Kakashi and Yondaime, and weathering the storm.
(Originally published 5/12/2005)
As usual, this was written while I should have been doing something else. cough
I wanted to write a fic in the spirit of the Vienna Teng song "Lullabye for a Stormy Night", and combined with the most recent episode of the anime, this little whatsit was brought into being. Chevira, if you were thinking of writing something along these lines, I hope I won't deter you -- I'd still love to see your take on a fic for the song.
It's been a while since I last did so, thus, I'd like to extend another heartfelt thanks to all my reviewers. You guys totally make my day. Whatever you take away from my stories, I'm glad to be able to provide you with a few minutes' entertainment every now and then.
Also -- sna -- as of now, I'm still writing from Tokyo. It has its perks. I probably got to see the new episode before any of you. ;)
It was raining outside, and Kakashi was staring out the window of the darkened room, and sniffling.
He couldn't sleep. The rumpled sheets of the bed he'd been lying in, now tossed to one side of the mattress, were evidence of his valiant attempt; but he was a restless five years old and right at this very moment there were too many things keeping him awake. He peered up into the black expanse that was sky, wiping the back of his arm impatiently against his wet face; and he jumped a bit every time there was a clap of thunder or burst of light from outside.
He probably had far better reasons than most children to be afraid of lightning, his teacher thought wearily, padding through the open door of the bedroom.
"Can't sleep?" he murmured.
Kakashi started a little, whirling around with wide eyes for a moment; seeing the boy caught so thoroughly off-guard was possibly even more unusual a sight than the tear-tracks staining his cheeks. He scowled at his teacher, turning back around with a rather huffy expression as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"I'm fine," he insisted, in an almost irritated tone, as if that made it sound like less of a lie. "The... thunder's just too loud."
A faint, sad smile curved the young teacher's lips for a moment, and then he walked over to slide his hands under Kakashi's arms and pick the boy up. His young student gave a brief squawk of protest that was, the teacher thought, entirely for appearances' sake before allowing himself to be pulled into a hug. His teacher sat down on the bed, Kakashi's arms wrapped around his neck, that messy silver-white head leaning against his chest.
"It's really nothing to be afraid of, you know," the young man murmured, smiling down at Kakashi again. "The storm, I mean."
" 'm not afraid of it," the boy protested in a petulant mumble, spoken into his teacher's shirt, which did not help his case at all. " 'm not afraid of anything."
"Okay," the teacher agreed, only daring to grin as he said it because Kakashi's eyes weren't on him. "But let me tell you about it anyway? I'll bore you into going to sleep," he promised cheerily, with a single quiet laugh.
Kakashi was quiet for a moment, apparently giving all due consideration to the offer. "...Okay," he agreed at last, and squirmed around a little to get more comfortable in his teacher's arms. The older man moved to lean back against the headboard of the bed and settled the boy down in his lap.
"In that case... sensei... Um..."
"What is it?" the teacher wondered, raising an eyebrow at the boy.
"Well..." Kakashi looked up at him for a second and then away, frowning slightly, as if embarrassed to be asking such a question. "Why does it rain?"
His teacher blinked for a moment, before smiling a very broad smile indeed.
"Well. Hmm... let's see." Absently, he glanced up toward the ceiling, gathering his thoughts. "I think there's some big scientific explanation that has to do with moisture collecting in the air and turning into clouds and stuff, buuuut... I don't really remember that part very well." He looked down at his student again just to grin abashedly at the boy for a moment. "Sorry."
"Sensei..." Kakashi groaned, pouting a little in exasperation. It was a familiar routine for both of them, and the older man thought perhaps his student found something comforting in it.
"But." His teacher smiled faintly again, reaching up to run a hand through Kakashi's hair. "I do know the /reason /for rain."
Kakashi blinked at him.
"Well... what is it?"
His teacher held up one hand, raising a pair of fingers. "There are two reasons. The first is... It makes things grow."
He gestured toward the window outside, Kakashi's gaze following his hand back toward the black square. The only things visible beyond it at present were the raindrops collecting on the other side of the glass, save for when the whole scene was occasionally illuminated by white flashes punctuated with peals of thunder.
"The grass, the flowers, Konoha's beloved trees... Food, too. Every kind of plant, everything that grows in the ground needs rain to nourish it. Even people and animals, actually. The rainwater that the plants don't use, it seeps deep, deep down underground--" he stopped to make a swiping gesture with his hand, his audience of one paying rapt attention-- "and pools together, and in a lot of places people tap these underground pockets of water to use for drinking, and cooking, and... Well, you know, water stuff," he summarized with a grin. "Without rain to help us grow things... we'd have a hard time. Even if it comes in scary thunderstorms, it's a necessary thing."
