticks to her lips and puckered up, blowing lightly on the steaming noddles. He barely managed to stop himself from shifting in his seat, his brain conjuring up an image of Maki on her knees, looking up at him through her lashes.

She licked her lips and her face twisted in ecstasy as she consumed her food. Kakashi was far to occupied by the look on her face to notice much of anything at all, other than her.

"Hmm, Kakashi?" She turned to him and cocked her head to the side, curious. Kakashi swallowed, hiding his reaction to her. He didn't think that she wanted to see a man lusting after her; not after five years of men lusting after her.

"Yes?" He responded with a smile and she grinned widely enough to make him apprehensive.

"Are you going to take your kunai back from Hito, or are you just going to let him play with it?"

Kakashi's eye widened and he looked down to see Hito at his feet, playing with one of the special kunai that his father had made for him. He watched the boy for a moment, looking for a way to take the blade without hurting the toddler and noticed that Hito was holding it in a rather careful manner.

His eyes narrowed and he looked to Maki. "You let him play with kunai?" He asked shrewdly and she shrugged.

"It's not gonna hurt him."

"And when he manages to poke an eye out?" He asked, feeling a bit off centre that Maki didn't seem to care about the danger that her son was in. But then, as he continued to watch Hito play with the kunai, it didn't seem that he was in all that much danger. When he chose an end to chew on, it was the handle and when he scored the dirt, he was always holding it correctly even if it was too big for his hands.

"It'd be fine," Maki waved a hand, nonchalant, "I'd probably be able to just shove it back in his head and it'd heal right up in a day or so."

Kakashi blinked, his thoughts now empty of any sexual innuendo, having been thoroughly distracted by this new development.

"Heal right up?" He asked, only vaguely alarmed. He trusted Maki profoundly, but this wasn't something that he could just take on her word alone. Hito was a baby, defenceless and in need of adult care. Having Maki sound so careless at what could be a life changing injury was a surprise. Maki usually tended to be much more concerned about injuries on other's than he was. Then again, most injuries that he'd seen on another person, he had been the one to put it there.

"Yeah," Maki waved her chopsticks negligently in the air, "He takes after me."

Kakashi nodded slowly, not fully understanding her, "Yes, he does. He looks very much like you."

She laughed and smiled when she responded, "And he heals like me too!"

"Heals?" Kakashi sharpened, considering the implications of Maki thinking that she and her son could heal a poked out eye ball. That was an extensive, and very useful, talent for a shinobi to have.

Maki shrugged, "Sure," She smirked and glance warily at him, "I don't like pain, but if you really want to see, I can show you."

"No, no, that's fine, I believe you. I'm just- I've never heard of a talent like that before."

Maki sighed and leaned against the counter, lounging easily, comfortable at the ramen stand, "I always used to imagine that it was a bloodline limit, since I'm an orphan, but when I started looking through the registries for bloodlines, I couldn't find anything about one that was centred around self healing."

"But you and your son both have quick healing," Kakashi thought out loud, thinking about that. Occasionally, though very rarely, did a new bloodline pop up; but it had happened before. Minato hasn't been known for being a faster healer than anyone else, though Kushina had been prone to shorter hospital stays then anyone else Kakashi knew. Maki wasn't related to Kushina though. Then again, he now could clearly recall how Naruto seemed to never run out of energy or chakra and he never had bruises or broken bones or cuts and scrapes. Perhaps it had been something recessive in Minato's genes that had become dominant in his children?

"Not just quick," Maki grinned widely and with a speed only learnt from Gai, shoved one of her chopsticks through her hand. She grimaced and licked the blood away, leaving the thin piece of wood in her hand. Kakashi stared at her in horror. She grinned again and grasped one end of the chopstick, "Unnaturally fast." She yanked out the chopstick and Kakashi winced, grabbing her hand and a roll of bandages from his pack.

When he wiped the blood away, he was amazed to find that there was no longer a hole in her hand. There was a little pink mark on the front and back of her hand, but as he watched, they too vanished as though never there.

"My Gods." Kakashi whispered to himself. He glanced to Hito, who was still playing with the kunai, and then back to Maki. "You and Hito can both do this?"

"Yep!" She wrapped her tongue around the chopstick and licked it clean of blood before going back to the rest of her ramen.

He was suddenly unsurprised that she let her toddler son play with sharp objects.

.o0o.

"Okay," Asuma stood before his team, "I already have our mission for today, so we don't have to go by the missions desk." There was a 'yay' from Chouji, a fake cheer from Ino, and a mildly excited, limp wave from the boy laying on the table on his back.

"Well, Asuma-sensei? What are we doing?" Yamanaka Ino stood beside the picnic table with her hands on her hips, "Running errands? Retrieving groceries? And why are we working on a Saturday?"

"Something a bit more important than that, Ino-chan." Asuma tossed the girl the scroll that he had, "It's a body guard mission."

Ino's smile turned shark-ish, "Oh really?" She started unrolling the scroll, "Will we be in danger?"

"Only if you mess up," Asuma cautioned, "I mean, I might not survive if the primary isn't in perfect health at the end of the day."

Glimmering aqua eyes narrowed as Ino read the scroll, "Asuma-sensei, this 'body guard' mission is for a two year old."

Chouji slumped, disappointed at another babysitting job. Shikamaru sat up though, looking at Asuma with a curious expression.

"So..." Shikamaru drawled out, "Kid of someone you know, Asuma-sensei?" Asuma smiled at the boy's perceptiveness. He nodded and gestured for Shikamaru to continue his train of thought. "You said that you might not survive, so... the parent of this kid is jounin." Asuma nodded again. "A highly placed jounin." Another nod.

"Correct, Shikamaru-kun." Asuma patted his pockets and then swore under his breath. Maki must have filched his smokes when she'd passed him earlier in the morning in the hallway. She never did like the fact that he smoked and she would steal his cigarettes for a week every time after he smoked in Kakashi's apartment.

Given that he'd had smoke blown in his face from his father since he'd been born, Asuma didn't know why she was all up in arms about occasional smoking in Kakashi's place even though there was usually a baby there.

"Sensei?" Chouji piped up, curious about what he was doing.

"Sorry, Chouji-kun, someone must have pick-pocketed my smokes." Maki had very light fingers. Asuma hadn't once caught her in the act. "Anyway, yes, Hito-chan is indeed the son of a very powerful jounin. And a surprising bubbly chuunin, but it's jounin I'm worried will castrate me if Hito-chan gets injured."

Shikamaru and Ino shared a look and Ino's eyes practically lit up on fire, "Hatake-san's son! We're going to be babysitting Sharingan no Kakashi's son?"

The bearded jounin sensei nodded, "Yep."

"Wait," Ino raised a hand, "Are we going to be babysitting Sharingan no Kakashi's son in his own apartment?" She looked at Asuma and Asuma felt a little like cowering away from the intensity.

"Yeah, no. I don't think so, genin-chan," Kakashi spoke up from behind the team and all three genin whipped around so fast that Asuma feared whiplash.

Shikamaru was the first to speak up. "Hatake-san?"

There was a toddler in his arms and a blond woman holding one of his hands. Said toddler was wearing a mask that matched the colour of his shirt and when the morning sun caught his hair in the right light, it turned from gold to silver, seemingly flickering from his mother's colour to his father's.

"Hey." Kakashi nodded to Asuma and set Hito down, "We need a day to ourselves and Asuma volunteered to watch Hito." And Kakashi wasn't lying. What Asuma was sure that Kakashi didn't know was that the Sarutobi was trying to impress Kurenai by showing off his ability to care for children.

What Asuma didn't know was that Kakashi knew he had a crush on the genjutsu expert and after talking it over with Maki, they'd decided that they'd allow the man to show off a little with Hito. They did trust him, after all.

"What about the Day Care?" Chouji piped up, interested. The Day Care had been his family's idea after all, so he knew all about it and what it was used for.

"Shut down for two days." Maki spoke up, coming more fully into the genin's view and Ino gasped at the woman, "One of the children came in with the chicken pox and now Mito-san has to disinfect the entire building."

"You're so pretty~!" Ino gushed, interrupting Maki, "Your eyes! And your hair!"

Maki blushed and laughed, "Thanks!" She leaned towards Ino a little, "You know, you're the first one to say that to me in a long time."

Kakashi cocked his head to the side, "I told you I think you look beautiful," He murmured.

"Yes, Dear," She patted his arm absently, attention still on Ino, "Are you one of the genin that will be watching Hito-chan today?"

"Yes, Ma'am," Ino tucked her arms behind her back and scuffed the floor with one of her sandals, "I'm Yamanaka Ino."

"It's very nice to meet you, Ino-chan. You may call me Maki, if you wish." Maki smiled indulgently at the thirteen year old girl and Ino blushed even harder.

"Yes Maki-san." Asuma was startled to realize that Ino had a tiny case of idolization going on with the blond chuunin woman. He wondered if that would do some good for Ino, having someone like Maki to look up to.

He decided that it couldn't hurt and smiled at his team, proud of them.

"Kaa-chan? Tou-chan?" Hito clutched tight to Kakashi's pants and both adults crouched next to their son.

"Hey, Hito-chan," Maki thread her fingers through his thick hair and hugged him, "Asuma-ji-san is going to watch you today, yeah?"

