|A Sea of Troubles
Author: TsunadeJr71 PM
Seven years after the Nine Tails' attack, ANBU Kakashi is assigned a mission. He has to assassinate a chuunin who has apparently turned rogue: one Umino Iruka. But this must surely be a terrible injustice. Rated M. Yaoi.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Kakashi H. & Iruka U. - Chapters: 21 - Words: 98,266 - Reviews: 192 - Favs: 112 - Follows: 179 - Updated: 05-04-13 - Published: 10-08-11 - id: 7447164
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hello again. Thanks so much for the reviews/faves/alerts – I am always delighted to hear from you. I guess you're probably aware of the recent FF M-rated fic purge, so I won't rant (too) much about it here. But I'm a bit of a quandary. I don't consider the content of my writing to be any more graphic than many of the M-rated fics that have been posted at FF over the years. I've been left with a bit of a dilemma. I thought about voting with my feet and moving away from here, but it looks like it'll be 2013 before I can get an AO3 account unless I get an invite. I really love writing this story and don't want to see it go or have to wait for several months before I continue. So… for the time being I have compromised. I have cut this story (notably Ch 10 and 11) to what I think is an M rating and put the naughty text on my Livejournal page (there's a link in my profile). I've tried to insert links on these pages to make reading the story as seamless as I can. Right now, I just want to be able to continue writing and want the people who have been kind enough to follow this to be able to read it – my muse tells me there are a fair few chapters left to go. Anyway, rant over, on with the story. Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to review – it's very much appreciated. Usual disclaimers apply. Please be warned that this chapter contains swearing, violence and fluff.
Chapter 13 Their Currents Turn Awry
Kakashi's first instinct was to get out of there. Teleport him and Iruka the hell away from the Iwa town. He could do it. Iruka had successfully retrieved the scroll – as Kakashi knew he would. They really had no need to be there any longer. They could return to Konoha and clear their names.
But if he had the opportunity to defeat Kemono, shouldn't he take it?
It wasn't about revenge.
Well, it wasn't solely about revenge.
The ninja standing before them with a look of thunder on his face had such an extraordinarily powerful bloodline limit that it represented a serious threat to all Leaf shinobi who might have to operate within Iwa territory in the future. Too many lives had been lost already.
So much hurt.
So much pain.
Kakashi had just a few moments to make a decision as to whether he would take on Kemono and his team. He glanced briefly at Iruka, standing beside him, to gauge his feelings. Iruka was tense but looked steadfast and determined as he stood his ground. He looked at Kakashi with his soulful brown eyes and nodded firmly, ready to follow whatever instruction he was given.
The chuunin knew that he had to be as alert as possible and to react immediately to whatever command was issued. He was a lower rank so automatically acknowledged Kakashi's authority, it was the shinobi way.
Kakashi was relying on Iruka to follow his lead as necessary. He trusted the chuunin and believed he was entirely capable of working with him to defeat Kemono. But the ANBU was improvising and it was always more difficult to extemporise with a colleague, particularly one with whom he had not worked before and who was so much less experienced.
Kakashi needed to assess the great brute's intentions. He had a number of options available to him but he had decided that if those deadly eyes even hinted that they might start sparkling he would teleport both of them away. His first priority was to protect Iruka.
Kemono knew from their previous brief encounter that Kakashi had teleportation skills and was quick enough to avoid his deadly gaze. He may have been a lout, his reflexes may have been slow, but he was intelligent enough to know that he needed to determine a strategy to take on the Konoha pair.
He decided to speak, his booming voice bellowing at the Konoha pair.
"Iruka, mate. Respect to your persistence but you're really beginning to piss me off. You've stolen the scroll again, haven't you?"
Iruka glanced at Kakashi, as he wasn't sure whether the ANBU wanted him to respond. The older man nodded at him briefly, indicating that it was okay to answer. Engaging in dialogue gave the ANBU the opportunity to think, more time to develop a strategy. Iruka understood immediately.
