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Title: Happy Birthday: When It All Changed Part 2 of 2
Authors: Kita_the_Spaz & Kiterie/SumiHatake
Characters: Sakumo, Kakashi
Summary: Everyone knows Sakumo failed his mission, everyone knows it shamed him, and everyone knows in the end what happened, but not everyone knows everything. This is our story of Kakashi’s last Birthday with his father.
Disclaimer: We don’t own Naruto, but this story is ours.

Belated second part to:
Happy Birthday Before It All Changed



Kakashi woke before the sun had even begun to peek into his window, the oddest feeling creeping up his spine. Slipping out of bed he scooped up Guruko, who made the smallest squeak and continued to sleep. He reached over and scratched Pakkun behind the ears.

“What is it?” Pakkun asked, lifting an one ear and opening one eye. “Getting up already?”

Not knowing how to explain what had woken him, Kakashi nodded.

The small dog jumped down to the floor. “Alright.”

His eyes adjusted quickly to the dark and he didn’t bother to turn on the light, instead slipping quietly out of his room. Kakashi headed down the hall to the living room, floorboards creaking under his sleight weight.

It was silent in that way all homes were in the dark; with the occupants asleep and not disturbed by cautious movements of a shinobi. The doors to the courtyard still stood open, a breeze kicking leaves around in the doorway.

Kakashi regarded the room for a long moment, trying to figure out what had woken him. Nothing stirred save the playful breeze, nothing was out of place, and nothing was wrong that he could see.

Frustrated with himself, he padded over to the kitchen. Lifting the edge of his shirt he settled the still sleeping puppy into the pouch it formed. He tied a knot in the shirt to keep the pouch intact and pulled two of the plastic containers from the fridge, a bowl from the cupboard, and a pair of chopsticks from the container on counter. There was still a lot of food left from the day before and likely would be for days. He heaped the rice and broiled saury into a bowl and put the containers away. Picking up his bowl, he headed for the porch.

His feet hit the cold wood, wet with morning dew, and he stopped.

Sakumo sat a little ways down the porch, leaning against a post with his legs hanging over the edge.

Another shiver, that he had no explanation for, slid up his spine. Kakashi blinked, his shoulders tensing slightly. His father had spent so much time in bed that it seemed odd, even after the day before, to see him up so early.

“Couldn’t sleep any longer?” his father asked, turning to look at him. Smiling, he motioned Kakashi over with one hand. “We can watch the sunrise while you eat.”

Relaxing at the smile, Kakashi padded over with Pakkun at his heel and settled down beside his father. “Something seemed...” He wasn’t sure how to explain the feeling that had woken him. “Something woke me up, but I don’t know what.”

“Hm,” Sakumo murmured noncommittally. “Shinobi senses over-reacting, perhaps. You probably just heard me get up. I guess that’s the downside to being a trained shinobi; it can be hard to sleep sometimes.” He scrubbed a hand through Kakashi’s hair. “Anyways, I just wanted to watch the sunrise. It’s been awhile and I think I’d forgotten how nice it is.”

Kakashi nodded. It was more than likely his father was right. He had probably heard him and it had left him feeling overly-alert, and when the house had been so quiet it had surprised him to find that his father was up. He reminded himself wasn’t used to his father being up so early anymore. Given that, it made sense that the noise which would have once been familiar and not disturbed him woke him with the oddness of it.

Sakumo wrapped an arm around Kakashi and hugged him close. “Your mother and I used to sit out here nearly every morning.” He looked down at Kakashi and then back out towards the walls where the morning sunlight was just starting to peek over, painting the clouds with its orange, red, and purple colors. “Tsukiko...” He let out a low breath.

It was the type of sound that somebody made when they’d been holding their breath, like the tension was draining out of them, and Kakashi wondered if it was a good sign or not. He snuggled closer, practically climbing into his father’s lap, and picked at his food.

Pakkun tilted his head, studied them for a moment and then climbed unceremoniously across Kakashi’s lap and onto Sakumo’s.

The motion must have disturbed Guruko because he squeaked and wriggled his head free of the improvised pocket.