"Asua-ji?" Hito mangled Asuma's name a bit and Kakashi grinned behind his mask.

"Yes, Hito-chan. You'll be good for Asuma-ji-chan like you are for Kurenai-ba-chan?"

Hito's blue eyes sparkled up at Kakashi and the boy nodded, "Yes, Tou-chan."

"Very good," Kakashi hugged the boy as well when Hito's thin arms encircled his neck.

When the parents had finished their good bye's to Hito, Asuma made his way over to them and let Hito take his hand. Hito looked up at him with wide eyes and Asuma couldn't help but smile back.

.o0o.

Anko was the most serious that Kakashi had every seen her when she appeared out of nowhere, striding towards him as though she were on her way to her own execution.

"Kakashi," She stopped before him and he looked her up and down lazily. Whatever it was that she had to say, it couldn't be that important because Kakashi only truly cared about two things in the whole world. Maki and Hito. And they were at his apartment, safe.

"Hmm?" He hummed at the woman and rolled his eye in her direction, looking away from the rather risqué novel that he was reading.

"Tatsumaki is my friend," She eyeballed him, "-and I have very few friends."

He nodded, knowing what she was getting at. He had the same problem himself, "Yes?"

"I need to know if you're jerking her around or not," Anko set herself in a confrontational stance and Kakashi was surprised enough that his book dropped from eye level to his chin. He stared at the blue haired woman and she growled, "Oh come off it, you know exactly what I mean by that."

"I... really don't," He murmured and she stomped her foot in mock tantrum.

"Are you jerking Maki around? It's not that hard of a question to answer."

Kakashi fully lowered the book and stepped off the side of the road, jumping up to a relatively quiet roof top. Anko followed closely. "Now," He tucked the book into his weapons pouch, "What exactly do you mean by 'jerking her around'?"

Anko stared at him for several moments and then her eyes widened, "You really don't know, do you?" She got a raised eyebrow from Kakashi in response and then she sighed. "You don't. You socially retarded asshole."

Kakashi paused at that and then half-smiled, "Yes; yes I am socially incompetent. I can fake it well though."

"And that's the problem. We think you know what the hell you're doin' when you don't," Anko tapped her toes, crossing her arms over her chest.

It was a nice chest, but not attached to as interesting person as Maki's chest was.

"Kakashi!"

Kakashi looked back up to her face and saw her deep scowl, "Yes, Anko-san?"

Anko took a deep breath to calm herself and centred herself, "Kakashi, you are living with the woman. You are raising a child with her. Do you plan on staying with her, exclusively?"

Kakashi blinked and then nodded, "Yep."

"Arrg! You piss me off!" Anko stomped the roof and almost pouted, "Listen up, asshat; Hirohito loves you." Kakashi smiled, a warm feeling in his chest. It made him giddy sometimes that Hito thought of him as his father. "Not only does Hito love you, but Maki loves you too."

That caused Kakashi to stop. Wait, what? "Maki... loves me?"

Anko stared at him in disbelief, "Duh! She's head over friggin' heels for you."

"Oh," Kakashi drew the sound out, thinking about that. "Really?"

"Really," Anko insisted, "And every time I talk to her about you, she's depressed!"

That confused the Copy-Nin and he lifted a finger in question, "She loves me... and is depressed about loving me?"

"Because she doesn't know if you love her," Anko spoke to him as though he didn't have the mental capabilities of a two year old. And Kakashi knew exactly how much a two year old could understand.

"Well obviously I do," Kakashi scoffed, "I certainly wouldn't be with her if I didn't..." He trailed off and had to take a mental step back.

He'd never admitted it before, to himself or to anyone else, that he did indeed love Yamamoto Tatsumaki.

He... loved her.

Kakashi. In love.

How novel.

How... exciting!

Kakashi lit up and studied his comrade with an intensity that he'd never used outside of learning the shinobi arts before, "Is there a special time that I should tell her?" He asked. He knew that he was socially retarded and he didn't want to mess something like this up again, since he'd apparently messed it up the first time.

Anko took a physical step back under his scrutiny and then licked her lips, looking confused at the sudden change in their conversation dynamic and a little like a cornered cat, "Uhm, whenever it feels like a good time?"

Kakashi hunted her across the rooftop, stalking her just a little, "But I'm socially incompetent. How am I supposed to know when that is?"

"At the very least," Anko checked over her shoulder at the approaching edge of the building, "-before you ask her to marry you!"

Kakashi kept stalking forwards and Anko was forced to dive off the edge of the building. She hit the ground at a run and was out of sight in seconds. Kakashi stood at the edge and rocked on his heels, thinking about the last thing that Anko had said to him.

Ask her to marry him.

It was probably the most perfect idea ever presented to him.

Now all he needed was to find a ring.

.o0o.

All the jewellery shops in Konoha sucked, Kakashi thought to himself as he perused the goods that they were hawking. All the rings that he found where gaudy and overdone and uninspired. There wasn't a single thing that he saw that he wanted to give to Maki when he told her that he loved her and wanted to marry her.

Finally having had enough, Kakashi used the shunshin in a fit of peak, vanishing and reappearing next to the memorial stone. He brooded for a moment, silently ranting about idiots to Obito.

This was the first and only time that he was every going to ask someone to marry him and it had to be perfect. He liked things when they were perfect, it meant that there were no flaws and there was nothing he had to worry about.

And that meant that he couldn't ask Maki to marry him without the perfect ring.

A sudden thought came to him as he was fingering his weapon's pouch. It would be unorthodox, but they were pretty unorthodox people themselves.

He pulled out one of his specially made kunai and looked it over. It was... pretty much perfect for this task.

He unwound the leather from the handle, leaving behind only the tungsten metal kunai behind. He wouldn't need that much of the metal so he would be able to keep the blade and most of the handle and just melt down the ring at the end. These kunai had been made for him by his father when he'd only been five and graduated from the academy as the youngest graduate ever. He'd kept them even through what had seemed to be his father's betrayal of Konoha.

They were special to him and he'd once spent two days going through the blood and guts and muck of a battle ground to find every last one that he'd used. Minato-sensei hadn't been pleased to be held back from going home, but Kakashi hadn't cared, and still didn't care. These were special to him. There were none else like them in the world.

Slowly he heated his hands with fire and lightening, coating his skin with chakra to protect the his hands. It took several minutes before the combined heat managed to even affect the metal. By the time he'd gotten the metal to six thousand degrees Fahrenheit, his hands were red and he was sure that he was going to be sporting burns for days.

At six thousand, one hundred degrees, the metal started to bend in his hands. At six thousand, two hundred degrees the metal started to slowly melt. Using chakra he created a circular shape and slowly filled it with the liquid tungsten.

By the time that the ring was made and he had managed to cool it down enough to touch it, he was well into the first stages of chakra exhaustion. He could mold half a dozen Raikiri before stepping into the stages of chakra exhaustion, but he'd been burning his chakra hard and bright for far longer than ever before. He wasn't surprised to be so tired.

Asuma spoke up from where he was watching, "Kakashi, what are you doing?"

Kakashi breathed deeply and blinked several times, "Making a ring."

"I can see that. Why?" Asuma stepped closer and stared at the polished silver looking ring in Kakashi's hand, "And out of what?"

"It's for Maki," Kakashi murmured, "-and it's tungsten."

Wide eyed, Asuma stared at Kakashi, "As in, tungsten: the only chakra conducting metal known to mankind?" He asked, "For Maki-san?"

"I'm going to marry her," Kakashi murmured, collapsing to his knees, "And this is going to be her ring."

Catching the man before he toppled over and hit the ground, Asuma gently helped him into a seated position. He sat next to the Copy-Nin and offered up a hand with carefully blank chakra for the man to leech. Chakra sharing was especially difficult and only done when both giver and taker where calm and collected. If chakra sharing went wrong, you could find pieces of people scattered over a two mile radius after the always violent explosion.

"So," Asuma spoke quietly, "You aren't married to her yet?"

"No," Kakashi grasped Asuma's hand and started leeching at the offered chakra like a newborn at a mother's breast. "But she's the only one that I'd ever consider marrying."

Asuma chuckled, "The clans will be happy. They though you might off yourself before continuing the Hatake clan." He thought for a moment, "Wait, Hito doesn't have White Chakra."

"No," Kakashi smirked, not minding that Asuma still thought Hito was biologically his even after telling his friend that the boy wasn't; "He has his mother's talents."

"Maki-san has a bloodline?" Asuma asked, wonderingly.

Kakashi sort of nodded his head, "It's enough like one that Hito inherited it." He didn't know who the father was, so he couldn't say that he boy hadn't gotten another bloodline, and he knew that he was prevaricating on Hito's parentage, but he also knew how Hito had come to be and he didn't want to spread that information around. Not even to his friend.

And he wasn't lying because Hito had the same amazing healing that his mother had and Kakashi was pretty sure that it was either the beginning of a bloodline, or a mild one.

Feeling better, Kakashi disengaged from the chakra sharing and thanked Asuma with a smile and a nod. Asuma nodded back and they both stood up.

"So," Asuma grinned widely, "Can I see it?"

Kakashi handed the ring over. He didn't even have a moment of doubt that he should let Asuma see it because he knew Asuma and he trusted the other man. Trust for shinobi was rare and dangerous, but Kakashi liked a little danger in his life.

