The first time the boy saw one, the air was crackling with the anticipation of a storm.
He liked to lie around on those days, watching the sky get darker and darker until his mother came out shouting for him to come back—because she knew he’d stay out in the rain all day and night if she didn’t. He liked the feel of it, the way it tingled in his spine and made the air thicker. He knew of course, that the sky was going to break, crack open like an egg and flash brightly; dragging the sound of thunder behind it. He liked it, liked knowing it. And it confused his parents to no end. Little kids were supposed to be scared of storms but there he was, their strange boy on his back by the side of the road, stretching himself out as long as his little limbs would go, and watching the skies get darker, and darker. No one knew what to make of him. No one human, anyway; the farm dogs understood him just fine, lounging out next to him with their tongues lolling in an equal state of ease. Somehow that worried people more.
He was in such a state, on such a day, head pillowed on the heaving flank of particularly hairy and grizzled old beast, when a shadow fell over him, and he found himself peering puzzled up into the face of a grinning stranger.
The man was young, and dusty, and the boy knew instantly he must’ve come from very far away, because no one smiled like that in the farmlands, without a crease or a care in his face. No one in the farmlands dressed like that either.
And he carried a traveler’s load on his back.
“Odd time to take a nap,” the man said. “Are you out here alone?”
The boy was wary, but he made sure not to look it as he pushed himself onto his elbows and shrugged. “No. My house is just down the road there,” he lied, pointing in the opposite direction that he’d come from. It was for the man’s own good. The last stranger who’d visited from the road had come with bad intentions—and hadn’t lived to regret it.
“Ah.” The stranger ran his hand through a shock of bushy blonde hair that was rare at best in those parts. “Well, I’m out here alone—mind if I sit?” The boy shook his head, and the man set his pack down. “That’s better. Heh, haven’t been too kind to my feet, lately. Nice to take a bit of a break. Good weather, too.” He gazed up at the clouds as they gave their first rumble. The dog’s ears twitched and the man reached down absently to scritch them. The boy watched this all very carefully.
The old dog’s tail thwumped against the grass.
“He likes you.”
“He usually bites people who do that.”
The man’s eyebrows jumped. “I’m glad I’m an exception then,” he laughed, and didn’t hesitate a moment in stroking the dog’s head. “He yours?”
“Belongs to himself.” The boy looked up then. People didn’t like it when he watched them too closely. Such confidence in someone his age was a little peculiar, he’d learned. Still, he stuck his chin up and, because he was curious, asked, “What country are you from?” Without blinking
The stranger looked impressed. He leaned back, lips curved like a cat’s. “This one,” he said, and tapped his headband absently, fingers clinking on the metal of it. “Guess it is pretty hard to believe. There are places in this country as different as night and day—ever seen a forest?”
The boy had only ever seen the fields; long stretches of waving grass and dirt and crops that extended as far as one could squint. Trees were emaciated, bent
figures, knobby and clawed and scattered. “No.”
“Oh. You should someday,” the man advised, and yawned, wiggling his toes. His smile just looked to get lazier, but his eyes were a sharp blue that, the boy realized, had been watching him the entire time.
“So, kid…..Ever seen a ninja?”
Lightning crashed on the yellow horizon, and the old dog shifted, whimpering.
The boy’s gaze was tired and fixed. “Well,” he said, as the rain began to fall with a whisper, “I guess I have now.”
* * *
The ninja was invited home for dinner, of course.
He was grateful, and surprisingly well-mannered in everything he did. Maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising, but the boy had only heard the stories that drifted into their parts second and third hand. Tales of bloody battle and secret, legendary power. The Shinobi. Mythical creatures that certainly didn’t cut their meals into perfect squares or compliment his mother for her cooking with a sheepish smile to apologize for being a burden on her.
“It’s the least I can do,” she answered. “It’s…..A very good thing, that you passed by here.”
The ninja tipped his head curiously. An expression almost childlike, although his eyes were as cunning and cautious as ever. “That so?” he said. “Is there something you might need from me? My stomach and I are greatly indebted to you…Haven’t had a warm meal in a long time.”
