Yet another story. Enjoy!
I do not own Naruto :(
Kakashi narrowed his eyes behind his ANBU mask, studying the crowd closely. The men and women were clearly drunk, stumbling as they brandished various weapons- kitchen knives, clubs, rocks, and kunai.
It was getting close to that time of year; the date was October 9th, the fifth anniversary of Kyuubi's attack and consequent defeat was just hours away. As a result, Kakashi and his ANBU team were charged with the safety of one very special individual.
Of course, there were ANBU surrounding the boy most of the time anyway. It made it easier to save the boy from anyone that might try to hurt or even kill him. It also helped uphold Sandaime's law regarding the fate of the infamous Kyuubi no Kitsune.
Kakashi, turning his thoughts away from Sandaime's order, looked back at the crowd, which was steadily growing into a mob as new people came to join in on their sick fun.
Not even Anko-san would approve of this, Kakashi thought to himself angrily.
After weeks of guarding the boy, his own sensei's son, Kakashi felt very protective over him. So much so that Sandaime had assigned him to lead most of the guard shifts. There were sometimes he couldn't step in- mostly to get some sleep- but Kakashi, or Dog, was almost always protecting the small blond boy that held the Kyuubi prisoner.
The crowd began to move, walking unsteadily to his apartment.
Kakashi forced himself to breathe steadily as one of the men, a civilian, lifted a stone over his head before throwing it directly at the apartment. The rock complied, flying through the air and colliding with the apartment's window, the glass shattering on contact.
Kakashi signaled for his team to be alert as he himself crept closer to the boy's low-income apartment, paid for by the Hokage.
Moving just ahead of the crowd, Kakashi could hear the slurred threats and declarations arising from the mob.
"-Bastard's gonna die this time-"
Kakashi tightened a hand around his kunai. He couldn't move yet. There wasn't enough proof against the mob yet.
That was the worst part of this job. After the first three or four people were killed by the ANBU defending the young jinchuuriki, Sandaime had grudgingly admitted that there wasn't enough proof showing that the boy had been in any real danger. The ANBU were given a suspension from their shinobi duties and warned by the village council that if there was a repeat offence, they'd be released from the ANBU forces.
And that was the reason that Kakashi let one of the mob's leading figures, a chuunin, etch a long scratch on the door to the shabby apartment.
He heard a cry of pain from inside the apartment and Kakashi swore, signaling to his team to deal with the crowd outside as he investigated the inside. He leapt up, jumping easily through the broken window and skidding to a stop, a sharp kunai already in his hand.
A man that Kakashi recognized as a chuunin Nokoribi Daisuke, a man from a prominent civilian family, stood over a cowering figure with bright yellow hair that was streaked with red. Kakashi's blood rose in his ears at the boy's injury and he growled, dashing forward. He aligned himself with the man, standing in between the attacker and the young boy, before stabbing the other man in the gut, twisting the kunai in the wound before ripping it up.
The man released a strangled grunt before falling to the ground, his body unmoving.
He heard a whimper behind him and Kakashi turned to the source of the sound. Naruto.
There, huddled with his knees to his chest in a fetal position, was the Yondaime's only child. Kakashi threw his bloody kunai to the opposite side of the room, taking a small step away from the boy.
"It's okay," he began softly. The boy whimpered again, bringing his legs closer still.
"No!" he protested, shaking his head vigorously. The movement pushed Naruto's hair slightly away from his face, allowing Kakashi to see the bloody gash that curved outwards from the boys eyebrow to the corner of his mouth. The wound didn't look very deep but it was bleeding profusely, as all head wounds do.
"No one's going to hurt you now," Kakashi said, his voice still low as he knelt in front of the boy. "You're safe."
"You're lying!" the young boy cried out, leaning away from the masked ninja. Someone knocked on the door and Naruto jumped, shifting his weight away from the door as well.
"Mouse, Wolf, Cat, report," Kakashi said, turning his face towards the door. One of the ANBU picked the lock and let the others in, all speckled with blood. Mouse was a petite young woman. A medical pouch fastened to her waist and out of her way. Her dark blue hair was plaited down her back, reaching to the small of her back. She had the standard ANBU gear and tanto, just as the others did. Wolf was another woman and the oldest in the group at twenty five. She had a katana strung across her back over her tanto's sheath. Cat walked in behind them both, completely undistinguishable from most other ANBU. He chose to keep his anonymity, blending into the ranks of elite ninja. Kakashi and Tenzo, both at age nineteen, were only a year old than Mouse, who was the youngest in the group.
