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Sometimes a family is a traumatized adult, an equally traumatized kid, and a bunch of ninja dogs.

Chapter Text

Kakashi had expected many things to happen to him on this fine day that was doomed from the start (because when was the last time anything had ever been simple?), even had a list of potential occurrences that included everything from finally fucking dying to dead people trying to take over the world.  Getting a child shoved at him was not on that list, for lots of very, very valid reasons. Reasons like the fact that he was Hatake Kakashi- well known among the ANBU and Jounin gossip circles as being one of the most emotionally stunted bastards out there, and probably one of the last people who should ever be trusted with the well being of something so small and… well, helpless.

(Seriously, had he ever been that small? And looked so much like a… a puppy that has been drowned? He thinks he’s starting to understand some of Kushina and Minato’s behaviour now, because it is discomfitting to say the least).

Granted, it made marginally more sense when taking into consideration that said child was the last surviving Uchiha, who had recently gained their sharingan after witnessing their brother commit patricide, genocide and at least seven other cide’s, hadn’t actually been able to turn off said sharingan, and had then promptly passed out of chakra exhaustion. Or shock. Or some combination of the two. Emphasis on the marginally here, because this did not change the fact that Kakashi had no idea what the fuck to do.

(Sometimes he worried for the Hokage; lately his decisions had been rather bewildering and lacking anything close to reason or good sense. There was a reason Minato-sensei had tried so hard to get him promoted to chuunin, and it had nothing to do with his supposed genius).

Nevertheless, here he was, standing in the Hokages office with a traumatized six year old staring up at him with familiar eyes (he knew those eyes; saw them whenever he looked in the mirror everyday. They held the same soul-aching emptiness that came from having your entire world torn apart. Or, in this case, slashed to ribbons, spat on, and then set on fire for good measure) and the Sandaime looking solemn in a way that meant nothing good. Just in case, he asked:

“I’m sorry, Sandaime-sama? I’m not sure I heard you right.”

It was telling that the Hokage’s hand twitched for his absent pipe (because hello, there is a child present) before he answered, the lines of old age on his face all the more stark in the stress. “As the only other sharingan user in the Leaf, you will be Sasuke’s guardian.”

As expected, there was no way for him to wriggle out of this one.

(Not for the first time, he regretted Obito ever giving him his eye. Obito would have been better suited for this- he was always good with children, and actually had the blood ties to make it easier to deal with a traumatized infant. Heck, even Rin would be better than he was and she had once nearly dropped a baby in her panic to calm it down when it started to cry.

Sadly, both of them are dead- Obito crushed beneath a rockslide, missing an eye and smiling up until the end; Rin by his own hand, the last thing he saw her body impaled on his fist, all trace of her vanished by the time her regained consciousness. Both gone, and it’s Kakashi who remains; Kakashi, who has to face down the daunting task of child rearing).

He bowed his head in acquiescence, murmured a dutiful ‘yes, Hokage-sama,’ and briefly wondered if Itachi had considered this a possibility before he set about slaughtering his family and scarring his little brother. It seems a rather peculiar method of torture, this trauma through emotionally stunted Jounin, but then again the kid had already proven himself capable of rather impressive forms of mental contortions. Not even Gai had been able to keep up with him, when he truly went off on a tangent- the spandex vs. nylon incident was something that no ANBU will ever forget. Actually, this sounds exactly like Itachi would do, and Kakashi wonders at how someone so tiny can be so cruel.

(And to think, there’d once been a time where Kakashi’d thought he was one of the more sensible members of his team).

When he glanced back at Sasuke, the kid was still in a remarkable blankness that either meant he had an impressive poker face (possible, considering his family) or he was in some form of shock (also possible, because dead family). The Sandaime started to talk again, so Kakashi returned his focus to him.

“He will have to live with you, due to the… state of the compound.” Sasuke inhaled a ragged breath at that, and a flicker of the eyes revealed his fists were clenched and his eyes were far away (a flashback, no doubt). “Once certain things have been dealt with, he will be able to gather possessions from his home, and anything else he wants to keep, but until then I’m afraid you’ll have to provide for him. The village will provide a stipend, of course, but…”

The village has more important things to worry about than another orphan, Kakashi inferred without a twitch. It made sense, supposedly; he’d been treated similarly after his father had died, after all, and he knew Obito had been living alone since he was old enough to walk without falling down the stairs. And say what he will about wanting peace, but the Sandaime was a war hawk through and through; he was merely less overt about it than Danzo, and prone to bouts of rare compassion at the worst of times (exhibit A: Danzo, who was alive and free to roam after committing enough treason to last the village a century). Still, it was hardly something he was about to agree with, because children were never something Kakashi was trained for and he somehow doubts he can apply the same principles he does to dogs.

