Dirt washes over carefully manicured grass in chunks that would make any passerby cringe. They’re small, uncoordinated piles really; the ground is hard and tough and shovels only do so well when wielded by small uncalloused hands.
Kakashi narrows his eyes at his tiny hands, wrapped as far around the shovel as they can. Father had promised he’d be big and strong before he knew it. That his hands would be tough and wider with enough shuriken and kunai practice.
His father is a liar. He’s no stronger then he was no matter how many times he hit the bullseye. It’s been plenty of time, each day practically drawing out and even Pakkun has grown plenty! But not Kakashi, no, he is still small and useless and can’t even dig this hole.
He tried to form jutsu, but his hands shook so bad every time he tried for a sign, he had to give up. Pakkun whined if he tried too hard, so he resorted to the shovel.
(Pakkun whined too much and Kakashi dismissed him. Kakashi doesn’t have time for whiners.)
The small hole shows none of his progress, and the little mound of dirt next to it is even worse, showing off how little he's managed despite how much he’s sweated. How much time he’s spent here.
Beneath his eyes his mask is nearly soaked through. Kakashi refuses to acknowledge it’s from anything but his body betraying him.
His father is a liar.
His father is also dead, dead by his own hand and Kakashi—
Kakashi had said nothing good to him the last time he saw him, nothing nice and he knows, father had told him to never leave anyone on a bad note because what if it’s the last thing you ever said to them.
Kakashi hadn’t thought to apply that knowledge while he was in the village, not while he was at home.
Not to his own father who never said he’d been leaving.
According to the village, Kakashi’s father isn’t just dead and not just a liar, but also a traitor.
They are going to be at war now because of his father and Kakashi can’t even make his hands still enough to form jutsu signs to make a grave. Nor is he strong enough to dig a hole by hand.
Tears covers his eyes once more and he futilely wipes at them, his sleeve just as damp where it clears his face every so often. His eyes are itchy now, from the fabric and it’s just one more thing on top of every frustration.
Kakashi’s father is dead.
Kakashi’s father is a liar and a traitor.
Kakashi can’t dig the grave site.
Kakashi can’t pay for a better grave site, one that’s polished and nice and by the big statue that honors the heroes but instead this tiny one by the trees because his father caused a war.
Kakashi’s too weak to—
“Shhh, it’s okay” A deep voice breaks off his thoughts and it takes him a moment to realize that he might have forgotten himself for a minute.
He’s crying into someone’s chest. Someone big and broad and father had only taught him the beginning of chakra awareness but he can feel this man's chakra with no issues as close pressed as he is.
“What?” Kakashi manages to croak out, brittle and confused.
“It’s okay,” the man continues, “I’ve got you.”
And Kakashi is so tired so he just lets himself cry, embarrassingly, into a mystery man's chest all because he feels safe and Kakashi’s father, his only human family is dead.
When he has the state of mind he pulls away from the man's big strong arms (so much like fathers) that are tan (not like fathers), but gentle.
Kakashi keeps his head low, bowing slightly and apologizing for surely ruining the man's shirt and for having a breach in composure.
And also to please excuse him, he has a grave to dig.
Head still tilted to the ground, Kakashi runs his eyes over the pinned striped pants tucked in dark brown gardening boots where the man has been sitting on the ground with his legs crossed.
Maybe it wasn’t chakra he felt, Kakashi laments silently, waiting for a response, he was clearly consoled by some gardener for the graveyard.
It seems that chakra awareness is just another thing he can’t do right.
“Do you need help?” The man asks instead.
Kakashi shakes his head, eyes still lowered. He does not need help, it does not matter if the grounds too tough right now and his hands are too small, it doesn’t—
“It’s okay,” the man says consoling him again. Kakashi’s eyes just won't stop betraying him, tears running down to catch on his oversaturated mask, “I don’t mind helping, in fact, you shouldn’t be out here doing this by yourself anyways. I just don’t understand...” he trails off.
Then the man stands walking over to Kakashi’s abandoned shovel and starts shoveling out dirt in the square that Kakashi had marked off before he started.
He stares in awe as the ground gives easily to the older man's arms. He takes a moment to examine his new gardener... acquaintance. He’s tall, with strong arms and is wearing a long brown overcoat that matches his tall boots. His hair is dark brown— nearly black— and despite being tied up in a high ponytail at the top of his head, it still is long and thick as it cascades down his back.