Kakashi fed both him and Pakkun a bit of the fish. He blinked, stared at his two ninken. Another reason why things felt slightly off occurred to him. The house had been too quiet. It wasn’t just because he wasn’t used to his father getting up that he’d noticed the noise, he’d picked it out of silence. The rest of their little pack was missing.

Azami and the twins were usually up at various times during the night to check the grounds. It was something they’d picked up in the months since Sakumo’s last mission, a protective ritual of sorts.

Kakashi understood what they were doing, playing guard against those in the village who might want revenge. Nobody had ever come that he knew of, but it might have been because of the guard they kept. He wasn’t sure. “Where are Azami and the twins?”

Sakumo stiffened beside him for a moment and then relaxed again. “I sent them to deliver a few letters. Don’t worry... they’ll be back tomorrow, probably before you are.”

It eased the last of his frayed nerves. Nodding, Kakashi turned and watched the sky. It was nice.

--

Kakashi growled under his breath at the messenger standing before Minato-sensei.

They’d been about to leave the gates for their mission when the man had come puffing up waving and gasping for them to wait. The hokage wanted Minato to come to his immediately which cancelling the current mission.

When they’d arrived at the office the messenger, a civilian Kakashi wasn’t familiar with had disappeared inside, leaving them standing around in the hall before finally returning nearly half an hour later.

Now they were whispering between themselves over a piece of paper that Kakashi couldn’t see. It irritated him and as irrational and childish as he knew it was, he still wanted to kick the messenger in his shin.

Turning, Minato looked at him, his lips forming a thin smile. He knelt down and laid a hand on Kakashi’s shoulder. “I have to go speak to Sandaime-sama. It’s important and I need you to stay here.”

Kakashi rolled his eyes. “I’m not a baby, Sensei.”

Minato nodded. “I know. Just stay here.”

He nodded, a little confused by the seriousness in Minato’s voice.

The messenger and Minato disappeared into the Hokage’s office.

Only a few minutes had passed when he heard it, an eerie howl. Kakashi turned toward it instinctively. The sound came again and even as distant as it was he knew it immediately. He bolted down the stairs, not even caring that he was disobeying his jounin-sensei. His heart thudded in his chest and Kakashi mapped the quickest route that he knew off of the top of his head to get himself through the village. He accounted for the morning foot traffic and knew that taking the aerial route would get him there faster.

“Sorry, Sensei.” He apologized in a whisper to the air and leapt for the nearest wall, scrambling up it to the roof, pushing himself for every bit of speed he could muster.

The frantic howl sounded again, and now he was close enough to hear the terror in it. Heart in his throat, he dredged up more speed from protesting muscles. Roofs flashed by under his feet, gaps between buildings registering as nothing more than a longer leap. All his attention was focused on getting home. His lungs ached and his breath burned in his throat, but he would not slow.

He landed across the street from the wall surrounding the estate.Two black streaks flashed in front of him, flying through the gate. Another howl echoed back to him. He understood the notes to be an answering ’We’re coming!’ They sounded as frantic as he felt.

Kakashi sped after them.

Kaminari and Kama stopped at the edge of the courtyard, chests heaving. Kaminari made an anguished sound. Her sister whimpered softly, low and mournful. They turned as one and pushed Kakashi backwards.

He stumbled and then pushed back, trying to get past them.

“You don’t need to see this.” Kama’s voice held a note of fear.

He stopped. It was a tone he’d never heard from her before and it scared him in a way no mission ever could. It shook something deep inside him.

“Open your eyes!” Azami shouted wildly from the courtyard. “Damn you, open them!”

Azami’s frantic voice pulled at him and he narrowed his eyes, raised his hands and formed a seal. An instant later he was outside, in the middle of the courtyard.

The first thing he saw was the red pool around his feet, a smear of it leading toward the gate. His eyes followed it instinctively.