Kakashi blinked, and for just a second, allowed himself to look like the awed little child he was. Then he frowned at his teacher.
"So what's the other reason?"
His teacher raised an eyebrow at him, smile softening again. He paused a moment before answering.
"So we can learn to appreciate the sunny days more."
There was just a moment's pause.
"Sensei, you're making that up."
His student gave him another exasperated, disapproving glance, and he couldn't help but laugh at the serious expression on the little boy's face.
"I am not!" he protested, grinning as Kakashi kept glaring at him. "Honestly! It's true."
"But that doesn't make any sense," the little boy sniffed. "Rain is a /thing, /it's not a person. It doesn't care whether we like sunny days or not."
"Well, that's not exactly what I meant," his teacher murmured, smiling. He gave the boy in his arms another brief squeeze as he continued. "You see, Kakashi... We all like sunny days, right? When there's not a cloud in the sky, the temperature is just perfect, and you can go out and get an ice cream cone and not have it melt too fast to enjoy it... Hm?"
"...Sure," his student agreed after a second, uncertainly. The teacher was well aware that there had never been very many sunny days in Kakashi's life in which he had done something as normal as going out and buying an ice cream cone.
"Okay, then... but what if every day was a perfect sunny day? You wouldn't be able to go out in the morning and say 'Oh, what nice weather after that awful storm' and be relieved... You'd start to take it for granted. Maybe you'd even give yourself a stomachache with too much ice cream, after a while," the teacher murmured, lips quirking in a brief grin.
"So you mean..." Kakashi stopped for a moment, frowning thoughtfully. "That if we didn't have rainy days... there wouldn't be anything to make the sunny days special."
"Exactly!" His teacher beamed at him. "You hit it on the nose."
That almost -- just almost -- earned a smile from the boy. His teacher could see the way Kakashi's mouth moved ever-so-slightly, and the way the corners of his eyes just barely threatened to squint up; the boy received an encouraging grin in response, until after a moment he turned to burrow his face in the man's shirt again. He was silent for a little while. His teacher wondered if he was getting sleepy after all.
The older man raised his eyebrows. "Hm?"
Kakashi's murmur was quiet, almost halting.
"Do you think... my father... was a rainy day, or a sunny day?"
The teacher stared down at his student for a long few seconds, until finally a smile crossed his lips, small and bittersweet. Leave it to Kakashi, of course, to ferret out the message underneath the underneath.
He leaned over to plant a kiss on the top of the child's head, ruffling Kakashi's white locks as he pulled away. "We have a saying in Konoha," he murmured. Wrapping his arms more tightly about Kakashi's form, the teacher pulled him close, resting his cheek lightly against his student's hair. Another faint smile flitted across his face.
"This too shall pass."
Far too many years later, Kakashi is standing at the Valley of the End. Water is crashing down in a riotous cacophony from the falls at the edge of the cliff, still guarded for now and forever by two massive stone statues, though at the moment they are looking a bit worse for wear. The roar of the waterfall drowns out the pitter-patter of raindrops around his feet, and the crashes of thunder that are sounding somewhere in the distance.
Kakashi looks down on the blonde-haired boy at his feet, and the hitai-ate lying beside him.
"Sasuke's," his dog declares curtly, examining the object.
Kakashi supposes he should do something besides stand there and let Naruto be rained on, but neither his feet nor his hands quite seem to want to move at present. He just stares down at the boy for a while, and at last finally manages to crouch and take up the hitai-ate and his young student, clutch Naruto against his chest.
"Sorry I was late," he murmurs to the child in his arms.
He's not crying. After all, he doesn't need to. It's raining.
He maneuvers Naruto onto his back, and then together, he and Pakkun turn to go. There's nothing more they can do here. In this weather, Sasuke's scent will have dissipated entirely, and even if it had not there's no telling how far he could have gotten by now. Wherever he is, Kakashi just hopes he's still alive.
The storm starts to lighten as they head up and out of the valley. Kakashi can see the way the river has swollen with all the extra water it's just taken in, splashing up against its banks to soak the sand and pebbles and scattered plants. But he has a student to take care of yet, so it's hardly the time to stop and examine the scenery. He and his dog leap back into the trees to begin their journey home.
He supposes when Naruto wakes up, he'll tell him about the reason for rain.
Sure enough, when Kakashi awoke the next morning, the storm was gone. His father was still dead. There was still blood all over the floor of his family's dojo. And it was a sunny day outside.
His teacher bought him an ice cream cone. They sat together on a park bench, and he swung his legs and finished every last bit before it could melt.
It was sweet.