He also apparently can't listen when someone says no, since Kakashi is sure that’s what he said.
Kakashi missed his face and father said if you're going to scold someone you better be able to do it face to face, but as he walks up to the grave the man stops digging to smile down at him.
Had Kakashi not been so ahead of his peers, five years old or not, he would’ve completely missed the fact that the man staring down at him is the same one carved into the mountain.
“Shodaime-sama?” Kakashi whispers, eyes wide and horrified. He was about to berate the first Hokage? This man isn’t a farmer at all!
“Yes?” The first Hokage unknowingly confirms, “though you can just call me Hashirama.”
Kakashi stares in horror. He cried all over—
“Oh,” Hashirama says, interrupting his impending death via embarrassment, “here’s a shovel for you too. I made it smaller so your hands would fit it and you didn’t feel like you had to fight it and the ground.”
“This ones much too big for you right now.” Hashirama finishes, gesturing to the shovel in his own hands before striking it back into the ground with seemingly no problem.
Kakashi watches a moment longer, as his messy dirt pile slowly grows into a proper mound. Kakashi stares down at the shovel in hand, it’s smaller, lighter, and easier to hold. When he sticks it into the ground, it’s easier to pull back up again.
He throws dirt to the pile outside the marked off box.
“Hashirama-sama?” Kakashi inquires after some time. The sun is still high in the sky, but they are offered some shade from the nearby trees. Kakashi is not sure if the branches had reached so long before.
“How are you alive?” He asks
“I’m not sure,” Hashirama responds with after a moment, “one second I was dying and the next I was waking up here.”
“Huh,” Kakashi says stumped, “does anyone else know you’re alive?”
The first Hokage hums at that, taking a moment to stop and wipe at the sweat at his brow. He makes a striking image for someone dressed like a farmer, Kakashi considers, and for someone who looks much kinder than his stone face.
“There was a bartender who saw me,” Hashirama says, a curious look on his face, “she threw a bottle of sake at me along with a few old seal tags that are supposedly used to ward off spirits.”
“She ran off after that when nothing happened.” He finishes, shrugging off the whole thing as if it’s nothing.
He leans against the shovel without a care and Kakashi wonders if he should worry about that but his secondary question ultimately overshadows that interesting tidbit. He dares to ask out loud, “Why are you helping me?”
Hashirama tilts his head down at him, black eyes meeting grey, “why wouldn’t I?”
Kakashi doesn’t answer for a minute trying to process exactly what he’s supposed to do in this situation. Fathers training missions never accounted for resurrected hokage.
“You’re alive.” Kakashi says instead.
“Yes.” Hashirama responds easily, “alive alive.”
Kakashi’s nose scrunches and he ignores the coos from above his head. He’s not cute, his father couldn’t convince him and neither can the shodaime. He’s just not sure what alive alive means.
“Can you only be half alive?” Kakashi asks.
Hashirama surprisingly grimaces, “something like that, yes.”
“Oh,” Kakashi says, stumped, “thanks for helping me.”
He doesn’t get it, and it frustrates him but it’s more of a low level annoyance. His eyes and body are too tired for much else but that doesn’t mean he should be rude to the Hokage. Even if that not-dead!Hokage may or not be here in suspicious circumstances that Kakashi can’t quite wrap his head around. He might have freaked out more or insisted they go tell someone, but under the trees over his father's grave he can't make himself worry.
“I’m sorry,” Hashirama says, breaking his thoughts, “what did you say your name was?”
Kakashi blinks, how could he be so rude! He was just thinking he needed to make sure he wasn’t!
“Hatake Kakashi, sir.”
“Ah, well Hatake Kakashi I’m Senju Hashirama. Would you let me continue to help you dig this grave?”
Kakashi looks up into earnest, kind eyes. A man who held him when he cried and started digging when all the other villagers turned the other way.
The answer is easy in the face of that. Supposed dead man or not.
The grave has been dug and Kakashi chances a look up to the man walking side by side with him.
At Kakashi’s insistence they are taking the long way around to Hokage tower. Hashirama had laughed when Kakashi said as much. He apparently had just woken up, hasn’t told anyone yet and he was still going to just stroll straight through the busiest part of the village like he hadn’t been reported dead decades ago!