No more than fifteen feet away, Azami stood, her mouth clamped down on Sakumo’s vest. Blood soaked her muzzle and her paws, vivid crimson on the normally pristine white fur. She strained and her muscles clenched as she dragged him another few feet. Letting go of his vest, she sucked in another breath. “Don’t you dare die on me!” she growled, her sides heaving. Clamping her jaws on the collar, she tugged again.

His father lay there, limp and unresponsive despite the dog’s growling, a sword standing straight out of his stomach.

Kakashi stared at the sword and it took his eyes a moment to focus on it properly. It was his mother’s ko-wakizashi. His mind raced for any detail that might indicate his father had been attacked, that he wasn’t seeing what he knew was in front of him. He closed his eyes tight and stretched out his chakra. Not a single trap had been sprung and no other chakra signature registered within the gates of their home. There was only the dogs, his own, and then his father’s -- which was fading quickly.

He sprang forward, launching himself to the place where Azami had dragged his father. Instead of helping her move him, he shoved her away and pushed his hands against the wound, desperately trying to force his own chakra into it to make the bleeding stop. His blood-soaked hands slipped slightly and bumped into the blade.

He blinked at it blankly for a moment and then wrapped his hand around the grip, pulling hard. The blood-slicked wood and leather slipped in his grip and he flew back, sprawling out on the ground. He got up quickly and this time he wrapped his hands around the blade and pulled. It cut into his palms and the back of it bit into the creases of his knuckles. His hands slipped again, sliding along the blade, this time catching the guard. The muscles sucked at the metal though, holding it tight. He channeled his chakra into his arms and pulled harder. It came free with a wet plop. He tossed it aside, and again pushed his hands against the wound, his own blood mixing with that gushing from the wound.

Azami shoved her nose against his hands, whining.

He felt her chakra flowing through him and into his father”s body.

“Don’t you dare die on him, don’t you dare!” she growled, her voice edged with a distinct whine.

Kama butted her head against Azami’s ribs. “It’s too late. You can smell it, same as me, his body is poisoned with the scent of it.”

Azami snapped at her, quick as lightning. “No!

Kama stumbled back, ears flat against her head.

Beside her, Kaminari laid her head against Kakashi’s back, whimpering.

Sakumo’s eyes opened and he blinked, his eyes unfocused. “I- d-didn’t- mean- for- you- to- see- this, Kakashi. Not- a-any- of- you,” he managed between slow, ragged, wet breaths. “I love you. I’m sorry.” The words came out a whisper. His chest fell with the last word and didn’t rise again.

Kakashi stopped, his heart in his throat.

A wavering howl rose from Azami’s throat, full of anguish and mourning. Kaminari lifted her head and added her deep, throbbing voice to the cry. Kama shook herself, whined once, and flung her head skyward, howling her grief to the uncaring sky

Suddenly and with terrible finality, Kakashi knew. "FATHER!" Tears streamed down his face and he fell forward against his father’s chest, sobs wracking his body.

--

"Oh my... oh, Kakashi-kun..."

The words drifted in through the fog of grief and pain, hanging there unanswered. Kakashi stared vacantly through blurry, half-open eyes that felt swollen and gritty. He felt cool hands lift him away from -- he shied away from the thought -- and set him upright, leaning against something warm and breathing. Those hands returned, carefully prying open his bloody hands.

“Oh, oh, Kakashi-kun...”

Water dripped on his fingers from a cloth. That cloth wiped across his hands, cleaning away the dirt and blood to reveal large gashes on his palms, still bleeding openly. It hurt, but the pain was distant; detached, and unreal. He didn’t pull his hands back, didn't even twitch, just sat there with snot dripping down his nose, drying and caking with the blood and dirt smeared across his face. Tears slid free of his eyes occasionally, leaving trails in the brown mixture caking his face. A green light enveloped his hands for a moment, blurring his vision even more.

"How is he, Tsunade-sama?" a voice off to the side asked.

The voice was familiar, but Kakashi didn't care and he didn't turn towards it.

"I’m doing what I can, Minato." There was a long pause, followed by a heavy sigh. "His hands will be fine, but he used too much chakra and he’s lost a lot of blood. He's in shock."

"Kakashi-kun..."

