“We’re not related,” Kakashi said.
“You’re TECHNICALLY related,” Sarutobi said.
You’re not supposed to say bullshit to the Hokage.
“Bullshit,” Kakashi said.
Kakashi’s never really been one for supposed, at least ever since he got over that unfortunate phase as a young teen. Embarrassing stuff.
“He’s got the Sharingan, you’ve got the Sharingan,” Sarutobi said. “You’re practically family.”
“We absolutely aren’t, that’s ridiculous logic.”
“He needs someone to raise him. What are we going to do, just leave him alone in the house where he found his parents corpses and check in on him once a month to make sure he isn’t starving?”
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s not like it’s either that or me. Neither of those things would be good for him.” Here are several different words Kakashi would never use to describe himself: paternal, familial, comforting, responsible, kid-friendly. Kakashi should not be in charge of a child. Kakashi should not be in charge of a traumatized child.
“I have my reasons for why I’m not comfortable saddling young Sasuke with easily-assassinated guardians.” Sarutobi took a long drag of his pipe. “Reasons I don’t feel the need to disclose.”
Ah. Because it was obvious. Itachi had made threats about that, apparently. Well, Kakashi could take him.
Hang on, was he talking himself into taking in Uchiha Sasuke? No, nope, he definitely wasn’t. The kid was messed up enough as it was without getting Kakashi in the equation.
… If Kakashi didn’t adopt the kid what other option was there except to let him grow up alone in an empty bloodstained house, though?
Ah, fuck, this was disgraceful. He hadn’t even been here for five minutes yet and Sarutobi was already winning. Getting a kid was a huge decision. He should at least drag the argument out for another hour or two. He did so.
Sarutobi put in an upsetting lack of effort, as if he already knew he’d won. Asshole. (You’re not really supposed to think of the Hokage as an asshole either, but.)
Kakashi lives in a small, utilitarian house. Each room has a purpose. There’s the kitchen, for eating. There’s the living room, for living. There’s the bathroom, self explanatory. There’s the bedroom, for sleeping. And then there’s the room his father killed himself in, for standing at the threshold of and staring in silence for hours at the exact spot he discovered his corpse when he came back home from a mission, days after he’d done the deed, rotting, because no one else had thought to check, because the notorious White Fang had become practically a hermit by that point, because no one gave a damn about him any longer.
He could either move, or he could renovate his father’s old bedroom into a new bedroom for a child. He’d have to do some dusting. Check for mold. Maybe some new furniture. Empty the wardrobe.
New flooring, definitely.
Moving sounds exhausting. Figuring out where you’re supposed to put moth-eaten decades out of style shinobi clothing and bloodstained tatami mats sound even more exhausting.
Nothing can ever be easy.
He stores all of his father’s things in his attic, because it doesn’t feel appropriate to throw it in the garbage. It isn’t garbage. Not just.
Sasuke’s still in the hospital, apparently, and Kakashi definitely isn’t putting off going to meet and talk to him or break the news that hey I’m the one who’s going to replace your entire family in your life, let’s see how one socially incompetent lonely man can measure up to an entire clan!
So, yeah, he breaks into the Uchiha compound. They’re done with taking pictures and filing evidence by now, it’s almost been a month. The blood has dried, the dust has settled. He doesn’t really try to hide what he’s doing, and no one really tries to stop him.
He’ll be fucked if he’s going clothes shopping on top of everything else too. He’s worn nothing but his shinobi uniform for as long as he can remember, even though he doesn’t really have to, especially with the political capital he has to swing around from being the Copycat Nin. He could be walking around in nothing but a thong and body glitter if he wanted to and no one would dare to say shit to his face about it.
But Kakashi doesn’t want to go shopping for thongs and body glitter, or children clothes either. He doesn’t like shopping. Shops are run by civilians. And civilians are incomprehensible beings, like aliens from another planet. What do you mean you’ve never killed anyone before? What do you mean you haven’t been raised for murder since the day you were born? What do you mean?
