EDIT: So I think I'll put this in: This fic is quite slow-paced. If, at the end of most chapters, you're only able to go "The feels!", then I have done my job correctly. I'm focusing on the little things, like character interactions and emotions. If you're looking for a fast-paced fic with tons of action, this is not the fic you are looking for.

Anyways, without further ado...

The Hidden Prodigy

Chapter 1: Retry

Kakashi immediately knew something was wrong when he realized he was not in his little apartment unit. The mattress he was lying on was too soft, and the air was lacking that distinctive smell of wet dog his ninken produced. There was also someone walking nearby – not someone he could recognize immediately. When Kakashi tried to discretely pull out his weapons, they were nowhere to be found.

The jounin feigned sleep, feeling footsteps echo closer and closer to the bed he was lying on. He could feel the warmth as a hand slide close to his face. When the hand touched him, Kakashi bit down. Hard.

His eyes snapped open as he leaped into a defensive form. He saw long silver hair swing back as the figure before him clutched his hand with a grimacing smile.

Kakashi froze, eyeing the man before him. And then, he looked down at himself. It was a wonder he hadn't fainted in shock yet.

"Ow! Trying to catch me off guard again, Kakashi? You bite hard for a five-year-old!"

Kakashi swayed dangerously. Yes, it was really a wonder he hadn't fainted yet.

"Are you feeling okay? Did you catch a cold?" The man reached for his forehead causing the jounin – or rather the kid, seeing as he was freaking five again – to flinch back at the movement. "Kakashi, what's wrong?"

Kakashi lick his dry lips, trying to grasp the situation. What was going on? "I-" the boy forced out his first words, "father?"

The older man gave him a confused stare. "Yeah? Really, Kakashi, what's the matter? You seem a little out of it today."

The world tilted oddly for a second before Kakashi tried to focus once more. "I- it's- I don't feel really well," he lied.

Sakumo Hatake, Kakashi's father, studied his son intently. "Maybe you should lie down for a while. I told you you shouldn't have trained so much yesterday. You aren't even attending the academy yet."

Kakashi shook his head, clearing it from the daze he was in. "Yeah, sure." He sat down on his bed. "Do you mind?" He raised an eyebrow at the man, trying to act normal.

The man gave a gruff laugh. "Yeah, yeah, only five and already trying to get rid of me." He headed for the door. "I'll come back with some food later, alright kid? You just get more rest."

Kakashi nodded numbly settling back down on the bed. The minute his father left, he jumped straight back up again.

What the hell was going on?

The thought "genjutsu" immediately jumped to mind, but even before his shout of "Kai", Kakashi knew that wasn't the case. His old bedroom was too perfect for this to be someone's illusion. He'd left this place when he was six, bordering seven. No one knew him well back then. Not well enough to be able to replicate his room to such perfection.

But was it real?

Turning his search internally, Kakashi could at least tell that not everything had been a complete dream. His chakra control was not yet comparable to his jounin years, but definitely better than when he'd been five. His chakra had also increased from what he dimly recalled his younger self to have had. Unless he'd been training in his sleep, everything he remembered had happened. Or at least was going to happen sometime in the future.

But then why was he here in the … past?

Kakashi hopped off his bed, grabbing his mask along the way. He padded quietly out of his room, reeling his chakra tight. If this was real… he didn't want anyone realising anything different about him, should they ever decide to check. A kid suddenly increasing his chakra reserves overnight was definitely not normal.

The masked boy walked slowly, eyes observing and remembering everything around him. It'd been twenty years (give or take) since he'd step foot into this house, yet he could still vividly remember its contents. The house had been his recurring nightmare, one where he would constantly revisit night after night, because he'd done so much wrong to its late owner by turning away when he'd needed him the most. His mornings were haunted by Obito, and his nights by Sakumo, because he was a disappointing man who never realised his wrongdoings until the other party was long gone, and 'sorry's were no longer possible.

Kakashi strolled into the kitchen. His father turned, hearing his little footsteps nearing. "Didn't I tell you to go back to bed?" the man asked gently.

Sakumo Hatake's face was different from Kakashi's memory. The man he remembered had been pale, slouched, and so utterly broken by the unthinking words of the villagers. This one looks so young and resilient. His long silver hair was tied into a low ponytail. His face and built, though similar to Kakashi's, was more rigid and sturdy; more masculine. His stance was straight and confident. It was –


The boy took tiny steps towards the other man, as if running would break the illusion of his father. Sakumo, on his part, was rooted in place, wondering on that heart-wrenching stare from his son.

"Kakashi?" the father asked again, at a loss words. His son had always seemed so independent and mature, and seeing him like this was like twisting a knife in his heart, because this was nothing like what he'd thought, and he really hadn't known his son at all, had he?

Before him, Kakashi stood staring and burning that face into his memory. He desperately tried to replace the sad image he'd been left with with this better form of Sakumo. How had he never realised how much of a difference there'd been from his father's usual face and those last few months before he took his own life? Had the change truly been that gradual, or had Kakashi been blind, too selfish to notice the suffering beside him?

Kakashi could see his own pale arms lifting up on their own accord. They wrapped around his father as his head slotted so perfectly in place in the man's chest. Instinctively, he took a deep breath.

Somehow, it was like coming home, this scent of Sakumo – of his father. It'd been too long since he'd smelt it, but it was one he recognised without a second thought. It was the scent of late nights listening to tales of his father's missions, of mourning their mother together, of spying on his father's training and ultimately getting caught. It was the scent of a forgotten childhood. For years after accepting his old man's death, Kakashi had nothing left but a faint memory to remember his family with.

But now, in his arms, everything was suddenly different.

It wasn't until Kakashi felt his father patting him on the head that he realized tears had begun staining his face. But this show of emotions was too meaningful for Kakashi to hide or wipe them away. Not for today, at least.

"Father," he called, before halting. No, that word was too impersonal. When did he start calling Sakumo that? Was it when he started to earnestly train as a shinobi, thinking the world would see his maturity if he did away from any and all childish quirks? But since when did Kakashi care for other's opinions anymore; he lived his life however he pleased because conforming was something he was eventually taught as something not always for the best – especially when it mean it compromised those precious to him.

"Dad," the man-turned-boy corrected, then, "Daddy," he murmured, almost even too quiet for himself to hear, and if only just once, because he'd always regretted never calling Sakumo that as a child. It was a simple word that spoke of the deepest of familial love for his father - a love that the child Kakashi had-once-been never knew would have meant the world to Sakumo.

This time, Kakashi knew better.

How was he in the past? Kakashi couldn't care less about that question anymore. He was in the past and that was all that mattered, and he would make sure this lifetime's worth of memories was better than the last. With that resolution in mind, Kakashi held onto his chakra, tighter than ever, determined not to give anything away. In the physical world, his actions echo that determination as his arms wrapped stronger against his father's torso and refused to let go.