"In time we hate that which we often fear."
- William Shakespeare
The air was crisp and chilling, the wind slicing through clothing and pushing the cold into the bones of all those who dared to brave the early morning. It was a pleasant morning though, quiet. The birds still slumbered in their nests as the night owls and bats withdrew into their own homes, following the final shadows of darkness to escape the torment of the light. It wasn't until the outraged cries of 'Thief, Thief' rang through the morning air that people began poking their heads out their windows and doors to see what the day had in store. They watched with narrowed eyes and lips drawn down in scowls as a young boy stumbled past, a loaf of burnt bread clutched tightly to his chest. The baker followed the child down the streets, round belly jiggling as his face turned red from the exertion. In his chunky, flour covered hand was a butcher's knife, something he'd snagged from the butcher next door when the boy took off with the loaf he'd thrown into the trash.
The baker chased the boy for a good ten minutes before a flash of green and silver snagged the running boy and leapt away. The baker stared at the spot the boy had been just moments ago and glanced around, his eyes skimming the rapidly filling streets before landing on the silver-haired form atop a roof not but a few feet man. The husky man gulped and hid the knife behind his back before taking a step back, not stupid enough to face the wrath of one of the Village's best Shinobi.
Said Silver-haired shinobi watched until the baker's form was merely a dot before looking at the tense body he held firm in his grasp. Spiked blonde hair nearly stabbed him in the eyes as he dropped his head to get a better look. Blonde hair he'd know anywhere - blonde hair he once saw daily, during his own childhood years. "It seems you got to him before I did, how troublesome," the lazy words were followed by a soft 'tch,' as another Shinobi landed gracefully beside his comrade, dull onyx orbs skimming over the scrawny form of the child. "This is the fifth time this week, Kakashi," the voice continued after a long silence, "and it's only Wednesday." Neither needed to know the odds of what would happen if the merely sent the boy on his way again - it wasn't uncommon for them to have to rescue the boy from the angered, and wrongly so, villagers.
"I know," the silver haired Shinobi replied softly. Kakashi Hatake knew better than anyone; the torment the child suffered because of the beast residing within him - the beast the child's own father gave his life to seal away. "There's nothing we can do, however," he continued a moment later. By then the golden haired boy was squirming, struggling to get out of the man's hold. Neither Shinobi made a move to help him escape. "I suppose I should go and report back to the Sandaime," Kakashi chirped before holding the still squirming form of the child out to the other man. The two stared at one another before the raven haired man just laughed and turned on his heels, leaping off of the roof and into the suddenly swarming streets below. Kakashi sighed and pulled the boy back to him. "Stop squirming," he huffed, "I'm not going to hurt you. We're going to see the Hokage." And with that, he darted towards the large tower, leaping from roof to roof until he reached the window of the tower, slipping in silently.
An aging man sat at a large desk, pipe hanging from his lips. "Old man!" the boy exclaimed, the first words he'd uttered since his capture by the Silver haired man. "Old Man, tell this old geezer to put me down!" He cried out again, his struggles renewed. The desked man merely chuckled and gave an inclination of his head, with the tip of his head, the boy was set back on the ground. The child turned and gave Kakashi a swift kick to the shin before darting over to the aging man, hiding behind his chair. "Old Man, I didn't do nothin'. I swear it," he cried again, gaze narrowed at the other shinobi. "Whatever he tells ya, s'all a lie!" The old man merely arched a brow at the young blonde before directing his attention to the Shinobi.
"What is it that Naru-kun didn't do, Kakashi?" he inquired kindly, old voice cracked and hoarse from age and use. Kakashi merely sighed, fingers twitching towards his side pocket, yearning to open the book held within the pouch.
"He stole a loaf of bread from the Baker. The old man chased him around the Village before I got to him," came the monotonous response. With a nod the Hokage turned his attention back to the boy.
He looked over the dirtied state of the boy's clothes and the various scrapes and bruises marring the sun-kissed flesh. What caught his attention the most however, was the clothes billowing out around his much too small frame. "Why did you steal a loaf of bread, Naruto? You know better," the old man chided the boy.