A hand touched his chin, tilting it up. He didn't fight it.

The face of the man in front of him was red and tear streaks were clear against the hectic color. Some small part of him rebelled, not wanting to see the bright blue eyes. Kakashi turned his head away. Arms slid around him immediately. Kakashi sat there waiting for it stop, all of it, for him to go away, for them all to go away, for everything to just end.

"Damn you, Sakumo." The voice shook with the words.

The man pulled back some, but then an arm slid under Kakashi’s legs and lifted him up. He couldn't bring himself to care. When he was set back down his clothes were peeled off and another rag and more water scrubbed blood from his skin. He closed his eyes and let himself slip into the darkness and the blessed relief it offered.

--

A tongue swiped across his face. Kakashi opened his eyes weakly and saw black fur.

"They're worried about you, pup." Kaminari nudged his hand with her nose.

"You should wake up and eat something," Kama urged from his other side.

Kakashi closed his eyes again. He didn't want to eat, he didn't even want to wake up, not ever. He turned his head away from the dog. All he wanted to do was sleep, because, when he was asleep, there was no pain. He sighed heavily and pressed deeper into the warm blankets, waiting for sleep to claim him again.

--

A small, plaintive cry woke him. Kakashi opened his gummy eyes barely half-way.

Pakkun stared back at him, a small brown and white puppy in his mouth. He set the pup down in front of Kakashi's face. "You named him, he's your responsibility. Now get up and feed him."

Kakashi narrowed his eyes for a moment, then closed them again. Teeth clamped down hard on his arm and his eyes shot open again from the shock.

"Do not make me bite you again. Get up and feed him." Pakkun had never bitten him before!

Anger welled up in Kakashi. He sat up and glared at his ninken. "Leave me alone!"

"No." The tone was firm and more than slightly irritated.

Kakashi narrowed his eyes. “I hate you.”

The pug grunted. “Just get up.”

He shouldn’t have said that, he knew he shouldn’t have, so he got up. Kakashi picked Guruko up and headed for the kitchen. The floor was cold against his feet, he hugged the puppy closer to his chest, and looked down at Pakkun. “Sorry.”

Pakkun looked up at him and cocked an ear. “I didn’t hear anything you need to apologize for.”

“But I...” Kakashi closed his mouth, realizing what Pakkun meant. He swallowed the words he’d been about to say and the ones now on the tip of his tongue, knowing they would probably make him cry again. He didn’t want to cry again, if he did he wasn’t sure he’d stop.

“Let’s go get him some food, Boss.”

Kakashi nodded. “Okay.”

The house was dark with only a few lights lit. Voices drifted down the hall towards them, clearly Minato’s and Jiraiya’s.

“Poor Kakashi-kun... He has no one now. The last of the Hatake clan.”

“He has you and the rest of us. Besides, we said that same thing about Sakumo once and he survived and the name continues.”

Kakashi stopped in the doorway. The light above the sink was on, casting only a small amount of yellow light around the room. "Don't talk about me." The words were quiet and his voice cracked.
He didn’t look at them when he spoke, choosing to stare instead at the lower half of the refrigerator.

Minato and Jiraiya both turned to stare at him. "What?" they asked in unison.

He could feel their eyes on him. "I'm here." It was still barely above a whisper. His eyes shifted further down and he didn’t look up as he moved. To his annoyance, his steps were slow and somewhat shaky. "I can hear you, you know." Kakashi didn't care if they talked about him really, he just didn't want to hear it.

Minato moved towards him, his footsteps loud in the small kitchen.

Kakashi looked up at him, eyes flat.

Minato stopped.

Kakashi stepped forward again, turning his eyes away to stare at the cupboard. He opened it and took down a container. Setting the puppy on the floor, Kakashi opened the can and set it down too. Looking over at Pakkun, he got a second one out for the pug.

Pakkun didn’t even look at the food, just reached over and nipped Kakashi’s ankle.

He turned and looked at the pug.

"You eat. If you're too weak to feed him he'll starve." The determined force he’d used when telling Kakashi to get up was in his voice again.