"It's amazing," Asuma mumbled, looking the ring over, "There haven't been any chakra weapons made in a long time because no one has the affinities or the chakra levels to make a full weapon. I didn't even know that you knew how to do this." He hefted the ring that he was talking about.

Kakashi shrugged, "I didn't do the hard part, I just remolded the metal. Otou-sama made the kunai over twenty years ago."

"It's impressive nonetheless, Kakashi," Asuma carefully handed the ring back and Kakashi tucked it away, making sure that it was safer than his porn on his person. It was too important to be careless with. Asuma grasped his elbow and Kakashi glanced back to him, curious. Asuma smiled, "I think she'll love it."

"I hope so." Kakashi muttered under his breath. He wasn't sure what Maki thought about marriage as they'd never discussed it, but he was hopeful.

"When are you going to ask?" The Sarutobi asked as they made their way through the trees quickly, heading towards the hospital. The burns on Kakashi's hands would need looking at and it was always good to have a second opinion post chakra sharing. Occasionally there could be problems after the sharing if the disconnection was done wrong. Or anything was done wrong, for that matter.

It wasn't a surprise that it was rarely, if ever used. Some villages, such as Bloody Mist, had never even heard of it and that was evident from how their shinobi treated each other.

Kakashi shrugged, keeping his hands close to his body so he wouldn't hit anything with the tender skin. Maki was more than worth the pain. "I don't know yet. Soon. I don't want to lose her."

"You won't," Asuma told him, "Maki's loved you for possibly as long as you've loved her."

Kakashi shot a glance over to the man, "And how long have I loved her?" He'd only recently learnt that he loved Maki and he wondered how long he'd been acting that way. Asuma would be one of the better judges of that.

"The first time I saw you two together, I knew you loved her," Asuma smirked, "By the way, I'm claiming the burns. You don't want the lecture and I don't mind the reputation boost."

"Sure," Kakashi snorted, "I don't really care." Besides, Asuma had given him burns like this once before, so the man did have the skills to back the boast.

Asuma smirked broadly, "And I mean the lecture from Maki, not the medics."

Kakashi blanched for a moment and nodded, "I see your point."

"Thought you would," The bearded man murmured quietly, laughing under his breath. Kakashi glared at him but couldn't help but laugh as well.

He was too excited from having finally 'found' the perfect ring for Maki to be grumpy about anything.

The medics were quick to check both of them over and double check their sharing, which they did get a lecture for since it was 'unnecessary' due to them being in the village at the time, and then they were released from the hospital. Medics had learnt early with jounin that they healed best where they felt safest. Kakashi had spent far more time in his own bed healing than he had in a hospital.

"Still no thoughts on when you're going to ask her?" Asuma quired lightly as they walked down the hall to their apartments. They lived on the same floor in the same building but that wasn't a surprise since they were both around the same age, rank, and current status at the moment. Status being genin team leaders. Not that their job status had anything to do with where they lived, but it was something that drew them closer together as friends.

"Nope," Kakashi looked his hands over, blowing lightly over the clear cream one of the medics had coated his hands with. "Open my door for me?" He asked and Asuma laughed, nodding.

Before Asuma could touch the door handle, it turned and the door swung out. Maki bustled about for a moment, arms full of Hito and various items such as a baby bag, a backpack and several scrolls.

"Ah! Kakashi, you're home!" Maki breathed in relief, "Listen, I have to do some shopping today and I was going to ask you to watch Hito-chan, but you weren't here when I got home so I made a list of stuff and am just on my way to take Hito back to the Day Care- Oh my god, what did you do to your hands?" Maki dropped everything except for Hito, passing the child to Asuma and gently took Kakashi's wrists in her hands, turning his hands over so she could see the extend of the redness. "These look like chakra burns!" She exclaimed.

Kakashi's eye opened a bit wider than usual and he glanced at Asuma. Maki took it the wrong way and turned on the man, "Did you do this to Kakashi? Seriously, Asuma-san? He has a son; what are you doing, sparring hard enough to do that?"

"Maki-san," Asuma juggled the wiggling toddler in his arms who was reaching excitedly for Kakashi, "It's not really my fault. I just-"

"And do I feel blank chakra in your coils?" She rounded on Kakashi again and the Copy-Nin flinched. If there was one thing that Maki didn't understand, it was chakra sharing. She couldn't clean her chakra for the life of her and she never ran out, so she never saw the point of taking chakra from someone else. Because of that she only vaguely understood that sometimes it was just necessary.

And as Kakashi had heard in the ER, it hadn't been necessary this time.

He smiled though and cupped Maki's cheek lightly so as not to smear the gel, soothing a worry line from the corner of her eye with the edge of his thumb, "It was an exercise in trust, Maki-chan."

"You shouldn't have been sparring that hard," Maki grumbled for a moment, but then let it go, "Are you going to be home for a while, or should I still take Hito to the Day Care?"

"Maa," Kakashi scratched the back of his head with his wrist, watching Hito climb over Asuma like a little monkey, "I'll be home for the rest of the day if nothing else comes up." He opened an arm and hugged Maki to him gently when she cuddled into his body, "You can leave Hito with me."

"Thanks, Kakashi," Maki smiled brightly up at Kakashi and Kakashi felt his heart melt.

Anko and Asuma were right. He loved her, and he'd loved her for a very long time.

.o0o.

Naruto bit her lip, wondering how Kakashi would take to knowing that Maki wasn't exactly who she said she was.

Naruto had known from the beginning, though she'd never admitted it to herself, that her cover as Maki wouldn't last. For gods sake, she was living in a shinobi village. Secrets that large, about people like her, a jinchuuriki, never lasted.

Hell, she isn't sure why her subterfuge lasted as long it had.

So the question was, who was she going to tell first? She couldn't tell Kakashi, the man thought she was seventeen, not thirteen. She couldn't tell Asuma, or Anko, or Kurenai, or Gai. They all thought the same thing.

Since she couldn't tell any of Maki's friends, Naruto continued on that thread and thought about Naruto's friends. But there was no way in hell that she was going to be telling Sakura that she was a girl. Never mind the girl that Sakura was insisting that Kakashi was dating and had a baby with. She wasn't going to tell Kiba, or Shikamaru, or Chouji either. Sasuke... was a possibility, though only as a last option.

However, she needed to tell someone, and she needed to tell them now. Because she was going on a freaking mission to Wave Country and someone needed to watch her apartment and her son.

She really, really wanted to tell Kakashi though. But she couldn't. Kakashi would have her son taken from her. She knew that Kakashi didn't like Naruto because he never spent any extra time with her like he did with Sakura and Sasuke. Sure, she had his time when she was Maki, but that was different.

"Naruto?" Sarutobi Hiruzen looked at her from across his desk, "What did you want to see me about?"

She'd been quiet too long, she knew. "Um, did you know that Kakashi-sensei is dating?" Sarutobi nodded with a chuckle and Naruto shook her head. This was not the time to be laughing, "And that he's got a baby?"

"I've heard, yes," Sarutobi nodded, "Asuma comes to supper with the family on Saturdays and he's updated me all about Kakashi and Tatsumaki-san."

"... Have you ever seen Tatsumaki-san?" Naruto flinched when she said her name like she was talking about someone else, "I mean, you're the Hokage and she's a ninja. Have you ever read her file, or seen her mission status or anything?"

Sarutobi looked long and hard at her and then his expression turned to shock with a little horror, "Naruto," he breathed out, "What have you done?"

"It's not my fault!" Naruto hurried around the desk and launched herself at the only person she'd ever truly trusted before Kakashi. "I didn't want Hito taken away from me!" She cried into his robes, "So- so I had to be someone else..."

"Oh Naruto." Sarutobi held her close, "Hirohito is your son. You were- you..."

"I was ten," She murmured, feeling shame well up in her chest, "I was ten and he hurt me real bad but I was strong, so I got back up and I hunted him down, and I killed him for it." She hissed, Sarutobi's hands rubbing her back, keeping her calmer than she would have been.

She'd never spoken about what had happened to her before, not to anyone. "I got you now, Naruto. I won't let you get hurt again..." Sarutobi held her tight and whispered in her ear.

"You can't promise me that," Naruto whispered. "But. It's just that... I'm going to Wave."

"Yes," He's voice was cajoling her to continue even as he cuddled her close like she would do for Hito and she felt safe like that; safe enough to keep talking to him.

"I can't take him with me. The Day Care doesn't take children for more than a week at a time." She looked up with tears in her eyes and Sarutobi nodded. "I need someone to watch over Hito-chan. Someone I trust. Please," Naruto begged, "Please, Jii-chan."

"Ah, Naruto," Sarutobi shook his head. She could see that he both wanted to take Hito in, and that he didn't want to. "I suppose that I can take Hito into my house for a few weeks." Naruto perked up and Sarutobi turned kindly stern, "But you must do something for me in return."

"Give and take, Jiji," Naruto grinned, only too happy that she'd finally told someone, that someone knew. She was just so happy that there was someone who she could talk to about Hito.

"You must tell Kakashi the truth."

Naruto felt as though she'd been struck.

Tell Kakashi the truth? Tell Kakashi that she wasn't Maki, that she was Naruto? Tell Kakashi that Hito, who Kakashi clearly loved, was the son of the student he was most disinterested in?