Kakashi doesn’t know how someone can be so light hearted and kind. It did his father no favors after all.
Hashirama's hair is falling out of its ponytail, bangs that Kakashi didn’t know he had framing his face, just barely covering dirt smears where he’d wipe away the sweat. It makes Kakashi feel a little better to know that the first hokage also sweated in the ordeal. He should feel guilty, but Kakashi just feels a little bit more normal at that realization.
Hashirama hasn’t asked him again why he was digging the grave by himself. Kakashi isn’t sure what he’ll say when he does. How do you explain to the man who founded the village that your father betrayed it? Is a traitor? That the grave you just dug is for someone who went against what you built?
Hashirama is sending him concerned looks when he thinks Kakashi can’t see. He’s so obvious with his emotion, so against shinobi code.
Wait, Kakashi considers, was shinobi code in existence for the first Hokage or the second?
He wishes he had Pakkun with him. He can’t summon his dad's wolves but pakkun could ask for him. Asking the first Hokage himself seems... like a waste of time.
He shouldn’t waste Hashirama's time on foolish questions.
“Kakashi-kun,” Hashirama says gently, “we’re almost there right?”
Kakashi blinks up at him before bringing his attention back to the small forest path, “Yes sir.”
Hashirama smiles, nodding his head, “come on then! I’m excited to see how things have changed, ha!”
He scoops Kakashi’s little body up into his arm and picks up a pace that Kakashi knows he’d have to run to keep up with. It’s only this that keeps Kakashi from struggling too bad. Hashirama is too kind to be toting around a traitor's son.
When they reach the tower, Kakashi insists on being put down as he quickly opens the door and walks toward the main desk.
They need a grave confirmation and then... his father's body.
It’ll be sealed in a scroll that they'll have to get from the military police building. He listens to Hashirama's chakra behind him as he walks up to the desk.
(It is a little gratifying to know he wasn’t wrong about that, at least. The man does have loads of chakra.)
He ignores the stares, and when the ground rises beneath his feet so he can see over the desk, he makes sure to keep his surprise off his face.
“Excuse me,” Kakashi says. When the desk shinobi looks up he freezes. Shock all over his face. Kakashi sighs, Hashirama is leaning against the corner of the counter, watching all the shinobi in the tower turn into bumble bees. They ricochet off each other, stumbling around and openly gape in wonder at the first Hokage.
“Um, yes?” The man responds with, finally dragging his eyes back to Kakashi.
“I need a grave approval form,” Kakashi states simply, “for my father, Hatake Sakumo.”
He waits for the disgust, braves for the sneer but it never comes. Instead he gets a confused double take and then a hurried, “sure one second.”
A few of the other shinobi behind the desk give him strange looks, recognition appears and disappears on their faces. They seem to rethink whatever they want to say though, as they glance back over their shoulders at Hashirama.
Kakashi has a lot to learn, but if this is the reaction Senju Hashirama is receiving in the busy Hokage tower he wonders what the military police building will end up like.
“Uh, here kid. Just initial the blanks and sign at the bottom.” The desk shinobi says.
Kakashi thinks that’ll be that as he quickly signs.
“So,” Hashirama drawls out, catching the attention of nearly everyone, “I didn’t know Konoha left it’s children to dig their fathers graves.”
His face reads as amused but Kakashi saw kindness in his eyes early.
Now, he realizes, Hashirama looks mean.
The desk shinobi pales a bit, but Kakashi gives him an opening to leave when he hands the paperwork back over.
The Kunoichi behind him is not so lucky.
“Konoha doesn't, uh—.”
“Konoha doesn’t, Senju-sama.” She says easily. She’s much more confident, Kakashi notes and the room quiets when Hashirama states his name. Kakashi doesn’t fault them there, it’s one thing to think you know something and another to receive confirmation of it.
Hashirama shouldn’t be here after all. Like his father, he should be dead.
“No?” Hashirama inquires, “so why was Kakashi-kun digging his father's grave all by himself?”
“I don’t know, Senju-sama.” She answers but that’s not the answer that rings through the room, stilling everyone in their tracks and tampers the whispers into nothing.
“Hatake Sakumo was a traitor, Shodaime-sama.”
Kakashi looks over his shoulder and a man dressed in black stands behind them, backlit by the open door behind him where another shinobi has froze leaving with rolls of scrolls in hand.