Silence was at its most uncomfortable when it came unexpected. The boy’s mother bowed her head, dark hair, so unlike her son’s, falling in her eyes and casting shadows across her beautiful, worn face. “There is something,” she murmured. Her son looked up.
“Oh?” the ninja said, smile skittering away to something solemn and set. He lay his hands against the rough grain of the table. “What might it be?”
She set another plate down in front of him. “My husband will be back soon,” she said shortly. “We are honored to have you as our guest. Please, eat all you’d like.”
Her eyes lingered on her son.
She bid him to bed early, that night.
* * *
“……A few months ago,” the woman began, her hand pressed to the window, “We weren’t so lucky to have this rain.”
Her husband, his hat low across his face, grumbled. “Worst drought in years,” he explained, like a man who had seen and worked through many droughts to compare. That said, he returned grimly to his meal. He already knew the story.
“You must know,” his wife said to the ninja, as the young man sat intent with his cheek resting in one palm. “How desperate, some get…When they’re hungry. People took to the roads. We saw many travelers those days. People left their farms. Headed towards the villages. The cities. We didn’t though. We were luckier than most.”
“But…..You must know,” she whispered. “The danger, of so many people moving in one direction.”
“Bandits,” the ninja supplied, softly.
“Yes. One morning, a man wandered off of the road. He was alone. And looked like he’d come from another farm up the ways. I thought to invite him in.” She closed her eyes. “It was a mistake. He was one of those desperate men. And it was only me, and my son. My son–He came in, when the man began to shout…..”
Her hand slid from the pane.
Her husband tipped the brim of his hat up. “He’s buried out in the back somewhere.” His lips pulled back into a cracked, creased, and humorless smile. “The bandit, that is.”
The ninja’s face registered neither surprise nor confusion at this, just nodded once, “Your son killed him.”
“Yes,” the woman said like she was about to cry. “So you see it.”
“Miss,” said the ninja, gently. “I wouldn’t be worthy of my forehead protector if I didn’t see it. Your son is very gifted–”
“Huh. Gifted.” The husband growled, rousing himself in his seat with a snort. “That’s what you call it?”
The ninja’s smile was strained. “Yes. That’s what I call it.” He looked to the woman, who stood with her hands pressed together. Her lip trembled, and in the flash of lightning from outside the patterns on the window seemed splashed across her face. He asked, for the second time that night, “What do you need of me?”
He looked like he already knew.
The woman didn’t flinch, although the tears must’ve stung behind her eyes, “Please…Take him.”
“You’ll probably never see him again.”
“It won’t be an easy life.”
“I understand that.”
“…..Then,” the ninja said slowly, exhaling heavily. “Are you sure? That’s what you want?”
Then the ninja looked up, and found the crack in the ceiling. He met the boy’s eyes through beams he spoke, “All right, then. If he’s still here in the morning…..He can come with me.” He nodded up at him, and the boy, not so well hidden in the attic, nodded back. It was fair enough. As far as those things went.
“Thank you,” the woman breathed gratefully. “Thank you.”
She would never be his mother again.
* * *
Morning came, and the storm had rained itself out. The boy was nowhere to be found, and ninja left the house alone.
He found him waiting at the fence by the road, saying goodbye to the farm dogs. His arms barely fit the neck of the smallest of the pack, but he made sure to fling them around each before he looked up.
“So,” said the ninja, with grin that bordered on anxious.
“So,” said the boy, standing.
“You’re coming with me?”
“I guess so.”
“You know,” the man shrugged. “You could say you missed me.”
“I could,” the boy admitted. “But I didn’t. Fair’s fair.”
The ninja shouldered his pack, and under the curious eyes of the dogs began to walk. The boy watched him for a few steps, feeling the wind gathering at his back, before taking off like a bolt, catching the man’s heels, and nearly tumbling into his leg.
“Woah. Careful there,” the ninja whistled, resting a hand on his shoulder. “It isn’t always, you know.”