Civilians make Kakashi deeply uncomfortable. They make him thinks things like, what if I’d been born a civilian? What if my father had been born a civilian? What if everyone was born a civilian? What if things didn’t have to be like this? He endeavors to avoid them as much as he can get away with.
He walks silently through the large empty house of the Uchiha Clan Leader’s house. He doesn’t pause at the open door to the master bedroom, but his eyes flick to the bloodstains and rumpled futon, and his razor sharp mind presents to him the tableau Sasuke must have walked in on that late evening. His mother had been still alive the moment before he’d opened the door apparently, arriving just soon enough to hear her cry out, not soon enough to meet her living eyes one last time.
(His own father had avoided eye contact, so it didn’t matter.)
He continues walking down the halls. Guest room, storage room, home office, a bedroom that was too bare and Spartan and smelled too much of Itachi to be useful to him, and then finally a room with a teddy bear perched on the corner of the bed. Bingo. Kakashi wondered how long it was normal for a child to keep a teddy bear. Was eight normal? He had no idea. His own mother, ever the high achiever, ever it’s-never-too-early-to-start-learning-dear, had given him kunais and shurikens from day one to fumble with and nick himself with, wailing in his crib.
He quietly opened all of the drawers and gathered up the clothes, already neatly folded for him by the late Uchiha Mikoto. He seals them up in a scroll. He stands up to leave.
He looks at the teddy bear, abandoned on the bed.
He stood for hours at a memorial headstone and talked to dead people endlessly, rambling on and on about his day and the town’s going ons, wasting his time, begging the air for guidance that wouldn’t come. He hid his face, he hid from people, he worked and worked until he couldn’t think any longer.
He supposed he couldn’t begrudge a kid a teddy bear. It was a far more innocuous coping mechanism.
He grabbed the teddy bear on his way out, not bothering to seal it away, hoping the kid would still want, still like it. It felt soft and worn in his hand, well loved.
People stare at him in the street as he walks back home, but he’s been used to that since he was a child.
Kakashi resists the urge to clear his throat before he says hi to the kid with the iron will of a trained killer.
The kid stares at him silently, pale and unblinking.
“Well,” he says. “Follow me and I’ll take you,” home, “back to my place.” Our place. “I’ve cleared a room for you.” My father’s room.
The kid continues staring at him.
“So,” he says. “You should probably go get changed.” He’s still wearing his scrubs.
“The clothes he came in were thrown away,” the nurse that’s standing at the edge of the room while watching this train wreck of a conversation with morbid fascination plain on her face says. Kakashi already resents her.
“Was… I supposed to bring a change of clothes?” he asks.
“Yes,” says the nurse.
Kakashi did not bring a change of clothes. No one told him to. He’s never picked someone up from the hospital before. No nurses threw his clothes away on his past visits to the hospital. Except for those times when they were… unsalvageable.
Kakashi thinks about what might have happened to Sasuke that his clothes were so unsalvageable.
Kakashi hates himself.
He’s already messing this up, and it hasn’t even been a minute. Just ten more years! he thinks, and wants to a die just a little more inside.
The kid continues staring at him, face unmoving. His eyes are so fucking large.
“Okay,” Kakashi breaks the silence that’s making the hairs on the back of his neck rise. “I’ll just carry you home and run really fast and--”
The kid starts crying. His tiny little adorable intimidatingly-blank face crumples, his eyes go wet and starts dripping in seconds, and he continues staring at him silently for a moment despite this before he hides his face behind his hands, shoulders hunched and shaking miserably. Kakashi has quite possibly never felt so awful in his entire life.
“We don’t use the home word around him,” the nurse whispers, far too late to be helpful. Kakashi glares at her until she leaves the room.