Mission preparation, Kakashi notes for the shinobi in the doorway, the man speaking was the one who threw a rock in the window. He was one of father's mission comrades that he saved.
“Was he?” Hashirama asks. He too has turned around toward the shinobi brave enough to voice the ugly truth.
“Yes, Shodaime-sama. He is the reason we are now going to war,” he gestures around the room. It’s quite busy, Hashirama notes mentally, in a whole state of disarray. “Nobody’s had time to help his son bury the man who’s responsible for us going to war.”
Hashirama hums, letting his gaze openly travel around the room, pinning shinobi to their spots.
“In my experience,” Hashirama says quietly, his voice strong nonetheless for it, “one man can’t start a war, nor can he end it.”
The shinobi shifts uncomfortably, “He did.”
“Did he,” Hashirama counters flatly, “please explain to me how one man started a war, and then do correlate how this connects to leaving a child to dig a full grown man's grave. By himself, no less.”
Kakashi gives a mild protest, he could’ve done it himself, but it tapers off into nothing at the stern look from Hashirama.
Not mean, Hashirama hasn’t directed one mean look towards him.
“There was a mission,” the shinobi starts. He squares his back at the unvoiced threat. Hashirama is glad to see that at least, you should always be prepared to defend your decision.
Hashirama knows that intimately.
“It went wrong, and fast. The information was outdated and even when we knew that Sakumo took us through anyways. It ended in confrontation with shinobi from another village and when he had a chance to take them out, take out their jinchuriki, he chose to double back for us instead. He could’ve gotten out, left Konoha's involvement a secret and successfully finished the mission with the land of fires honor intact, but instead he chose to set us at war, Shodaime-sama.”
“He betrayed Konoha sir, and what she stands for.”
“And what’s that?” Hashirama asks mildly. His head is cocked strangely and his face is nigh unreadable.
The shinobi pauses, uncertainty crossing his features for the first time since he spoke up.
“What does Konoha stand for?” Hashirama asks easily. He shifts his weight, coming to rest on his outer hip and carefully doesn’t look to where the current Hokage and elders are all crowded at the staircase.
They came down on them like a pack of elephants and Hashirama mentally wonders if it was a shinobi here, or the bartender that tipped them off.
“The Will of Fire, sir.”
“Which is...” Hashirama drawls out. He can’t believe the irony of this conversation. If Tobirama were here he’d have already given up and strolled out to get away from the idiocy.
“Let me ask it a different way,” Hashirama interjects over some stumbling explanation about inner fire and determination and never giving up.
“When did that motto come to be?” Hashirama asks before adding, “how about we open the discussion to everyone.”
The not so pointed look to one Sarutobi Hiruzen has the room's attention shifting.
“Well,” the Sandaime says , and sage he’s old, Hashirama realizes. Tobirama would be so happy to see their student has lived this long. He can even recognize some of the elders behind Hiruzen too.
“That would be the first war, Hashirama-sama.”
“That’s right,” Hashirama notes positively. He’s glad to see the suspicion from some of the council behind him. Hashirama shouldn’t have awoken from the dead and they all know it. They also remember him to be mostly happy and cheerful, and Hashirama is, but not right now. Now is a time for teaching and maybe Tobirama was remembered for being the teacher, but Hashirama did it too.
“Do you remember what it was that sparked it?”
“It was a speech,” a new voice intersects with. Hashirama recognizes the X across the chin.
Shimura Danzo also lives it seems.
“A speech you gave at the start of the first war, Will of Fire was the phrase that came of it and stuck.”
Hashirama smiles, “That’s right. I had just come back to the village with the word we were going to war. I had the people who took the mission with me behind me, alive and whole.”
He turns his head back toward the shinobi who had dared to speak out, “The mission that I abandoned to save my comrades.”
Hashirama watches the color drain out of the shinobis face
“The Will of Fire is what gives us strength to protect our comrades, what makes us choose them over contracts. When Madara and I founded this village it was so no child ever had to be stuck on the battlefield once more. When the village was up and running we realized that didn’t mean shit if those same children were still being left orphans.”
Hashirama lets his words resound in the people, just as he did the first time.
“One man can neither start nor end a war.” Hashirama says firmly, “if that were the case, then I am solely responsible for the start of the first shinobi war and therefore a traitor to Konoha.”