“Fair. Where I come from. Are you ready for that?”
This time, the boy stopped. He crossed his arms, and ducked his chin, giving the matter some thought.
“….Are there dogs where you come from?”
Nodding, resolute, the boy began to walk. “I’m ready.” He glanced back, “Are you coming?”
“Should hope so,” the man chuckled. “I’m the one who knows where we’re going.”
“Where is that anyway?”
“Ah! You don’t know?”
“You didn’t tell me.”
And the noon sun illuminated the new green in the fields by the time either spoke again. The ninja started it, swinging his one free arm and watching the boy out of the corner of his eye. He watched carefully. Always carefully, but the sky above matched the color of his gaze, and even more so when he laughed at his own expense. He did it a lot—it was something the boy would learn, in the years to come. Among other things.
“Um, hey. This is going to seem sort of funny but, ah….. What’s your name? I don’t think you gave it to me.”
“…..Would you like to? Or do I call you ‘kid’ until we get you registered?”
‘Kid’ didn’t really seem right, so the boy told him.
“Oh. I see. You know,” he observed lightly, tucking that free arm behind his head and looking away innocently. “That’s not a very good name for a boy who likes to sit out during thunder storms…..”
“Can’t help that.”
“No,” the ninja allowed. “I guess you can’t. Well er, Kakashi-kun, we’re not quite there yet. But I’d like to be the first so…..Welcome-” He gesture grandly, to the road before them. It seemed long and endless, but somewhere on it there was a place, with forests and most assuredly dogs, where ninja came from, and returned-
“-To the Hidden Leaf Village.”
19 thoughts on “Lightning”
Aw this made me smile. The ninja is Yondaime, I’m guessing? All along, I assumed it was older Naruto who found an epprentice. Very cute, I’m glad you shed some light in the lives of those who don’t get too much attention in the anime/manga
WHAT! you mean i haven’t reviewed this fine piece of literature yet! O_O how remiss of me.
upon reading this, i say, canon be damned, you’ve written something here that i wouldn’t mind seeing in anime format. XD
great work. this was a story were “subtelty” was the operative word. i loved it.
Love. Like, pure utter love.
I know that due to Kakashi Gaiden, this is not likely possible. But I’m almost inclined to say I like this idea better than Kakashi Gaiden. Yondaime was perfect. Little Kakashi was perfect. The details were mindblowing, the dialogue so easy to hear… the imagery is just amazing, and the entire backstory idea explains so much and sounds so plausible. Yeah… yeah, I think I do prefer this to the Kakashi Gaiden.
OMG! This is so perfect to make for a sequel! And then can you like, you know, tell why he put on the mask or something? And Kakashi put on the mask because he wanted to hide his true face from the village and show his true face to only Yondaime and his family? OOH! Holy how old is Kakashi here? Ohh! This is so good! please conmtinue!
hey this was cool! I didn’t really realise what it was talking about at the start (didn’t read the summary properly) but a Kakashi Yondaime fic, v. nice! Or it might be Naruto and some other Kakashi but i’m betting on the former. Thanks for a good read! Tasty
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. Very original, short, sweet and to the point, it has a timeless quality to it not often found outside of literary classics. I honestly couldn’t guess who the kid was! The identity of the stranger became clear to me very quickly though. Good job.
Amazing. I loved the opening imagery and kakashi’s character just seems so him. The way the story was laid out it I guessed the boy was kakashi but part of my wasn’t quite so sure. I liked the fact that it wasn’t blatently obvoius. This was a wonderful fic and I thnak you for doing such good job on it.
Ok that was the best surprise ending I’ve read in ages! Like most, I seriously thought the blond ninja was Naruto right up until the second to last paragraph. I thought the story was great from the first couple of opening lines, but now I love it even more with that awesome surprise at the end. This fic was definitely a treat to read, so I think I’ll have to read it over again just to catch all the great details I might have missed the first time. Wonderful, wonderful story!