If she did that- everything would be over. Kakashi would keep it secret if it were asked of him by the Hokage, so Naruto wasn't worry about him telling anyone else; Naruto was worried that Kakashi would taken everything they'd been through together and throw it away.

"Jii-chan," Naruto whispered in a pained voice, "He'll leave us."

"No, Naruto-chan, I don't believe he will leave you," Sarutobi continued to cuddle her close, "Kakashi won't leave you. From what I've heard about Kakashi and Tatsumaki, Kakashi would choose you and Hito above all else."

Naruto sniffled into the cloth under her face, "He will leave." She knew he would. She was Uzumaki Naruto, and she was despised.

She used to think that she was hated, but had found that that wasn't the entire truth. She was hated by some, ignored by most, revered by few, and loved by two. Iruka loved her, and Sarutobi loved her. Most jounin revered her sacrifice, but they had little to do with her day to day life. She was despised by most for the Yondaime having died to seal the Kyuubi and ignored because of Sarutobi's law. They knew there were other ways to seal a demon, but the Yondaime had, for some reason, decided that the only way to truly hold the demon at bay within her was by sacrificing his life.

Yondaime was the most beloved of Hokage. Because of her, he was dead.

Naruto had been devastated for a surprisingly short amount of time when Sarutobi had told her after she'd graduated, what it was that made people walk around her, what the seal that showed up on her stomach when she was using chakra was. Naruto had almost asked why it had appeared when she was giving birth, but managed to hold back that question before it got out.

After all, Sarutobi hadn't know two months ago that she was Maki.

And Naruto knew that Kakashi had been Yondaime's student, his apprentice. Naruto knew how Kakashi felt about Uzumaki Naruto.

Kakashi hated Uzumaki Naruto.

.o0o.

Maki met Kakashi at the Day Care with a bright smile and tight hug. Kakashi inwardly frowned, but hugged her back. "How was your day, Maki-chan?"

There was a wince that Maki couldn't hide from him and Kakashi knew that something was wrong, even if he couldn't put his finger on what it was just yet.

He couldn't think about that now though because this was one of the last two days he'd have with Maki and Hito before going to Wave Country with his genin team. Not that this would be the first time that he'd left the village after getting to know Maki, but it was the first time that he'd be gone since they'd gotten so close.

"Not bad," Maki rearranged Hito on her hip, "I had a meeting with Sarutobi-sama," Kakashi was taken aback a little by that news. He hadn't known that Maki was high enough on the shinobi food chain to be speaking with the Hokage in person. Maki smiled in remembrance, "He totally agreed to take Hito for a few weeks for me while I'm gone."

Kakashi's 'taken aback a little' changed to shock. So Maki wasn't high enough on the shinobi food chain, she knew Sarutobi Hiruzen personally.

Absently, he wondered how. And then his brain caught up to him and he frowned, "You're leaving for a few weeks?" At the same time as he was?

He would like to think she was leaving when he was because she wanted to coordinate their time out of Konoha together so they weren't apart for any longer than the longer of their missions. But he can't say that because Maki wouldn't ever leave Hito unless she had too.

Which meant that whatever mission Maki was going on, it was dangerous.

Dangerous enough for her to talk the Hokage into 'babysitting' her son. Kakashi couldn't help but consider the different ways there was to persuade someone of something.

He hoped that Maki only used her girlish charm and innocence instead of her sexual presence and experience.

Kakashi hated to think it, hated himself for thinking it, but he was shinobi to the core and he would never be able to forget that that was the sort of thing that Maki had been trained for and Sarutobi's wife had been dead for some time now.

"Yeah, I don't know exactly how long I'll be gone," Maki brushed her hair out of her eyes and passed Hito to Kakashi when he held his arms out for the boy he considered his son, "-so I needed someone I trust to watch Hito because you'll be gone too."

"You know the Hokage well, then?" Kakashi asked, curious.

Maki nodded, "For a while now," She spoke softly and then grinned, "He's pretty awesome for an old guy!"

Kakashi felt an urge to wince. It had to be some kind of blasphemy, calling the Hokage 'old guy'. Had to be. He murmured agreeing words, cuddling Hito to his chest. Hito kissed his chin and started to investigate his vest, pulling out scrolls and whatever else he found from the pockets.

Thankfully Kakashi stored his tags in his weapons pouch, where Hito couldn't reach from where he was in Kakashi's arms.

"Are you making supper?" He asked when he entered the kitchen and saw several pots on the stove.

"Yep!" Maki bounced a little, grinning widely, "Miso soup with eggplant!"

Suspicion filled Kakashi but he smiled anyway. "My favourite," He murmured, settling Hito in his baby chair.

Dinner was lively and Maki had a smile plastered on her face that was heart breakingly fake. After Hito had been put down for the night, Kakashi cornered the woman in the living room and took her hands.

"Maki, what's going on?"

"Nothing!" She squeaked, eyes wide. Her body shifted and she slowly pressed up against him, winding her arms around his neck, "Nothing at all," She murmured in a husky voice, "I just want you to be happy."

Kakashi blinked slowly and he gently grasped her arms, lowering them from around his neck, "I am happy, Maki. You don't need to do this."

"Kakashi," She whispered, "I want you happy. This will make you happy." She reached for him again and he felt sick to his stomach to see complete blankness in her eyes.

She didn't want this, she didn't want to be doing this.

He stopped her again from wrapping her arms around him and took a step away from her. "It will only make me happy if you really want it," He told her softly.

"But..." She frowned, "This makes every man happy, doesn't it?" She swallowed and her hands went to the hem of her shirt, "I know that this makes everyone happy."

Kakashi stepped back into her personal space and grasped her hands before they could raise her tee-shirt over her belly button. She stared at him with confusion in her eyes and Kakashi couldn't have hated ANBU-Yu more than he did at that moment. "Why do you need to make me happy?" He asked her, gently pulling her to him and cradling her close.

She rested her cheek on his chest and sighed softly, "It's important that you know I'm willing to do anything you ask. Anything at all."

As much as he loved to know that she loved him that much, it hurt that she saw such little worth in herself.

"Maki, you never have to do anything you don't want to do. Not with me," He stroked her hair and rocked her back and forth, trying to be as comforting as possible. He didn't want her to be doing things like this again. Not to him, not to herself.

"But you have to know. You have to believe me when I say that I trust you will never hurt me. You have to believe me when I say that I will do anything to keep you in my life." Her voice sounded a little desperate and Kakashi felt his heart speed up in some kind of fear.

It worried Kakashi, how she felt the need to offer something she clearly didn't want just because she thought he'd want it. "Maki," He whispered into her ear, "Sex isn't going to do that." She shivered against him, refusing to look up, "When, or if, you are ever ready to have sex, to make love, I will truly enjoy sharing that with you. Until then," He took a deep breath, "I don't want to be someone you forced yourself to be with. I-" He paused and licked his lips, knowing he had to say this because obviously she didn't know how deep his feelings ran, how deep his concern for her was, "I know you were raped. And that it resulted in Hito-chan. I will never force you into giving me something you cannot give me."

Maki's entire body shuddered and she tensed in his arms. "Please," She mumbled into his shirt, "-just let me do this?"

"No," Kakashi told her softly, "I won't let you do this to yourself. I'm very grateful that you trust me and that you want me to know how much you'd be willing to do for me, but I will not let you do this to yourself."

He felt her body shake as she tried to hold back her sobs and when she'd calmed herself, Kakashi leaned back, tucking her hair behind her ears and wiping the tears from her eyes. He didn't know what was going on, but it was important that he let Maki know he cared, that he would always be here for her.

"Kakashi, I- I have a mission," She swallowed painfully and averted her eyes and Kakashi's heart constricted, "-and I wasn't going to tell you..."

Fuck. Fucking fuck. Kakashi cursed heavily in his mind, thinking about what kind of 'mission' Maki would get that would make her want to offer herself to him when she didn't want to.

She was afraid that he'd think she didn't love him if she wouldn't have sex with him, and yet took missions from ANBU-Yu after she'd gotten out. He had to wonder what they had offered her, or bribed or threatened her with, to get her back.

"It's okay, Maki," He stroked her cheek with a thumb gently, hiding his anger at her news, "It'll be okay."

"-I needed to find someone to take Hito for over a week," She continued, not reacting his to soothing words, "So I went to the Old Man and he told me that I had to tell you- that he'd babysit Hito if I told you. I never wanted you to know~" She keened, fists clenching in his shirt.

"You can tell me anything, Maki. I won't leave you."

"You don't know what you're getting into, Kakashi," She murmured, leaning her forehead against his chest, "I just want to give you something tonight that will make you happy, make you want me no matter what. I-" She sniffed painfully and he cradled her body, "-I don't want to lose you."

"You won't," He murmured into her hair, "You won't ever lose me, Maki."

She looked up at him with horribly expectant eyes, her face filled with both determined relief and utter self loathing, "So you'll let me- You'll have sex with me?"

"No, Maki," Kakashi almost flinched to see relief on her face at the thought of being able to do something she hated, "No, we won't have sex."

"But then-" She looked confused and Kakashi kissed her forehead before letting her go and stepping away, "What are we going to do?"

