Kakashi finds someone he's been looking for. Vagueish Kakashi Gaiden spoilers. One-shot.
Good songs to listen to while reading: 'Delicate' and 'Cold Water' by Damien Rice from the 2004 album 'O'.
The stars looked beautiful tonight. And from the silence fallen over Konoha it looked like Hatake Kakashi was the only one awake to see them. Lying against the sloping tile toof next to his apartment, the young Jounin swaps the arm cushioned behind his head for the other and lets it lie flat at his side. He's supposed to be asleep, he knows, but he's always liked night better than day and its rare he lets himself relax outside the security of his apartment. For a moment he wonders why he feels so calm and still tonight, but decides to just let it be because it doesn't happen often without the aid of copious amounts of sedatives and/or bloodloss so he should take it while its going.
He can see furthur into the starry sky than he has in a long time and he remembers someone he treasured very much who taught him how to really look at them, and what to see. He's considering pushing up his hitae-ite so Obito can see too when his silence and still is interrupted.
"Thinking anything special?" a voice asks from behind him. Kakashi almost groans, he's hallucinating - his sanity has finally got to that stage. He doesn't turn around, hoping it's just a voice he can ignore, but then he realizes he can sense somebody behind him, and smell just the faintest hint of lavender.
Lavender like the color of a precious person's stripes.
Blinking he gets to his feet and turns around. Standing there behind him, her hands linked loose behind her back and a painfully fond look in her eyes is someone he lost a long time ago. She's taller but not as tall as him, her figure has changed but those were still her shoulders and legs. Her dark hair is still short and curved to frame her round face, her pale purple stripes still angle over her cheeks and her eyes...
Those eyes. His whole body freezes as he meets them and knows this can't be a hallucination because those eyes are the warmest, most gentle brown and he couldn't mistake them for anything other than her eyes.
But you... you're gone. You di-
She reaches up and touches the side of his face, on the bare skin just below his temple and the sensation makes his knees nearly buckle and his whole body shoot through with warmth from her fingertips. He can only look down at her in shock beyond measure because she's just proven she's real and she's right there with him and he doesn't care how or why but she's come back to him.
"Rin..." he whispers, and she smiles up at him because she can hear everything unsaid in the way he says her name.
They sit just a little apart and look out over the village and don't really talk, they never really talked. Well, he never talked, she did - but only when there was something he needed to be told. A part of him wonders if Rin ever minded too much and he's about to open his mouth to ask when she turns to him and smiles a little sadly.
"We missed each other didn't we?" she asks him, and Kakashi can see so much of the beautiful, bright girl he'd known in the person next to him.
He nods, because looking at her makes it hard to speak. Rin's huge, kind brown eyes hold his for a long moment and then she slowly, carefully reaches out to put a hand over his. Her movements and touch are very delicate and its almost as if he's a wild creature she's trying to earn the trust of and he can appreciate how perceptive she's always been.
"I'm still not sure this is real," he confesses quietly, glad she can't see the look on his face because he's sure its not one he's comfortable letting anybody see. Even Rin because its been so long since...
An understanding smile, "Good things do happen, Kakashi. It's not all blood and loss," He can feel her hand pressing a little harder against his and suddenly understands how much she's missed him too.
"It can't be, or the stars wouldn't shine," she finishes and they can each see the starlight reflecting off the other's eyes.
The wind rises and even though he's fascinated by how it makes her deep mahogany hair flit to and fro he suggests they go inside and a few seconds later he's holding out a hand to guide her over the crowded windowsill and into his small, rundown little apartment. She steps in gracefully and not for the first time he has to remind himself that she is a ninja and a very, very good one at that. Dropping silently to stand on the wooden floorboards she turns and gasps a little in happy surprise, reaching over to touch the potted plant on the window.
"Mr Ukki... how are you doing?" she asks solicitously, ruffling the green leaves and almost grinning with fondness at Kakashi's roommate. "Has Kakashi been behaving himself?"
Kakashi takes the opportunity to surruptitiously kick his copy of Icha Icha Paradise under the bed and is suprised to hear himself protest, "Whatever he tells you it's not true," as if the raggedy plant can tell her anything. Of course, maybe Rin can understand plants so its better safe than sorry.