The chuunin turned up the bravura and grinned as he shrugged at the Iwa leader.
"Yep. I had to give it a try."
"And now you've brought your Konoha pal along, yeah?"
Iruka nodded, a weak smile plastered across his face, desperately trying not to show any fear, despite the fact that he was actually terrified inside. He was determined to appear as bold and calm as Kakashi, but was secretly very glad that he was standing beside the ANBU who seemed so utterly composed. Iruka really admired his professionalism. The older man slowly pulled away his eyepatch, revealing the sharingan with its slowly spinning tomoe.
"And you know I'm gonna kill you both?" Kemono's grin was menacing.
Iruka was just about to think of a witty riposte when Kakashi interrupted his train of thought.
"You can try, Kemono," the ANBU stated coolly, "But you're not the sharpest kunai in the holster and even you are aware that you're going to be too slow. I'm going be way too fast for you and you know it. Got any other techniques you can challenge me with or do you have just the one party piece?"
Kemono scowled. He didn't take kindly to personal insults. He was the king of his patch and tolerated absolutely no insubordination from his gang. He knew that that he could kill them both if he could catch them, but that Kakashi's skills were faster than any expert shinobi he had encountered before. He wasn't aware that the ANBU had been the disciple of the Yellow Flash of Konoha. But the Iwa leader was actually a more decent strategist that Kakash had given him credit for. He had a contingency plan.
He signalled to two of his lackeys, who immediately made hand-seals.
Earth Release: Earth Abyss!
Immediately the ground upon which Iruka and Kakashi had been standing crumbled away from beneath them. They suddenly found themselves falling rapidly, each plummeting deep into the bowels of the sandy earth.
Iruka could not get a footing. He tried to use his hands and feet to grip to the side of the increasingly large hole that he was falling into. He had an idea that the purpose of the Iwa ninja's jutsu was to create a chasm into which their enemy would fall and then, once they were deep enough, bury them alive to trap them and finally drain them of their chakra.
Iruka scrabbled at the loose earth of the walls. Every time his fingers brushed the side of rapidly deepening chasm, the soil crumbled. He was beginning to wonder how the hell he was going to get out of this. He wondered if Kakashi was capable of teleporting if he didn't have firm footing. He suspected that Kemono was counting on that.
Suddenly Kakashi was beside him. He had managed to teleport to Iruka from the gulf that had opened beneath his feet. He grabbed Iruka and pulled him into his arms, holding him close as they continued to fall together, deeper and deeper.
The ANBU had a plan. Of course the ANBU had a plan. Iruka was beginning to realise that his companion really was a genius and was absolutely going to get them both out of there.
Ever the professional, Kakashi's primary aim was to ensure Iruka's safety and to devise a means to – quite literally - get them out of a hole. His questions were concise and precise.
"Iruka. Your chakra affinity is Earth, right?"
The chuunin nodded, his expression earnest.
"Can you replicate that jutsu?"
"I think I could," Iruka replied, "But I don't know the hand seals."
Kakashi was impressed that Iruka's responses were quick and realistic. He didn't express doubt, he didn't hesitate, he was simply honest and open. He understood the gravity of the situation. And it was gravity that was pulling the Leaf shinobi deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. It wouldn't be long before they were so deep that their burial would result in them being unable to escape an untimely grave. If they couldn't escape, Kemono could drain their chakra and that would end the both mission and their lives.
"I learned the seals with the sharingan. It's Snake – Ox – Snake – Hare – Snake – Horse – Monkey."
A difficult permutation of hand seals if ever there was one.
Iruka nodded, absorbing the information immediately. He didn't need Kakashi to repeat the combination. The ANBU was pleased. Iruka was turning out to be an excellent team-mate. Kakashi continued to relay his impromptu plan as they continued to fall. But he needed to make sure that Iruka was happy to go along with his plan.
"Right. We're going to take these fuckers on. You okay with that?"
Iruka nodded firmly.
"Good. We can do this. But I need your help. I assume you have the ability to move earth, right?"