(Fuck, Obito is probably laughing his ass off at Kakashi somewhere; he just knows it).

The Sandaime raps his knuckles against the desk gently, bringing the kid’s attention snapping to him so fast Kakashi was mildly surprised he didn’t get whiplash, and said, “Sasuke-kun, are you alright to go with Kakashi now? He’ll be able to help you.”

The kid merely stared at him, like he wasn’t entirely sure what he was seeing was real or not, and after a few minutes the Hokage seemed to take this as acceptance for he waved them both out of the room. Where they stood for a few minutes in utter silence, as Kakashi wondered what the hell he was supposed to do and if it was too late to become a missing nin.

“So,” he begins, as they begin the walk to his apartment (actually walking, because pre-genin children couldn’t hop across rooves yet and attempting to carry the kid would both go down poorly this soon after the massacre and be incredibly awkward for everyone involved), only to wince internally as he realises he has no idea what to say. Sasuke is looking at him with the wide, blank eyes that are giving Kakashi flashbacks, looking like he’s not sure whether he’s supposed to be crying or screaming or even awake, and fuck, he’s Kakashi’s kid now, isn’t he? Kakashi is responsible for helping this kid recover? Kakashi?

“Are you hungry?”

A jerk of his head that kakashi will assume means yes, though it could just as easily mean ‘why the hell would I want to eat after that,’ which brings to mind the problem as to whether or not he actually has any food in the cupboards. He can’t remember the last time he actually ate in, considering he took every mission he could when he wasn’t on medical leave, and would run himself into the ground training on the bad days. And on that subject, what kind of food did he feed a child anyway? Did the kid have allergies? Was he a picky eater? Fuck, Kakashi thought. And then, once more, with feeling, fuck.

(This is going to end in disaster, isn’t it?)

 

 

 

Later, in the privacy of his apartment, the kid had still not said a single word, blinked a grand total of five times, and Kakashi was beginning to reach the end point at which he just gave in, accepted that this was a horrible idea, and embraced every mistake he made like a ninja. But then, as a last ditch kick in the dark, he tried:

“Do you like dogs?”

And that- that got the kid to look at him, actually look at him with something close to what could be considered interest (or surprise, or confusion, or something- Kakashi had never claimed to be good at feelings and the act of discerning them). He opened his mouth, closed it again like he wasn’t sure his throat would work, and then tried again a few more times. When he finally managed it, his voice came out in the croak of someone who’d either been screaming or strangled (or both), and all he said was, “Dogs?”

Beneath his mask, Kakashi beamed in triumph.

(A couple of hours later, Sasuke had fallen asleep curled up among the bodies of eight dogs, all of whom had instantly decided that the kid was pack and decided that a cuddle pile was 100% the best solution. Kakashi was willing to think that it helped, because the kid had stopped shaking and the horrified emptiness to his stare had faded a little. He’d even spoken to Kakashi a bit, which was nothing short of a miracle.

A couple of hours later, and Kakashi thought that maybe, just maybe, this might not be the worst thing that could happen, after all).

 

 

Chapter Text

Kakashi made it through a grand total of 16 hours before the panic set in, and he would like that to be recognised. In writing, preferably. Maybe paste it on his bingo book profile, so everyone can see it: ‘Hatake Kakashi, Jounin of Konoha, Made a valiant attempt at child rearing before he was left alone and remembered that he had literally been banned from babysitting missions, Flee on Sight.’ Yeah, that’d work- he wonders if he could convince the Yamanaka to adjust it for him. Because really, he held on remarkably well- it wasn’t until he’d dropped Sasuke off at the hospital (something that he wouldn’t have thought necessary, but technically the kid wasn’t allowed to be out on his own and Pakkun had given him the open-your-mouth-and-I-will-pee-on-all-your-porn eyes when he’d thought about just flash-stepping them there and back) and he couldn’t see Sasuke (and Akino, because the dog had firmly glued himself to the boys side and had snarled away nurse who tried to give the whole no animals in a hospital spiel).

(If it wasn’t such a reassuring sight then he might have been disturbed at how quickly his dogs had claimed Sasuke as pack, because he hadn’t seen that kind of instant adoration since- well, since himself).

The moment it was all clear, he flash-stepped so quickly away that it would have put Minato’s Thunder God technique to shame. It also left several civilians coughing, but he didn’t notice; he was a little too busy caught in the whirlwind of he had a fucking child now, oh my god and how do you take care of a child? For the first time in years, Kakashi didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to do, he was practically flailing around blindly right now, and he- he couldn’t mess this up. He didn’t want to mess this up, stupid as it may be; he hadn’t even known the kid a full day and yet, he was just as bad as his dogs in that he cared for him. And maybe it was because he saw so much of himself in the kid, or maybe it was the awe to which he’d interacted with the dogs, or maybe it was just that Aoba was right in saying he’s a big softie, but god damnit, Sasuke was pack now and that was important.