“You are not.” Danzo says sharply. He looks strange, Hashirama notes, is acting off though he can’t put his finger on it.
“No, I was never called a traitor.” Hashirama agrees before glancing down at Kakashi. There’s only one person he needs to convince and it’s the child next to him.
“Not that any of that matters, because it still doesn’t answer the question of why a child is expected to dig his own father's grave. If anything, that is the only betrayal to Konoha’s will.”
The shinobi in black will not look at Hashirama, but he doesn’t argue it either.
“Konoha is her people, and the people make up Konoha. Do not forget this.”
Silence rings in the aftermath and Hashirama mentally cringes. For all that he can be serious, he liked this better when Tobirama was the one berating shinobi. Sage, he needs a drink.
“Well?,” Hashirama asks, hoping to break the ice, “don’t you all have a war to prepare for?”
Like magic, the shinobi of the toward break into motion, a successful hive working in tandem as the Sandaime Hokage waves people off and makes his way over to Hashirama.
Hashirama turns down to Kakashi instead.
“Do you understand?” He asks, a smile crossing his face.
Kakashi stares up at him in wonder
“Great!” Hashirama exclaims, clapping his hands together. People lunge a little further when he does it and he doesn’t let himself grin like a madman (take that Tobirama! He can be inspiring and serious when needed!) when he notices.
“Hashirama-sama,” Hiruzen says, wonder in his tone, “I don’t understand, how—“
“Oh not now, Hiruzen-kun,” Hashirama says wagging a finger, “I have to finish helping Kakashi-kun.”
Kakashi decides then and there that if he would kiss anyone’s feet it’s Hashiramas.
“You told off the Hokage!” Kakashi whispers as they stand at the Uchiha police desk.
“No, Kakashi-kun, I simply said I had other matters to attend before submitting myself to a Yamanaka evaluation.”
Kakashi wants to argue but then Uchiha Fugaku (the newly inducted clan head) comes around the corner with a black scroll in hand.
He must have heard, Kakashi realizes, will he make Hashirama turn himself in? What if he can’t help Kakashi anymore and holds his father's corpse as hostage?
“Here you are Kakashi-kun,” Uchiha Fugaku says. His voice is deep, but not mean and there’s something like approval written in his eyes as he nods to the both of them.
Hashirama cheerfully says goodbye and gracefully takes a bundle of white lilies from a very beautiful woman standing by the door.
When Kakashi glances back she’s walked up to Fugaku and laid a hand on his arm.
“They weren’t mad.” Kakashi says into the silence of the road. He hears contradicting information about the Uchiha and Kakashi had thought...
They’ve taken another back road, where the trees hang low covering their walk towards the cemetery.
“Oh no,” Hashirama says, a blinding smile always seemingly at the ready for Kakashi, “you don’t have to explain the importance of teamwork and family to an Uchiha.”
Well, Kakashi thinks looking up at Hashirama again, he thought wrong.
The funeral coordinator is helpful. Easily taking the scroll and walking off towards lines of caskets. When Hashirama asks if they should come back tomorrow the man laughs and says that he’ll put his best on it.
Kakashi isn’t allowed back to see, but in only a couple hours Hashirama and Kakashi are called back.
In the time they had to wait they had gotten dango though kakashi doesn’t like sweets, but his dad hadn’t minded it. Hashirama smiled at him when he said he’d leave them with the flowers.
Kakashi notes the lilies have not wilted at all.
The funeral is small and private and consists of a grand total of seven people including the priest. Unless of course one is counting for all the ANBU that are hiding in the trees like cats do in the winter time.
Apparently Kakashi’s father's decision wasn’t as unpopular as he thought.
Hashirama had winked at him when he had pointed it out before clasping his hands together under his robes. The trees shifted then, doing a shake like dogs do when they get wet. A series of yelps and flashes of black make kakashi laugh for the first time in forever.
Hashirama's smile had been so big then that kakashi couldn’t even be mad about it.
Out of the seven people, one elder (the one with the X on his chin) and the Hokage were both present. The last two people were one Uzumaki Kushina (he knows her because she was one of the genin assigned to his father before Kakashi was born) and Namikaze Minato (everyone knows him because he mastered the second Hokage's hirashin. Also because she was dating Kushina. Kakashi young but he doesn’t live under a rock.)
The priest is quick at Kakashi's request and Hashirama simply hands Kakashi the flowers then the dango so he can put them on his father's grave.