"Yes." It was one of the first things that any ninja with Earth affinity learned. Iruka's voice was slightly husky, but he was determined not to show any fear.
"Okay. I'm going to teleport us the hell out of here and take us back to the surface. As soon as we emerge you need to replicate that jutsu and use it directly on Kemono. You'll need to be really quick. The only reason he's not draining our chakra right now is that he knows I can teleport us away. He's relying on me not being able to do this while falling. He's wrong. But if he senses that you are vulnerable when we get to the surface, he will kill you. I need you to create an abyss for him to fall into while I deal with the others."
Iruka closed his eyes briefly and exhaled. Inside he was quaking, but he steeled himself. He could do this. Kakashi believed in him. The ANBU continued, "On my command, yeah?"
Kakashi looked into the chuunin's wide brown eyes as his own eyes arched into a smile.
The ANBU couldn't resist giving Iruka a brief squeeze. He really wanted to hold him; to hug him and kiss him but that tantalisingly brief contact was all that his professionalism would allow. "You can do this," he whispered, proving to Iruka that he genuinely had faith in the chuunin's abilities.
Iruka smiled weakly. His heart was pounding, adrenaline flooding his body. He felt sick.
Zap! They were on the surface in an instant. Iruka shivered briefly as he recovered from the teleportation – it really was a horrible sensation. Then took a deep breath and immediately made the hand seals, hoping amongst hope that he really was capable of replicating a jutsu he had never attempted before. He needn't have worried. The earth started moving the very moment he had completed the hand seals with his nimble fingers. He recreated the earth abyss with ease. He noted the look of disgust and astonishment on Kemono's face; his eyes were just beginning to sparkle but his mouth was scowling as the ground beneath him crumbled and he started falling towards the bowels of the earth.
Kakashi grinned as he saw Iruka's expression of satisfaction - and not a little relief - at achieving the jutsu. He was proud of his team-mate. But he had no time to waste. He had ten ninja to take on. He knew that each of them would be intent on rescuing Kemono. That was clearly going to be their top priority as they were all far more vulnerable without their leader's chakra draining technique.
Kakashi hadn't planned on taking revenge. He had wanted to retrieve the scroll and get Iruka back to Konoha. That was the plan. That was the priority. But this confrontation presented him with an opportunity.
He knew it would require more chakra than he wanted to expend. Far more chakra. And he had wanted to preserve as much energy as possible. Particularly if Iruka wasn't able to contain Kemono. More than anything he wanted to protect Iruka. The ANBU had given the chuunin a tremendous responsibility but was convinced that he was proficient and absolutely capable of rising to the challenge.
A thought struck him. As Kakashi rapidly processed his thoughts on their current situation and the plethora of potential outcomes, he managed to devise a way to incapacitate the Iwa gang members. Which would also make them understand just how fucking evil they were and exactly what they had done to his best friend.
Kakashi glanced back to check Iruka's situation. The chuunin was doing just fine. His newly learned jutsu was still working perfectly, as Kemono plummeted deeper and deeper into the dark depths of the earth, his roar of fury and various ripe expletives were becoming increasingly difficult to hear. The ANBU knew that he was going to have to get involved to ensure the containment of Kemono, but he had something that he needed to do and – for now - Iruka was doing just fine without him.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
It was a forbidden jutsu. Kakashi knew this. He'd inadvertently learned it about a year ago from an ANBU colleague, who had had to use it during a dangerous mission when the enemy numbers were strong. His team-mate was unaware of the lightning fast copying skills the sharingan afforded Kakashi and he had no idea that the elite ANBU would be able to replicate the jutsu instantly. He knew the technique was forbidden precisely because it uesd dangerous levels of chakra. But, deep inside, he knew that he needed to do this. He evaluated the risks and convinced himself that it would be incredibly difficult, but possible.
This was going to get complicated.
