Streets Are Filled With --
picking up what people have left behind
Naruto: Handling (Kakashi; cast) [1/1] 
19th-Aug-2011 02:02 am
I'm not a 100% about posting this as an on-going WIP, but letting it sit and gather words is like watching cotton-candy grow out of proportion. Better to release it into the DW wild before pruning it down for AO3? 8D?

Also, my titling skills do not, it seems, get better with age...

Handling

Fandom: Naruto
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Kakashi; Minato and cast.
Warnings: Set during the Third Shinobi World War.
Summary: This is about how Kakashi handles.

1964 words and, mmm, gen!



Kakashi wondered, after Kannabi Bridge, if it was him that was going to need therapy, or Minato-sensei. It wasn't Obito dying, he knew; the knowledge of it filled out a long-hollowed out space in him that understood with renewed clarity what it meant for a shinobi to live with death. Kakashi had lost a teammate — Minato-sensei, a student. Trying to figure out which of the two was worse occupied the brief moments that Kakashi had to think in between one mission and the next.

The three-man remnants of their team had withdrawn back to Konoha with what speed they could muster with Rin shellshocked, Kakashi's entire cranium throbbing from the transplant, and Minato-sensei driving them onwards at a slavedriver's pace.

'We need to rest,' Kakashi had grunted out at some point, high up in the trees where the wind could sweep away the sound of their jagged breathing. Rin'd stopped beside him, her chakra-infused hands hovering close. She'd been propping him up for miles now.

'Kakashi shouldn't be pushing himself this hard, sensei,' Rin'd urged. 'Not so soon after such a major —'

'He can rest when we get back,' Minato-sensei had said, quiet, firm, and absolute. His eyes had only looked forward, because behind them was a battlefront and a corpse and the only way to go was on ahead. 'Move!'


--


Hatake Kakashi, jounin, reported to the Hokage the loss of one of his team-members; other than that, the enemy had been prevented from taking a critical position, and the mission at Kannabi could be called a success.

From beside him, Minato-sensei said under his breath, 'Do not spit at the Hokage, Kakashi.'

But Sandaime didn't say anything; he just glanced between Minato-sensei and Kakashi and then past them both. 'Very well. Rin, do you have anything to add?'

Rin, who had been staring fixedly at the floor, looked up. Her eyes were red. Kakashi flinched when she said, 'Kakashi failed to add one thing, Sandaime-sama.'

Sandaime raised his eyebrows.

'Kakashi-san,' Rin requested. 'Please.'

Kakashi stiffened, but complied with a sigh. He pushed his hitai-ate up over his left eye. The Sharingan throbbed.

There was an electric silence. 'I see,' Sandaime murmured in a long exhale, his fingers steepled together.

'Hokage-sama,' Kakashi said. 'Please. Let me be the one to inform the Uchiha Clan about their loss.'

Sandaime looked surprised. Kakashi battered down the beginnings of a hysterical smile: Sandaime was never surprised at anything: not at 6 year old chuunin or wars or death, but here he was, surprised at Kakashi wanting to act his rank instead of his age. Minato-sensei put a hand on his shoulder, soothing. 'I'll go with him.'

'No!' Kakashi said, somewhat louder than he'd wanted to. He pulled his hitai-ate back down over his eye, then added, more quietly, 'It's my responsibility as team captain. I'll bear the consequences.'

'With that eye, perhaps that's the best choice,' Sandaime agreed with a sigh. Minato-sensei's hand tightened on Kakashi's shoulder. The Hokage tossed the mission report down onto his table. 'It's settled. Kakashi, you will relay condolences the Uchiha. Have them look at your eye while you're there. Report back in three days for your next mission. Dismissed.'


--


Minato-sensei lasted two whole flights of stairs before he stopped and asked, 'Are you all right?'

Kakashi stopped mid-step to look up at his teacher. Normally he would have brushed the inquiry aside, but Minato had seen him through his father's death, his self-imposed and quasi-destructive training to pass the chuunin exam, the beginnings of a war, and now this first, spectacularly failed mission as a jounin. One or two requests about well-being could be... tolerated.

'I'll be all right,' Kakashi replied, and it wasn't half a lie. He had a reason to go on, after all — with Obito's death, it felt like all the rules and regulations of being a shinobi lay shattered in front of him. Kakashi squinted up at Minato. 'Will you? Sensei?'

'In some other world, this would be the right time for me to give you a piece of advice that'll make everything easier to bear, but,' Minato coughed up a laugh, 'it seems like you've got all the answers.'

'I didn't,' Kakashi said flatly. Kannabi felt like an aeon worth of mistakes ago. 'I learned that this mission.'

Minato quirked a smile. 'It's not a price I ever wanted you to pay for a lesson. Arrogance naturally wears off with puberty, but you're one step ahead, as usual.'

'Maa,' Kakashi said with a shrug. 'You're avoiding the question, though.'

Minato's hand darted out, faster than Kakashi could keep up with, and descended to ruffle Kakashi's hair. 'It's far too early for you to be worrying about me,' Minato said, engaging in an ages-old battle to force the spikes of Kakashi's hair to lay down flat. Kakashi endured the ignominy with a long-suffering roll of the eyes. They began walking again, but Kakashi stopped just before the exit 'Sensei. Just one question.'

Minato paused by the door. 'Ask.'

'How do you...' not live by a rulebook — not become scum — fix yourself. Kakashi hesitated. 'How do you move on when the rules say you should but when you don't want to?' He didn't know how else to put it, but by the softening expression in Minato-sensei's eyes, he didn't have to explain.

'Well,' Minato said, casting his gaze out east, towards the Memorial. 'Moving on doesn't mean forgetting. For everything else? Teamwork. Friends. Missions. Family.'

Kakashi's eyes widened slightly. 'Am I keeping you?'