Kakashi opened the fridge and stared at it's contents. The uneaten remains of his birthday breakfast sat neatly in plastic containers. He felt something tighten in his chest and quietly closed the fridge. He grabbed a loaf of bread off of the counter, pulled a jar of peanut butter from the cupboard, and started making a sandwich. Minato had gotten the peanut butter for him when they'd been in rain country the last time. They had eaten some it on the way back. Eating slowly, he watched the puppy.

Guruko growled and choked down the small chunks of meat, utterly oblivious to anything but the food.

The fridge opened beside him and Kakashi looked away. He told himself it was because the light hurt his eyes. He almost believed it too. The cupboard above his head was opened and a glass set down next to him. He could see the white frothy liquid slosh out of the corner of his eye.

“It’s better with milk, Kakashi-kun.”

Kakashi didn’t turn his head, but he eyed the glass intently. A small squeak sounded at his feet and he looked down.

Guruko put his paws on Kakashi’s calf and yipped again.

Setting the remainder of his sandwich on the counter, Kakashi bent and picked the puppy up. He eyed the glass again, his already tight throat seemed to constrict more at the sight. The food settled in his stomach like a lump and he could feel the thick, sticky paste still clinging to the corners of his mouth. Picking the milk up, he downed it, then turned and walked out of the kitchen, the puppy in his arms and Pakkun beside him.

“What am I going to do, Jiraiya?” Minato’s voice cracked and broke.

Kakashi knew the sound meant his sensei was crying. It bothered him, but he didn’t turn around. He had enough pain of his own, he didn’t need theirs, and he didn’t want their pity. Padding down the hall he turned into his father’s room. He climbed onto the bed and curled up in the middle, hugging the puppy close to his chest.

Pakkun stepped over him and settled in front of Kakashi's stomach. "I'll wake you when he needs you again.”

The bed dipped a moment later and Kama and Kaminari settled down on either side of him, nose to tail.

Kakashi closed his eyes. It was warm here. A few minutes passed and he heard the door creak open.

"Is he asleep?" A clearly feminine voice asked.

He knew it was Tsunade, both by her voice and her chakra signature.

"Not yet," Pakkun’s gravely voice came in answer.

A hand touched his stomach and a warmth radiated from it. Kakashi felt the knot in his stomach loosen a little. He swallowed but didn’t open his eyes.

"I didn't want you to throw up what you ate, that should keep you from it," Tsunade explained, softly.

The right response would be to tell her thank you, but he couldn’t do it. The words wouldn’t come up from where they seemed lodged in his chest, tightening painfully around his heart. The hand moved to his forehead and the warmth came again.

"Sleep well and without dreams," she whispered.

-

Kakashi stirred uneasily, waking from dreams he could not remember with the awareness he was cold, Guruko snuffled sleepily on his chest but the rest of the dogs were gone, including Pakkun. Panic gripped him and he bolted upright, tumbling Guruko to the bed with a startled yip. Where were they? He couldn’t lose them too!

Scrambling out of bed, his legs betrayed him, spilling him to the floor. He grabbed the bedpost to haul himself up when he heard the gravelly tone of Pakkun’s voice. “Don’t do this to him. Hasn’t he lost enough?”

“Haven’t I?” Azami snarled back. Her voice was so distorted with grief, Kakashi barely recognized it.

He struggled to his feet, dimly aware of the symptoms of chakra exhaustion that slowed his movements, and staggered down the hall and into the courtyard.

Azami stood beside the flagstones that were now permanently stained brown by his father’s blood. Her entire body radiated grief and rage, and her amber eyes were wild and fey.

Pakkun sat in front of her, tiny compared to her, but steady and unmoved in the face of her fury.

Kama and Kaminari flanked Pakkun, their ears flattened and hackles raised, but radiating misery and confusion to every sense.

Kakashi slipped on the last step, barely saving himself from a fall by clutching the door-frame.

All of the dogs looked up.

Azami shivered, all of that black rage falling away. She seemed smaller than memory recalled, her massive shoulders slumped. “Oh, pup, you shouldn’t be out of bed.”