Kakashi executed the hand seals and ten shadow clones, identical to him in every respect, appeared instantly. The shinobi, confronted by ten Konoha ANBU, took a step back. But they weren't unduly worried, at least initially. They were aware of the limitations of a cloning jutsu and realised that the shinobi before them would have had to distribute his chakra evenly amongst the clones. Each clone would be ten times weaker than its maker.
But what they didn't realise was that the clones' maker was a genius. What followed happened so quickly that the Iwa shinobi had no time to process what was happening to them. The next part of Kakashi's impromptu plan involved genjutsu. This was the part that was unnecessary and, if he was honest with himself, completely inefficient in terms of a battle strategy. But somehow that made it necessary. It was something that he could do - however minor, however inadequate – for his best friend.
Then his own unique jutsu.
In an instant each Kakashi clone teleported right in front of each Iwa ninja, face to face, nose to nose, eyeball to eyeball.
But what the Iwa ninja saw wasn't a Kakashi clone.
It was Rin.
Her happy smile. Her laughing eyes.
Everything that was the essence of Rin's loveliness was encapsulated into each of those clones.
The real Kakashi smiled inwardly, a vengeful smirk, as he observed the expressions on each of the Iwa ninja's faces.
The ANBU achieved precisely the response he had wanted to elicit from those evil men.
What they had done to Rin was beyond unacceptable, it was unspeakable. Now was the time for him to exact revenge.
The chirruping of a thousand birds filled the air.
Kakashi had only enough chakra to divide one normal chidori between the clones but that would be enough for his purpose. Each 'Rin' uttered a piercing scream as she generated chidori and plunged the lightning charge into the groins of each of the shinobi before her. Thousands upon thousands of volts coursed through their bodies and yet the current was small; the charge was not enough to kill them.
Death would be too easy.
Every Iwa ninja screamed with the pain. It was beyond agonising, beyond excruciating. Their flesh burned, their bodies juddered uncontrollably with the shock of the electric current. They would never be able to do what they had done to Rin ever – ever – again.
As each clone fulfilled its purpose, it dispersed, as instructed by its maker, in order to preserve chakra.
Kakashi shuddered as the memories of each of the clones transferred into him. He saw the expressions on each of his enemies' faces. He could almost smell their guilt as each and every one of them succumbed to 'Rin's' revenge.
He watched as the Iwa shinobi each crumpled into a heap on the floor, clutching their burned groins in agony, writhing as the electricity coursed through their bodies.
Kakashi didn't feel good. He didn't feel powerful. It wasn't about that. Revenge could never be sweet.
Nothing could compensate for Rin's loss. The dreadful way she had been tortured and killed made him feel sick to the core. He could never, ever, forgive their actions, which were beyond reprehensible.
But Kakashi felt, for the briefest of moments, that he had been able to do something for his friend. And for any Konoha shinobi who might encounter the Iwa gang in the future. No other ninja from his village would ever have to suffer the ordeal his beloved Rin had had to endure.
As the final clone dissipated in a waft of smoke, Kakashi checked that the Iwa shinobi were indeed rendered incapacitated.
Then he turned his attentions to Iruka.
The chuunin had been doing an excellent job containing Kemono, the most dangerous of the ninja they were taking on. Kakashi was impressed.
The Iwa leader was tumbling further and further into the deep, dark bowels of the earth. Iruka had not only succeeded in mastering that jutsu, he was maintaining it with commendable skill.
The next phase of the ANBU's plan involved dispatching Kemono. He was, quite literally, the biggest threat to the Konoha pair and, indeed, any future shinobi who might be unfortunate enough to come across him.
He moved across to Iruka to check the situation.
"How are you doing?"
"He's still falling, the earth is opening up deeper and I'm controlling the scree on the sides of the hole so that he can't get a grip to get himself out."
Kakashi patted Iruka on the shoulder. "Great job."
The chuunin blushed slightly. He wasn't terribly good at receiving praise. And he needed to maintain his concentration.
Kakashi continued, "Okay, listen. On my command I need you to halt the abyss and transfer as much earth into that hole as you can shift. Bury him."