'Eh?' Minato cocked an eyebrow. 'From what?'

Kakashi's mouth pulled itself into the beginnings of a smile. 'Uzumaki-san,' he sang quietly.

Minato rolled his eyes, but some tension eased out of his shoulders. 'You're a brat,' Minato huffed.

'So you've told me before,' Kakashi said, trying out another smile. It didn't feel like it fit his face, but if he could get used to war, he could get used to other kinds of bravery too.

Minato pushed the door open and strode out. 'Come with me to the flower shop.'

'What? Sensei —'

'Just come.'

They went separate ways after dropping into Ino's shop; Minato-sensei headed for the residential district, Kakashi for the Memorial Stone, both of them with flowers in hand.


--


Reporting to the Uchiha with a Sharingan in his head wasn't the worst thing Kakashi had had to do in his life, but it came close. Obito's parents took the news with a passivity that made him ache inside; their expressions reminded Kakashi of the reflection he'd seen in the mirror every morning after his father's suicide. It wasn't indifference, but rather acceptance. They invited him in, poured him tea, sat him down at a table that had the family crest emblazoned on the woodwork.

Obito wasn't the first Uchiha that the War'd taken. He wasn't going to be the last. He wasn't even the best.

They didn't say any of that to Kakashi, but it hung in the air. When he pushed up his hitai-ate and opened his left eye, Obito's mother made a noise in the back of her throat that made Kakashi sick to his stomach.

'So it awoke,' Obito's father said, inadvertently reaching out to touch. 'Allow me to see,' he said, as Kakashi willed every fibre of his being not lean away.

'Fine,' Kakashi ground out.

Obito's father dropped his hand, and opened his eyes.


--


The verdict was that Kakashi's flow of chakra was now unbalanced. They brought him out to a well-apportioned training compound, one of many the Uchiha had scattered around the city. Obito's eye spun crazily in Kakashi's head as Obito's father made him go through the motions of taijutsu, ninjutsu, and genjutsu, both as an observer and observed. It felt like information was being dumped into his head: hand seals and increased visual input searing pathways in his memory that left Kakashi reeling. The watching Uchiha — and there was more than just Obito's father; Kakashi could feel the faint traces of their chakra signatures — never interrupted, as though the procedure of pushing a child through increasingly complex jutsu were standard fare.

'Your body isn't rejecting the Sharingan,' Obito's father told him afterwards as he blinked his eyes back to their normal black. 'But it doesn't have the innate physical ability to keep up with it, either. You'll have to train away the fatigue.'

'How?' Kakashi asked, pulling his hitai-ate back down. He couldn't just turn the Sharingan off, though god knows he'd tried, and it stung.

'By getting used to being tired,' Obito's father said sharply. 'It's the price of the eye's abilities.'

Kakashi didn't try to break the strangled silence that followed. Finally, Obito's father sighed roughly, and said, 'Uchihas don't exactly look favourably on sharing Sharingan, Kakashi-kun. Don't ask me how long it will take for you to grow accustomed to it when I don't know how long it would've taken Obito. Thank you for coming. Leave at your leisure; the gate will seal itself behind you.'

'Yes, sir,' Kakashi said softly in reply.


--


For some reason, Guy was waiting for him at the steps to his apartment when Kakashi returned, an unexpected but unmissable monument of green.

'Why are you here?' Kakashi asked flatly. Obito's father had been right: the eye was draining him of chakra, and the mission had done the rest for his frayed nerves. Escape by jumping up onto the rafters was impossible without risking a fall by exhaustion.

'We're eternal rivals,' Guy reminded Kakashi. 'Just because you made jounin doesn't mean that that changes!' Guy's beam could've stopped a deer in its tracks. Kakashi wondered, hazily, when the jumpsuit would stop being painful to look at. 'Though,' Guy said more soberly. 'I heard about Obito.'

'I don't want to talk about it,' Kakashi said brusquely.

'You never want to talk about anything,' Guy bemoaned. 'Kakashi! It is in the nature of youthful friendship to share one's —'

'Guy,' Kakashi cut in, pained.

'I booked us a training ground,' Guy ploughed on, undeterred by the abrupt change in topic. 'For tomorrow at 12 noon, when the sun is at its brightest and the conditions perfect for the most arduous and fantastic training!'

'A training ground?' Kakashi asked dumbly, wondering if the mission had just gone to his head or if he'd actually heard right. This was a strange kind of sympathy to be offering, even for Guy.

'Training ground 6,' Guy specified, a twinkle in his eye. 'With the magnificent range of dummies available for target practice. You'll need some before you get sent out again, jounin-sama.' Guy nodded at Kakashi's eye. 'To get used to the loss of your sinistral peripheral vision.'

Kakashi's hand flew up to the left side of his face. Guy was right; he could only track the motion half-way, and the thought of having the Sharingan exposed for the entirety of a battle made Kakashi vaguely ill just thinking about it.

Kakashi dredged up a smile. Guy flashed him a thumbs up. 'Don't be late!' he called out as he bound away, done with borrowing Kakashi's time. 'I'll see you at noon tomorrow, my esteemed rival!'

Kakashi shook his head and hauled himself upstairs. He was overdue a visit to the hospital, but Rin had resealed his wound just after they'd arrived back, and sleep seemed by far the best cure. He pushed the door to his apartment open, stiffening when he noticed something on his usually bare table. It was a box of ointment sitting atop a note. Kakashi recognised Guy's blocky kanji.

APPLY TWICE DAILY BY RUBBING VIGOROUSLY!! INTO SORE AREAS. VIGOROUSLY!!!
M.G.


Sleep stole Kakashi away from the mild burn of his muscles reacting to the Mighty Rejuvenating Balm. Blackness was a welcome relief.
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