Just because Kakashi never talks about his father doesn't mean he never thinks about him.
(Originally published 2/11/2005)
This is the first of, hopefully, a long and prolific Naruto-fic run on my part. (Haha, yeah right. But I can dream.) Set in some vague, unimportant point in continuity somewhere between the beginning of the series and before a certain person leaves as in the recent anime/manga. Major spoilers for the Kakashi Gaiden manga chapters.
Just because he never talks about his father doesn't mean he never thinks about him.
Kakashi is sitting up in bed. The moonlight streams through the window behind him, lighting his room in glowing shades that leech all the color out of the furniture and throw his black silhouette into sharp relief against his comforter. It's some ungodly hour like 4 AM and he doesn't need to be awake for at least a couple hours yet, but damned if he's going to be able to get back to sleep after that dream.
He doesn't have it nearly as often as he used to. Nowadays he has newer dreams to dream, fresher and more vivid nightmares. Obito cursing his name, one eye socket empty and dripping. Sasuke smiling at him with Orochimaru's eyes. His subconscious likes to keep up with the times...totally "now", as Gai would say.
Gai dead. Dying in his arms, usually. That was one he used to have. At some point his subconscious realized that Gai was entirely too stubborn to die and moved on to more likely targets.
He pushes back the comforter and rises, stretching for a moment, popping his neck before he pads over to the battered desk on the other side of the small room. Opens the middle drawer, reaches underneath to prod at the hidden compartment inside the top drawer, and pulls out the two broken halves of a long dagger.
He had never asked how the Fourth had gotten the blade back. The Fourth, in his turn, had never pointed it out to anyone when the two small items went missing from Hokage-sama's custody. No one was really all that interested in the old weapon of that incompetent bastard Sakumo anyway.
Kakashi wonders if being reminded most of one's late father by the instrument one's father killed himself with is higher or lower on the scale of screwed-up-ness than being reminded most of one's late friend by the stolen eye implanted in one's own left socket.
All right, perhaps stolen isn't the correct word. Obito freely gifted it to him. But Kakashi can't help thinking of ripping a part out of another person's body and inserting it into his own as some form of theft, any way he has ever tried to look at it.
The dagger, on the other hand. That is certainly and definitely stolen. Not just from Hokage-sama, but from Father.
Well, he hadn't really been in any state to give his permission when Kakashi took it.
The dream always starts with rice balls. His rice balls, 7-year-old-him, rice balls and kunai sticking out of them anchoring them to a tree because Aoki from across the street thinks he's a practical joker. And then 7-year-old-him throws his last rice ball square in Aoki's face, because let's face it, he is a prodigy and Aoki is not, is 7 too and cannot dodge for crap yet. And it's a little sad, because they're his mother's rice balls and they are very tasty, much better used for eating than for combat. But he can't help laughing a little at Aoki's expression as he walks away into the village proper.
He was never one to laugh much before, as a child. He has never been one to laugh much after, either.
The dream always follows him to Konoha's administrative building, where he talks to Hokage-sama and is told no missions right now, why don't you go on holiday for just a day, you industrious young man, you're young, make time for play as well as work, etc. etc. He understands all this, because he is a prodigy, after all; but he is also 7 and wants to prove himself, and he's Chuunin already but they still won't let him take a team out because the Genin would all be twice his age and wouldn't listen to him, and it's frustrating as hell and he'll prove to them he's responsible enough to look after people even though he's little. White Fang Sakumo could do it. So he knows Kakashi can do it too.
Then the dream always goes on with his day spent doing nothing, being accosted by Gai at least five times, and sneaking into the adult bookstore two alleys behind the Yamanakas' flower shop just to annoy the pervy old man who runs the counter. He can never remember, looking back on it, whether the cold, chest-gripping sense of foreboding that pervades the outing is something he felt as a child, or whether it's simply insinuated itself into the dream over the years.
Then, of course, the dream takes him back home, and there are people shouting at his family's door as he rounds the corner, and he hates being in the middle of an argument so he hides himself and listens for a while. And waits, and listens some more, and hopes the men at the door will magically stop saying what they are saying and that his blood will stop running cold.
They keep shouting obscene things at his father and telling him to open the door, but he never does, and eventually they give up and go away. Kakashi supposes they will be back tomorrow. Or maybe they have noticed his presence and are now lying in wait for him to try to enter his home, in order to use him as bait to lure his father out.
Well, he is a ninja. He is supposed to read underneath the underneath.
He doesn't seem to detect anyone in hiding, and the windows on the other side of the house are hard for his small fingers to open from the outside, so he decides to take a chance and use the door. He tenses as he enters, half-expecting Father to be waiting on the other side with an attack at the ready.
The hall is empty and quiet. There is light streaming through the kitchen doorway and he thinks he hears Mother crying.
The dream drags him forward by the balls of his feet, forcing him down the hallway, following his nose. If anyone has brought blood into the house, it is Father, of course. He's been gone so long, he must have just returned from a mission... Kakashi slides open the door to the parlor, a question on his lips, begging to hear that what those men were saying is a lie.
The moonlight streams through the windows to the side of the house, lighting the room in glowing shades that leech all the color out of the blood pooled on the floor and throw his father's black silhouette into sharp relief against the tatami. White Fang Sakumo is slumped forward, his faithful dagger clutched in one hand, its sheath in the other. The blood pooling under him has seeped from his belly, his throat, and both wrists. Kakashi supposes detachedly that he could find no one willing to do the proper thing and just cut off his head.
Kakashi stands there for a very long time. The dream does not remember when he picks up the dagger. Neither does he.
It's been broken for a long time now. Once upon a time he considered having it reforged, but he put it off and put it off, and now he has gotten too used to fighting without it. Perhaps someday when he has the time to retrain himself...
But not with this dagger. He would pick another. After Father, he cannot imagine now how he ever carried it into battle. After Obito, he cannot imagine how he ever would again.
No... perhaps... he can, just a bit.
Kakashi gently presses his thumb against the edge of the broken spike still attached to the hilt, and wonders a little wistfully what dying is like.
It is not that he wants to die. There are plenty of things yet to keep him here. Sasuke, Sakura, Naruto. Gai. Tsunade. All the young shinobi that need protection and guidance, all his friends and fellow soldiers. Obito. Hell, if he gets right down to it, he has yet to read the last volume of Icha Icha Paradise.
But it is that he doesn't really not want to die, either.
With a quiet sigh, he replaces the pieces of the dagger in their proper spot and rises, walking over to the closet to pull out a fresh uniform for the day. It's almost getting to the time when he actually should be awake, and he has things to do, places to be, people to see, inane rivalries to perpetuate, memories to honor, guilt to make up for, the same as he does every day. Contemplation is a luxury for people without duties to see to.
Hatake Kakashi doesn't have much. But he will always have duty.