Rin can't hold back a giggle and turns to look at him standing there with his hands shoved into his pockets. For just a second he sees a look on her face, as if she's come home after a very, very long journey and she loops her hands behind her back and glances around. He remembers that she's been in here before, and follows her gaze around the place that's been home since he was six years old.
"It's not really changed," she says and he's not sure if that's relief or sadness she hears in her voice. He shrugs a little, "Are you thirsty or anything?" he asks and she shifts her gaze from the dented dresser in the corner and nods.
"Some tea would be nice," she says and Kakashi smiles under his mask for the first time since he saw her. Rin always liked tea.
A few minutes later they're in his microscopic kitchenette and he's leaning against the wall because there's only one chair and he left it for her to sit in. The water is almost boiled and Rin is again looking around with a far away look in her eyes.
"This place seemed so much bigger back when we were little," she says, and looks over to him with a little mischief in her eyes.
"Do you remember the time you got that horrible fever so Sensei broke quarantine and moved in with you?" she asks.
Kakashi nods, how can he forget. Of all the things their Sensei had been, a good cook was not one of them. After barely surviving his first few culinary attempts the pair of them had lived on carry-out, canned chicken soup and Rin's herbal remedies for two weeks because Konoha's future Yondaime couldn't stand the idea of Kakashi on his own in the apartment while so sickly.
"I told him I'd do it but he said I'd want to kill you after a few days," she tells him.
"He was probably right," Kakashi admits. God, he'd been such a little bastard when he was young.
She smiles, "How did that work out anyway? The two of you stuck in here?"
"He got more sick than me so I wound up looking after him," Kakashi tells her, and she has to clap her hands over her mouth to fight down her giggles, he thinks she's incredible because she can still really laugh. "And he snored like a chainsaw," Kakashi adds, not voicing what both of them knew, that it all paled next to the fact that their Sensei had gotten in shit like you couldn't believe from Sandaime-sama for letting himself get infected so he could stay with his student.
Rin squeezes her eyes shut, and he sees her face change as she looks down at her hands.
"I miss him so much," she says as he set her tea down on the fold-down table. Her eyes grow a little sharper and more tired, "Everything feels... unsteady, without him," she whispers.
Kakashi nods, he knows, he feels it everyday. But then he realizes she hasn't looked up so he says "I know," and Rin looks up to meet his eye.
"But its gotten better in the last hour or so," he says.
Now they've abandoned the cramped cooking space and are back in the main room.
"It's late" Rin says.
"Have anywhere to stay?" he asks.
She shakes her head, so for the first time in his life he says, "Stay with me?"
She nods. It's all they need to say.
It's just starlight through the window and Kakashi wonders at how much brighter than moonlight it seems, even though he knows its barely enough to cast a shadow with. He feels Rin's ankle pressing against his and hopes the sun never comes up.
They haven't said a word. The communication's all in their eyes and Kakashi distantly remembers that it should be strange for her to be seeing Obito when she looks at him. But she reached over at the start and when he pushed his hitae-ite up she gently ran her thumbs over each eyelid to say 'hello' to them both.
No one's ever been able to make him understand like that before.
And the shiver that ran through him at her touch couldn't be held down that time. She'd let him pull down his mask so he could let her see his face and she'd smiled a heartbreakingly proud little smile at him when he did. Then she'd tentatively brushed a finger over the groove he'd bitten by habit into his lip, that nobody else knew was there, and before he knew it she'd kissed him right there and he was kissing her back and holding on tight and...
Now they're lying there, still fully clothed and just looking at each other. There hasn't been anything more tonight and there won't be. They're both exhausted, in their bodies and their hearts and their minds but they won't sleep because the other one is there. They need to get used to each other again, need to reconnect and get over the pain of separation and the fears of this new part of their connection. It's very breakable... very delicate.
Rin's hand is resting on his neck, and she can feel his pulse gently, calmly thumping through. It's as though she needs to make sure he's alive and there with her, and he can understand that. Her other one is wound around his thumb, cradled in the palm of his hand and resting on the bed between them. He feels a sense of debt and awe, holding that hand, one that's brought him back to life over and over. It's so small, and soft in his rough palm and he doesn't know if he'll be able to let go. As for him, he's got his free hand gently stroking the pale lavender stripe running over her cheek as she watches him with those warm, empathetic eyes that have never, ever been any other way towards him.