"The crowd is dispersed. We have taken several for questioning, as ordered," Cat/Tenzo reported, kneeling towards her captain. The other did the same, their masks catching the light from the crescent moon.
Kakashi nodded at their medic, Mouse/Tori, and she stood, gingerly stepping towards Naruto. He tried to move away again and Mouse stopped in her tracks.
"It's okay, Naru-chan," Kakashi murmured. "Mouse is a medic; she's going to heal what that man did to you."
"I don't believe you!" the almost-five year old shouted again. He stood suddenly and his eyes lost focus, his body only now recognizing the blood loss. Naruto's blue eyes closed without his permission and he stumbled to the ground. Kakashi moved forward, catching the boy before he could hit the hard ground. When he looked down, Kakashi saw that Naruto had lost consciousness and he motioned for Tori to come forward.
She didn't wait for an invitation, stepping forward as soon as Naruto's eyes closed. Kakashi carefully laid the boy down on the floor and Tori immediately started healing the gash on the side of the boy's face, her glowing hands illuminating the small apartment.
"This has gone on long enough," Kakashi said, almost to himself. Tenzo looked up and Kakashi could feel the confusion emanating from the ninja.
"This is the seventh attack this month, and it is only the 9th. We can't just protect him indefinitely; we need a more permanent solution than coming in here and patching him up before leaving him alone. He is not safe out in the open. I will speak to Hokage-sama about this," he decided. Tenzo nodded, as did Tori and Wolf/Ame.
"I will go with you," Tenzo said to his superior.
"You two, stay with the boy. Mouse, make sure he's-"
"I understand," Tori interrupted, still healing the injured Naruto. She did a quick check up on him, pushing his shirt sleeves up to show old cuts and yellowing bruises. "It doesn't seem like the civilian hospital has been completely caring for his injuries."
"I see," Kakashi said, his anger rising before he pushed it down. He needed a clear head if he was going to argue on Naruto's behalf. "Let's go."
"Hai," Tenzo answered his captain. They both shunshined away, heading straight to the Hokage's Office.
"Dog, Cat," Sarutobi Hiruzen said, sounding surprised at the appearance of the ANBU. His expression darkened with worry. "Has something happened?"
"Naruto was attacked once more," Kakashi reported to his superior. "I intercepted the man before much damage could be done, but there is no doubt in my mind that he would have successfully killed Naruto if we hadn't intervened."
"Chuunin Nokoribi Daisuke. Confirmed dead," Kakashi said, no emotion in his voice.
"I see," Hiruzen said, his voice equally remorseless. He was one of the few that truly cared for the boy. If someone tried to hurt Naruto, the Sandaime would not hold it against the one to hurt them in return.
"Permission to speak freely?" Kakashi asked. Hiruzen nodded once. "Naruto is targeted on a near-daily basis. There have been several times when we have intercepted the attack only just in time to save his life. If not for the medic on my team, he could have died from the injuries he sustained. Hokage-sama... This is madness. The boy needs protection on a daily business. He is not safe in the open!"
Kakashi only now realized how loud his voice had gotten- he was nearly shouting. He cleared his throat before speaking in a more controlled tone.
"Sir, there must be a better alternative than what we have done the past five years."
"Is there? You and I both now that no one will adopt him, if only for the burden he bears. Naruto is getting old enough that the orphanage will not accept him for much longer." Kakashi paused; Hiruzen looked older than he had ever seen him, weighed down by his years and a heavy conscious.
"Be that as it may..." Kakashi drifted off as a new idea began to form in his mind. "Naruto has become a growing responsibility for the ANBU, to both my team and many others. Why not allow him to be moved into the base? There are many within the ranks that have grown to care for him, and there are always members in the base to watch over him."
"The ANBU headquarters is not an ideal place to raise a child," Hiruzen said weakly, seeing the reasoning himself. "Naruto deserves as normal a childhood as we can give him."
"Hokage-sama, Naruto will never be allowed to have a normal childhood. While your law forbids the villagers to tell another of Naruto's condition, it does not prevent their disdain from being passed on to the next generation. Naruto will grow up completely isolated. While he may not get a chance to make friends his own age in HQ, he will be able to communicate with people without fear."
"I don't like it, Kakashi," Hiruzen said, shaking his head tiredly. Kakashi bowed his head.
"But it may be the best chance for Naruto. If things continue the way they are now, he'll be dead by his seventh birthday, if not sooner," Kakashi said, clenching his fist. This was noticed by the elderly Hokage. It was that simple gesture of frustration that helped clear his conscious.