(He would never forgive himself for pushing his Father away as he had done, for not being there when he needed him the most, for being so caught up in his own sense of pride, duty, and honour that he couldn’t see the way his Father’s eyes dimmed with every rejection, every refusal. He’d never forgive himself for failing Obito twice- once with the sharingan burning in his eye socket like a brand, twice with Rin’s body impaled on his chidori- for not reaching Minato-sensei in time, for not being good enough, quick enough, aware enough.

He’d failed pack too many times and he couldn’t do it again).

So yes, these were desperate times, which called for desperate measures. And in this case (or, arguably, every case because it was a pretty sure fire solution if you didn’t mind the occasional I-am-dissapointed-with-you frown), desperate measures meant knocking on Genma’s door and asking for help in the only way a stoic, battle hardened ninja could.

(Translation: the moment Genma opened the door, Kakashi grabs him by the arm and pleads, “Help me.”)

Genma, being used to these kinds of antics given his social group, merely raised an eyebrow and said, “I’m not helping you hide from Tenzo again, if that’s what this is about.”

“No, not- no. How do you take care of a kid?”

There was a pause. A very long, very awkward pause, follower shortly by, “What?”

“How do you take care of a kid? A child? The kind of thing you have like fifty of?”

Genma looked to be having trouble equating the words ‘Kakashi’ and ‘child’ together, which was the reasonable reaction to this and another indication to Kakashi that something was really very wrong with the Sandaime if he thought this was a viable solution. To his credit, though, Genma only needed about thirty seconds of what-the-genuine-fuck staring before he shook his head and accepted reality in all its weird glory. He pushed the door open wider and said, “Come on in, then. Hanging out in the doorway is just asking for one of the brats to pull something.”

Kakashi had never been so grateful to set foot inside someone else’s home. He settled into a seat at the table whilst Genma bustled around with tea.

“Are they…?”

“Nah, most of the brats are out, and the few that aren’t are asleep.”

“Gai?”

“Out training. He’ll either be back soon or turn up in the middle of the night, depending on how the wind blows. And your brat?” He placed the cups down and took the seat across from Kakashi, expression open and calm in that way it always was when he had to take the role of therapist to others. On a normal day Kakashi might have found it annoying, but now it was a relief; social interaction was never an area he excelled in, so he needed friends like Genma (and Gai, though he’d never admit it aloud) to carry it for the both of them.

“At the hospital. Akino’s with him.”

A hum. “The Uchiha kid?” Either perceptiveness talking here, or it was the gossip circles again.

“Yes. The Sandaime shoved him to me yesterday, and I.” He sighed, rubbed at his jaw with a hand, “I don’t know how to take care of a child, Genma.”

“Then you have to learn how to, one day at a time.” He said it as though it was simple, as though this whole thing was easy. And it wasn’t, surely, because they were talking about raising another human being here, when Kakashi literally only passed his psych eval because he was so very good at bullshitting (plus everybody hated psych evals, so anyone scheduled for one often found themselves on the receiving end of a lot of tips and tricks on how to pass) and probably wouldn’t complain if he died sometime soon. But what if it could be. What if he’d been thinking about this all wrong-  it wasn’t , really, much different from adjusting to teamwork. He was pretty good at learning on his feet, too, and very adaptable. So who was to say he couldn’t learn to do this?

(Granted, there was a little bit more at risk in this case than just his life, his teammates lives, or failure, but maybe he could do this.

Besides, it’s not like he’s alone, right?)

“You,” he says, very seriously, “are my hero.”

Genma laughs at him, as good natured as ever. “I’m afraid you’ll have to hold back on the swooning. Gai would probably take it as a challenge.”

As if on cue, a whirlwing of green spandex entered through the door, though admittedly much quieter than he usually did anywhere else (probably in consideration of the children still sleeping). Gai, being Gai, didn’t even blink at Kakashi’s presence there, merely beamed and said:

“Ah, my Eternal Rival and my Eternal Love! What a wonderful day it is to see you both together! I could so a hundred laps on my hands with this happiness!”

Kakashi merely raised his hand in a wave, whilst Genma smiled, pressing a kiss to his cheek and then his lips. Gai’s smile brightened to the point that Kakashi had to avert his eyes to avoid going blind, and there was a startled yelp followed by a laugh that meant Genma had just been swept off his feet. Gai must have sensed something about the atmosphere though, because all he did was twirl Genma around once before sobering up and asking:

“Is all well? You both seem rather somber.”

“Ahhh,” Genma met his eyes from across the room, lips spreading into a smirk that had Kakashi straightening in horror. “Kakashi just wanted to ask a few things about fatherhood.”