“What’s going on?” Kakashi hated how frightened his voice sounded.

Kama and Kaminari came to support him, twining around his body, solid weights of fur and muscle.

Azami brushed past Pakkun and shoved her massive head under his hand. “I wish you had stayed asleep, pup. Then I would be gone and you would be none the wiser.”

“Azami?” His voice wavered and he dug his fingers into her thick fur.

“I’m sorry. I’m not like the twins and never can be,” she rumbled. “I love you like you are my own whelp, but you have to understand, your father... Sakumo was the other half of my soul. I can’t stay like this, half a shadow and all misery. I’m going to be with him.”

She whined low in her throat and shoved her head into his stomach.

To keep his balance, Kakashi threw his arms around her neck.

“Don’t hate me, Kakashi-pup,” she whispered into his clothes, “But don’t hold me either.”

She pulled away and swiped his face with her tongue.

Kakashi scrubbed at his face with his sleeve, realizing that his face was wet with tears.
Azami glared at the two wolfhounds. “My last order as alpha. Look after him until he comes into his own. After that, you can make your own choices, but until then, you are to watch out for him.”

She shook herself all over, licked Kakashi’s face again, and loped out the gate without a single look back. Kakashi stared after her until he could no longer see her white fur in the darkness.

Shaking, he collapsed where he stood. Kama and Kaminari curled around him, trying to offer comfort he was too numb to feel. Pakkun nudged his hand and he gathered the small pug up, burying his face in the soft fur. “D-don’t leave me.”

“Never.” Pakkun rumbled softly. “I’m not going anywhere.”

A distant howl echoed from the forest, a plaintive call that begged ’Wait for me. I’m coming to find you.’

--

“I have something for you, Kakashi-kun.”

Kakashi didn’t raise his head, but his eyes did shift from the floor to Minato. He saw the envelope, but didn’t move to take it. All shinobi had wills, just in case, and he knew it could be that. It could also easily be an order for him to go see a therapist, he’d had to after his mother had died, to find out if he was stable enough to continue being a shinobi. There were other possibilities, despite only being eight Kakashi understood that death meant paperwork and timing meant whatever the envelope held was related to his father dying. None of the possibilities were good things, because none of them would bring his father back.

His sensei knelt down in front of him.

For the first time since his father’s death, Kakashi met his sensei’s eyes.

Minato’s gaze was horribly sad, but forgiving.

Kakashi knew his sensei understood the apology that he hadn’t been able to put into words. He looked down.

Minato ruffled his hair and something in his chest eased. It didn’t touch the yawning ache left by his father, but it eased the numbness and let him lean his head into his sensei’s caring touch.

“Your father had Azami bring this to the Hokage the morning that he...” Minato began, his voice choking off before he could finish the sentence.

Kakashi felt cold inside. “He committed suicide. You can say it, sensei. It’s not like I don’t know what he did.”

Minato sighed heavily and his shoulders slumped a little. “I know. I could hate how much of your youth we’ve stolen from you. I could--”

Kakashi cut him off with a shake of his head. “Don’t say it, sensei. Please.”

“Of course not.” Minato said gently. “Anyway, this was in the message packet. It was addressed to you.”

Kakashi willed the fingers that reached for the envelope not to shake. He wasn’t sure he wanted to read his father’s last words to him.

But he took the letter anyway, unfolded it and began to read.

Dear Kakashi,

I know you don’t understand the choices I’ve made. I wish I could explain them to you, but I’m not sure I can entirely explain them to myself. Maybe if I could, things would be different. All I can say is that I’m sorry my choices have cost you the respect of those around you and the Hatake name its honor. I’m sorry I was a burden these last few months. A father should never be that to his son. There are so many things that I wish I could tell you, but it means being more of a burden than I already have been. Know that I love you though, more than I could ever say or show in any way, and that I will always watch over you. I’m proud of you. Of everything you’ve done, everything you’ve become, and everything you are.

I hope that someday you will forgive me for leaving you.