When it’s over they walk in a mostly silent procession back towards the gate. Only when they’ve just made it pass the graves does the old man with an X across his chin drops a scroll out of his robe by mistake.
Or at least Kakashi thinks it’s a mistake except for the way that everybody seems to react to it.
All of a sudden the clearing is filled with ANBU who seem to be fighting other ANBU (except they have blank masks, not at all how Kakashi remembers his father's mask) and Hashirama's chakra has all of a sudden gotten very very dense.
Kakashi will later realize that’s what true killing intent feels like. He’s never been more thankful to not have it aimed at him.
The scroll reacts to the chakra in the air when Hashirama and Minato lunge to stop it and a flash of white appears in the air.
And for a blissfully long second Kakashi looks up and watches a being that's too big, too white, too ghostly, float above all of their heads. It’s red face looks like something he’d see as a scary carnival mask and the tanto between his teeth remind him of his father’s.
His father’s, that is still in his house where he left it. Kakashi vows to go get it after this...
“Ghost...” Hashirama mumbles where he’s put himself in front of Kakashi. He looks pale though, and not at all confident.
It would be funny if the thing wasn’t turning around to look at them all like chopped liver, Kakashi thinks, taking the cue to step a little further behind Hashirama.
“Shinigami.” Hiruzen and Minato whisper back.
Hashirama and Kakashi both look at them with disbelieving looks, but when Kushina nods her head in confirmation they all drag their eyes back up to get a second look at the death god itself. When Shimura Danzo (Kakashi learns this name from Hiruzen cursing at him. He has to later promise Hashirama and Minato [not Kushina, she says it’s fine] he won’t use the curses) only pales further they realize none of this is going to plan.
The ANBU (and ROOT agents they’ll learn later) have all frozen in the field.
The shinigami smirks, sharp teeth hitting the sharp blade, before disappearing in a flash of white light.
Nothing happens for a blissful 5 seconds, long enough for Kakashi to wonder if his father, surely watching since they just put him to rest across the graveyard, has any idea what’s going on.
Danzo opens his mouth, cane raised and Hashirama straightens to full height, clearly about to stop whatever nonsense the elder is going to commit to but—
A blinding light of yellow takes over everyone’s vision.
A large “Oof!” from Hashirama followed by the sound of armor clanking and the first Hokage hitting the ground is all anyone can tell changes between one second and the next.
Kakashi finds himself firmly behind Kushina now, as they all wait for their vision to clear. Kakashi thinks the air smells like metal now.
When the yellow spots and raised dirt disappears they all stare down as Hashirama wheezes for breath as a large figured clad in blue armor lays limp over him.
“Oh,” Kakashi says, because that’s not metal he smells, “he smells like blood.”
“Sensei?“ Hiruzen and Danzo exclaim.
“Niidaime?” Kushina wonders
“Oh my god—“ Minato says, hero worship clear in his voice.
“Brother?” Hashirama wheezes under the body of Senju Tobirama.
“Mmf.” Tobirama murmurs into Hashirama's shoulder.
“Oh he’s unconscious.” Kushina remarks, head tilting to the side to get a better look.
“We should probably go to the hospital.” Kakashi remarks when nobody starts to do anything.
The adults scramble like the ANBU did in the trees and Kakashi giggles into Minato's flak jacket when he consents to be carried to the hospital so they can keep up.
His father is at rest and yet he can’t find it in himself to be sad again.
With confirmation of the living remnants of Senju Tobirama’s guard, the second Hokage looks like he just walked off the battlefield he supposedly died on.
When he wakes up, Hashirama cries all over him leaving only the funeral procession (minus Danzo and the priest) brave enough to stick around.
Akimichi Torifu also shows up, and he brings Kakashi snacks (some are shaped into dogs!) and he summons Pakkun again to apologize and offer to share.
Tobirama grunts underneath the attention, but since Hashirama is technically the medic in charge here, nobody stops him.
That is, until Tobirama opens his mouth.
“Brother— the woods, you ‘otta go—“ is all he manages before he starts coughing and Hashirama makes him drink something.
“What woods Tobirama? Why? Also I reattached your leg so don’t worry about that.”
“Those”, he says gesturing out the window towards the training fields before giving a confused look at his leg.