There was a beat that Kakashi used to press his face into his hands and groan (he took it all back, Genma was an evil, evil monster and Kakashi hates him), whilst Genma put some distance between him and Gai. And then-

“CONGRATULATIONS, MY ETERNAL RIVAL! YOU HAVE WELCOMED THE JOYS OF FATHERHOOD! THIS IS TRULY MARVELOUS NEWS! I AM-“

 

 

 

 

 

A long explanation, some manly tears, and one complaint from the neighbours later, and Gai was fully informed on the situation. For some reason the truth seemed to delight him more than the idea of Kakashi actually fathering a kid himself (maybe he has a thing about people and orphans? He is dating Genma, after all) and had proceeded to join the whole ‘give Kakashi advice so he doesn’t fuck this up’ session. A lot of helpful advice, at that, even though there were things he didn’t really need to know (he was pretty sure Sasuke wasn’t going to need diapers, or be about to set up pranks around the house any time soon) and Kakashi was left with enough knowledge that he wasn’t at risk of making any horrible mistakes.

And then it was time for him to leave, because Kakashi actually had someone waiting for him now (and boy, wasn’t that weird to think about?). He didn’t leave alone, though; no, due to a combination of Gai’s exuberance and Genma being a sneaky bastard, the two of them wormed their way into joining him as he went to pick up Sasuke. Any attempts at refusal (because he thought Sasuke should have time to recover from the original trauma before Gai was inflicted on him) were rebuffed, and so it was a group of three that were waiting outside the hospital when Sasuke shuffled out.

Kakashi noted, with a pang of not entirely unexpected concern, that he was paler than he had been before, and that Akino was pressed so close to him that he was likely the only reason the kid was able to stand. The anger that followed was a surprise, however, and is probably a warning siren because he is getting far too attached, but really? He’s a six year old, not a criminal- why the hell is an interrogation necessary.  Then Sasuke noticed them standing there, took one glance at Genma (senbon between his teeth, the loose, easy stance of someone trying to look non-threatening that was a neon flag to a kid who grew up surrounded by ninja) and Gai (green spandex, orange arm warmers clearly containing something, eyebrows offset by a smile so bright it’s overwhelming), and stiffened, almost flinching away from them. Akino turned to nuzzle at his face, tail wagging, and Kakashi fought the urge to just. Scoop him up and flash step the hell out of there.

(Fuck, he was already at the point of no return, wasn’t he?)

“Twitchy kid, huh?” Genma said quietly, and Kakashi hummed in response, raising a hand in reassurance when Sasuke looked between him and Akino for guidance.

“Can you blame him?”

“It is Most Tragic,” Gai mourned, before the let the conversation die as Sasuke was slowly approaching them (it just wasn’t the done thing to gossip about a traumatic event when the victim was in hearing range). Interestingly, when he came to a stop in front of them, he only gave the other two a quick, wary glance before he turned to look up at Kakashi, clenching and unclenching his hand in Akino’s fur. It made something in Kakashi’s chest feel warm, and he smiled at him (making sure it was obvious even with the mask), asking:

“Did everything go alright?”

Sasuke nodded, looking almost shy. “They said to come back next week.” A pause, followed by, “Yamanaka-san said I was doing well despite- things.”

“That’s good,” Kakashi said. And then, after a slight hesitation, he ruffled his hair with one hand. “He’s right, you’re doing great.”

Sasuke’s eyes were wide with something like surprise, colour returning to his cheeks just a bit, and the warm feeling seemed to swell. He doesn’t quite know what to call the feeling, but he thinks he likes it, whatever it is.

(He thinks this is something he wants to protect).

Genma, ever the social butterfly, grinned lazily at the two of them. Said, “Impressive, kid- seems like you’ve got the great Copy Ninja tamed.”

Sasuke blinked at Genma, repeating the epithet like he wasn’t sure what language they were. Then, in a tone that just a touch suspicious and terribly adorable, “Who are you?”

Someone else might have found it offensive-even accusatory- but Genma merely saluted, as good natured as ever:

“Shiranui Genma, Elite Jounin. Nice to meet ya, kid.” He jerked his thumb at Gai.” And this is Maito Gai, Jounin and Kakashi’s Eternal Rival.”

“Eternal Rival?” Now that was dubious, an emotion that was a step up from wary so Kakashi would take it as a good sign. The moment Sasuke’s eyes slid over to Gai, the man seemed to take it as some kind of signal because:

“Our Eternal Rivalry is a sacred bond that must be cultivated with the Flames of Youth! It is the kind of bond that is sung across nations! And now my Eternal Rival has a son! And one so very Youthful at that! This is a joyous day that must be celebrated! Yosh,” the sunset had made an appearance, and they were getting lots of weird looks. “I will do a hundred laps of the village on my hands! Will you join me, Rival?”