Love from the bottom of my heart
Your Father,
Sakumo


A harsh, racking sob tore itself loose from his chest. He clenched his fingers on the letter, tears blurring his father’s handwriting.

Minato pulled him into a tight hug and this time he did not resist, weeping his sorrow and misery into his sensei’s shirt.

--

Kakashi stared in the mirror, tears streaming down his face. Today was the funeral. He’d managed to get dressed, but then he’d gone to brush his hair and caught his reflection. Now, he was crying. He couldn’t let them see him cry, but he couldn’t seem to stop. Dark gray eyes that were his and weren’t, a face that was and wasn’t from the nose to the chin stared back at him.

It was bad enough over-hearing them talk about how sad it all was when none of them -- not even Minato-sensei -- could really understand. They all thought it had been obvious, but they hadn’t seen his father the day before. They didn’t know he’d been better. All they saw was his father broken. Kakashi wanted to hate them, he wanted to blame them, but he knew he couldn’t. Because they were there, because of the milk, because Jiraiya was right as long as they were there he wasn’t alone. The idea terrified him and angered him. It wasn’t fair. He didn’t know exactly what or why, because it was everything and it just wasn’t.

Frustrated, he gripped the handle of the brush and then threw it at the mirror with all the force he could manage. White chakra flicked from his his fingers and the glass shattered. The cracks slid out from the point of contact and Kakashi watched the glass sparkle. It distorted the image of his face. He stared at it, feeling calmer.

Turning, Kakashi left the bathroom. He dug through his closet and pulled out the black mask he’d used for a mission in Rock to keep the dust out of his lungs. Kakashi stared at it for a long moment and then pulled it on. The minute the dark blue fabric covered his face he felt better. If they couldn’t see his face then they couldn't see how much it really hurt.

----
Most of the clan elders were in attendance. It was a social tradition for them to attend the death of any other clan leader and Sakumo had been that. Even if the numbers of the Hatake Clan made it unlikely that they would ever be much of a threat for power, tradition was tradition. The fact that most of them didn't bring their immediate families or any form of an entourage indicated a lot about their opinion of Sakumo without them ever saying a word.

The Hyuuga weren’t the first to arrive but the fact that both the head of the main house and the head of the branch house chose to come drew some attention. Many of the guests already in attendance turned to watch them enter and pay their respects to the new ‘clan leader’.

Hiashi bowed very slightly, his long, dark-brown hair sliding over his shoulders with the motion. "It's good that your father saw fit to acknowledge his mistake and restore the Hatake name."

"At least this way you'll be able to continue being a shinobi without that burden on your shoulders," his twin agreed. Hizashi mimicked his brother’s bow perfectly.

A very hushed whisper broke out the moment they turned away from Kakashi. Several in attendance nodded and the expressions of the rest seemed to match that agreement.

Kakashi glared after Hiashi and Hizashi, fuming. He felt a presence at his side and glanced sideways, still seething.

Tsunade settled to her knees beside him. She cupped his mask-covered face and turned his face fully towards her.

“Anger will gain you nothing, Kakashi-kun.” she murmured. “Do not let their petty words mean anything.”

“Petty?” Kakashi heard himself asking, but his mouth wasn’t listening to his brain’s commands to shut up. “How are they petty? They’re right. Father failed and because of that, he killed himself!”

Tsunade’s grip on his chin tightened. “Hush,” she scolded softly. “Your father, Sakumo... he felt that there was only one path back to honor left for him. He was a fool.”

“Tsunade!” Jiraiya’s voice came from behind him to the left. Kakashi didn’t let himself flinch, though he was furious that he hadn’t sensed the other Sannin.

“Oh, stuff yourself,” Tsunade lifted her head to glare over Kakashi’s shoulder. “It’s the truth, and you know it, you randy old goat, so shut it before I do it for you.”

Kakashi tried to pull away.

