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Margin of Error

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Kakashi is the very worst candidate in the history of politics, which means Naruto has no choice but to yield to his latent alcoholism and get hammered. The last time he had gotten this drunk, he had been in college, and after that highly entertaining episode, he had vowed never to get drunk again because so help him, he had a career to think about.

Said career is in the crapper because Hatake Kakashi, God help the man, is ten pounds of stupid in a five pound bag.

Naruto blinks awake the day after the story breaks about Kakashi’s various conquests—which is far more information than Naruto ever wanted to know about his own father—and says goodbye to politics. He was done in by a sex scandal. Hatake Kakashi’s sex scandal, which involved a series of pictures of Kakashi walking out of buildings in perfectly cut suits with a statuesque, stunning woman on his arm. Several stunning, statuesque women. They have thus far published pictures of nine of them, from the past year alone. It’s nothing salacious: not prostitutes, not foreign spies, none of that. Just Hatake Kakashi, unable to keep it in his pants. And because the general election involves voters who lean rich and conservative, the image of a sharply dressed military man with beautiful women hanging off his arms does not play well.

Which means Naruto will have to say goodbye to this campaign, goodbye to politics, and return with his tail between his legs to Jiraiya for his job back as a Junior Associate in Namikaze & Associates. He will yield to his biological father’s decree and spend the rest of his goddamn life protecting rich companies from lawsuits with liability clauses so indestructible that they now teach his litigation strategy to first year law students. It’s called the Uzumaki Clause, and Naruto rakes in a paycheck so massive for writing it out to various companies that he could retire when he hits twenty-five next year, and never want for anything.

He’d left it all behind for Hatake Kakashi because Sakura had turned off the TV in disgust after another one of Lord Shimura Danzo’s grating stump speeches and said, You know who’d make a fantastic Kage? Kakashi.

Two bottles of wine later, they had a campaign logo.

It’s the world’s smallest violin, Naruto knows, and he’s uncomfortable sharing these kinds of petty complaints with anyone but his sister or his best friend. Sakura is currently at the tail-end of an overnight shift. Hinata is wrangling Kakashi into a plane so that he may haul his sorry ass back to the capital. Since they are both unavailable, Naruto had broken all his rules and taken the opportunity to share all his woes with the colorful depths of cocktails at the hotel bar where Kakashi is due to arrive, not even caring that he might be recognized, because fuck it . A man deserves a goddamn drink sometimes. A drink with little umbrellas in it. Naruto collected an impressive amount of umbrellas last night.

So now, he wakes up, the day after Kakashi’s campaign is pronounced dead by every pundit on the news, in a strange bed in a strange hotel room next to a strange man who has far too many tattoos than Naruto has ever found appealing. All Naruto can see of this man is the left half of his back, which is impressively broad. The rest of him is hidden by sheets and the pillow over his head.

There is a knife wound, poorly healed, going down the man’s left flank, running dangerously close to his kidneys. There is the exit wound of a bullet—if Naruto were to guess, close range shot, not too high caliber—on his left shoulder. The bulging width of the man’s left arm, thrown over the pillow to keep it in place, is encircled by a burn wound. His left arm is covered with a geometric tattoo of stark lines, ending a few inches above his wrist. There is a second tattoo on his neck: three swirling dots.

He is wearing a wedding ring.

You lying, cheating, bastard, Naruto thinks viciously at the man. He carefully eases out of the bed, and winces at the ache between his legs. He doesn’t remember much of the night before, but apparently, he’d had fun. With a married man. You stupid, goddamn piece of shit, Uzumaki.

Naruto gathers his clothes as quickly as humanly possible, and slips out of the room, letting the door shut behind him on the quiet breathing of the man.

His cell phone has seventeen missed calls, and twice as many texts. He goes to the conversation with Hinata first, and feels his eyes go wide as he scrolls through her increasingly alarmed texts.

YOUR FATHER HAS GONE ROGUE, is the last text she sent him, along with a video.

“Lord God help me,” Naruto mutters, leaning back against the far wall of the elevator. It dings shut, and only then does Naruto tap the screen to open up the video, grainy footage with the Konohagare News Network logo on the bottom left. The caption reads, Hatake Kakashi opens up about breaking sex scandal.

“We can talk about how many women I took to bed last year, or the year before that. We can talk about who they are, where I met them, and what it is exactly that we did together,” Kakashi is saying to a reporter in his usual, nonchalant drawl. “But that’s beside the point.”

The reporter’s voice is tinny. “Then what is the point?”

“The point is,” Kakashi says, taking a deep breath. His voice gets quieter. “The point is I lost the love of my life when we were eighteen and fighting in the war together. Rin was…” He trails off, looking at a spot over the reporter’s shoulder so that he’s captured in profile. Naruto presses the phone close to his face, feeling his heart clench, because his father only ever looks like that when he’s alone—all sharp edges and brittle grief. “I’ve become jaded about these things,” Kakashi continues, as if talking to himself. A moment later, he blinks back to the camera.

“Were there women?” He asks the reporter. “Yes. How many? I’ve lost track. Do I remember all there names? Yes and no. Did I call any one of them back? No. Am I embarrassed or upset or angry that there are pictures?” He gives the camera rakish grin. “I couldn’t give a fuck.”

The video cuts off.

Naruto loves his father, he does, but sometimes he wants to hit the man . He decides to give a perfectly good interview full of actual, human emotion in a campaign characterized by robotic performances, and then pivots halfway through to resort to his usual, cocky self. He swore. On national television.

Naruto types back to Hinata, What.

Three dots appear a moment later. They blink on Naruto’s screen for an excruciatingly long moment. And then, Hinata’s response appears:

We’re up by eight points in the minute polls.

“Lord God,” Naruto mutters, letting his head fall back with a thunk. He blinks at the bright elevator lights overhead. “Lord God above, have mercy on me.”

The elevator dings and opens to utter chaos. Naruto takes a breath, and steps into it.