"Nothing," Kakashi told her. She frowned and blinked and for a moment he almost expected her to demand an answer from him. She curbed her response and licked her lips, wondering what she could say to change his mind. Kakashi wasn't sure how to take to the fact that she was trying so hard to get him to have sex with her when she so clearly didn't want that. Thankfully she wasn't using any ANBU-Yu techniques, or he might have already taken her to bed. She was so beautiful and he loved her so much that it wouldn't have taken much, even if he was trying to save her from herself.

He found himself oddly impressed by their relationship when Maki refused to use what she knew to change his mind. It showed a trust between them that surpassed most relationships he'd ever seen or heard of.

After a moment, Maki's face twisted and she breathed very quickly several times, hyperventilating. She forcibly calmed herself and then nodded, refusing to look away from Kakashi. "I understand," She said finally, closing her eyes and holding back a sob and Kakashi suddenly realized what she thought he meant.

"No!" He sprang forward and pulled her back into his arms, "No, I'm not leaving you. I won't ever leave you Maki, not ever. I mean that tonight - for tonight - we won't be doing anything. There won't be any sex because I don't need sex to want to stay with you. I'm not giving you up because we don't have sex. I could care less about how far our physical relationship is. Just-" Kakashi kissed her hair and held her tight, "-just holding you, hugging you, walking with you down the street hand in hand? That's enough for me. If you never want to have sex, I won't push; I will understand and I won't go looking for someone else to fill that role in your place."

Maki held tight to him, her hold on him stronger than he'd ever felt her hug him before. "You- you promise?"

"Forever, Maki." Kakashi kissed her hair again, breathing in her scent and letting it calm him. "No matter what, you're stuck with me."

A slightly wild laugh came from Maki and Kakashi squeezed her tight to his body. She nuzzled his chest and finally her body relaxed in his arms, all the tension draining out and replaced with a calm that he'd never seen in her before.

They held onto each other for several minutes, just holding. Kakashi needed to feel her in his arms and know that she wasn't going to leave him, or thought he was leaving her. He needed to hold her tight and know that nothing would get between them. As he rocked her gently and felt her lean into him, trust him explicitly, he realized that as much as he wanted to ask her now to marry him, it wasn't appropriate. Tomorrow, he thought to himself. He could ask tomorrow, in the light of day, both of them knowing the full consequences of what the proposal held.

Maki sighed into his shirt and sagged against him. She was so tired, Kakashi thought. She'd spend all day thinking about how to get him to never leave her and then having to work herself up to offering herself to him. She was emotionally wreaked and he wasn't surprised to find that she was all but sleeping in his arms from the release of tension due to their talk and coming together. For the first time they had talked about ANBU-Yu and how it had been standing between them from the very beginning and it had turned out alright. There had been tears, but they'd gotten through it. Kakashi was sure that they would be able to overcome anything together now.

Maki mumbled a few nonsensical words into his shirt and he carefully directed her towards his room. She was so tired she didn't even notice. He would put her to bed in his bed since there was no way that he could take her home - he didn't even know where she lived, but that was okay because she was just protecting herself - and he knew she was far too tired to go home on her own.

Kakashi lay her down on the bed after flipping open the covers. He carefully considered just how free he could be with her person to make her comfortable for the night and decided that they had shared a lot of trust this night. He checked with his fingers at her hip to see if she was wearing underwear, which she was, and then slowly undid her pants. She rolled her head towards him, but only smiled at him with bone deep trust.

He divested her of her pants, leaving the rest of her clothing alone and covered her with the blanket. As he turned away to leave, having had decided to sleep on the couch, her hand snaked out and caught his wrist. He looked down to her with questioning eyes.

"You would never hurt me," She murmured and he nodded, elated that she knew that to the bottom of her heart. "Stay?" She whispered and he blinked.

"Maki," He hesitated and she released his wrist.

"Not for-" She shook her head, barely awake, "Just to hold me."

Kakashi smiled sadly and nodded. He spent a few moments moving around the room, changing into a tank top and pair of boxers to sleep in. She didn't flinch from him as he crawled into the bed beside her and curled around her, having to spoon around her and hold her tight so they could both fit on the bed.

She snuggled backwards into his body and their legs intertwined and he breathed in her scent from her neck. His arms wrapped around her waist and she clasped her hands over his, not to hinder his movements, but just to touch him back.

She fell asleep quickly, safe and trusting.

Kakashi stayed awake for hours, listening to her breathe and the sounds of Hito in the next bedroom. This was his family and Maki finally understood that. They were a family and all he had to do was ask her to let him make it official tomorrow.

.o0o.

The Hokage had Hito on his knee.

Kakashi was a little... disturbed by that. Sure, he knew that Maki had told him yesterday that Sarutobi was going to be babysitting for her, but to actually see it was still disturbing.

"Kakashi-san," Sarutobi looked at him with a glint in his eyes that Kakashi had only ever seen directed at... Well, to tell the truth, Kakashi had never seen the Hokage with such a look. "I hear that you are dating Tatsumaki-chan."

He nodded slowly, wondering when he'd stepped into an alternate universe where he was the Sandaime's personal nemesis because that was exactly what it felt like.

"Yes Sir," Kakashi didn't fidget, but he really wanted to. If there was one man who could make him feel nervous, Sarutobi Hiruzen was him. There had been, at one point, two men, but Namikaze Minato was long dead now.

"I see that you've noticed who it is that I'm babysitting."

Kakashi nodded, seemingly relaxed, "I have, Sarutobi-sama." Kakashi wondered why he'd been called to meet with the Hokage the day before going out on the mission to Wave. Wave was only a few day's travel, even with a civilian, and Kakashi had decided over a week ago that his team was ready for an easy C rank. Wave wasn't even a bodyguard mission, it was classed as an escort mission. "May I ask, Sarutobi-sama, how you know Yamamoto-san?"

Sarutobi pinned him with a deep look of suspicion, "I consider her my granddaughter, Kakashi-san."

Oh. And didn't knowing that make the meeting that much more awkward. He was dating someone the Hokage thought of as a granddaughter.

He was in love with someone the Hokage thought of as a granddaughter.

Kakashi was not assured of his continued existence.

"I understand, Hokage-sama." He did understand. Sarutobi obviously wanted his granddaughter to be lawfully wed and happy. And that was Kakashi's plan: to ask Maki to marry him.

It had taken Anko to finally knock it into his head that he loved the girl, and her son, so there was really only one thing he could do, and that was marry her before she got away. Asuma had only reinforced his conviction of his love for his girlfriend. That he was being told that there would be a shotgun wedding if thought necessary just meant that there would be another VIP invitation send out to the wedding. A personal family VIP invitation instead of a political VIP invitation.

"Do you know what this meeting is about, Kakashi-san?" Sarutobi asked in a gentler tone, distracting Hito with his red and white Hokage hat.

Kakashi inwardly raised an eyebrow and shook his head. He didn't really have a clue why Maki had wanted to meet him at the Hokage Tower and he had less of a clue as to why the Hokage himself was involving himself. "No, Sir." He had thought that he and Maki had worked out what had needed addressing the night before.

"Tatsumaki-chan has something that she needs to tell you. It's very important that you listen to what she says and that you believe her." Sarutobi took a breath, "I know what it is that she is going to tell you, so believe me when I know how it is that you are going to react." His tone softened again and his eyes grew kind, though stayed hardened like diamonds, "You will not like the news. You will not react in a negative manner. If you feel the need to do so, excuse yourself as politely as possible and come back here. You may scream at me if you so need to release your feelings at someone."

Whatever it is that Maki has to tell him must be really bad. Worse than what she'd told him the night before.

He suddenly wondered if Maki was being dragged back into ANBU-Yu full time and that her new mission wasn't just a one time thing.

Gods, but he hoped not. She was already far past due on her time in that department and he wanted nothing to do with her going back.

It had only been two and a half months since her last day.

He closed his eyes and tried to think of the worst thing she could possibly tell him.

If she was pregnant again- would he care?

Well of course he would, but... would that stop him from loving her?

No. No, even if Maki-chan was pregnant again, if it was because of what had happened on that last day when he had unintentionally left her to whatever horrors she went through, he wouldn't stop loving her. It would be his own damn fault anyway for letting her get hurt anyway, he was the one who had left her behind. He'd just have another step-child to raise with Hito. He loved Hito, Kakashi was sure that he would love another of Maki's children.

"Whatever it is that Maki has to say, Hokage-sama, I won't have a negative reaction to it."

"You are far too sure of yourself, Kakashi-san. Just remember: She is telling the truth." Sarutobi turned his attention to Hito and the boy laughed on the Hokage's knee. Kakashi watched them for a moment before bowing and going to the door that Sarutobi had indicated Maki was waiting for him.

He had to be very careful. He wondered to himself if he should ask her to marry him first, before she told him her news, or if he should wait and prove to her that he doesn't care what she's going to tell him, he still wants to be with her, no matter what.

Maki was sitting on the couch in the sitting room, her knees drawn up under her chin and her short blond hair obscuring her face in shadow. She was wearing bright clothing like she always did, and when she looked up at him, Kakashi could see real sorrow and devastation in her blue eyes. That look in her eyes hurt Kakashi more in the light of day than it had twelve hours ago when she had tried to give herself to him.