"Very well. However, I will place him directly under your team's protection, seeing as you have the most experience guarding the boy."
"Hai, Hokage-sama," Kakashi said, smiling behind both of his masks. He nodded briefly in Tenzo's direction before shunshining away, returning to Uzumaki Naruto's small apartment.
Kakashi waited for Naruto to awake, just as his team did. They knew that it would be unwise to move Naruto while he was sleep. His apartment was home, the safest place he knew. As sad as that was, Kakashi knew better than to transfer Naruto to a safer location without his permission or knowledge, even if it was ordered by the Sandaime.
Tori flicked her wrist behind her twice, alerting her teammates as Naruto's deep blue eyes fluttered open. His hand immediately went to the side of his face, now devoid of blood and dirt and healed without so much as a scar for evidence.
Once he was convinced that his wound was indeed gone, he looked with wide eyes at Tori. She shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly, a tick Kakashi took as a sign that she was smiling under her mask.
Tori was smiling warmly at the boy, chuckling under her breath. Kakashi noted that Daisuke's body was gone when Naruto's eyes darted towards where he had died.
"It's okay, Naru-chan," Kakashi said, his voice holding his smile. "Mouse-chan is a very good medic; she healed you with her medical ninjutsu."
"Nin... jutsu?" Naruto asked somewhat warily, his hand going to his left thigh, probably reminiscing some injury.
"Nothing bad," Tori promised the young boy wholeheartedly. "That man was mean to hurt you like that, so I wanted to help you."
"No one wants to help me," Naruto said sullenly. Tori reached out towards him, pausing when he flinched. When he relaxed, content at the slight difference between her hand and his shoulder, Tori followed through, gently grabbing his shoulder and pulling the boy close to her in a tight hug.
"We want to help you," she promised. Kakashi glanced at his team before taking off his mask, gesturing for the others to do the same. Tenzo and Ame obeyed readily. Tori, still hugging the boy, didn't notice the gesture.
Naruto's eyes widened slightly as he caught sight of Kakashi.
"You gave me bread!" he said, his tone accusatory. Kakashi smiled under his mask. He had visited Naruto a few times off-duty, something he seemed to remember.
"I didn't think you remembered that," Kakashi said, still smiling. And he didn't. That was almost a year ago. Naruto grinned.
"You were nice to me; I remember everyone who's nice, ojisan!" Naruto said in an almost happy tone. Kakashi paused slightly at the title (for uncle) before smiling again, now sadly. He wasn't sure if Naruto was using a mask or if the young blonde was actually happy to recognize him.
"Well, that might be harder now," Tori warned, smiling as she removed her own mask to reveal her pale eyes, the trademark of the Hyuuga clan. "Because a lot more people are gonna start being nice to you."
"?" Naruto's wordless question had Kakashi smiling again. Ame was a bit shocked at her taicho's behavior, which was very atypical. He was generally the no-nonsense type of man, even for his age.
"We're here to take you somewhere where the other villagers can't hurt you anymore, where everyone will be nice to you, Naru-chan," Tori said, quickly adopting the nickname.
"But I live here," he protested, frowning. Tori's smile grew at the expression that quickly turned into a rather adorable pout, whether or not Naruto was aware of it.
"Naruto," Kakashi began, his voice quiet and his tone serious. Naruto immediately stopped pouting to look at Kakashi. "The villagers won't leave you alone until you're old enough to defend yourself. Tomorrow's your birthday, and you know what that means," he said pointedly. Naruto looked down at the ground, mumbling that he was going to stay inside again.
"Naru-chan..." Tori said, her pale eyes sad.
"Then they'll break in, just like they did tonight. We'll keep you safe so you don't have to stay inside on your birthday. You can talk to people that know that you're a good kid, like we all do," he said, gesturing to his team, who nodded in support.
Naruto looked from Kakashi to Tori, with a quick glance towards Ame and Tenzo, before nodding hesitantly.
"Okay, ojisan," he said quietly. Tori reached down with her to grab Naruto's smaller one.
Later, Kakashi would make a remark about how it was amazing that she could kill and comfort with the same hand, in less polite terms. He couldn't escape the room until his arms' tenketsu were closed. Ame told him that he was lucky to escape the Hyuuga kunoichi with his life.
Hoped you liked it. Leave a review if you did, and leave a review if you didn't. Tell me what you liked/did not like, and I'll see if I can or am willing to change it at all.
Please point out any grammatical/spelling mistakes. I'm only human, and only halfway through high school. All corrections are appreciated.
^.^ Susie ^.^