“Is fine—“ Hashirama says quickly. Kakashi notes it had been really bloody beforehand, “and so is your chest.” Hashirama finishes with.
Tobirama doesn’t get to check cause he’s shoved back down with orders to go back to sleep.
Hashirama rushes out the window and Kakashi meanders over to the second Hokage's bedside.
“Hi.” He says, and Pakkun woofs a greeting.
“Hello.” Tobirama says and then turns to his side so he can stick his hand through the bedside bar to let Pakkun sniff it.
Kakashi likes him, and he thinks he’ll like him better when he doesn’t smell like blood.
Kakashi watches as the second Hokage's eyes drift mostly shut before somebody comes barging into the room yelling.
“Where is he!” The man yells and when Tobirama sees who it is he groans and shoves himself under the blankets fully.
“I swear to the sage Senju—“ the man threatens.
Kakashi thinks the man is brave. The other four shinobi in the room look like they're about to gut him and yet he doesn’t seem nervous about them at all.
(Which says something, cause Kushina is scary when she’s mad)
“You swear what—“ Tobirama snaps from where he’s mostly dragged the pillow over his face too. Kakashi also appreciates hiding under blankets and pillows alike. He thinks he and the Niidaime are going to get along.
“Where’s your brother?” The man asks. Kakashi notes his hair is bigger than anybody’s he's ever seen.
“The woods.” Tobirama says flatly, one red eye glaring where it’s visible.
The man leaps out the same window Hashirama did.
“Can you believe he’s a sensor?” Tobirama asks as his eyes slowly close.
“My god” Hiruzen whispers,” that was—“
“Uchiha Madara.” Akimichi Torifu confirms
Minato makes a face, “I’m confused.” He says before turning to Kushina.
Kushina shrugs, “Someone opened a seal, dattebane, stranger things have happened.”
“Though,” she wonders out loud, “What was in the woods to begin with, Niidaime-sama?”
They all turn to look at the blob of blankets that makes up Senju Tobirama, but when it doesn’t even shift, they decide it’s best they let him recover by sleeping peacefully by himself.
Kakashi is at just the right height to see Tobirama's mouth quirk into a smile, and has just sharp enough ears to hear him say,
Hashirama and Madara apparently get into a brawl near one of the abandoned training grounds that unearths a secret organization.
(This is where ROOT comes in)
Danzo's mysteriously covered eye is apparently his dead teammates and the Uchiha collectively throw a fit over it.
The beautiful lady from the military police building let’s him stay in her house while she runs off with Kushina to, in Kushina's words, “go kick some ass”
(Another curse word Kakashi will have to swear up and down that he won’t use.)
“Hi!” A high pitched voice says, and Kakashi turns around to a slightly older boy in standard Uchiha clothes and bright orange goggles on top of his head.
“My name’s Obito, what’s yours?”
Kakashi learns that having spies in your village is actually a pretty normal thing. Unless their activity getting into things, you’re likely not gonna know they were there.
Yamanaka Inoichi explains intelligence missions run just like that and you have to accept the fact that you can’t try and interrogate every person that wants to join the village. Some are just going to magically disappear, but not to worry, Konoha has paperwork for that.
Kakashi also learns it was probably those same spies that warned the other villages that Senju Hashirama, Senju Tobirama and Uchiha Madara are not only all alive and well, but all active jonin of Konoha again.
Oh, and that the shinigami appeared inside Konoha's walls.
Needless to say they are no longer going to war.
Kakashi is absolutely okay with this since he’s managed to guilt tripped nearly all the top jonin into teaching him Cool and Strong jutsu. He’s even learning fire style for Obito and wind style for Rin (another new friend!)
He’s also graduated from the academy, but not allowed to take missions since he’s too young. (This is where the guilt tripping comes in.)
His best accomplishment though, was Senju Tobirama promising him to teach him how to wield his lightning sword when he got older.
Kakashi thinks, no, knows, his father approves.
(Kakashi, for all intents and purposes, dies on his sixteenth birthday. Kushina and Minatos son is two years old and accidentally knocked a particularly sparkly seal off a very very high shelf. It cascades with the other scrolls.)
(Kakashi doesn’t meet the shinigami again, but he does find his dad.)
“Dad?” Kakashi asks, finding himself sitting around a campfire.
“Son,” Sakumo replies, a smile crossing his face before disappearing.
“Why are you so young?”