"Maki-chan?" Kakashi sat beside her, carefully placing his arm around her shoulders. She didn't flinch from him, instead she leaned into his body and he hugged her. "Is this thing that you're going to tell me, is it why you were forcing yourself to so happy yesterday? Do you think that whatever it is that you're going to tell me will run me off?"

Maki buried her face in his neck and sniffled back tears. "You don't know how hard it is- how hard it's been- Kakashi," She wound her arms around his neck and he could feel her body shiver against his with fear, "Oh, Kakashi, I never thought that I would- I never knew how hard this would be-!"

"Maki," Kakashi leaned back a little and looked into her tear stained face. She was beautiful. "I-" He couldn't say it. Not yet. Instead, he reached to his face and drew his mask down, bearing his face to her. He then slowly lowered his head and gently pressed his lips to hers. His eyes stayed open, watching her face for any sign of distress.

Maki's eyes widened when their lips touched, and then she relaxed into his arms, allowing him to kiss her. Her eyes drifted shut and Kakashi felt his heart speed up when she leaned into his kiss, his lips caressing hers.

Kakashi finally pulled away, his hands cradling her face. Maki's eyes opened and Kakashi stared into the blue irises, dazed by their first kiss. "Maki, I promised last night that I will never leave you." He whispered to her, reminding her of his commitment, knowing that this was the perfect time to tell her that he loved her, "I-"

"I'm not Yamamoto Tatsumaki," Maki murmured, interrupting him, "I wasn't born with that name."

"So?" Kakashi murmured back, "I don't care what your birth name was, I lo-"

"I am not almost seventeen years old," She interrupted him again, her eyes filling with tears again, "Hito is my son, a product of one of my teachers raping me on my birthday."

"Maki," Kakashi shook his head slowly, "Maki, it's okay, I lov-"

"I'm a genin shinobi. I graduated from the academy on Hito's second birthday." Maki released Kakashi's neck and stood, stepping away from the jounin, "I'm not almost seventeen, I'm younger. I wasn't born Yamamoto Tatsumaki, I made her up because it was easier to be her than who I really was."

"Maki," Kakashi stood as well, facing the blond, "Maki-"

"My name is-" Maki paused, her shoulders tightening, "My name is Uzumaki Naruto and I am almost thirteen years old. I got pregnant when I was ten. I gave birth by myself in my apartment just over two years ago. I've been masquerading as Maki because everyone likes her. She doesn't get odd stares, or-or-or hated looks." The blond was quivering where she stood. Her hands rose and her fingers fold into a release sign and without the tiniest poof of air or smoke Maki seemed to melt like mercury and in her place was someone that Kakashi had been trying to ignore because of how he - she - moved; like the woman he was in love with. "I was born a girl. I don't know why everyone thinks that I'm- that Naruto is a boy, I guess because it never mattered to most." Naruto bowed her head and her breathing was uneven.

Kakashi stumbled backwards, sitting heavily on the couch.

It couldn't be true.

But it had to be because otherwise the Hokage wouldn't have told him to believe whatever it was that Maki- that Naruto was going to say.

"Wh- Who knows this?" Kakashi bit out, trying as hard as he could to keep his calm. It wasn't easy because the woman that he was in love with didn't exist and if she did, she was twelve.

He had been imagining sex with a twelve year old.

He had fallen in love with a twelve year old.

"Only Hito and Hiruzen-jii-san," Naruto mumbled, her eyes on the ground. Kakashi was thankful that the child - that his student wasn't looking at him because there was just too much for him to handle right now.

Maki was Naruto.

It made him feel sick to his stomach to think that what he had imagined doing with Maki, he had imagined doing to Naruto. Oh, he'd thought for the longest time that Maki was Naruto's illegitimate half-sister so the fact that he was in love with Minato's daughter wasn't a strange thought. It was that Minato's daughter was twelve.

Maki... was twelve.

He was disgusted. By himself. He couldn't look up when Naruto - Naruto in Maki's brilliant clothing and her haircut and her face, only with six scars on her cheeks... He said nothing when Naruto finished speaking, her tone low and soft and cautious.

But he can't stop himself from still loving Maki - from loving Naruto, and oh, how much that hurt to know. It felt like his heart was going to quit on him. Just up and stop.

So instead of telling Naruto that what they had when she was Maki had vanished into the wind, Kakashi looked up blankly and carefully told Naruto that he was unpleased with how she had tricked him, and Kakashi told her that he needed time to reconcile everything that he knew of Maki to be associated with Naruto instead.

Naruto's face had a look of despair on it and Kakashi couldn't help but reach out and cup her cheek.

"Naruto-chan," He couldn't help but see Maki in every move that Naruto made, "Just give me some time."

Naruto nodded, eyes shuttered so that he couldn't see what she was thinking.

Kakashi couldn't help but want to kiss her again, even knowing her true age. He had already kissed her once before. He couldn't think of any harm in him kissing her again. It might be the last kiss he would ever share with Maki.

So he shoved away every thought that was against his wish to be with Maki and he leaned down - and oh, how he far he had to lean down. Naruto really was so much smaller than Kakashi could have ever imagined - and he pressed their lips together again. Naruto kissed him back and he had to stop himself from pulling away because she was too young, too small to be kissing him.

But he was kissing her goodbye.

"Kakashi?" Her voice was so childish when she spoke after Kakashi separated them from each other, pulling his mask back up, "Will you ever- Will we-" She couldn't get the words out and Kakashi didn't know how to respond to her.

He didn't know the answer either.

The Hokage was still playing cheerfully with Hito in the main room when Kakashi left Naruto in the sitting room. Sarutobi looked up from the toddler and Kakashi couldn't stop a flinch when Hito noticed him as well.

"Tou-chan!" Hito pulled himself from Sarutobi's arms and raced to Kakashi. Kakashi lifted the boy and kissed his cheeks and then set the boy down.

"Hito-chan, why don't you go see Kaa-chan?" Hito grinned at Kakashi and Kakashi pointed the child in the direction of the door he had just exited, "Kaa-chan is right through there."

"Bye-bye, Tou-chan!" Hito hugged Kakashi's legs and then barrelled along through the doors. Kakashi closed the door behind his son and turned to Sarutobi, his heart hovering somewhere around his ankles.

"Kakashi-san." Sarutobi's face was carved from granite and Kakashi almost couldn't look him in the eyes.

"Hokage-sama." Kakashi paused and gathered a false calm around himself. "May I ask how long have you known that Naruto was Maki-chan?"

"She told me yesterday," Sarutobi sighed heavily. "She came to me after you where assigned the Wave mission. In return for looking after Hito while both of you are gone, I told Naruto that she had to tell you the truth. I was not about to let you be lied to any longer."

"Hokage-sama," Kakashi struggled with his emotions, taking several steps towards the grandfatherly Hokage, "I-"

"You still love her." Sarutobi blinked, seemingly unsurprised by the jounin's revelation. "I thought you would."

Kakashi fell to his knees, bowing his head. "Yes," He breathed out, "Yes, I still love her. And it's wrong, I know." Kakashi didn't look up when Sarutobi moved to stand over him.

He was ready for his fate. He was in love with a twelve year old girl that the Hokage had claimed as a granddaughter. There was no turning back from this.

He knelt for several long moments and there was silence from above him.

Finally, Sarutobi cleared his throat, "I trust that you will remain chaste until she is of a proper age." It was not a question.

Kakashi blinked in shock and looked up, staring at the older man. "Hokage-sama?" He was sure that Sarutobi didn't mean what Kakashi thought he meant by that. There was no way that he was getting the Hokage's blessing on their relationship.

Naruto was too young. Naruto was Kakashi's student. It was inappropriate in the extreme for them to have a relationship.

"I said," Sarutobi raised an eyebrow, "I trust that you will remain chaste until Naruto is of a proper age. Which means that if I ever have even an inkling of you laying with her before she is sixteen, I will have your balls separated from your body and strung up on the wall in my office."

There was a cold in the room that wasn't there before and Kakashi was still gaping at the man in front of him. There was no way in hell that Sarutobi had just granted him permission to continue dating a twelve year old. That just wasn't...

"Sir?"

"Naruto will continue to be Yamamoto Tatsumaki. You may continue to see her, and Hito-chan." Sarutobi shook his head, "I am only allowing this because both Naruto and Hito-chan love you. You also love them. I know that you would do anything in your power to make sure that they are not hurt, especially by yourself. I have no fear that you will protect them both, when the rumour of Hito-chan being your child gets outside the walls of Konoha." Sarutobi looked at him as though Kakashi were responsible for the rumours, "And the rumours will get out. You are Sharingan no Kakashi, your infamy is known from Wind Country to Lightning Country."

Kakashi felt his heart speed up, fear coursing through his veins. Sarutobi was right. The rumours would get out of Konoha and Fire Country. Wind and Lightning and Earth would find out. And there would most definitely be assassins sent from Iwa to kill his family, whether his family was by choice or by blood.

Perhaps it was a good thing that Naruto was Maki. Maki could disappear for a long time as Naruto. Sarutobi was willing to watch Hito, hell, most of the elite would be more than pleased to watch over Hito, should the need arise.

But his brain still wouldn't process the fact that Sarutobi had given his blessing.

"Hokage-sama, why would you- I mean, Naruto is practically your granddaughter. She's twelve!"