Sasuke’s eyes had gained the dazed, glassy touch that everyone gets in their first encounter with Gai, and when the man spins to address Kakashi he gives a wild, pleading look that is both please-help and what-the-fuck all in one. Genma’s shoulders shake with laughter, and Kakashi is relieved that the mask hides the way his lips twitch because he has a reputation to maintain here.

As it is, he says, “Maa, not today Gai; I have to get Sasuke home.” Both of them deflate at that, though for entirely different reasons. “Will you and Genma be coming for dinner?”

Sasuke shoots him a betrayed look that has Genma snickering as he loops an arm around Gai’s shoulders.

“We’d be delighted,” Genma answers for the both of them. “Watching you and Gai eat is always an experience.”

Gai brightens at this, the fire back in his eyes as he punches the air. “Yosh! Today shall be the day I finally see behind your mask, Rival!”

The two walk a little ahead, giving some privacy as Kakashi glances back down at Sasuke and asks, “You ready to go home?”

Sasuke’s nod is only that little bit hesitant now, unease apparently lost to the hurricane that is the Shiranui-Maito combo. It’s progress, if not very much, and looking at it now Kakashi can’t feel any of the bone-deep terror he had when it was just the two of them and the Hokage. He stands there, with Gai and Genma chattering in the background, Sasuke practically clinging to Kakashi’s side like he’s a hairs breadth away from grabbing his pant leg for comfort, and Kakashi drops a hand on to his shoulder and squeezes reassuringly at the same instant that Akino boxes him in.

He thinks, we’ll be fine, and knows it to be true.

(Later, after the initial shock has worn off and dinner consumed, Sasuke’s asks the deceptively innocent question as to who’s stronger: Kakashi or Gai. This leads to a spar challenge that Kakashi can’t really refuse because it is Gai’s turn to pick, and not half an hour later they find themselves destroying a training ground as an awestruck Sasuke watches from beside Genma.

Afterwards, when it’s declared a draw, Sasuke comes bounding up, Akino on his heels, and all but demands to be trained by the pair of them. Gai responds to this- as he does with many things- by crying manly tears and sweeping him into a hug, saying Of course and The Flames of Youth burn strong in you, Mini Rival. And though Sasuke yelps and glances at Kakashi for help, there’s no trace of caution or grief in his expression at that moment, and Kakashi feels warm inside once more.

And if, when Genma nudges him and says, “You’ve got quite the family here,” all he does is nod, then, well. It’s the truth, and anyone can see that).

Chapter Text

The moment Kiba walked into the classroom to find pretty much all the girls whispering and hearteyed and the boys annoyed and bitter, he knew that Sasuke was back again. The only ones who weren’t making a big fuss were the clan kids- the one’s who knew what had really happened and all held a degree of poorly suppressed horror in relation to the whole ordeal (it was a Big Thing among them, after all- for a clan as strong as the Uchiha to be slaughtered by one of their own in a single night. Tsume’s jaw had been tight when she’d told Kiba and Hana, a look in her eyes that Kiba thought was more frightening than the news itself). He hadn’t planned on giving it too much attention, despite it all- Tsume had said that Sasuke would need time to recover and even then, it was up in the air if he ever would. So Kiba had gone in there without thinking too much about Sasuke, fully intending on giving him space and putting it all out of his mind.

That all went the window (as plans tend to do, unfortunately) the moment he saw the dog sitting on Sasuke’s lap.

 (It was love at first sight).

It was a large dog (not Kuromaru big, but bigger than your average canine), with bandages wrapped around its head and neck, and was sitting up for pets from a tired looking Uchiha. Whenever Sasuke drifted, eyes going far away and hand stilling in his movement, the dog would lick at his face to bring him back. It was definitely not a normal dog, and Kiba was delighted. He hadn’t known anyone else in his age group had a ninken, and decided- right then and there- that he’d found his new best friend. From the way Akamaru barked, he agreed with the sentiment.

And because Kiba had never been the kind to shy away from what had to be done (he was too much an Inuzuka for that), he bounded up to the seat beside Sasuke without hesitation, taking advantage of the girls inattention as they furiously argued amongst themselves. Sasuke turned wide, wary eyes on him, whilst the dog cocked his head suspiciously, shifting in a way that told Kiba that if he upset Sasuke then he’d find himself short a throat before he could blink. Not that the implied threat put him off, of course- he was an Inuzuka. He’d literally been raised by dogs.

So he merely grinned and said, “Hey! I didn’t know you had a dog. What’s his name?”

