Kakashi Hatake had always been an intelligent child. He grew up regarded as a genius by his people and his father, Sakumo, the chief of the pack could do nothing but look upon him proudly. The two trained together and hunted together and the man taught him how to thrive in both the wild and in combat, but there was one fault that the boy had. He couldn’t make friends.
Kakashi had frowned upon the childish games the other cubs played, watching them knock stones around with sticks and chase each other in their wolf forms. It didn’t seem very appealing to him when he could be training or reading a book, but that was until he met that boy .
The pack was mainly composed of wolf-shifters, all Hatakes, who traveled from land to land together avoiding the many wars and battles that plagued the surrounding countries. Kakashi’s father, however, was a very kind and gentle man who allowed anyone looking to flee the constant bloodshed to travel with them and become a part of the clan. It took some getting used to for the people that came but some of them stayed and that was when the wolf-shifter met him.
His father had called him over one day to introduce him to a father and son who were fleeing from the war. The boy was about his age with raven-black hair and equally dark, onyx eyes. He’d hoped for Kakashi to befriend him and for the pair to become close, but the young wolf-shifter couldn’t care less at the childish, loud youth and turned his nose up at any attempts to play with him or bond. However, it didn’t seem to stop the boy.
Every day, he’d follow Kakashi around, telling him stories about things he or his own dad had done and ooh-ing and ah-ing over the magic that he could use. The boy was utterly hopeless and more than a little annoying, so Kakashi confronted him.
“Why won’t you stop following me, idiot? I don’t even like you,” he said coldly, bluntly in the other four-year old’s face, making him wince. The wolf-shifter studied his expression for a while, watching as the boy teared up as his harsh words.
The boy swallowed back his tears and sniffled, wiping his face on the sleeve of his tunic. “It’s ‘cause, I thought we could be friends. You never play with the other pups, and they don’t want to play with me, so I thought we could play together,” he explained, his voice trembling and small.
“That’s because-,” Kakashi hesitated and thought for a moment. Should he tell the boy to leave? His presence was reassuring and he liked the attention he got when the boy gaped in awe at his much more advanced magic. He was right though. The other pups had long since given up on their endeavors to befriend him and even though they had quit, this kid was still persistent. It made some sense though. The boy wasn’t a pup at all; he was a human, through and through. Some of the other Hatake in the pack held discontent for other beings, unlike his father.
Kakashi sighed and rubbed at his temples. “ Fine. I’ll play with you,” he grumbled and the boy instantly perked up, his smile evident and his dark eyes glistened with pleased tears. Before Kakashi could say any more, the boy had wrapped his arms around him and was hugging him tightly, making the irritable wolf-shifter’s cheeks a soft shade of pink.
“Thank you! Thank you! It’ll be great! You’ll see, Kakashi!” he beamed, letting the wolf-shifter go as the other boy made a show of dusting off his clothes.
“Whatever. What’s your name,” he asked the boy.
He looked confused, frowning in thought. “What? I thought I told you already?”
“I have a selective memory,” the wolf-shifter said with a shrug. It wasn’t a complete lie, he just hadn’t care much to remember it and use space in his memory for something so trivial.
“Oh! It’s O-,” he faltered and looked at his feet, kicking at the prairie grass, ripping up a small clump with his bare feet. “It’s Tobi. My name is just Tobi.”
Kakashi raised a silver eyebrow but didn’t question it. His family were probably in hiding from the war between the Senju and the Uchiha, which explained the lack of a surname. The wolf-shifter smiled softly behind his mask and nodded to his new friend. “Good to meet you, Tobi .”
Almost two years later, Kakashi and Tobi, the wolf and the boy were best friends. Wherever Kakashi went, the loud-mouthed, cheerful boy was sure to follow and wherever the boy went, the quiet, silver-haired wolf was close behind. They were closer than litter mates even though their styles and tastes differed greatly. Sakumo even teased his son about his best friend, making him pout and scoff, but Tobi didn’t seem to mind, even when his own father teased him.
Tobi’s father was calm and friendly, just like Kakashi’s own, but if you looked into his eyes long enough, you could the tiredness and fear constantly lurking behind them. He looked like an older version of Tobi, but with an uppercut and a face hardened with years of age and stress. He was a deal younger than Sakumo and told the most magnificent stories about the gods and the legends of old. Tobi seemed to hang onto his every word and Kakashi, despite not being the most sociable of children, couldn’t deny that the man was a fantastic storyteller.
One night, he told them the story of the two brothers: Indra Otsutsuki and Ashura Otsutsuki.