"Stop reminding me," Sarutobi snarled at him, "I know exactly how old that little girl is. I have no doubt that she will go against me if I forbid her to continue to see you, whether you want her to or not. I am also fairly certain that she will have no interest in sex for some time even after she is of age, given how Hito came about." Kakashi flinched at the reminder of Maki's rape and then his mind stuttered to a halt.

It wasn't Maki who had been raped when she had been fourteen. It had been Naruto. When she had been ten.

There was nothing that he could do to calm his building rage until Sarutobi spoke again. "Naruto told me that she managed to get up after her assault and kill the man who had raped her." His eyes harden and Kakashi tried to stay as calm as he could, knowing that Naruto's rapist was dead. "The man who took her then- he had once been her teacher." There was fire in Sarutobi's continence as he glared, "If I hear of you ever-"

"I wouldn't." Kakashi's growled out, shocked for a moment that his Hokage would ever think that of him. But then, who would ever expect a teacher in the academy either?

Sarutobi went back to his chair, "I am heartily glad to hear your vehement denial, Kakashi-san." He sat and soothed a finger over an eyebrow, the tip of his finger lingering on his temple, indicating his head ache.

He was not the only one in the room with pain.

"Hokage-sama," Kakashi stood to his feet, his face completely serious in a manner that he hadn't shown anyone by his serious opponents in a long time, "I swear on my life, on Minato-sensei's grave, on Obito's sacrifice, I will never force myself on Naruto. I will never stop loving her. I will protect her and our child until the day I die."

Kakashi received a nod from Sarutobi and the Hokage took a deep breath, letting some of the stress in his shoulders out as he sighed, "I will take your oath and hold you to it. So be it, Hatake Kakashi, Jounin of Konohagakure. If you break your swore oath, Konoha and all of Fire Country are bound in promise to punish you for your crime."

Kakashi gave Sarutobi a formal bow and with one last look over his shoulder to the door his son and the love of his life were, he left the Hokage Tower.

He would leave Naruto to her grandfather for now. He had a feeling that both of them would need some time together.

.o0o.

Kakashi watched Naruto as they travelled down the road. He was still trying to reconcile his girlfriend, the woman he'd fallen in love with, with Uzumaki Naruto. He was having a hard time of it. He also had to rethink almost everything he thought he'd known about Maki because Naruto hadn't ever been ANBU-Yu, she'd been at the academy. But she had been raped and that was hard to see past. He could understand why she'd done what she'd done as well.

Though there were mannerisms that were the same, Naruto was so much more childish than Maki was. Although, Kakashi supposed that Naruto was able to get all her childish impulses out when she was being Naruto, leaving her more mature thoughts and acts for Maki.

When he sensed the two ninja in the puddle ahead, he knew he couldn't interfere and for the first time in his life, worried. It wasn't like the worry he'd felt for Maki when she'd had that bad day months ago, this was so much stronger.

He was sending the love of his life into battle without telling her.

He couldn't even warn her because if he did, he'd warn the ninja laying in wait. Naruto wasn't subtle enough to catch anything but an outright warning.

He paused and thought about it. Naruto wasn't subtle enough; but maybe Maki was. Kakashi had seen a marked difference in how Naruto reacted to things as opposed to how Maki reacted. It had seemed to him, when the behaviours were coming from two different people, that Naruto was impulsive enough to be dangerous and Maki took the time to consider things.

Now that he knew that both of them are one person, Kakashi could see that Naruto purposefully refused to let herself think when she was being her physical age. He could see the fight in her when she just acted when she wanted to pause and think about it.

He wasn't surprised by how the fight turned out. Sasuke did his part and Naruto did hers whilst Sakura cowered in front of the client, kunai in hand. He panicked for several moments when he realized that Naruto had been cut by the poisonous blade and tried to hide it.

He marginally succeeded. Naruto - Maki - knew him well enough to see past his nonchalance.

It pained him that she didn't mock him a little, because Maki would have. He understood though; no one else on the team knew that Naruto is a girl, never mind the fact that she was involved with him.

He'd seen Naruto cause injury to herself before but it still kind of shocked him when she sliced open the back of her hand to bleed out the poison.

The worry came back and he had to question:

Was he worried because she was one of his soldiers, or was he worried because she was his very serious girlfriend?

And if it was the latter, how was he going to continue to be her commanding officer?

When they managed to get back on the road to Wave, Sakura spoke up, "Kakashi-sensei, is your wife okay with you leaving like this all the time for missions?"

Kakashi had to hold back a snort. His 'wife' was on the mission with him, so he didn't really think that she minded. He supposed that Sakura was curious about adult shinobi relationships though, and what she might have to expect later in her life.

"No, Maki goes on missions as well. We both understand the jobs we have."

"You're married, Kakashi-san?" The bridge builder eyed him, "That's super great! I had a wife myself!"

"Maa," He shook his head a little. This wasn't a discussion that he wanted to have outside the walls of Konoha. He may have gotten a little paranoid since everyone had started to ask him about Iwa and how his enemies would take to him having a family.

He much preferred dealing with professionals. A professional understood the boundaries of their job. A professional didn't go after an enemy's family unless paid to. Kakashi was fairly sure that most shinobi in the last generation or two had forgotten, or never learnt, that lesson.

Nothing was personal unless the client made it personal.

"Do you have any children, Kakashi-san?" Tazuna asked brightly, shifting the pack on his shoulders. Kakashi briefly considered having Sakura take the pack from him to carry, both to build muscle and get in better shape, but it would be a hazard if they ran into anymore shinobi.

And they would run into more.

"A son," Kakashi murmured. He wouldn't mention a name or an age or even his description. The more isolated Hito was from his world, the better.

And then Sakura had to open her civilian mouth again, "Hito-chan is just two and he's so adorable!" Kakashi felt his heart clench and a look out of the corner of his eye revealed Naruto was just as angry with the first-gen shinobi as he was.

It was a surprise to everyone when Sasuke scowled at the girl. Kakashi hadn't thought that he noticed much about his team, or what the girl sprouted off about. "Shinobi don't speak about personal matters when engaged in a mission. Nor do shinobi give out pertinent information about teammates. Shut up, Haruno-san."

Sakura visibly wilted at Sasuke's harsh words and Kakashi resolved to reward the boy somehow for getting her to be quiet. He'd tried it himself, but he wasn't allowed to purposefully injure his troops, so his warnings and lessons never seemed to get through to the first generation kunoichi on his team.

Tazuna's eye glanced around at the other three shinobi walking with him and as loud and boisterous as he was, he saw the anger in all of them.

He never mentioned Kakashi's family again.

.o0o.

Kakashi woke to see Maki leaning over him.

"Kakashi?" She whispered in the soft light from the moon coming in the window, "How are you feeling?"

"Like I got the ever living crap beat out of me."

"Aww. Poor baby~" Maki smiled at him and leaned down to kiss his nose. She pause halfway down and Kakashi suddenly remembered that Maki was Naruto and Naruto was on his genin team.

Naruto stiffened and backed away, pursing her lips.

Kakashi swallowed and licked his lips. Right.

"Naruto-"

"Kakashi," She interrupted him and placed a hand on his shoulder, "If you're talking to the woman you're raising a child with, my name is Maki. I'm only waiting out my time as Naruto until I can just be... me. Be Maki." Her eyes were tired and Kakashi wondered if she'd been getting as much sleep as she should have been, "Maki is who I am, who I want to be."

He paused for a moment longer and then smiled up at her, bringing a weary hand to his face and pulling down his mask. "Maki," He murmured, "Thank you for protecting the others. I know that you have two more years of practical experience on them."

Maki smiled brilliantly, "You're welcome, Kakashi. I wasn't about to let my team down."

She helped him sit up and he scratched his cheek with a yawn, "How long have I been out?"

"A few hours. I got us to Tazuna's house as quickly as possible after you passed out and made sure that no one bothered you. We all ate and it's my watch right now. I have a perimeter of kage bunshin around the property and scattered throughout the house."

"Good work, Maki."

Maki beamed at him and he had to resist an urge to draw her down for a kiss. Now that he'd kissed her once, and knew that she didn't mind, it was sometimes hard to remember that she was too young, that he had to wait.

"Okay," She straightened herself out a little, "So that boy, the one in the hunter's outfit; obviously not a hunter," she rolled her eyes, "He took the body. I guessing apprentice because he's too old to be Zabuza's son."

"He's not in the Bingo book," Kakashi nodded, agreeing with her. "Anything else out of the ordinary that you noticed?"

"Err, the rabbit that I threw that kunai at?" Kakashi nodded and she blushed, making an embarrassed noise, "Personal pet-cum-replacement object is my guess. Zabuza's heart is softer than expected too, if he's taken on an apprentice and lets him have a pet."

"Maybe it doubles as emergency rations," Kakashi said with sarcasm and Maki smirked.

"Always a possibility," The blond girl sniffed and leaned against the wall. "They aren't ready." She murmured. He agreed with her, but let her continue speaking, "I could go up against the boy, we're about even. With my shadow clones and taijutsu, I might even have an upper hand. Sasuke is strong, but easily distracted by flashy stuff. He still wants to activate his sharingan too." She paused and then smacked Kakashi's arm, "Thanks, by the way. Now that he knows you have a sharingan; now that he's seen it - he's been moping about not being good enough to have his own active. He even managed to speak up enough to bitch that you aren't Uchiha."

