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Of Hidden Things and Sneaky Foxes

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"Reason with your son, Ikkaku!"

Ikkaku bites back a retort. He takes a deep breath and releases it, along with the frustration growing in his chest. "I have spoken with him, Grandfather." Several times, Ikkaku thinks, it didn't work.

"Then speak with him again!" the old man cries, waving his cane in the air. The old man wobbles on his feet, the man's five tails twitching behind him. Ikkaku tenses, ready to jump to his feet to catch him. He relaxes when the old man carefully sits down. "Clearly, he does not understand the seriousness of the situation. And neither do you."

"I assure you, Grandfather, both he and I very much understand." Iruka just doesn't care, Ikkaku knows. Ikkaku doesn't care either. Honestly, Ikkaku thinks this whole situation has been blown out of proportion. Sure, Iruka has taken the prank a little too far, but overall, no one was hurt. In his opinion, that was the most important thing. There was no need to take this issue further, much less involve Grandfather Kaito, the patriarch of the Umino family. Especially considering that the affected party didn't care either.

Next to him, Hatake Sakumo yawns into a fist. He blinks slowly, like a cat. "Maa, maa, I'm not here looking for an apology. I know my son. He probably deserved what he got. Besides, this is a great teaching opportunity."

Ikkaku shifts in his seat. "Hatake-sama, your son has been stuck for three days. That is…I don't think…"

Hatake waves his words away. "Obviously, Kakashi needs more training, if he can't escape such a simple trap."

Ikkaku feels himself bristle, both his tails fluffing up, offended on his son's behalf. "It is hardly basic. My son is the best at traps and seals. He was accepted into the top school in the country to study under Sarutobi-sensei, himself."

"Oh?" Hatake tilts his head. He rubs his chin. "Well, then, that would explain it." He nods. "Then I insist he stay stuck for at least a week. No, make it two weeks. Do you think your son can make a few adjustments to the trap?"

"Now see here!" Grandfather Kaito snaps. "You are obviously missing the point of this meeting! I still say that--"

Ikkaku grits his teeth. "Grandfather, please, I have already--"

Hatake nods. "I agree, Elder, we should focus on the boys' bonding ceremony."

Their voices have blended together, but not enough that each man misses what the other is saying. As it was, both Ikkaku and Grandfather Kaito stop speaking and look at Hatake with matching expressions of disbelief. Hatake blinks back at them, looking confused at the sudden attention.

"Ceremony…?" Ikkaku stares at the man. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Hatake blinks and then smiles at him. "Why, the union of both our houses, Umino-san."

It takes a moment for the words to sink in. When it does, Ikkaku sputters. Grandfather Kaito shouts and throws his cane at Hatake's head. "You stay away from my great-grandson!"

 


 

The Umino are nosy little shits.

Some would say that they can't help it. They are, after all, fox spirits. Pulling pranks and being an all-around nuisance was par for the course for them.

That was a vicious lie.

They were the biggest snoops in the whole country, everyone knew it. They were always poking their noses into everything, asking questions, sneaking into places they had no business being in. Nothing was sacred. From local gossip to classified government secrets, it was more than likely a Umino knew about it already.

You cheated on your spouse? It's possible that a Umino in the ass-end of Hokkaido was already giggling over it. You recently purchased an extremely valuable and rare artifact worth millions? Yeah, more than likely, the items were fake and the real ones were already being stashed away somewhere in the Umino family ancestral home. A home that no one knew where it was located.

No one knew why they did the things they did. Since they have never been caught, no one has been able to ask them, much less tell them to stop. Speculations ran the spectrum. Some thought that the Umino actually ran a spy network, which seemed a reasonable assumption. After all, the members of the family were not above using those secrets as blackmail material. Always for the greater good, of course. Others thought that the Umino was a bunch of adrenaline junkies since most of their break-ins involved getting into seemingly impossible places. Supporting this theory is the ransacking of the Uzumaki family's library.

 


 

"You should have left me alone," Iruka mutters. He stares into the house where his parents, and both of his grandparents, are arguing with Hatake (senior).

"You should have let me explain," Hatake (junior) says. He squints up at the sky. "Do you think I can get a bit of shade? It's getting a little hot out here."

Iruka purses his lips and eyes the other boy. Hatake (junior) looks back calmly, despite being tied to a stake. "Shouldn't you be used to standing under the sun?"

"I'm delicate."

"You make a terrible scarecrow."

Actually, Hatake (junior) made a perfect scarecrow. He was wearing an old checkered shirt and a faded pair of jeans, with large holes near the knees. Bits of straw peeks from the open collar of the shirt and the bottom hem of his jeans. Iruka didn't bother putting straw on his head since the other boy's hair already gave the appearance of silver-colored hay. Iruka did, however, pin a toy crow on top of his head.