Iruka nodded, his attention focussed solely on the task in hand. He would have felt very satisfied that Kakashi trusted him enough to entrust him with such an important task, but he was concentrating so hard it was all he could do to maintain the jutsu.
Kakashi was feeling tired. He knew that his chakra levels were getting dangerously low. Mustering all the internal energy he could draw from, he once again used his lightning based chakra to create something that he hoped would permanently stop Kemono.
It was a risk. He had never tried this. The theory was utterly sound but he had never attempted it before. And certainly not after creating ten clones, ten genjutsu and ten tenths of a chidori.
He kicked at the soil beneath him. It seemed sandy enough. He had to try this.
"Now, Iruka." He shouted as he sparked up raikiri. He only had one chance.
The chuunin responded immediately, instantly halting the abyss jutsu and creating the handseals to start shifting mounds of earth on top of Kemono. He could hear faint sounds of swearing and cursing from deep within the earth, and then transferred tonne upon tonne of soil into that deep, dark hole.
The next part of Kakashi's plan was to create a prison. An eternal prison from which the Iwa leader would have no hope of escape.
Lightning beats earth.
Kakashi had to use his judgement. A rapid calculation based on his perception of the abyss jutsu when he was falling to determine Kemono's depth. It had to be approximate, but he could over-compensate with his jutsu. He was taking a risk, but it seemed worth it. This Iwa ninja needed to be dispatched, not only to avenge Rin – nothing Kakashi could do would return his best friend to him - but he was a threat to all Konoha shinobi who were likely to venture into Iwa territory.
But the ANBU's chakra levels were low. He turned to the chuunin who was still concentrating hard on his jutsu.
"Iruka, I'm running very low on chakra. I may not make it. I have to use a lightning jutsu to dispatch Kemono."
Iruka nodded to acknowledge Kakashi's assessment of the situation, dividing his attention between maintaining the jutsu and understanding the next part of the plan.
Kakashi spoke once more. "If I use too much chakra, I will need you to get me out of here. Can you do that?"
"Yes," Iruka responded immediately. He was very tired but felt he could accommodate Kakashi's request if necessary. "Do what you need to do."
The ANBU took a deep breath and focussed his raikiri. Flashes of lightning blades, thousands upon thousands of volts pierced the earth that was piled on top of Kemono.
The searing heat of the electrical charge fused the silica in the sandy soil sending pillars of fulgurite into the earth below, forming a permanent prison in the ground below.
Kakashi had effectively created a cage around the big brute, hundreds of metres below the surface of the earth. Kemono would be trapped inside an earth prison, bars composed of solid lightning fused silica surrounding him.
The ANBU turned to Iruka, his eyes curving into a smile, as he declared, "Well done. You did a terrific job. I'm really proud of you."
As soon as the chuunin had congratulated the ANBU on a job well done, Kakashi collapsed in a heap upon the ground. He'd overdone it. Used far too much chakra.
Iruka leapt to his side. Kakashi was unconscious. And the chuunin could hear the townsfolk approaching them, sloshing through the smelly sewage soiled streets of the Iwa town.
"Baka," he muttered gently to the comatose shinobi on the ground before him.
He then picked Kakashi up and threw him over his shoulder. The ANBU was a dead weight but his frame was lean and Iruka was strong.
He was exhausted but somehow drew upon his final reserves of adrenaline. He kept calm and followed the plan. He headed south, as though he was going to carry Kakashi all the way to Konoha. He drew upon his dwindling chakra reserves to use a clever earth jutsu that randomly swirled the dry soil of the dirt road around him, covering his tracks. When he was certain that he was out of range, he doubled back as they had planned and took the unconscious ANBU back to their cave hideout by the seashore.
As he laid Kakashi down on the bedroll, he gently stroked his hair and looked affectionately down upon him. Then he laid himself beside the older man and wrapped his arms around him. He was exhausted and quickly fell asleep.