Sasuke blinked, glancing down at said dog in a way that might have been looking for reassurance or might have simply been an exchanged ‘what the hell.’ Either way, the dog barked at him and then proceeded to stretch so he could sniff at Akamaru. Kiba obligingly set him on the desk so Akamaru could reciprocate instead of just hanging inside his sweater like the tiny, tiny puppy he was. After a very long moment, Sasuke answered:

“...Uhei.”

If Kiba’s grin grew any wider then his face might fall off.

“That’s an awesome name! He’s super cool- is he a ninken? Akamaru’s cooler though. Right, buddy?” Akamaru barked in agreement, and despite the fact that he was able to fit in the palm of Kiba’s hand attempted to make himself look big and badass. The result was vaguely adorable, and Sasuke’s hand twitched even as he frowned.

“No, Uhei’s cooler,” and he sounded almost mulish. “He has a forehead protector and everything.” Cue face lick, and Sasuke let out something that might have been a giggle. Yeap, that was a giggle, and a tiny smile too- Uhei looked proud to have brought out such an expression.

“Who, really!? That’s awesome- so he’s a proper ninja?”

Sasuke nodded eagerly, opened his mouth, but before he could say anything the door opened and in walked Fuji-sensei. The teacher was scowling at the papers in his hands, as grumpy as usual, and the moment he lifted his head to do roll call he took one look at Uhei and turned a strange shade of red so quickly that it’s a surprise he didn’t faint.

“Uchiha!” he spat like the name was a curse, and wow, Kiba’s only heard people yell like that at Shino when a bug got loose and Naruto for being… Naruto.

“Yes, sir?” Sasuke said, head tilted to the side slightly and face wiped clean of any facial expression, which would have been impressive if it wasn’t mildly concerning. Uhei growled quietly, hackles rising as he watched the Chuunin like he was trying to decide where to bite first, and Kiba kind of shared the sentiment, really. Fuji-sensei was just plain mean.

“Why,” his voice sounding like someone was dragging a rock through a grinder, hands clenched at the desk for dear life, “do you have a dog? Pets are not allowed in the classroom.” Sasuke looked pointedly at Akamaru, who barked obligingly, and Fuji shifted to purple. “Inuzuka’s are the only ones given an exception due to their situation and even that’s pushing it. So why do you have a dog?”

Sasuke’s expression was almost mulish now and it was kind of impressive: “But Kaka-jii talked to the headmaster and got the okay.”

“Who now?”

“My guardian,” he said, as innocent as can be, only the glimmer in his eyes betraying him. “Hatake Kakashi. He can talk to you about it, if you want, but he did get the proper paperwork done and everything.”

To the utter surprise of the class, something about this made Fuji-sensei turn a rather worrying shade of blue, frantically scrambling to amend the situation before this dreaded meeting could happen. Honestly, he looked rather like Sasuke had just revealed he was the Kazekage’s lucky sock.

“No, no- if the paperworks done then its all f ine. Just fine.” He cleared his throat, “My apologies.”

Sasuke tipped his head in a nod of acknowledgement and Fuji-sensei hurried on with the lesson, forgetting to do roll call in his haste. Not once did he look in Sasuke’s direction- not even when Ino and Kiba began to throw things at eachother- and the moment it was over he ran out like a legion of Hellhounds were on his tail.

 (Judging from the way Uhei barked smugly, there might as well have been).

Kiba exchanged a look with Akamaru, who sniffed once and then barked I like this one. So it was settled. To Sasuke, he said, “Hey, you want to come over to mine? I want to introduce you to everyone and Mom might let us play with the puppies.”

Another blink, a brief glance down at Uhei that was met with an encouraging lick, and Sasuke nodded, looking almost shy about it as Kiba let out a whoop. Beaming, he grabbed him by the hand and proceeded to tug him from the classroom quicker than he could say, “Awesome!”

Behind him, Sasuke was smiling a small, surprised thing, and Uhei trotted at his heels with something similar to parental pride. The Inuzuka- Uchiha ran through the streets, leaving behind lots of bemused passers by and when they entered the Inuzuka compound, it was to a group of very startled ninja and delighted dogs. They proceeded to spend the rest of the day bonding over dogs until a white haired man turned up to collect Sasuke, and the two boys parted with a promise to play ninja tag the next day.

It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

(And- though none of the children would ever know-  Fuji was cornered by a certain Jounin, who proceeded to spend the next half-an-hour in the classroom with him. What happened behind those doors are a mystery, but the Jounin walked out with a placid, decidedly fake smile, whilst Fuji was left quivering in fear.

Fuji never troubled Sasuke again, for not three days later he retired and moved to Tea country, where he started a quiet cafe. When questioned for his reasons, he would merely say, 'the dogs- oh god, the dogs,' and proceed to bake furiously. But that is another story).