The kid falls asleep on the way back home in his arms. Well, the circles under his eyes had been pretty dark, easy to see on his pale skin. He sets the kid down on his new bed, and watches the kid twitch in his light fitful sleep. He recognizes that kind of sleep. It’s the sleep you have after a mission that sticks with you for months, staying awake for as long as you can, only sleeping in bursts so short that you don’t get time to dream, to remember more vividly than you already do.
He is so out of his fucking depth here.
Kakashi needs help.
“So how do you raise a troubled child, exactly,” he asks the memorial, and feels like an idiot. Par for the course, now a days.
He left Pakkun behind to watch Sasuke, his most non threatening looking summon, guarding his sleeping form. He left behind some of his less non threatening looking summons just outside of Sasuke’s room, ready to tear anyone who tries to enter without his permission to shreds.
He needs the help of someone alive. Someone who’s good with kids. Kids raised with the expectation that they’ll murder someday, to be precise. Fucked up kids. Someone tactful, and comforting.
Where do you find a person like that?
As a ninja, you learn to get over any moral hangups about stalking pretty damn quickly.
Kakashi stalks the Academy. This would be a huge red flag for anyone watching, but when Kakashi stalks, you’re damn right no one notices him. Besides, it’s the not the kids he’s looking at. He’s got his hands full enough with one kid as is. That’s the whole problem at hand, in fact.
Kakashi watches the teachers.
To voluntarily work around children, that must mean that you like them, right? That you’re good with them? Kakashi’s thought it over for some time, and the logic checks out for him.
He’s been repeatedly told that he has no common sense, however, so he won’t be too surprised if he’s proven wrong here.
He watches one of the teacher’s, a woman with green hair, shout at two of the students who apparently got up to some troublemaking until they’re crying. Nope, definitely not that one. Sasuke’s going to be doing more than enough crying without further prompting, he can already tell.
He watches a silver haired teacher actually trip one student, whistling innocently while casually walking away from the scene of the crime. What the fuck. No.
He sits there up in a tree for hours, growing slowly more and more disappointed, until a bell rings and the students all flood outside of the doors (and in some more enthusiastic cases, windows), scattering happily, screaming and shouting and laughing and running. Is this what kids are supposed to be like? In that case, Sasuke’s even more messed up than he’d been initially fearing. God fucking damn it.
He’s about to leave, when he sees one teacher approach a student trailing at the back of everyone else, slow and reluctant to go home, not screaming or shouting or laughing or running. Alone.
Maybe that sullen little kid and Sasuke can be friends, he thinks. Tiny little depressed friends. Hey, it’s better than nothing.
He realizes with a start that the kid’s Minato’s brat, and he tenses. The teacher crouches down next to the kid, and Kakashi inspects him, suddenly fiercely protective while simultaneously wanting to get away from here. The teacher’s tan, face scarred, hair up in a spiky tail, smile kind in a way that makes Kakashi want to… touch him. Ruffle his hair? Pat his face? He’s not sure.
“Do you want to go get ramen together once I finish up with some paperwork?” the teacher asks, and the kid lights right up, going from sullen like Sasuke to as bright as the sun and Kakashi thinks goddamn.
Is Sasuke even capable of lighting up like that? It feels impossible.
The teacher goes back inside the school, and the kids throws himself onto a swing outside the building, excited and energetic and apparently absolutely determined to swing himself in a circle around the tree branch.
Kakashi leaves, having made a decision but anxious about leaving Sasuke alone with nothing but dogs for so long.
He comes back to Sasuke cautiously petting Pakkun, who is subtly guiding his attentions to his preferred scratching spots with body language and timed tail wagging. Kakashi decides to leave off revealing Pakkun’s true nature to another day when Sasuke’s lip isn’t hesitantly twitching upwards.
“What do you want to eat?” Kakashi asks, and Sasuke’s burgeoning smile fades, and Kakashi feels yet another familiar hot flash of anger directed at himself, followed then by vague feeling of disappointment, regret, and what-did-you-expect-idiot. What’s that called? Resignation? Self hatred? Anyways.
