Written for SpoiledSweet since she updated House Calls with such an amazingly awesome KakaSaku UST filled chapter...Yes. The vague prompt was something KakaSaku-ish with some sort of introspection on Kakashi's relationship with his father. That prompt promptly ate my brain and I came up with this.
Sakura knew what she was signing up for when she moved in with Kakashi. Despite his sometimes vaguely disheveled appearance he was a neat freak. He was also a bit of a prude behind his reading habits—although he had an entire bookshelf devoted to romance novels, with his three Icha Icha volumes carefully stacked on his desk, he had a lot of boundaries and he preferred simple intimacy to the racy scenes in his books. She also knew every name he focused on whenever he went to the cenotaph—even though he rarely asked or allowed her to come.
But there was one day she was not allowed to even ask to come with him, every year. It was a day where he dressed in crisply pressed civilian's clothing, with a dashing red scarf around his neck. His headband was abandoned in favor of a black eye-patch, and on his feet were regular leather shoes rather than his usual shinobi boots. He was rarely to be found on this day, leaving the house hours before dawn and returning at nightfall.
When Kakashi was 5 years old his father ruffled his hair at the graduation ceremony. He was the youngest one there, not even other graduates' siblings were younger than he was. Sakumo had been proud, but Kakashi had been too young to see the worry lines starting at his father's mouth—Every shinobi wanted their child to excel at the ninja arts, but perhaps five years old was a little too soon. After the talks concluded and everyone received their headbands, a few girls—around nine or ten years old—started to coo and point at Kakashi and the childish curves of his face. Kakashi was enough of a little man not to hide behind his father's pant-leg but he still froze in place.
Sakumo had seen how taken aback—and almost distressed—his son became and had quickly remedied the situation for the boy with his long red ANBU scarf. As the elder Hatake wound the scarf round and round his face, Kakashi inhaled and smelled the unique scent of iron shavings, exploding powder, rainstorm, and father infused in the fabric. Sakumo's dark eyes had crinkled in delight at how adorable his son was now, as well as in relief at the sudden calm he felt from Kakashi.
"Any time you feel like you need me, just tug up your scarf over your nose like a mask—it'll be our secret code-signal, yeah?"
Sakura knew which day it was, most of Kakashi's friends did as well. It was Gai who had warned her not to be too angry with Kakashi if he wasn't himself in the days leading up to and after his selected day. Gai had explained, unnaturally soft-spoken, awkwardly but coherently—had he explained this before to Kakashi's past girlfriends?—that it was always the same day every year, the same habits, and that Kakashi was mostly unresponsive if he was found. She had naturally asked if he was found very often, and a hint of pride had crept into Gai's voice as he stated that every time Kakashi had ever been located, Gai himself had been the man to find him. He acknowledged that he had it easy because he knew where the man went, but he wouldn't tell a soul—not even Sakura.
The first year's day had been hard—very hard. Sakura had known what day her boyfriend was going to disappear, and how he was probably going to act around her without even meaning to, but that hadn't changed the fact that Kakashi's humor dried up—Kakashi himself dried up. He wasn't irritable; he just wasn't in the mood to laugh or talk or make love or be anything but serious. It was maddening for her.
When Kakashi was 8 years old, his new sensei Minato found him kneeling, in shock, next to the boy's father's (now cold) body. Minato surely noticed many things about the scene—the specialty tanto that the White Fang had carried with him into many ANBU and Jounin-level missions or battles, the smell of drying blood and excrement, the pallor on the face of the little Hatake boy, and many more things, but he probably failed to notice that Kakashi clutched both hands at a red scarf wrapped around his neck.
If he had, he would have also noticed that every so often Kakashi would start to bring the scarf up his neck, towards his chin and nose, before his eyes filled with tears and the make-shift mask would go back down. Over and over again. Not a tear fell, however, and that was something Minato noticed.
"Hey, hey, Kakashi-chan, we need to go, okay?" Kakashi let his sensei pick him up—he was too weary to be anything but boneless—and carry him out of the house. And as Minato cared for him, tried to be a father-figure to him, Kakashi found himself wanting his father more and more every day. The pain, he was told by his psych evaluator, would fade eventually and he would be able to move on. But the pain didn't fade, and Kakashi looked for ways to bring his father back to him, to bring him closer despite wanting nothing more than to push him away for good.
So he turned to his father's collection of black ANBU under-masks—mostly face covering masks worn underneath the porcelain to protect the face if the mask were to shatter. Minato didn't question him about them either, preferring them over the bright red ANBU scarf Kakashi had been favoring since Sakumo's death—"You and I attract enough attention without adding something horrifyingly bright like red or orange to our outfits."