Chapter Text

When Kakashi woke up at the sound of footsteps in his bedroom, his first instinct was to throw the kunai under his pillow. Something stopped him from doing that, though, some niggling instinct in the back of his mind that didn’t really make sense until he looked over and saw Sasuke standing by the bed, eye’s wild, sharingan staring out.

“Sasuke?” Kakashi asked, confusion quickly giving way into concern. He climbed out of bed so he could kneel down in front of him. Sasuke was shaking so hard that Kakashi was surprised he was still standing, his tiny hands clenched hard enough that he could smell blood, and anxiety that Kakashi had forgotten he could feel lurched up. “What’s wrong?” Sasuke said nothing, still staring at Kakashi like he was watching a deadman moving, and it finally clicked. “A nightmare?”

The sharp inhale was the only confirmation he needed, and oh. Oh, of course it was nightmares- he doesn’t know why he’s surprised. He prompted, quietly, “What was it about?”

“Nii-san,” and the word was hesitant, tremulous, as if he was being torn in different directions and didn’t know what to feel, the age-old love pulled into pieces by his brothers betrayal and now he needed someone to help him figure out what to make from it. Then, a little louder, something desperate and terrified creeping into it that made Kakashi’s heart break: “He killed everyone. He killed everyone and he’ll kill you too.”

There was nothing he could about the first part and he wasn’t sure he was the right person to even touch on that, but the second part he could help.

“He won’t kill me,” and he tried to make it as much a reassurance as it was a fact, to push this steady confidence into the words enough to make them ring true.

“But you don’t know that!”

“I do,” he said, gently, placing a hand on Sasuke’s shoulder. “Because I have something he doesn’t.”

“What?”

“I have you,” and Sasuke inhaled a sharp breath, staring at Kakashi’s face like he was waiting for him to fall to the ground with his throat slit. “I have allies and friends and the dogs. If I ever run into him, I won’t be alone, and that is something he lacks. So I won’t die Sasuke, not by his hands.”

A sob, and then Sasuke was surging forward, clinging to Kakashi’s shirt as he cried and cried and cried. Kakashi brought his arms around him, rubbing his back soothingly. In that moment, as this child fell apart in his arms, Kakashi felt a surge of hatred for Itachi, a feeling stronger than he’d felt in years. Hatred, for the person who’d hurt Sasuke- who’d hurt his pack.

“Why did nii-san do it?” Sasuke sobbed, over and over again, but Kakashi didn’t have an answer. He held Sasuke in his arms that night, staying awake until the trembling had subsided and his breaths had evened out into unconsciousness. Then and only then did he let himself sleep.

Chapter Text

Tsume has seen a lot of things in her years as a jounin, a clan head, and a single mother, and that means a lot; whether you’re talking death (saw it pretty much every day, considering she fought in the war), weird sex situations (none will ever top the time she walked into Hokage’s office to find Kushina and Minato doing it whilst Kushina wore the hokage hat- she laughed at them for a full five minutes before finally shutting the door), or cruelty (she’d been one of the few on the scene of the massacre, after it had been discovered), she’d seen it all.

(Though the massacre had been one of the few straws that were too short- family were more important than anything, even the village, and the idea of a 13 year old butchering all that in front of his 6 year old brother for the sake of something petty like a power game? She’s not ashamed to admit that she ended up crying over it, once the anger had faded, because God. What a shitshow).

This does not mean she was prepared to return home to find Kiba and the Uchiha survivor sitting together on the ground as Kiba animatedly outlines a story of the time the Haimaru brothers got into the ink used in the clan tattooes and had to have most of their fur shaved off, so they ended up walking around like four legged bats for months. The Uchiha survivor is laughing, hanging on to every word whilst Kiba includes hands gestures, the grin on his face wide enough that all his teeth are showing. This in itself would have been startling enough, considering the last time Tsume saw the Uchiha survivor he had been curled up on the bloodied ground screaming in front of his parents corpses, as he clawed at his face with blunt nails as if trying to rip out his own sharingan. Caught in a genjutsu, as it turned out, one cast on him by his own brother as a final kick in the gut to add to the fruit basket of trauma.

(Tsume was a woman who’d been through a war, whose job routinely involved killing without breaking a sweat, but in that moment she’d frozen. He’s so small, was all she’d been able to think, followed quickly by: He’s just a fucking kid, why would anyone do this?

And then the screaming had cut out, the kid falling unconscious, and she hadn’t had much time to think in the panic that followed).