Tsunade was having none of it, her hand on his chin holding him fast. “Sakumo could have found another path back to honor, but he chose the easiest. He... well, after Tsukiko died, I think he lost a part of himself, and he forgot that there was something left to live for. He tried, but that last mission and the censure of his friends and his village was too much for him. He chose the easy path back to honor.” She sighed heavily. “I won’t hate him for that, though right now I am furious at him for doing this to you.” She slid her hand down to grip his shoulder. “Don’t hate him, either. Be angry at him for leaving you, but don’t hate him. And never be a fool. Always choose a different path than he did. It may be harder and uphill all the way, but prove that you are stronger than that.”

Kakashi’s felt Minato’s presence approaching, his bright chakra like sunshine on Kakashi’s skin, warming and comforting.

Minato sighed and settled his hands on Kakashi’s shoulders, his left one resting over Tsunade’s hand still on that shoulder. “Please listen to her, Kakashi-kun.”

Kakashi shivered, feeling cold even in the warmth of his Sensei’s presence. “I’m not going to fail.” He decided at last. “I’ll be stronger.”

He felt Minato’s fingers tense on his shoulders, but the older shinobi said nothing.

Kakashi nodded to himself, and glanced behind him at the three shinobi standing like a solid bulwark at his back. I will be stronger, he decreed silently. Part of him wanted to prove it to everyone, but mostly he just didn’t want to fail the people he had left. I will become so strong that I won’t fail like he did. No matter what it takes.

Date: 2011-10-06 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icutflesh.livejournal.com
*sobs* this was heart wrenching

Date: 2011-10-06 08:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiterie.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked and that it was, because I was feeling like a big meanie head for writing it and well Kita kept making me cry and I even made myself cry. So at least I'm not alone in my sniffles.

Date: 2011-10-06 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] monypatos.livejournal.com
kakashi is a pity that he did not understand the reason for the orphans and blinded to the true sacrifice that his father realistic. It is believed that suicide is the reason the Devil, but it takes courage to realiser anyway.
The image of this fact leaves us talking about the loyalty of their dogs and the fact that ninjas really was Pakkun who forces the child to continue with his herd and that despite all Kakashi formed a wall of mystery around to not see who his father Forsan indirectly to restore as quickly as his last name to pursue their selfish lives.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiterie.livejournal.com
I wrote this long reply and LJ ate it! *cries* Anyways *grumbles* stupid LJ.

But yeah I imagine that it would be hard for any kid to understand the reasoning through their grief. We wanted to get that across so I'm glad we did. We were writing Azami and we realized the grief would kill her. I also wanted Pakkun to be the lead dog and the only one he had before the one his dad gave him because he strikes me as the leader of the pack now other than Uuhei which I see as a girl because of Kita and she's totally in charge and well that was why we went with girl dogs for his dad's dogs because we noticed all of Kakashi's dogs are boys (except Uuhei which canonly she is a he) so we wanted a reason for that. We decided after the twins died he never got another female dog in the pack because it brought up too much pain.

Date: 2011-10-07 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jukebox-csi.livejournal.com
Heart wrenching *sniffles and wipes a tear* What are the other stories related to this one that you mentioned? I'd like to read those as well.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiterie.livejournal.com
The ones that inspired it - http://kita-the-spaz.livejournal.com/44622.html and http://kita-the-spaz.livejournal.com/47136.html#cutid1 Those are entirely Kita's we just got to talking about certain things in the second part and I suggest this and she said go for it and I well dragged her into it cuz I love writing with her.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiterie.livejournal.com
Oh and I'm really glad you liked it. I love making people cry and it's only fair since Kita made me cry several times while we were writing and well I made myself cry so...

Date: 2011-10-07 09:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jomanflea.livejournal.com
I knew this was going to make me cry when I saw it was up. Read it anyway, now there's mascara everywhere. dammit.

So well written though. Lovely. But sooo sad.

Date: 2011-10-08 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiterie.livejournal.com
You need the kind that doesn't run with this one. I made myself cry and Kita made me cry so at least you're not alone.

Glad you liked it hun

Date: 2011-10-09 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] illereyn.livejournal.com
Oh poor Kakashi...

Date: 2011-10-10 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiterie.livejournal.com
I know... I felt so guilty and mean when we were writing it.

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