- Kakashi and Sasuke and parenthood
"...And you're asking ME?" Kakashi said, blinking.
Sasuke kicked a rock off the edge of the bridge, scowling. "It's not like I know anybody else who grew up with the Sharingan."
That wasn't technically true, of course, but Kakashi's sense of romp-and-pounce was being temporarily subdued by his sense of mercy -- bringing up Itachi when the boy was asking a serious question was not high on his list of ways to maintain the fragile balance they held.
And it was also tempered by astonishment that Uchiha Sasuke would ask HIM for advice on what fathers were supposed to do. Him of all people. Why hadn't he asked Iruka instead? Iruka had parental instincts in abundance. If Iruka could have come up with a way to bundle up and sell parental instincts, in fact, Kakashi wouldn't have to worry about supplementing his Icha Icha Paradise pocket money for the rest of his life...
...but then, chances were good that Sasuke looked at Iruka much the same way Kakashi did: in astonishment that anyone could live like that, so openly and so emotionally and so eager to give and love and get himself hurt, and with no idea how to even begin to imitate that. So maybe Kakashi was the father-figure Sasuke could imagine himself growing into.
...Which was in itself both terribly humbling and a little terrifying. He'd never thought of himself as fatherly, really. Uncle-ish, sure. Wind the kids up and let them run and make sure nobody ends up dead and they'll work the rest of it out, but someone else was supposed to be responsible for kissing the boo-boos and tucking them in at night.
Only that hands-off rough-housing they're-tough-they-can-handle-it theory certainly hadn't worked when he'd tried it on Sasuke himself.
Seriously, what was
the boy thinking? Surely he remembered just as clearly as Kakashi did how Kakashi had failed him, failed to keep him from nearly destroying his own life; he was hardly optimal father material...
"I don't know," Kakashi said. "I'd been hoping to ask you what you thought about this whole fathering thing." So that I don't do it again. So that my kid never has to go through what you did, or even what I did, or...
"Ha ha, very funny," Sasuke muttered. "Never mind."...it just figures that the one time I'm NOT jerking his chain...
Kakashi sighed, and leaned on the edge of the bridge railing beside him. "Neither of us really had fabulous family models to learn from, you know," he said. "I'm really hoping I can cheat. That's one thing the Sharingan's good for, anyway."
"Watching the people who know how to love and can actually talk about it. And then doing what they do. Something like that. --Hell, if nothing else, Iruka's a teacher, Sakura's still got parents, maybe we could sign ourselves up for some tutoring or something."
"I'm being serious, you asshole."
"So am I," Kakashi said, staring out at the water.
"...Oh." Sasuke hesitated for a moment, still staring at him, and then looked down at the water too. "Really?"
"Seems like a better idea than stumbling around trying to be the big stern guy in charge and pretending to know things you don't because you're expected to and making the kid think you don't give a damn about him unless he lives up to your expectations," Kakashi said. "Not that either of us would know anything about that, of course."
Sasuke kicked another rock into the water. "Sakura's parents are..." He stopped, and then said, "Do you think Iruka-sensei would mind?"
"I think he'd be delighted."