The kid doesn’t answer him, so he decides to make ramen. It’s partially because of that teacher, and partially because he’s never bothered to learn how to cook proper food. Only efficient garbage here, folks. He over specialized in murder and neglected all of his other life skills.
He sets a steaming cup along with some chopsticks down on the floor a safe few feet away from the kid where he’s managed to coax Pakkun into his lap, says “That’s for you,” because he isn’t sure the kid would get it otherwise, and leaves. Kakashi doesn’t like to eat with other people, for obvious reasons, but this kid in particular makes him feel viciously awkward and uncomfortable.
Kakashi eats and spies on the kid until he falls into his uneasy sleep again. Kakashi leaves.
He looks into the teacher first, of course. He may not be a responsible adult, but he’s a responsible ninja. Those are two distinctly different things, but he’s hoping to find someone to cover for him in that other department very soon. Umino Iruka, parents died in the Kyuubi attack, no surviving family, rich social life, outgoing and friendly and mature, everything that Kakashi isn’t. No past crimes, besides some vandalism as a kid. A lot of vandalism as kid actually, wow. He either got over that, or just better at hiding it. Kakashi thinks about it, and decides he doesn’t give a damn. There are worse things than vandalism.
He also finds out the teacher’s address, naturally. It’s more or less public knowledge, and he has a hell of a clearance rating anyways.
He knocks on Umino Iruka’s door, and he opens it, hair down and vest and sandals off, smelling of ramen. Kakashi feels that hard to pin feeling of wanting to touch him somehow surge up inside him, and he waits for it to settle down again before he gives the guy a friendly eye-smile. It’s disarming, he knows. He sees Iruka’s shoulders untense a little even as he squints at him in bewilderment.
“Marry me,” Kakashi says and Umino Iruka reflexively slams the door in his face.
People have often told him that he doesn’t have common sense.
“I am so sorry,” Iruka says some time later, still wide eyed but pouring Kakashi a cup of tea now. “That was so rude of me. I must have misheard.”
“Marry me,” Kakashi repeats helpfully, a little louder and slower, enunciating carefully. Iruka spills some tea on the hand holding Kakashi’s cup and he hisses a swear. He stares at him.
“What? Why,” he says.
“I’ll give you financial security in exchange,” he says. “I make a ridiculous amount of money that I don’t know what to do with. It’s just kind of… adding up.” If Sasuke wasn’t already filthy rich from inheriting his entire Clan’s fortune, just wait until Kakashi kicked the bucket. At least he’d finally solved the issue of who he’d put on his will.
“No, why are you asking me? Actually, why are you asking me?”
“You seem good with kids.” He shrugs.
“Do you… want someone to help raise your kids?”
Iruka stares some more. Kakashi is used to being stared at. People recognize him on sight, one of the reasons why introductions have been skipped in this conversation.
“Since when have you had a kid!?” he finally bursts out.
“Since everyone in the Uchiha Clan besides Uchiha Sasuke died.”
Iruka shrunk back like Kakashi had scolded him. “I didn’t realize you were related to them.”
“I’m not. But I’ve got the Sharingan, so.”
Iruka pauses, frowning. “That’s ridiculous logic.”
Kakashi perks up. “That’s what I said!” He takes a sip of his tea through his mask. “Ah, but I’m not so easily assassinated as some other people in this village, which is a much more convincing argument. Not as public though, so.” He shoots Iruka a warning look. Iruka’s lips thin.
“So you want me to help you raise Uchiha Sasuke in particular then,” he confirms, and Kakashi nods. “Why me?”
“As I said, you seem good with kids.”
“... Not a good enough reason, but anyways. Why do I have to marry you? You realize I could just babysit right?”