“Oh,” Kakashi says, understanding, “well, I suppose there was an accident. Seals, ya know?”
Sakumo grimaces, he knows.
“Well,” Sakumo starts, “I guess I owe you an apology.”
Kakashi frowns, his dad absolutely does not. Where were they anyways? Has he been sitting at this campfire the whole time?
“No, I don’t think so, but I owe you one.”
Sakumo stares and Kakashi stares back.
(They spend the rest of the time listening to Kakashi try to catch Sakumo up on the things that happen. He’s confused, but honestly it’s been eleven years and Kakashi still is too.)
“Oh,” Sakumo says, pulling away from the death grip hug he had Kakashi in, “I suppose that’s your cue.”
Kakashi looks up and sees the previous black sky opening up like a chasm.
“I love you, dad.” Kakashi says
Sakumo smiles, “Don’t let me see you too soon.”
I love you too son... and thank you.
“Wow that was a close one!” Hashirama laughs somewhere above Kakashi’s head.
It’s his nervous laugh, the one he does to fill empty spaces and awkward situations.
Kakashi groans, this is what Tobirama must've felt like when he got thrown out of the pure land by the shinigami or whatever.
“Kakashi?” He hears Minato ask.
Kakashi cracks open his eyes to his loved ones standing over him.
“Ka-shi!” Naruto cries
“Yo” he salutes. He feels the collective sigh of relief more than he hears it.
“Alright now that you're awake,” Kushina says, walking up to stand above his head, “move it or lose it! I’ve got a shelf to rebuild!”
Kakashi earns himself a genin team.
Minato throws him into the mix of teachers and surprises him with a whole new batch of tiny genin.
His only consolation is that Obito and Rin are also new jonin teachers.
It may be worth it though, when he brings them to the Senju compound and Hashirama smiles bright and big.
He has crow feet and the lines around his mouth are deeper than they ever showed in a portrait of him in the past. Madara is their semi-occupant who makes them all bento boxes after training all morning.
Naruto of course already knows them, just as Sasuke already knows Madara. Haruno Sakura picks up everything very quickly and earns her way right into the Senju brothers' nice list when she asks if the lady in the portrait on the wall is Uzumaki Mito.
She absolutely is, and Tobirama immediately asks if she wants to be like her. Scarily enough, Sakura smiles and says yes.
(She’s apparently guaranteed an apprenticeship with Kushina later.)
Sasuke gets himself into the art of healing after hearing Madara's little brother died of a wound that might have been treatable if it hadn’t gotten infected.
(Tsunade is amused by the tiny Uchiha and approves of his will to go till he drops. Madara is strangely flattered but more importantly super relieved he probably won’t have to watch Izuna's look-alike die. He probably couldn’t handle that. He can barely handle making bento boxes again without Mikoto berating his skills.)
Meanwhile Naruto convinces Madara to help him since he has a wind affinity. Madara says yes when he realizes Naruto will pick up fire style like candy and he’s unfortunately lived long enough to understand basic Uzumaki fuinjutsu, making him more than apt to help him.
Kakashi thinks they're gonna end up as a pretty good team.
Hashirama gives him a smile, it’s small and genuine and always reserved for kakashi. The boy who he found digging his father's grave. The stickler for rules, the prodigy to beat, the boy who was grieving and had no one to catch him.
Kakashi watches Hashirama turn back to his brother, eyes animated and hands in the air as he gestures something or another.
This is peace, Kakashi realizes. He looks to the historical figures at the kotetsu, the children in the courtyard, the Hokage tower that’s just visible through an open window, where Minato and Kushina undoubtedly are.
A breeze passes through, wind chimes singing in the breeze, and the carrying laughs of the houses occupants around and out again.
Kakashi looks back and smiles.
More than peace, more than paradise, this place they created and filled with people they love; this place is home.
“I hear the wind across the plain
A sound so strong, that calls my name
It's wild like the river, it's warm like the sun
Yeah it's here, this is where I belong
Under the starry skies, where eagles have flown
This place is paradise, it's the place I call home
The moon on the mountains
The whisper through the trees
The waves on the water
Let nothing come between this and me
'Cause everything I want, is everything that's here
And when when we're all together, there's nothing to fear
And wherever I wander, the one thing I've learned
It's to here, I will always, always return”
The lyrics to “This is where I belong” from Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron