"Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools."

- Albert Einstein

When the dawn came and the birds began fluttering in their nests, Kakashi yearned to sink back into what had been a most pleasant dream. The soft whimpers coming from beyond his bedroom door denied him that pleasure though. The silver-haired Shinobi had no idea what he was suppose to do. Should he go and check if the child was alright? Of course he wasn't alright though, those whimpers said as much, but what was Kakashi suppose to do about it?

Briefly, he debated calling for Asuma - maybe they could figure out some sort of arrangement? Maybe on paper Kakashi could be the legal Guardian but the child resided with the Sarutobi. The pitiful whimpers grew louder and louder, and Kakashi no longer had time to worry about Asuma or his own lack of a paternal instinct.

He rolled gracefully off the couch and padded quickly down the hall, nudging the door open with his toe; suddenly everything went dark, his face attacked with an ivory pillow. Kakashi held it where it was momentarily, muffling a curse into the feathered item, before allowing it to drop and stepping further into the room. He watched the lump on the bed warily, unsure if the shivering child hiding beneath the sheets would lash out at him again, should he get too close. Cerulean orbs peered up at him from beneath the cocoon of sheets and blankets, thick lips jutted out in a pout outlined by the blanket that covered him from the nose down.

With a sigh, Kakashi inched closer until he lowered himself onto the corner of the bed. "Naruto," he cooed kindly, "did you have a nightmare?" The boy didn't move, just continued to watch the silver haired man, a slight furrow of his golden brows. "Would you like me to call Asuma?" He asked, fighting a smile when once distrustful eyes brightened before they narrowed into sadness.

"Big Brother has an impor'ant mission t'day," the boy muttered, pout growing more defined. Kakashi couldn't help the small chuckle as he moved closer to the child.

"Then how about we surprise him for when he gets back, ne Naru-Chan?" He smiled wider at the distrustful scowl. "We'll get you some new clothes and show Asuma that you don't always wear orange, and I'll even treat you to some Ramen when we're done." Kakashi had once heard Kushina as she lectured Minato on how to raise their son; he vividly remembered the "no bribing our child" speech, but looking at his late Sensei's son now, Kakashi figured some exceptions could be made if it meant the boy would begin to trust him.

Naruto chewed on his thumb thoughtfully before finally nodding his head, "alright, but only for Big Brother and Ramen." Kakashi nodded in agreeance and stood back up, holding a hand out to Naruto who readily allowed himself to finally be pulled up. The Shinobi left the room momentarily before returning with a small bundle of clothes.

"These were mine, when I was your age," he told the curious boy as he helped him dress, fixing the still slightly too big clothes around the boy's scrawny frame. He settled Naruto at the table, handing the boy a banana to eat before they left before leaving to get ready himself.

"Ne, Kashi?" The boy's voice broke through his thoughts and he turnes his head down to look at the child walking beside him, hand in his own. They had been walking in silence for a good ten minutes, heading to the town's market. "Do you think 'Suma will be happy to see me?" Kakashi's brows furrowed as he stopped walking, kneeling so the two were facing one another. "He didn't seem happy yesterday," the boy continued, "did I do something wrong?" Kakashi was quite certain his heart shattered in his chest.

"Asuma will be very happy to see you, Naruto. He loves you, and was only sad you couldn't come live with him instead."

"Why can't I live with Big Brother?"

Kakashi wasn't entirely sure how to answer. Sure, the boy seemed more intelligent than what he had previously been told, in fact he would wager the boy's intelligence was above average thanks to the Kyuubi, but there was no way a child could understand the complexity of the Council or role of the Hokage. "It's very complicated," he settled for instead, and though he could tell Naruto didn't want to settle for that answer, the boy let it go. Not because he wanted to, but because whatever words he had prepared to say were replaced by a sharp squeal when he was suddenly hoisted up and deposited on Kakashi's shoulders. Blue eyes, comically wide, and tiny fingers grasping at the spiked silver hair of his guardian, it took all of five seconds before the boy began to laugh, lips finally twisted into a bright smile. He continued to cackle and grin as they walked, arms spread wide to feel the breeze as they walked, balancing only with the help of Kakashi steadying his legs.

"Kakashi," a dull voice rippled from his left. Dark eyes rose to gaze into those of Shikaku Nara; the copy-cat didn't bother feeling embarrassed about the very domestic scene that he and Naruto gave off, what with the boy still giggling atop his shoulders, because a boy, maybe a year or so younger than Naruto, was on the other man's shoulders.

"Shikaku," Kakashi tipped his head in greeting as the man fell into step with him "What brings you out this early," he cast the man a knowing look that had the other grumbling, hold tightening on his own son's legs to keep him steady. The children stared at one another, one with curiosity the other with a wariness beyond his years. For a moment, Kakashi wondered if he should introduce them, but then Naruto shoved his tiny hand forward to the Nara, blue eyes dancing happily.

"I'm Naruto! You have a Pineapple-head!" Kakashi choked on a breath, struggling to contain his laughter as his gaze moved to the elder Nara who seemed equally amused by the uptwitch of his lips.

"Shikamaru," the Nara boy returned warily, blinking at the offered hand before slowly shaking it. "You're loud." Naruto's head bobbed in agreement as the two boys began to chatter - well, Naruto began while Shikamaru just scrunched his nose up, furrowed his brows, and bobbed his head a few times, confused by the excitement radiating from the other. The two Shinobi and their wards neared the shopping district, Kakashi instinctively slowing his pace and Shikaku doing the same to match his companion. Asuma's words rattled in Kakashi's brain, reminding him over and over to not allow the boy out of his sights.

He didn't expect Shikaku to stick around, but before he could ask about it, the Nara just grunted about his wife forcing him to buy their son a new set of clothes to replace the ones they had ruined during a heated match of Shogi that resulted in a heap of burning tea to land on the younger's lap. Kakashi did his best not to laugh and lead the way into the first store, hands gripping Naruto's calves just a bit tighter when the store owner cast him a sneering scowl. He couldn't understand the unwarranted hatred radiating from the civilian - he wasn't the one on the front lines that night not so very long ago, the night where his mentor gave his life to protect his village, the night where he unwittingly condemned his son to live in hatred and torment. With a sigh, the two men went about their shopping; at some point, both Naruto and Shikamaru had managed to wiggle their way off the shoulders and were walkinh together between the two Shinobi's.

"Ne, ne, Shika-kun!" The blonde's excitement was unparalleled as he held up an orange shirt with black around the sleeves. "Whaddya think? Awesome, right!" The Nara clearly did not share his new friend's excitement for the shirt, but said nothing to counter the claim. "Ne, Kash!" Can I get this one?" Naruto had barely waited a second after speaking to Shikamaru to turn to his Guardian, eyes wide with joy.

Kakashi agreed with the Nara on the dislike for the shirt, but still he kneeled and nodded, "if you want, but remember - Asuma said one thing in Orange." Naruto scrunched his face up in concentration, debating on if the shirt was awesome enough to be his one Orange Item.

"You're handling him well" Shikaku rumbled as he stood, causing Kakashi to pull his eyes from the boy. He shrugged, stuffing his hands back into his pockets, thankful for the mask that hid the flushing of his cheeks.

He glanced around the shop, at the other patrons and then the store owner. It wasn't that he thought he was doing poorly with the boy, and it was hard not to grow attatched to him the more the boy grinned and laughed and relaxed. He turned his gaze back to where Naruto was. Only, Naruto wasnt there. His eye widened, head snapping back and forth, eyes wide and heart thundering in his chest. Even the Nara seemed worried, worry only growing when he realized his son too had vanished. Neither man said anything as they began their search, trying desperately to remain calm yet neither remembering their years of training and experience as the panic gripped them. It's one thing to find a lost child - another entirely to lose your own.