When they had first started dating, just casual dates over tea, Kakashi almost refused to sit and relax with his mask off. He had even said as much and while it had surprised, and even hurt a little, Sakura had been glad for his honesty. Honesty in saying that, to him, the phrase "relax without your mask," was as shocking as asking Sakura to walk around topless.
He had tried to kiss her after a few weeks, but Sakura had stopped him. She hadn't delivered an ultimatum, but she had asked him to trust her enough. The way he reasoned wearing the mask made taking it off akin to undressing in front of a new lover, and Sakura wanted him to trust her like that. Her gentle rebuff had set them back a bit as he worked out the details—or worked up the courage, potentially—but eventually he'd invited her to dinner, in public, and his mask had skipped its usual engagement with the bridge of his nose.
After that night he would take it down sometimes when they were just passing an afternoon together, or on early morning training runs—Naruto and even Sai had gaped that Sakura had managed to get Kakashi to take his mask down around his teammates finally. None of them knew, not even Sakura at the time, that he was only trying to get into the habit of wearing it down around his teammates again.
When Kakashi was 10 years old he was put on a team with Uchiha Obito and Inuzuka Rin, with Minato as their sensei. The two other children had lost their graduation mate on their second mission, and their sensei had been killed a week later—so Minato had volunteered to teach them as well as have Kakashi become their third teammate. It was as he met them and refused to explain why he was wearing the mask that he realized he hadn't taken it off except to eat or sleep for more than a year. He also realized that the only time he felt vulnerable, like something could go wrong, was when his face was uncovered.
Thankfully Minato had come up with a cover-story about Kakashi's mask quickly enough to satisfy Obito—"Ha," the blond man's laughter was a little forced and he looked a twinge nervous, "well, Obito-kun, sometimes it's good to hide your face in the world we live in. As long as you keep your face hidden, then any Bingo books they put out on you are only half accurate—because no one knows what you look like. But Kakashi-kun takes his mask down when he eats, and sleeps. I'm sure he'll take it down around the two of you sometimes as well, right Kakashi-kun?"
While Kakashi had patently ignored his sensei, Obito had scoffed, "Man, I'm going to be such an amazing ninja that people will see me coming and they'll run, they'll have a flee-on-sight order for me just like they have for you Minato-sensei! My face is going to be so feared that they'll wish I wore a mask, that I was like Kakashi-kun," and Kakashi had distinctly fought the desire to curl his shoulders towards his neck, to snuggle down into his mask like he used to do with his father's scarf—he hated feeling measured, hated it with a passion. He won his personal battle against cringing, but at the cost of feeling like his face would melt off if people ever saw it again.
Kakashi had raged around their apartment the night Naruto told them he was considering joining ANBU. There was no anger in his movements, but desperation, bitterness, sadness, and fear written all along his body. Sakura had sat cross legged on the couch watching him pace, offering soothing words when he didn't look ready to curl in on himself. He was convinced, she pieced together, that ANBU would kill Naruto as they all knew him.
She also helped him away from the idea of killing whoever had suggested the group to Naruto as a way of getting closer to being Hokage—not because it was bad to kill others, she was fairly certain she felt the same way, but because Kakashi was completely capable of doing it and getting away with it. It was difficult but when he sat down for a half-second she grabbed his arm and his shoulder, wrenching him to sprawl awkwardly on the couch. His head smacked backwards and down to her lap.
"Things are different from how they used to be, ANBU is the natural progression for many Jounin my age," she soothed as her fingers threaded through his hair. His one coal eye stared wearily up at her face as one of his hands sought her cheek.
"Please don't ever join, Sakura, I don't want to lose you to a mask—especially now that you've made me start living without my own." She smiled and brushed his hair out of his face, bending in half—as only a kunoichi could—to kiss him.
When Kakashi was 13 years old he was promoted to Jounin. He had been promoted without even facing the Jounin exam, recommended for the promotion by Nara Shikaku after the twenty-four year old's life was saved by Kakashi's team—"sustained heroics in battle" had been stamped on his forms, initialed by the Hokage. At the time Kakashi had been grateful to the Nara heir as this provided him an avenue to continue his way as a shinobi—particularly one which would cleanse the memory and honor of his long-dead father.