"Excuse you, but I'm an excellent scarecrow."

"Of course you are."

Hatake (junior) smiles. "Thank you."

Iruka huffs. "That was sarcasm." Still, it was getting a little hot. He moves behind Hatake (junior) and grabs him carefully. He pulls him across the courtyard toward a small tree that offers shelter from the afternoon sun.

Hatake (junior) sighs in pleasure when he is settled in the shade. "Ah, that is better." He looks at Iruka and raises an eyebrow. "So…"

Iruka looks at him for a moment and then turns his attention to the house. His mother is waving her arms around, looking flustered. His father is pinching the bridge of his nose, looking done with the conversation. The rest of the group look disgruntle. Even Hatake (senior), who had spent most of the morning with a carefree expression, looks stressed now. He wishes he could hear what the adults were speaking about, but he had been banished to the courtyard. Iruka turns back to Hatake (junior). "What?"

"I was thinking of going on a date," Hatake (junior) says, voice light. "Maybe to the beach…?"

Iruka rolls his eyes. "You have been asking me out since we met, which was just last week. What makes you think I'll agree to go on a date with you now when I've said no each time you ask?"

Hatake (junior) smiles slowly at him. He looks smug. Iruka wants to slap him. "Well, because I didn't have an incentive then, now I do."

"What?"

"Reach into my back pocket."

"What?" Iruka repeats the question and then asks: "Why?"

Hatake (junior) wiggles his eyebrows. "Just look. Go on."

Iruka glares. "If this is your way of making me touch your ass…"

Hatake (junior) has the gall to look like he is considering the idea before he smirks. "No. It's too soon for heavy petting. We should leave that for our third date."

"There will be no third date," Iruka says through gritted teeth. "There won't even be the first one. Besides, there is nothing back there. I put those pants on you myself. I should know."

Hatake (junior) looks serious now. "Are you sure?"

"Yes!"

"Are you really sure?"

Iruka growls wordlessly and reaches for the back pocket. "Look I'll show you!"

 


 

Years ago, the Uzumaki family was under attack by one of its many enemies. The Uzumaki family was powerful and filled with extremely talented individuals. At one point, their sheer power had been compared to those only found among the Hatake clan. For centuries, they had carefully cultivated their talents and amassed an impressive library filled with valuable information. Books and scrolls filled with powerful incantations, arrays, and seals of all kinds. It was a treasure trove of knowledge, the envy of many. No one outside of the family was allowed within its hallowed walls. According to many, it was heavily fortified and impossible to break into.

Umino Kohari, the grand-daughter of the current head, was in and out of the library in one night.

Many thought that the library was lost forever after the Uzumaki family 's home and surrounding land was burned to the ground. There were many that mourned the loss, especially the surviving members of the Uzumaki clan.

It took a few years for the truth the come out, and several more years for Kohari to finally agree to hand over the entire contents of the library.

Of course, since the Umino are little shits, the agreement came at a price.

One hundred unnamed favors from the Uzumaki, to be called in by any member of the Umino clan. At any time. For any reason. All for the return of items that were stolen, to begin with.

And now, for the first time since the deal was made by one Umino Kohari, one favor was going to be called in.

It is fitting that it would be her own son, Umino Iruka

(The little shit.)

 


 

Iruka stares down at the map. The map that was in Hatake's back pocket. The map that did not belong there in the first place.

"Where did you get this?"

Hatake tilts his head to the side. "Does it matter?"

Iruka looks up from the map to glare at him. "Yes! Do you know what this is?"

Hatake gives him an impish look. "The location of my heart?"

Iruka's glare could burn a hole through his head. Hatake laughs. "Of course I know what it is, my future husband. It's a treasure map."

"This," Iruka says through gritted teeth, "is a map to the Uchiha clan's ancestral home."

"Yup."

"The ancestral home where they supposedly keep the dark scrolls of ancient magic."

"Uh-huh."

"The same dark scrolls that they confiscated from the Mad-Serpent Orochimaru, who was rumored to be able to summon and contain Celestial Beasts."

Kakashi leans in a little. There is a gleam in his eye that would have made Iruka nervous, but Iruka is too distracted to notice. "The very same."

They stare at each other for a long moment. Then Iruka clears his throat. "Give me ten minutes to pack a bag and then we'll go. The Uzumaki owe us a favor. They'll be able to get past the barrier for sure."

Kakashi smiles and then very calmly, jerks his arms free from his bindings. He does the same for his feet. Once he is standing on the ground, he stretches his muscles. Being tied to a stake for three days is no joke. "Okay. I'll wait for you."

Iruka gapes at him. "Wait. How did you…?"

Kakashi winks at Iruka. "Chop, chop, Future Husband!

"We're going on an adventure."

 

END