“I don’t want you to look after him for an afternoon, I want you to live with him.” Kakashi had a feeling the kid would wake up from a nightmare in the middle of the night more than once for the next… rest of his life. Not really something a babysitter took care of.
“Okay, so I could live with you, like a nanny,” Iruka says reasonably. Kakashi considers it for a moment.
“I don’t want it to be apparent to outsiders,” Itachi, “that you’re there for Sasuke. You’re there for me. Is the public story, at least.”
Iruka frowns at him some more. “So you get a husband the same month you get a kid?”
“I’m settling down, taking less jobs, becoming a family man,” he said, and then wondered if he should’ve said that. He’s not sure whether he desperately wants to continue taking jobs no matter what or is frantically looking for an excuse not to. His relationship to his job is complicated, okay.
Iruka remains quiet, deep in thought for a long enough time that Kakashi’s tea cools.
“Okay,” he finally says. “For Sasuke.”
Their proposal is a business like handshake.
Kakashi’s never really been one for crowds, so they just quietly file some paperwork, Iruka packs his bags, sells his apartment, moves in, and they’re married.
A month ago, he did not have a husband and son. Now he does.
Life is strange.
“So we have to sleep in the same room,” Iruka asks.
“It’s a small house,” he says apologetically.
“I thought you said you were rich?”
“This house has been in the family for generations.” He’s not leaving that room he’d found his father in behind.
“Alright then,” Iruka sighs, and then he squares his shoulders determinedly and looks Kakashi in the eye. “But we’re not sleeping in the same futon.”
“Deal,” Kakashi says, who has never shared a futon with someone before and isn’t particularly charmed by the idea.
“Can I see Sasuke?”
This is what Kakashi married him for, so he leads him up to Sasuke’s room. He slides the door open slowly to the sight of him lying on his bed, clutching his teddy bear. Kakashi’s glad it was the right decision to bring the thing. He closes the door without another word and Iruka doesn’t protest.
“Does he sleep a lot?” Iruka asks him as he’s placing his folded clothes away in the wardrobe, rearranging things so there’s space for both of their things in there. It’s not too much work, Kakashi doesn’t have much.
“Yes,” Kakashi says.
“Hmm,” Iruka says.
Kakashi makes cup ramen again, and Iruka looks unimpressed.
“I’ll make dinner next,” he says.
Kakashi definitely doesn’t argue that.
That night, Iruka responsibly goes to sleep early, and Kakashi stalls by the memorial for hours until he’s sure that his husband’s firmly asleep. The room is dark, but his sight is very good. He crawls into his futon and watches Iruka sleeping across the not-very-large-at-all room. He’s facing him, and he doesn’t stir as Kakashi climbs through the half open window. Kakashi wonders if Iruka left it open for him, or if he’s just this incautious as a norm. He feels a strange swell of protectiveness at the idea. Being stupid about safety isn’t cute.
Iruka drools a little in his sleep.
Okay, that’s pretty cute.
The next morning, Sasuke stares up at Iruka silently, pale and unblinking.
“I’m not here to take you back to school,” Iruka says, and Kakashi almost smacks himself in the head. Iruka is Sasuke’s school teacher. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? “There’s no rush,” he continues kindly.
“Why are you here then?” Sasuke asks with unveiled suspicion and it's the first words Kakashi’s heard him speak and he knew getting help had been a good idea, that Iruka was a good choice. He was already doing so much better than him.
“I’m Kakashi’s husband,” he says.
“Who’s Kakashi?” Sasuke asks.
Iruka glares at Kakashi. Oops.
Doing better than Kakashi really isn’t a high bar at all.
After that, he decides to leave them to it, feeling awkward and unhelpful like that nurse just standing in the corner, observing. He doesn’t even feel like spying at them. He goes to the memorial, and takes a run with his dogs, and plays rock paper scissors with Gai, and trains some, and sits in a tree to read and soak up the sun and not think about the two strangers in his house, his new family.
He has to go home eventually.
