Chapter One - The Copy Ninja

Kakashi thumbed his pockets as he stood at the Memorial Stone. For well over a decade he had started his mornings in this manner. His eyes naturally made their way to the familiar name carved into the stone.

"Obito…" he muttered under his breath.

Kakashi had slowly come to peace with the loss of his squad, Team Minato and Obito in particular. Recent events had taken a kunai to his stitches and painfully pulled each one out one by one. Not a night had gone by where Kakashi hadn't relived the moment when the mask shattered, revealing the man that he wanted to kill for years to be the boy that he still mourned the loss of. The boy whose words Kakashi repeated to the newly formed Team Seven. The boy whom had selflessly sacrificed himself so that Kakashi could live and protect Rin, then yet again in the face of Kaguya. The boy who Kakashi had thought he wanted to become. Kakashi struggled to imagine the twisted things that must have happened to Obito to warp his perception of the world in such a way. He was a different man now to the boy Kakashi knew, although he did help defeat Kaguya. To Kakashi those short moments had felt like Team Minato had a second chance.

Kakashi ran his exposed fingers over the carving. Years ago he watched helplessly as Obito lay dying in front of him and being witness to him dying a second time was almost too much to handle.

Loving me is a curse.


"Hm?" Kakashi half-heartedly responded, refusing to take his eyes off the Memorial Stone.

"I thought I would find you here today Kakashi-sensei. I thought I would come and see how you are feeling. Sakura told me this morning that it won't be long until Obito is ready for release..."

Kakashi glanced in the direction of his student who obviously expected a response.

"…The healing power of old man Senju is really something, huh? Once I get used to my new arm I bet I can do all of those cool things too!" Naruto continued.

"Don't you have somewhere to be Naruto?"

"Oh right, yeah! Thanks Kakashi-sensei!"

Kakashi waited as Naruto made his way past the Third Training Ground before collecting himself. Lady Tsunade had summoned him to meet with her earlier that morning and as the sun had risen substantially he must have been over an hour late already. With 'Icha Icha Paradise' in hand he made his way through the streets towards the Academy. Kakashi often found himself walking through the village in this manner. The book itself deterred others from communicating with him which allowed him to get lost in thought. The villagers of the Hidden Leaf had really come together to help rebuild after the war. As Kakashi continued on his path he noticed that many of the buildings were already repaired.

As Kakashi entered the office of the Hokage he noticed Lady Tsunade sat down, head held by her hand, a scowl plastered on her face.

With an audible sigh she began. "I know these last few days have been especially hard on you Kakashi - however you are to become the Sixth Hokage. Your inauguration must take place, we have delayed enough. Appearances can be deceiving and if this war taught me anything, it's I'm much too old for this. At this point it feels like I am doing your job for you, and seeing Grandfather again reminded me of everything this village stands for. Your duty is to the Leaf, you would be wise to remember that."

"I know, I know." Kakashi waved a dismissive hand at his superior.

Staring him down with intent only she could muster, she added, "Regardless of what personal feelings you may hold, your first job as Hokage should be to decide what is to be done with Obito Uchiha. I am sorely aware of your history and I am no fool. I know that if not for Obito there is a strong chance we could all still be stuck in the Infinite Tsukuyomi. That being said he is an S-ranked missing-nin. His defection led to the Hidden Leaf suffering great loss-"

"He didn't defect." Kakashi's outburst surprised himself. "I'm sorry Lady Tsunade but he didn't defect. He nobly sacrificed himself to save both myself and Rin and we abandoned him."

Tsunade rocked back on her heels and then forward again. Head on closed fists, she responded. "I know that losing someone you love is painful. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have to experience that twice and now that you are in control of his fate, possibly a third time. However tragic the circumstances leading up to Obito choosing his path we cannot take the situation lightly. There is talk amongst the other villages already in regards to how he should be handled."

The Lady's tone was terse. Kakashi pondered this and caught the Hokage's assistant Shizune out of the corner of his eye, nodding in approval at Tsunade's blunt statement. It would seem she took pleasure out of her mistress' apparent seriousness in her final days of the role.

"You are quick to forget that Sasuke Uchiha was also a missing-nin. It seems to be an Uchiha trait." Kakashi sighed as he rubbed his temples.

"I have not forgotten anything about Sasuke Uchiha." Tsunade rose to her feet, turning to her office window and staring at the hustle and bustle of the village below.

"You have summoned me here to hear my opinion my lady, Obito may have been manipulated into committing terrible crimes, crimes that even I could never forgive him for. When I stood next to him as we fought together, it felt the same all those years ago. Even you know I had no intentions of leading a squad of my own. When Team Seven introduced themselves to me I assumed they would just be another team that failed. The last remaining Uchiha living solely to murder his brother and to avenge a smeared family name, the bright yet plain girl in Sakura - distracted by Uchiha but driven by a desire to prove herself.. and then there was Naruto. Over the years I witnessed Naruto fight to his limits and beyond for Sasuke to come back. This would be the same Sasuke that not only tried to kill Naruto himself, but was hell-bent on destroying our village. Naruto saw only the good in Sasuke when nobody else could as he risked his life to save him over and over again. Feelings I now share for my old teammate."

Tsunade turned back to face Kakashi. She studied the face of the young man, seeing clear the defiance in his eyes. "It is your choice as Hokage after all Kakashi. However, you have lived in this village your entire life. You will be its' leader in a matter of days. The people of this nation have not forgotten the destruction this war has wrought. And they will not forget easily."

Kakashi saw this as the moment to take his leave. Bowing softly, he lunged himself out of Tsunade's window and made his way to his house via the rooftops. Avoiding contact with other people was his main priority. He already had enough of the same questions.

'When is your inauguration?'

'What was it like seeing your old teammate again?'

Forcing every thought out of his head he focused on the warm breeze as it passed through his hair and the sound of his own light footsteps. It wasn't long until he had reached his front door.

Kakashi's apartment was surprisingly small. It consisted of nothing more than a simple bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen with a small living area attached. Kakashi enjoyed his minimalistic dwellings; his multiple missions often kept him away from his living space.

He slowly made his way to the bathroom, replaying the previous conversation over and over in his mind. He closed the door behind him before removing his headband and mask. He extended his hand towards the sink and turned the tap on. He allowed the cool water to pool into his cupped hands before splashing it over his exposed face. As he looked back at his reflection in the mirror he noticed that his left eye was closed. A habit formed after keeping his Sharingan closed for so long. He opened his eye with caution, almost expecting his Sharingan to appear. It didn't. The loss of the Sharingan was the catalyst for Kakashi's reluctance to officially step up as the Hokage. He had no idea how he was meant to protect the village now that he was no longer the 'Copy-nin'. Try as he might, he could not even perform Raikiri anymore. Although he would not admit it to anyone, losing the Sharingan was losing the last piece of Obito he had. Through Obito's last words Kakashi lived with the belief that Obito could see through his eye and Kakashi had hoped that he would have been proud of the ninja he had become. That was all gone now.

But so much had changed. Obito had lived.

Kakashi picked up a towel and dried his face before falling exhausted onto his bed. Thoughts thrashed about his mind like a boat in a storm. Kakashi found himself reminiscing about his time with Team Minato and wondered if Obito would have gone down the same path had he just been a friend to him. It was so obvious to him now that Obito was alone and hurting – just like himself. The difference was Kakashi was always the better ninja and he did have friends. He also had what Obito wanted more than anything: Rin's affection.

"Rin.." he muttered before closing his eyes and begging for sleep to come.