He had come back from his first mission broken, unable to even function. He had numbly attended the memorial service for his friend, his best friend, the one who forgave his father sooner and far better than even Kakashi could. Kakashi contemplated killing himself in the weeks that followed. His missions were still the envy of many twice his age—both for their prestige and the seeming ease with which he completed them. The first tears he had ever shed for his father came in those weeks, weeping into the old red scarf his father had worn, and the tears only came harder and faster when he would remember Obito, but the tears were selfishly for himself.
Because of his friend and his gift, and especially his friend's wish to see the future from the Sharingan, Kakashi knew he couldn't kill himself on purpose. He had been a Jounin for eight months when the ANBU contacted him with an offer to join the ranks. Kakashi couldn't kill himself on purpose, but that didn't mean he couldn't give his life in the service of saving another, and ANBU life expectancy was less than two years back then. It was horribly, insidiously, awfully, sweetly tempting.
He hadn't immediately answered them, making an appointment to see Minato-sama to ask his advice—because although the man was like a father to him and had seen him through many tough times, he was still distant enough to be objective through the process. Kakashi never got his teacher's opinion on the matter, however, because a day before their meeting, the Kyuubi attacked the village. By the next morning Minato—as well as scores of villagers—was dead.
Kakashi didn't contemplate killing himself at this loss, however, because it had taught him that all shinobi die—fathers, brothers, and leaders. He would eventually die, and he wasn't allowed to choose when. The porcelain mask of his father had been saved for almost a decade in the hopes that the White Fang's son would join the black ops, and it fit Kakashi's face like it had been made for him rather than Sakumo. He decided that he couldn't cover his face any better, and that he would die as faceless as possible. His death would mean nothing other than a willing sacrifice for the village.
Asuma's daughter gave them all a scare shortly after her graduation to Genin at age 9, losing her focus while tree-walking and falling more than fifty feet. Her shoulder had hit the ground first by some miracle and only her collarbone and not her neck was broken. Kurenai was on a mission, as well as all of Team 10, so it was Sakura and Kakashi who were watching the girl. Sakura had healed as much as she could before allowing Kakashi to scoop them both up and dash to the hospital where Tsunade-sama waited for them.
A bird was dispatched to Kurenai to let her know that her daughter had had a non-fatal and non-urgent training accident and that her mission was to continue as planned. Team 10, however, was called back from their mission immediately to watch over the girl—Shikamaru, Chouji, and Ino being the girl's secondary guardians, not Kakashi and Sakura who were not permitted to make decisions on behalf of the kid.
As the girl exclaimed loudly that the first thing she was going to do when she was better was to go tree-walking again, Sakura remarked to Kakashi that perhaps the kid hadn't learned her lesson the first time—Asuma's daughter was going to have to fall again before she really got it through her head what not to do.
When Kakashi was 20 years old he returned barely alive from an ANBU mission. His former teammate Rin had supervised his healing, but he had remained unconscious for over a week after she saved his life. She had left the day after healing him, and had been killed in a border town between Rain and Bird before he had even regained consciousness. That was when he halfway quit ANBU, his last surviving teammate had died and he was unable to even attend her memorial service because of injuries sustained in the black ops. But he didn't quit ANBU, because something about his life's lessons finally clicked.
He realized he had been trying to choose his own death, that he was just as bad as his father in that way. And it was that thought that kept him in ANBU. It didn't dawn on Kakashi, it hit him like a sucker punch to the belly that he was still constantly making rules, especially ones which pertained to his behavior versus his father's—and that he had been going about everything wrong for the last seven years since Obito's death.
So Kakashi began to focus, harshly, on honoring his father's sacrifice daily. He had adopted lateness and a vague emphasis on team unity after Obito's death, but he had utterly failed to apply what he had learned from his father's death—willing to die not for village, but for those precious lives entrusted to him when he commanded a team. Sakumo hadn't died immediately for those whose lives he had saved, but he had sacrificed his life for them.
Shinobi were taught to weigh every concern against every other one, it was why only a select few were allowed to move on after their Genin exams—very few people in general had the ability to calculate so many factors all at once without becoming bogged down. Because of this, as well as faith in his father's ability, Kakashi found himself without any doubt of what factors Sakumo had weighed on that fateful mission—he was also now without any doubt about what option was the best for the village, and it was the one his father had chosen.
With this realization in hand as well as a new team assigned to him—he had scared the last one off, which was fine with him, they hadn't been worth anything anyway—Kakashi learned to live half of his life behind the mask of ANBU and the other half like a regular Jounin. He had to fight behind his own mask, rather than hide behind his father's.
"Did your father ever teach a Genin team?"