He wonders what she's seeing when she looks at him and decides it can't be anything too awful because she's got a peaceful smile on her sweet face. The starlight is fading into dawn by the time either of them speak and Rin squeezes his thumb and he knows she's about to start again where he made her stop when they were twelve years old. Back when both their lives had just been cut and never healed.
"Kakashi, my feelings..." she whispers, and he feels his heart twitch involuntarily in his chest. She shifts her fingers on his neck and he realizes she must have felt it too. He bites his lip just a little and she presses her forehead against his, holding on to him gently to let him know he can run if he wants to but he'll take part of her with him. Her eyes can't be more than a few millimetres away from his and they're breathing each other's air.
"...I understand you. So I love you,"
He decides that Rin can probably hold lengthy conversations over tea and biscuits with Mr Ukki because if she can understand him she can understand anything. He's about to say something back, something he hadn't understood until now but when he opens his mouth the starlight dies and everything goes black.
I love you.
Kakashi kicked out slightly in his bed and cracked his toe off the wall. That woke him up with a start and he was suddenly bolt upright with his hands reaching out for someone who wasn't there. It took too short a time for him to understand what had happened, and when he realized Rin wasn't with him and things weren't as he'd been dreaming he had to grit his teeth against a snarl of anger and pain and grief that wanted to claw up out of him and make the world understand some of the hurt in his heart.
But his careful self-control held him down and he just took long, deep breaths to try and calm himself. He pushed his forehead against his knees and remembered where he was. A hostel somewhere, and Team 7 was on their way to a mission on a farm half a day's walk away and he'd only been dreaming because Rin wasn't here and she never would be.
It was just a dream, you have them all the time.
But all the time they weren't like that. They weren't peaceful and calm and beautiful and tender like that. His dreams were always nightmares and they always involved blood and death and loss that he thought enough about in his waking moments. They were always perfectly detailed in the things people said, the noises they made, the looks on their faces but this time... this time it was a blessing not a curse.
It was just a dream, it wasn't real.
Part of it was. The part where Rin loved him. And, now he was being forced to admit and understand, the part where he couldn't go on without admitting it to her because he-
It wasn't real. Calm down. Don't start with yourself now, you're on a mission and the kids are next door and if you admit-
He loved her too.
And just like that the self-control shattered like he'd always known it would. He groaned and pushed his face into his pillow and worked hard not to make too much noise as he cried bitter, heart-broken tears into the fabric. Bitter at himself for never being able to reach back to her; at the war that had taken him from her and her from him and fucked both of them up beyond repair. Heart-broken because he'll never get the chance to tell her now, and even worse she'll never know.
It took more effort than he imagined to calm himself down and he fisted his hands into his eyes to make them stop crying. Surprisingly this time the Sharingan one stopped first, it took maybe ten minutes for his own black eye to stop watering uncontrollably. Dragging himself out his bed he started the search for whatever the hell it was that made him dream like that and had to hold out his hands to balance because for some reason he felt dizzy and weak like he hadn't in forever. He looked around the room and seeing nothing, walked carefully over to the small window that led out to the garden of the hostel he'd booked himself and the three kids into for the night. He's very glad something made him book a separate room for himself tonight, or he'd probably have had alot of impossible explaining to do to Sasuke right about now. Naruto no doubt would have slept through anything he might have done - up to and including set off an explosive tag.
He got to the window and disabled the traps he set on it before pushing it open. The night air spilled in and he looked down.
There was a lavender bush just outside his window.
He closed his eyes and clenched his fists, cursing his subconscious and his over-sensitive nose and - knowing he wouldn't sleep again that night - he leaned against the windowsill and looked up into the stars. He let the gentle fragrance of lavender tickle his nose and as he raised his eyes to the dark, bright heavens he could almost feel her fingers in the starlight on his face.
R and R please, it's the only way I'll learn.
(P.S.: Who knows if Rin's stripes are orange (as seen in anime) or purple (as seen in manga Kishimoto's artwork)? I went with purple cos they look nice and I figured Kishimoto's own pictures probably said the truth but does anybody know for sure?)