But here he was, looking remarkably healthy for someone who’d gone through what he had barely a month ago- sure, he was still rather small for his age, with a thinness that spoke of not quite eating as much as he should, and there was the tightness around his eyes of a sleep plagued by nightmares, but he was smiling, genuinely, with a healthy flush on his skin. She was surprised- what had happened to the kid had been kept pretty quiet, and all she knew was that Hatake had been given custody due to the sharingan thing. A train wreck just waiting to happen, she’d been sure, because from what she knew of Hatake he was far from good with people, to the point that any ANBU who were trained by him always came away shuddering with fear about a demon.

(She’d watched one of them, once, and a demon was correct; the man seemed to lack empathy from all those stabs to the emotional parts he took).

And on top of that, there were the dogs. Not a rare thing for the Inuzuka, sure; dog was literally in their name, so you could barely make it three steps through the compound without coming across one of them. But what was rare was seeing one of Hatake’s ninken curled up at the Uchiha survivor’s side whilst Akamaru sat in his arms, tongue lolling out every now and then to lick at his fingers. Ninken were (to the Inuzuka at least, and she knew that the Hatake were the same, for all that they had a preference for wolves) like parts of the ninja’s soul- once they had one, their bond was for life, and their lives were joined. For someone to touch them was like touching their soul, and so the Inuzuka (and the dogs, because they had a big say in it all) only let people they trust do so (unless fighting, fights are different).

So Akamaru being in the Uchiha’s hands said a lot about the bond that was here, and what they thought of him- something that was particularly interesting, considering Kiba’s never actually mentioned being friends with the boy before. So either it’s a new thing or Kiba was keeping it quiet, and considering Kiba’s not that good at hiding things from her, Tsume will put her money on the former. And that is- interesting. Not surprising- Kiba’s always been quick to decide he likes someone, just like her, and in the first place he wouldn’t have invited the boy home if it wasn’t a friendship that he felt would be a long one- but interesting.

At that moment, the Uchiha boy looks up and notices her in the doorway, because his expression immediately shifts to wary, the caution of someone uncomfortably aware of just how easily adults can hurt them (the trauma, she hopes, and not a sign that something iffy had been going on in the Uchiha compound, because being angry at Itachi is all well and good but it’s not so easy to get angry at dead people). Hatake’s dog sits up in response to the shift in the boy, clearly used to monitoring his emotions, and barks at her, wagging tail hitting the kids arm. Kiba turns around to see what it is the Uchiha is looking at and the confusion gives way to a eagerness at the sight of her:

“Hey ma! I brought friends to play, is that alright? It’s alright, right?”

She grins, stepping in so she can ruffle Kiba’s hair. “Damn right it’s alright.” And then, to Sasuke: “Hey kid, I’m Tsume, this idiots mother.”

Sasuke’s eyes flicked between her and Kiba, relaxing minutely at the way Kiba seemed utterly unbothered by her presence and her apparent friendliness. “Uchiha Sasuke,” he said, quietly. “And this is Uhei.”

“Nice to meet ya, Sasuke. Is Uhei your ninken?” she asked, entirely unnecessarily for she already knew the answer, but the kid didn’t need to know that. It helped him, anyway, because the shift onto a subject that he was comfortable seemed to drain away the rest of that tension.

“No, he’s Kaka-jii’s, but he said when I’m older I’ll be allowed to summon them too,” and oh, that was adorable. That was really cute and 100% something she was going to rib Hatake about the next time she saw him, like honestly. ‘Kaka-jii’- she may not be close to the man, but heck if she was ever letting him live this down; especially considering she’ll probably end up seeing more of him if it seems like Sasuke’s going to be a regular sight in her home from now on.

(Which he better be. The more family the better, as the Inuzuka always say, and a kid like that needs all the family he can get. It’ll do Hatake some good as well, now that she thinks about it- she’ll have to see about getting them both here at some point. Maybe she can get the Shiranui kid to help her- Chouza’s brought him around often enough that he can do it subtly).

She laughed, “Sounds like you’ll be pretty impressive when you’re older, kid,“ and his lips twitched into a small smile that was there for the count of 2.5 seconds before it dropped away again. Kiba looked at her like she’d hung the moon, so apparently the smiles are an achievement. As an afterthought: “Has Kiba shown you the dog nursery yet?”

“Dog nursery?”

“I’ll take that as a no.” She grinned, helping Kiba up off the ground as Sasuke followed suit. “Come on, you’ll love it.”

(Spoiler: he did. When Hatake came to collect him in the evening the kid waved by to Kiba and thanked Tsume with the excitement that had yet to dwindle.

“Come back any time, kid,” she told him, and he beamed at her. Hatake’s eyes were crinkled with something like relief as he watched the scene, more emotion than she’d ever seen the man portray, and they walked away like this: a dog on one side, a man on the other, with the kid clutching Hatake’s hand and telling him excitedly about his new friend.

And she thinks, you know what, let’s just make them both honorary Inuzuka’s because that’s family right there. And you don’t break up someone elses family).