Long ago, when the age of men was still young and new, there was a great sorcerer who filled the land with magic. He had spent his entire lifetime looking after the realm of men and in his old age, he decided he’d pass on his mantle to one of his two sons.
Indra, was the oldest of the two. He was strong, fast, and clever; the perfect candidate to wield his father’s magic and look after the people of the realm. Then, there was the younger brother, Ashura. Ashura was in no way like his brother. Where Indra was all precision and wits, Ashura was clumsy and naive. Unlike Indra, who was naturally talented and clever, Ashura worked hard for everything that he had until he was finally able to stand beside his brother in power. But there was one other thing that set the brothers apart.
Indra, being skilled and intelligent did not rely on his bonds and therefore had never connected with his follows and subordinates, whereas Ashura did. Since the younger brother had to work to get where he was, he understood the challenges his subordinates and followers faced, befriending them and amassing many more people than his elder brother, despite his lack of power or strength.
Finally, it came time for the old man to choose his successor. He asked them each what they had accomplished in their travels. Indra told his father of stopping natural disasters and fighting threats to the realm, just as his father had. Ashura, stood ashamed, knowing he could compare to his brother in his feats. He told him of raising villages and walking amongst the people, raising them up with hope and healing them from their sorrows. Then the old man asked his sons about the bonds they had created, but this time, it was Indra who had been ashamed. In all his travels, he had not once thought to connect with the people who followed him. This prompted the old man to scold his eldest son for his powers were to be used to protect and save the people, not for showing your own power to the people. Fear was no way to rule over the realm. And so, he chose the youngest as his successor.
Neither of them had been taught such a lesson and both brothers felt it was unfair. Unbeknownst to his brother, Ashura looked up to Indra and tried reasoning with him, explaining that both he and Indra shared a bond as brothers and that given a second chance to prove his worth, his brother would learn and form bonds with those that followed him. But the old man wouldn’t hear of it.
Indra grew angry and felt betrayed by his brother. Then upon the light of the full moon, he led his followers into battle against his brother. The battle lasted nine days and nine nights, spreading carnage and bloodshed across the land, until the youngest brother was the last one standing. His brother, Indra, was in his death throes but still had enough strength to lay a curse upon his brother and kin:
“Hear me now, dear brother, as I speak my last words ,” he cried, “ for all that carry that tainted blood of yours shall meet their end at the hands of my kin. And for whensoever our blood shall meet, between a son of mine and a daughter of yours, their child shall create death and chaos at the cost of everything precious to the people of this world. They will be the child of prophecy and will cast the ultimate betrayal on both yours and mine and once they do, this world will truly be at peace. A peace beyond the gods and beyond the influence of men.”
Then he was gone, but the feud between their kin has continued since, for the fear of such death and destruction akin to that of a god has still lingered in the minds of their kin; the Uchiha -- the sons and daughters of the elder brother, Indra -- and the Senju -- the sons and daughters of Ashura. And their battle has continued ever since.
“Tou-san, do you think they’ll ever stop?” Tobi asked careful, gulping back his nervousness and making the silver-haired boy beside him scoff at his question.
Tobi’s father hummed thoughtfully before leaning forward and ruffling the unruly black hair. “Maybe one day they will? Who knows?” he answered good-naturedly.
“I doubt it,” Kakashi added realistically. “They’ve been at it for generations. There’s hardly an excuse for them to stop now.” He shrugged and was met with a frustrated pout from his dark-haired companion. “What?”
“Hey, people can change, Bakakashi!” the boy shot back.
“Language,” his father reprimanded, frowning at the boy who slumped his shoulders and made a soft apology.
“Well, the point is,” Tobi continued, “one day, they’ll find peace, just like in the story.”
“Did we just listen to the same story? People are too motivated by their fear of fairy tales and myths to fix anything between them. They’d much rather fight until the end of time or until they’re all dead,” Kakashi deadpanned, looking his companion in the eye. They shared a furious glare between them until Tobi’s father cut in once more.
“Kind of a dark outlook there, don’t you think?” he asked the young wolf-shifter.
“Not dark. Just realistic.”
“Well, you never know. Have a little hope in people and maybe one day, maybe when you’re old and grown, the world will know peace,” he smiled tiredly and looked between the two of them, making the wolf-shifter roll his eyes and the raven stick his pink tongue out at the other boy, earning him a derisive huff.
That night, the boys fell asleep snuggled together in true pack fashion, curled up against one another, blissfully unaware of what their future held for them, for the future would soon awaken them from their slumber and thrust them into the harsh reality of their world.