"It wasn't my fault. I was hungry. And he threw it out anyways! Not like he'd miss a burnt loaf he'd thrown in the trash. The Orphanage didn't feed me nothin'. They said I didn't deserve no food, bein' a monster and all. Ne, Old Man, why do they keep callin' me a monster?" Both of the boy's elders flinched at the words, cringing at the knowledge the boy had to go 'dumpster-diving' for his meal, and at the inquiry of the rotten name. Neither man spoke, glancing at one another, searching for a good answer. With the opening of the door, however, the two men were saved. "Big Brother!" The child exclaimed, charging away from the desk and into the awaiting arms of the smoker.
The raven haired man smiled kindly, heaving the bubbly six-year-old up. Said child wrapped his legs around the other's torso, his arms around the man's neck and rested his chubby face against the strong shoulder. "Naru-kun," the man greeted softly, rubbing his back gently. "I thought you'd be here. Are you hurt?" The child shook his head, clutching the man.
"Asuma," Kakashi chirped, lifting a hand in greeting. The other man simply tipped his head in acknowledgement and made his way further into the chambers, the door slamming shut behind him.
"You're the one who found him, Kakashi?" Asuma inquired, still holding the child. At the nod he sighed and leaned his cheek against the blonde hair. "What happened, little brother?" Naruto shrugged his tiny shoulders.
"Naruto stole a loaf of bread from the Baker. He said the orphanage hasn't fed him, and he was hungry." The hokage spoke to his son, knowing the bond between the man and child was strong. Asuma's hold tightened around his proclaimed 'little brother,' his jaw clenching in barely contained anger.
The man continued to rub small circles on the boy's back. "Shikaku came and found me, told me where I could find him. I'm going to take him to get something to eat, then have a chat with the Care-takers," Asuma sneered, but a raised hand of his father made him pause a moment, confusion clear on his face.
The Hokage took a heavy breath, onyx orbs skimming from one Shinobi to the other, before landing on the broken boy. "I believe it's time Naru-kun finds a home. But, as we all know, the chances of that are slim. With Jiraiya gone all the time on his 'research,' he has not been able to take control of his guardianship. After much deliberation, however, we have decided upon a suitable guardian." At Asuma's curious gaze, the man sighed. "The council will not permit the Sarutobi Clan to adopt the Jinchuuriki child, though I have tried multiple times. Danzo's power of the council is merely too strong. In light of this, we believe you - Hatake Kakashi - would be a suitable guardian."
"Sir," Kakashi began, astonished by the old man's words. "An Anbu is no more fit to care for a child than a researching Sannin!"
"And that is why you will no longer be an Anbu. We have been pleased with your work, as you should know, but Naruto needs a guardian - someone this village fears and respects, to keep him safe." It was a low blow, suckering Kakashi in as he was - but it was still the truth.
Asuma had been quiet for the entirety of the conversation, his arms ensnaring the half-asleep boy. "Why," he finally snapped. "Naruto is more connected with us, with me, than he is with Hatake! Why is the council okay with Naruto staying with him, instead of us." He was letting his emotions control him, but the thought of having to send Naruto to live with a stranger was infuriating. The knowledge that Naruto couldn't stay with him was devastating.
The Sandaime understood his son's grief, as he'd very much wanted the child to reside within their household as well - but he'd been overruled by the Council. By Danzo. "You know Kakashi will take good care of him, Asuma." the man scolded softly. "From this day forth, Kakashi Hatake is the guardian of Naruto Uzumaki." And that was final.
Hey everyone, Kelik here. So, I hope you liked this first chapter of my new story. It's the first Naruto Fanfic I have done on here, the first one for a very very long time in general. For those of you following my other story, The Wounded, know that I have not given up on it yet! I am still working on it, just it's coming along a bit slower. Anyways, Read and Review if you would please, I'd love some good, constructive criticism and ideas for the story!