When he does, there are dishes drying in the rack and a plate of home cooked dinner waiting for him in the fridge for warming up, the house is quiet, and Iruka and Sasuke are dozing together in the sun on the porch.
“They’re fucking adorable,” Pakkun murmurs, whom Kakashi had left behind to look after them and get help if trouble arrived. Kakashi was supposed to protect Sasuke, but he seemed to be avoiding him more than anything else.
Kakashi grunts in reluctant agreement and eats the dinner that was made for him. It’s delicious.
Sasuke does better with Iruka around. He talks sometimes, and he doesn’t randomly start crying as much, and he starts to sleep a little more normally. There’s a nightmare almost every night, of course, but at least he’s allowing himself to have nightmares again.
“Did he bring that teddy bear from the hospital?” Iruka asks him idly one evening after Sasuke’s gone to bed as he’s grading homework at the kitchen table.
“No,” he says, writing a mission report at the same table. “I went and got it from his old room at the compound.”
The sound of Iruka’s brush strokes halt, and he looks up to see him being stared at again. There’s an unreadable look on Iruka’s face.
“What?” he asks.
“Nothing,” Iruka says. And then, “You’re really trying, huh?”
“Well,” Kakashi says, blinking. “Yeah. That’s why I married you.”
“I thought you were just trying to avoid… Hey, do you want to make dinner with me and Sasuke tomorrow?”
“Alright,” Kakashi says, because he really should get around to learning how to make something that doesn’t have the word instant written on its package eventually.
They make sushi, and Iruka doesn’t let Sasuke cut anything even though he’s going to grow up to be a hired killer just like Kakashi, just like his brother. He guides his little hands into rolling the seaweed around the rice and praises him when he puts the salmon and prawn on top of the sushis. Sasuke brightens a little, and it’s not as huge and instantaneous like Minato’s kid, but it’s more than anything Kakashi’s ever managed to coax out of him, and it feels precious.
All of Kakashi’s sushis come out looking wobbly, and Iruka makes fun of him, Sasuke muffling his giggles and trying not to choke on his laughter and sashimi.
He feels warm.
Kakashi comes back home after a mission, and thinks to himself take less jobs. You’re a family man now.
He needs the excuse. He desperately needs the excuse.
“I think Sasuke’s ready to come back to school soon,” Iruka says when he comes back, and Kakashi forces himself to nod before he retreats to the shower for a long time. When he comes back out Iruka’s put his clothes into the washer, Sasuke to bed, and is clearly trying to hide his worry. Kakashi’s too tired to try and reassure him. He goes to bed.
“Can I…?” Iruka asks, and Kakashi sighs and nods without knowing what he’s asking for. He’s so, so tired.
Iruka pulls his futon up next to Kakashi’s and goes to sleep. Kakashi closes his eyes and lets that now familiar feeling of wanting, needing to touch him wash over him. It’s better than what he was feeling before. He’s still tired, but…
Kakashi reaches out and takes Iruka’s hand. Iruka’s eyes flutter open for a moment and he squeezes Kakashi’s hand before going back to sleep.
Kakashi surrenders. He’s a family man now.
Sasuke sleeps better and cries less, but he keeps his teddy bear and he clutches to it. Iruka makes dinner and it tastes delicious, and he still goes out alone to eat ramen with Minato’s kid. Kakashi takes less jobs, settles down. Doesn’t feel awkward in his own home any longer, doesn’t stare for hours into his father’s room because it’s his son’s room now, doesn’t desperately avoid a child like he’s a monster that’s going to eat him.
Iruka holds his hand while he sleeps and kisses his forehead when he leaves for work. Slowly, slowly, cautiously. He asks him quietly one night if it’s an act and he shakes his head.
Kakashi is… happy. He’s not going to say that to the Hokage, though. The guy looks smug enough as it is without Kakashi verbally admitting to anything.
This is pretty nice, though.