Her question caught Kakashi off guard. Sakura was reading through the qualifications of the team she would evaluate the next day, just as he himself had done almost fifteen years ago for a certain newly graduated team of misfits. He tried to remember for her, but he couldn't come up with anything. Sakumo had been devoted, it seemed, to two aspects of his life—he was a father, and he was a shinobi.
"I don't think so, not when I was a kid anyway. He was in high demand for missions before I was born, so probably not—no time to have a ninja like him teach three kids how to properly throw shuriken, you know?"
She smiled in that way that said that if she didn't love him she would have hit him for his teasing words.
When Kakashi was 26 years old and out of ANBU when he was strong-armed into giving a chance to a Genin team. He hadn't thought himself capable of teaching his teacher's son, or of giving the proper guidance to a pink-haired girl or a black-haired boy each with their own attitude problems. The Third Hokage had accused him of being afraid, of being worried that if he were to fail with them, black marks would be added to his almost flawless records.
Inwardly Kakashi had scoffed, as his teammate used to do many years ago, that Sandaime was being an idiot if he thought Kakashi actually cared about statistics on paper. Kakashi cared far less about how many missions he took or completed successfully, and far more about the wellbeing of the teams he was sent out with. Even when he wasn't the captain of the team, he tried to ensure that everyone came home alive. Failing, on paper, the three shinobi hopefuls was hardly what concerned him.
He looked for, in every group sent to him, a team which would hopefully avoid from the very beginning the problems his own had faced. He had passed the bell test when he was five, his teammates had passed it when they were nine, but they had not passed it together.
Team 7's second chance had been purely of his own whim—teamwork was not exclusive to the field of battle, and perhaps his expectations had been a little too high for their first attempt at unified fighting when they were so obviously discordant. Teamwork could be found everywhere, including ensuring that each member of the group was strong enough to go on rather than all fighting together as one.
As the three of them cheered at his pronouncement, Kakashi wondered if perhaps he had soothed his father's spirit as well as Obito's—somewhere, somehow. The ghosts of his teammates in his mind faded a bit in the face of the bright orange, pink, yellow, vivid black and red colors of his team—You and I attract enough attention without adding something horrifyingly bright like red or orange to our outfits. To say the least, that was before Minato met Uzumaki Kushina and it was a good thing he never saw his son's choice in wardrobe.
She isn't sure why it throws her off guard when Kakashi asks her, the night before the Day, if she'll come with him. At first she wants to blurt out "Where?" because even in the last three years he hasn't told her once where he goes. But eventually she settles on asking what she should wear—he always dresses so formally, so differently, that perhaps she should go looking for a suitable dress in her closet.
They get up early that morning and get dressed in relative silence. Sakura forced him to drink some tea before they left, and he surprised her by just walking along the streets. Kakashi normally took the rooftops whenever he needed to go somewhere, especially when he wanted to remain unseen. As they walked past the shinobi cemetery and on into the civilian one he reached for her hand and took it, gripping it fiercely.
When Kakashi was 29 years old, he finally got the chance to tell his father he had forgiven him, as well as tell him that he had started to fuck up less and less with properly honoring those who had died to teach him lessons he should have already known. He had the chance to hear his father's soothing voice tease him about his mask—Kakashi, you're a grown man, why are you still asking for your father?—, to hear his praise for Kakashi's accomplishments and his loving words of comfort as a balm for Kakashi's failures.
She was very glad she had insisted on being allowed to love him as they walked together than morning, because she wouldn't trade being in love with him for the world.
When Kakashi was 31 years old he contemplated kissing someone he never thought he would kiss—Haruno Sakura who was threatening every other day to beat him up if he wouldn't go on a date with her. She was seventeen and he was fairly certain that, if he caved to her wishes, a dinner with her would be his last meal once the Godaime found out.
There was the life-extending option of trying to put her off for the next five years, he would still be in his thirties but she would no longer be a teenager—but that was off-putting to his own sensibilities. It felt wrong, worse than just giving in and letting her have her way. She had had a lot of heartbreak in the last few years and her eyes were older than her actual age—it would certainly not be like dating a civilian girl that age.
It was a tip off from Kurenai that put him up to asking her out—Kurenai had heard from Shikamaru who heard from Kiba who heard from Hinata who heard that Naruto was planning on royally messing up someone's face if Sakura continued to nurse a breaking or broken heart.
Civilians hardly paid attention to such information, classifying it as gossip. Shinobi, however, were extremely good at passing on information and keeping it accurate, so the tale was either a fabrication on Kurenai's part or a round-about warning. He trusted Kurenai, and besides he knew her tells when she lied—and she hadn't lied. Or she'd gotten rid of her tells, but that was a far stretch because no one got rid of their tells—teammates relied on specific tells to function as a cohesive unit.