"Baka," the chuunin said softly as the ANBU slowly opened his eyes and looked around him, blinking twice as he regained consciousness. The sharingan was black. They were back in the cave. Iruka was awake and, although he too was incredibly tired, he had been watching over him. He brushed Kakashi's silver hair that had flopped over his scarred eye from his face.
Kakashi smiled. That lovely shy smile, that – on this occasion - also looked just a touch sheepish. He was aching all over and he groaned as he shifted his position on the bedroll.
"Are you okay?" Iruka's voice was full of concern.
"Yeah, but I feel like shit. How are you?"
"I'm okay," Iruka responded. "But I feel really tired. It was a tough mission."
"I'm very proud of you. You did amazingly well. And we achieved far more than I could have hoped for. We got the scroll and now we can get back home and clear your name." Kakashi sighed. "But it won't be for a while yet. I need to rest for a few more days. I used way too much chakra."
"You knew that was going to happen, didn't you?"
The ANBU nodded. He remained silent. Iruka grinned at him, not sure what to say. Eventually Kakashi spoke. "Thank you," he whispered. He didn't need to say anything else. Iruka knew how grateful he was.
Iruka looked quizzical. He had something that he wanted to ask, but was a little unsure about how Kakashi would react and hoped desperately that the ANBU wouldn't take offence.
"Was it worth it?" he asked softly.
"No," Kakashi replied honestly.
Of course it wasn't worth it. He had overstepped the mark and used a dangerous amount of chakra to take revenge on a bunch of evil and cowardly shinobi who had abused and killed his best friend. He had nearly killed himself in the process. And there was nothing that he could have done to them that would have made up for the loss of his beloved Rin.
"But it was close." He slowly allowed himself a weak smile.
"Why did you risk it?" Iruka was puzzled as to why Kakashi, the professional, the elite, would do something so dangerous as to let his chakra levels fall so low.
Kakashi's answer was simple. "I trusted you."
Three small words.
They changed everything.
Iruka's heart leapt. As he gazed directly at Kakashi, an intense expression in his dark brown eyes, as though scrutinising him. This reserved ninja, an ANBU elite who had made a decision to abandon his assassination order based on an instinct and who clearly didn't trust anyone in the shinobi world apart from his recently deceased friend, had trusted the chuunin, had had confidence in his abilities, to know that he would save him from the Iwa citizens whilst carrying out his duty to his village. His heart swelled with pride.
And something else changed within Iruka. He realised that his feelings for the assassin had become much stronger. He already considered Kakashi to be a friend – it was something that was so obvious it came naturally to him - and he had very much enjoyed being with him for the last few days, enjoying his companionship and sharing pleasures that he had not experienced before. But this was more powerful, a feeling that captured him, engulfed him, overwhelmed him. He had never felt this way before.
Kakashi stared at the chuunin. Ever observant, he could detect something new in Iruka's expression. He had perceived a sense of passion in the chuunin's demeanour from the very moment they had met, when Kakashi had held a knife to his throat and calmly told him that he had been ordered to eliminate him. As he had got to know this shinobi he had discovered a myriad of feelings and emotions that made up his character. He had seen fire in Iruka's eyes, steely resolve, anger, frustration, determination. And compassion. For someone who had spent most of his life suppressing his emotions, Kakashi had come to realise that this chuunin had a sense of empathy that was so natural and yet so passionate. He was drowning in a sea of troubles and yet he was loyal, caring, devoted, considerate. And kind.
Deep down the ANBU knew that the affection that he already felt for Iruka was far stronger than a burgeoning friendship, more powerful than mere attraction, more fervent than simple desire.
Iruka stroked Kakashi's hair, smiling as he did so. He really liked patting those spiky silver strands. Kakashi loved these gestures. The chuunin leaned forward and pressed his lips against the ANBU's. They kissed softly. Iruka wrapped his arms around Kakashi and hugged him. The older man pulled his companion towards him, closed his eyes and revelled in the warmth of the chuunin's embrace.
They didn't say anything. Holding each other tightly, their bodies conveyed their feelings more than any words could express.
They drifted into a blissful sleep in each other's arms.