I like! You did an excellent job of making the reader wonder who the kid is, and you did an equally good job of giving enough hints so we can guess. I figured it out about 1/4 of the way from being done. _ Very good story, and wonderfully written.
Your story is written beautifully. I really enjoyed it. Usually Kakashi fanfiction is utterly horrible. Or he’s the perv trying to get Iruka into bed with him. I really enjoyed a different kind of story for once. Especially with the 4th Hokage. (I think) Good job!
This has got to be my fav. naruto fic ever. I read it a while back and recently wanted to read it again – it took me a good hour to find it again and it was worth it. I really really like this fic. The imagry that comes with it… I can just picture everything really well. Awesome.
Ah D ::claps a lot:: Kakashi~! And um, the 4th Hokage, I assume? I think the parents would be more likely to be dead now (i doubt his daddy is strong enough to protect) that he’s gone, but… their fault for giving him anyway! ;
Whoa! I had no idea this was a story about Kakashi and the Fourth Hokage. I was very pleasantly surprised. I love stories about our beloved Scarecrow-sensei, and this is a very original take on his backstory! Well done! I also like how many things are left unsaid for the readers to puzzle out; it’s a very subtle way of writing but also must be difficult. Well done!
Wow. Good job. I love the little story here with the fourth stumbling alone kakashi-I can see the references to where he *could’ve* gotten the Chidori from. I especially love how it was the fourth, which I don’t think has been done, or if so, not a lot.
Good job, definitely one of my favorite fics-it has a nice mellow and sweet outlook on it, even if the sweetness is somewhat bitter.
*grins sheepishly* Yeah, I’m back. And with little time lost. But I must say, I was happily impressed by this story too – you’re scarily good at manipulating words to best suit your needs. I can’t not review, no matter how late it is over here.
I’m pretty sure Kakashi is my favorite Naruto character. I mean, I do like Hinata and Iruka and (of course) our beloved Naruto-kun, but I feel oddly attached to Kakashi. There’s something about him… perhaps it’s his sense of humor and somewhat light-hearted personality, which has continued to coexist with his solemn, shinobi aspect. He hasn’t lost himself to the darkness of his world, and that’s something I greatly admire. He’s just damn cool!
But in this story, getting a chance to see him as a child… I could see it all as clear as day. I could hear the storm begin and see the child lying on the ground, with a sense of communion between boy and nature. And everything here, from beginning to end, rings wonderfully true. Although we don’t know Kakashi’s past (or at least, ~I~ don’t know anything), there’s this sense of ‘rightness’ to it, that even as a child he was deep and thoughtful and probably scared his family sh!tless because of just being himself. And I really liked the fact that he was seen with the farm dogs. *grins* Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Again, I know I could keep talking, but I think I’ve said what needed to be said. You do have a great talent for writing, and I’m very glad to have found this fic when I did. Thank you, again, for a story worth remembering just before I fall asleep. Luck and love!
ah! very nice! with the dogs i thought itm ight be kiba, lol, next, im betting thats the .. well, i wont say it, mmight ruin it… lol, but im probally not right,.., i usualy am not.. *sigh* please write more soon! its a very good story!
I love this fic so much I’ve actually read it three times now, so I figured it wasn’t fair of me to -not- submit a gushy review. *g* Your characterisation is utterly convincing and so well fixed in the setting itself; this is the kind of story with an atmosphere that really sweeps you up and carries you in its own pace and I enjoy every lazy bit of it. Your dialogue is always great. I look forward to any future stories – the Naruto category /aches/ for your fic! (;
The ninja here really reminded me of Naruto. In fact, I thought it was him all the way until the end, maybe a future portrayal or something. I’ve only seen the anime, so clearly I’m missing some back story.
Very interesting characterization. After getting to the end, and realizing who you were writing about, I had to go back and read it again. Even many years in the past, that still feels like him.
I’m looking forward to you next story!
Woah, cool! That’s a really, really, REALLY cool start! Is it a one-shot? Hopefully not? Because, damn that’s a really cool story! XD Very well written, with awesome descriptives… wah… keep going.