Kakashi rolled his eyes, "Got it. I'll make sure to spend some extra time with the boy."

It felt weird to be speaking to Maki about her age mates and team mates when she seemed so much older than them. It was understandable, given what Maki had been through, but still strange. He figured that it would get easier to get used to the more it happened.

"Not too much," She said quietly, staring at him, "I don't want Hito to feel like you've forgotten or replaced him."

She was also speaking for herself and Kakashi reached out, taking one of her hands in his, "I won't leave you or Hito, Maki. I love you two far too much for that." Maki smiled and Kakashi stroked his thumb over the back of her hand, "You needn't worry about me getting lost in the awe of the last Uchiha."

She brought his hand up to her lips and kissed the back of his hand gently. "I know," She told him. "I understand you all to well, Kakashi."

And she really did. She understood that he loved her, but was wary of her age. She understood that he loved Hito and wanted to claim the boy as his own. She also understood that he was shinobi and had duties to preform. She was... perfect for him.

And he wouldn't ever let her go.

Suddenly Kakashi realized that no matter what happened, there wouldn't be anyone else for him. It would be Maki or no one. He could, and would, wait for her.

Now, did he wait until they got back to Konoha to propose, or should he spontaneously ask now?

Now was not a good time, he thought to himself. He was injured and she was on watch. And the ring was in Konoha anyway. So he'd wait and when they got back, he'd ask.

"How are you holding up?" He asked, "Are you missing Hito a lot?"

"Amazingly enough, only a little. I know that he'll be there when I get back, and that is a great comfort." Maki smiled, "Then again, with the Hokage as his babysitter, I have no worries at all about his safety and well being. And Jiji likes me."

"He does, " Kakashi grinned, "And he really likes Hito too." He chuckled lightly, "You do not know just how freaked out I was when I saw Hito on Hokage-sama's knee that first time."

Maki snorted, "I can imagine. Seeing as you're dating me, I would think that seeing the boy you see as your son playing with the Hokage could be very nerve wracking. I mean, just how close to the Hokage is the girl you're dating?" She laughed quietly, "But you don't have to worry about Jiji, he's just looking out for me."

Kakashi stroked her hand again, nodding. Hokage was looking out for her and Kakashi knew that if he hadn't have given his sworn word that he wouldn't touch her until she was sixteen, Kakashi wouldn't have been able to leave that room alive.

It was good to know that she would be protected if he ended up dead. He was well past his life expectancy, so he was on borrowed time and he wasn't going to waste any more of it.

.o0o.

As soon as they'd gotten back into Konoha from Wave Kakashi had gotten his family's four closest friends together in his apartment while Maki went to the park with Hito. He missed his son as well, but this was important and he'd been able to spend the entire morning with Hito because Maki had to show her Naruto self around town.

After the horror of the mission that they'd been on, the mind numbingly dangerous situations that they'd been through and the mere sight of Maki facing off against the Devil of the Mist, it was important that no one saw anything strange in the team's interactions, not if Maki wanted to keep Maki and Naruto as separate people.

"So, what's up?" Anko lounged over the edge of his couch and Kakashi took a moment to look Gai, Kurenai, Asuma, and her in the eyes.

"Maki's birthday is October tenth." He told them, "That's just over a week away and I have something special that I want to do."

Asuma lit up and he grinned, "You're going to-" He stopped and Kakashi nodded, bringing out the ring to show to his gathered friends.

"I'm going to ask her to marry me."

Kurenai and Gai started to gush immediately, fawning over the ring and offering to help with anything that he needed.

Anko sat back and smirked. "You tell her yet?" She asked.

Kakashi nodded. "When I ask," He told her, answering her question. He'd tried to tell her before, but she'd talked over him, telling him who she really was and though he should have told her after that, he couldn't bring himself to confess his love to such a young girl. Woman. But she would be thirteen and legally be allowed to make her own decisions about who she was going to marry then and he wanted to know what she wanted, not what someone else thought would be best for her.

Granted, telling her right before asking her to marry him probably wouldn't be the best time, but he'd always been a little strange and Maki knew him and his unique personality.

On the tenth when he checked out what had been set up for him by their combined friends, everything was perfect.

For all that Anko and Gai would have normally overdone everything, they were true friends and they had wanted everything to go as smoothly as Kakashi wanted it to go.

Kakashi led Maki through the trees to the Memorial Stone, through the sharingan induced genjutsu that said to 'keep away' and she gasped when she saw the orange and blue picnic basket and food set out on an orange blanket. She let Hito out of her arms and the boy toddled around, immediately distracted by the grasshoppers.

"Kakashi, what is this?" She asked, letting him pull her gently to the blanket.

"I just," Kakashi smiled softly, "-wanted to ply you with food and drink and have a nice day off."

Maki smirked as she questioned the 'nice day off' part, "And you wouldn't let me drop Hito off at the Day Care?"

One grey eye turned to see the boy giggling and sitting in the longer grasses, patting the ground. Kakashi felt his heart warm and he looked back to Maki, "Hito-chan is a part of you. A very important part of you and I don't want you to have to chose between him and me when I ask you out. You know that."

Maki's smile turned sly, "Yes, but this is a special occasion, isn't it?"

Kakashi leaned down and kissed her cheek, nodding, "Yes, it is." He didn't question her seeming knowledge. She knew that it was a special occasion given it was her birthday, but she didn't even know the half of it and Kakashi was excited to make sure that this went as smoothly as possible.

They didn't talk about the perceived special occasion through lunch. Kakashi would have chosen ramen for the lunch since it was Maki's favourite, but ramen wasn't exactly picnic material so they had crackers and cheese, small cold cut meats, pickles, and uncooked vegetables. Maki wasn't a formal enough person that she minded, in fact she certainly had more fun feeding Hito and Kakashi pieces of cheese than she would have had, had Kakashi taken her out for a fancy dinner at a fancy restaurant.

After they'd gorged themselves on the main meal, Kakashi pulled out the pre-cut strawberries. Maki's mouth dropped in delight before she laughed and rolled her eyes at his corniness.

"You're going all out, aren't you?" She asked, letting him feed each piece of strawberry to her.

Kakashi nodded. "It's only cliche when it doesn't work," He grinned.

"Me too, Tou-chan!" Hito piped up, opening his mouth and waiting patiently. Kakashi chuckled and dropped a tiny piece into his mouth. He chewed it loudly and crowed with happiness at the taste. Maki hadn't ever gotten Hito strawberries before that Kakashi could remember, so it was something new for the boy.

Maki licked her lips started to look around. Kakashi reached into the picnic basket and pulled out bubbly champagne. Maki frowned at him after looking at the label, seeing that it had alcohol in it.

"One glass won't hurt, Maki," He told her gently and she sighed and nodded. Before he opened the bottle he set it and two champagne flutes to the side. He stood and reached down a hand for Maki.

She looked confused, but then shrugged and took his hand. He lifted her and called for Hito. His son hurried to his side and he swung the boy up, hugging him close before passing him to Maki. She took their son and Kakashi stepped back.

"What are you doing?" She asked, hesitantly.

Kakashi steeled his nerves, "Can you change back please?" He asked, his voice so low that she almost didn't hear him. She looked even more hesitant, but trusted him and changed from her seventeen year old self to her natural thirteen year old body.

"I didn't bring you out here for your birthday," Kakashi started, "Although I'd like to wish you a happy birthday." Maki watched him with wide eyes, obviously wondering what was going on.

"Tou-chan?" Hito spoke up, staring at Kakashi as Kakashi sunk to one knee. Maki stared, her eyes getting even wider.

"Uzumaki Naruto Tatsumaki, I love you," Kakashi managed to say without his voice breaking, thankfully. He pulled the polished tungsten ring, now set with a triangular fire opal, Maki's favourite colour with three sides to denote how they would be a complete family, that he wasn't leaving Hito out. "I love Uzumaki Hirohito just as much."

"Kakashi-" Maki murmured, staring at the ring in awe.

"I love you both. I want to be a part of your family. Maki, will you marry me? Let me be Hito's father?"

There was silence for a long moment and however worried Kakashi might have been, he had no doubt that Maki loved him back just as much as he loved her.

"... yes?" Maki didn't answer in a firm voice, but in a subdued, questioning voice even as she reached out to him with her left hand and Kakashi smiled.

"Not right now," He told her gently, fitting the ring on her ring finger, "We'll be the same as we are now, Maki-chan. I mean, when you're old enough, we can get married. But this is my promise to you that I will wait for you for however long you need me to. I don't want you to have any doubts or questions about my being faithful to you."

"Kakashi," Maki lifted her hand up closer to her face and stared at the ring on her finger, "You- you really mean that," She murmured in a stunned voice. Kakashi nodded. Maki smiled tremulously at the ring and then down at him and threw herself into his arms, holding Hito in between them, "Yes. Yesyesyes~"

Kakashi held them both close to his heart, hugging them and thanking the gods silently for letting him get to know Maki and her son.

"I love you," He told her again, whispering into her ear.

She whispered back to him with awe still tinting her words, "I love you, Hatake Kakashi."

*-The End-*

AN: Edited March 14, 2012