He asked Sakura out to have tea together, and realized that she was absolutely lovely and incredibly tough—something which had zero to do with how hard she could hit and everything to do with how she laughed.
A year later he takes her with him again. It was a simple task he did on that day, working to clean up the graves of his parents. The reason he kept it secret for so long was because he had always felt that that time was to be shared only with family, and since he had no family no one was to know where he went or why. He was patient with Gai only because Gai had promised to share his location with no one, and because Gai was as close as he could get to being friends with someone Obito would have considered a brother—and the green-covered man was obsessed with youth, something Obito would always have in Kakashi's mind.
It took him a year to explain even that much to Sakura, and as they walk in the darkness before sunrise she wished she could explain to him that she wanted a family with him more than anything—that the fact he considered her close enough to come with him was nice, but not ultimately what she wanted.
When Kakashi was 38 years old he found out he was going to be a father. Sakura cuddled into him late that night and tucked her head under his chin. Her voice had been a whisper—tiny, soft, barely there, and a nervous tremor had run through her body as she started speaking.
"Kakashi, we're—I'm—I'm going to have a baby," a pause, "It's yours, and if you ask me if I'm sure I'll cry. I'm sure, very sure, that I'm having it," and her breath had tickled his throat as his own breathing stopped completely in one awestruck moment—this woman that he loved more than anything was telling him that she was carrying his child. And then he shook himself out of his shock and sat up, taking her with him, cradling her in his arms with what was probably a grin to beat any which Naruto might offer up to the world. Somehow he knew he looked like a goof but he couldn't care.
Some men took time to acclimate to the idea that they had shared their DNA with someone in such a way as to create another someone—but not Kakashi, who embraced the knowledge whole-heartedly.
"We're going to have to take you off the missions roster then, and myself as well—A man can't be psychologically sound when his lover is pining for him back at home, his baby growing swiftly inside her, wondering when he will return to her—I can't really remember the ending of that book. When did you know, Sakura?" Inside something in him chanted a litany of hopes—that she had only found out today, that she hadn't told anyone before telling him, that she was going to get married to him just as soon as he hunted up whatever wayward Chuunin they had performing marriage ceremonies these days.
Her little smile, with a secretive twist to it, told him everything he needed to know and it was all exactly what he wanted to hear. He spent most of the evening running his fingers through her hair and peppering her face and neck with kisses.
Sakura wasn't cognizant enough of the rest of the world the next year when on the night before the Day she went into labor. Kakashi's parents would have to wait for a few days because Kakashi couldn't have left her side if he'd wanted to, too fascinated by the infant son who Sakura had brought into the world—he had downy silver hair which puffed up away from his head like a little silver chidori, and he slept even deeper than his father did. The boy's eyes were a very dark blue which both Sakura and Tsunade predicted would turn quickly into the coal black Kakashi had.
It was only a month later when the small family finally got around to weeding and tending to the Hatake graves that Sakura realized her son was born on the same day that Hatake Sakumo had died.
When Kakashi was 43 years old it was suggested that his son be put on an accelerated learning path to get him graduated to Genin by hopefully age six. Kakashi looked at his silver haired little clone and found he couldn't do that to his son—he wasn't strong enough to see it through and there wasn't a strong enough reason for such an action.
When Kakashi had been 5 there had been a war going on, fierce and without end it seemed, and many children his age were pushed through the Academy as fast as was possible back then. Sakumo had also been part of a different generation, a generation without childhoods, so it hadn't been strange to him that his own son would grow up without one—and Kakashi didn't blame him. If there were a war raging at the time, Kakashi as well as Sakura would have given the green-light.
But there wasn't, and so Kakashi firmly stated that his son would graduate with his peers in age, not in ability. It felt like the correct thing to do, to slowly regrow a sense of childhood into early shinobi life. It felt like that was the entire point of Konoha's founding, according to Naruto, but that seemed to be stretching it a little far to Kakashi. He settled for giving his own son time to grow a sense of stability and teamwork away from the field, rather than in it.
Sakura was pleased when Kakashi let her dress their six year old son up in bright red Haruno clan colors, and more than pleased when he said that red was a Hatake man's favorite color. They were the only two people in Konoha who weren't surprised when Sakura had another son less than a year later.
When Kakashi was 50 years old he went to his firstborn's graduation ceremony with a long red scarf stuffed in his pocket.