I salute you, Kakashi Gaiden, and all the timeline inconsistencies and plotholes you create!
To Carthage, Burning
Being the focus of three pairs of fully matured sharingan eyes isn't a situation many people survive. Kakashi, unlike his teammates and his father, is a survivor; he is starting to regret this fact. But if the lazy threat spinning in those eyes is to be believed, he knows it won't be an issue for very long. Outwardly, these people look like Obito, but Kakashi knows they can't be related; his teammate had been endlessly cheerful- irritatingly so- and a failure as a ninja, too emotional, too cowardly. These men will kill him in a heartbeat if he shows even the slightest weakness.
(I wasn't too cowardly when it counted, you know.)
(Those who disobey the regulations and let themselves be ruled by emotion are trash.)
(Those who abandon their teammates are worse than trash.)
Kakashi ignores the bickering in his head for the moment; the voices haven't been silent since his return to Konoha, but now he cannot afford the distraction. It's hard enough to concentrate with his vision swimming in and out of focus; everything is highlighted with streaks of bright red and sickly green
He needs to stay focused; Obito would be pissed if he died, after everything his teammate had gone through to ensure that he lived.
(It would serve you right.)
(Worse than trash.)
(What a waste...)
(Damn right I'd be pissed! You asshole! You can't just give up now!)
Quiet. They ignore him. His left eye- Obito's eye- is stinging. He resists the urge to rub at it.
(Sorry, we're sorry, there's something in our eye.)
(There's always something in our eye, such a fucking cry baby, useless excuse for a ninja...)
(You forgot our eyedrops, didn't you? You'll have to pick up some more, 'Baa-san on the corner makes the best, she'll give them to you for a discount.)
Silence. They calm down, for a moment.
The Uchiha stand over and around him, eyes spinning slowly, lazily, filled with predatory malice. Sensei had said they couldn't do anything; this hearing is a formality, nothing more. Families have to guard their bloodlines, after all, and it is simply unheard of for an Uchiha to give something away, much less something so important. Their stinginess is almost as legendary as their bloodline limit.
Kakashi thinks he would have been better off if Obito had been a selfish asshole like the rest of his family members. Take a good look at those eyes, Sensei, and tell me again that they can't do anything. You can't protect us all.
(He'll try. He was good to us.)
(Not that you deserved it.)
"Hatake Kakashi, you are accused of the murder of your teammate, Uchiha Obito. How do you plead?" The clan head's voice is low, confident, and almost amused. You're not going to survive this, brat.
The cool disdain in the clan head's eyes seems to have cowed the voices into silence for the moment. Kakashi is glad; he doesn't like the idea of having a running commentary on his own death sentence. "Not guilty." One of his father's teammates had been an Uchiha.
"Hatake Kakashi, you are accused of the theft of the sharingan eye of your teammate, Uchiha Obito. How do you plead?" The branch-family head is no less confident, but his voice is stern. You thought you could get away with this? Fool.
Had he knelt before a tribunal like this, accused of risking the village for his own stupid sentimentality? "Not guilty."
"Hatake Kakashi, you are accused of breaking Law Twenty-five, endangering your mission and all of Hidden Leaf because of it. How do you plead?" The second branch head vibrates with barely suppressed rage and scorn. How dare you?
(I think the White Fang was a hero.) His father might have been proud- but his father is dead. "Guilty."
(No matter what they say...I believe in you. No matter what. ) It is a shame he can't believe in himself anymore. That last aborted chidori has burned him out; he is drained and charred on the inside, filled with ash. Something is lodged in his throat, sharp edged and rough. Something in his eye, too; he can feel things moving in his blind spot. His chest aches.
"We accept your words as truth." The formalities continue; he has already made this report to the Anbu, the Hokage, and the police force. The clan head's words are weighted with ceremony; he is following a script that Kakashi has not been privileged enough to see. "Tell us how our clansman died." They won't use his name again; alive, he was part of their clan; dead, he is a liability, an un-recovered body.
(Not that you care, either. Excess baggage, remember?)
Don't quote me out of context. They are right, though; he hadn't cared.
(That's right, you were an arrogant, apathetic fuckwit with too much talent.)
(That's a little harsh.)
Stop talking about me as though you weren't doing it inside my skull.
"Tell us how you came by his eye."
(That one's easy, 'jii-san, he ripped out his own and took ours in a fit of- what would you say it was?)
(You're being unkind.)
(Think of it as an eye for an eye, if it bothers you so much.)
(A broken record, that's what you are. That was all you ever said to me when I was alive and now that I'm dead-)
Be silent. Later, he will worry over the fact that he has apparently gone crazy- because he knows losing his mind is preferable to being haunted. He can handle being crazy; it happens to perfectly respectable ninja all the time.
"Tell us how you failed your teammates, your sensei, your mission, your home." In the left half of his vision, he can see faces staring at him, condemning him with their eyes.
"Tell us." Father, disemboweled before their family shrine.
"Tell us." Obito, a mangled, desecrated, eyeless corpse.
"Tell us." Rin, smiling- and that is perhaps the most horrific thing of all.
Each voice rings like a death knell, low and echoing. Bile in the back of his throat chokes any answers he might have spoken, had he any answers for them. He bites his tongue to hold back a scream, and tastes blood. He'd known better than to expect any mercy. He'd known.
His silence irks the Uchiha clan heads. "You kneel before us, a thief and a murderer, and yet you have the gall to keep your face covered?"
(I am a ninja. Weakness is unacceptable. )
(I know I'll always be a loser... )
(There's something in my eye.)
"Remove your mask." He cannot not move. In his mind, he is kneeling next to Rin, face and shoulders bare, as she bandages his arm. She is smiling, always smiling, and Obito is sulking while sensei is laughing and they are all wonderously, perfectly alive. The image transfixes him, and he can do nothing but watch as his two teammates disintegrate into blood and nothingness in the lurid red of the sharingan eye.
The clan head removes his mask, cold fingers catching on the stitches that hold his face together. It hurts; they may as well have stripped him naked. Tears pour from Obito's eye- shame and fear.
(I didn't mean it! I didn't want to die!)
(I couldn't leave her, she was our friend. )
(You were our friend! )
(I don't deserve to be a jounin. I'm not a ninja at all. )
"Shut up," he whispers, touching the tears. They aren't his- he never cries, not even when he knows no one can see him. "Stop talking to me." This is his fault- all his fault. He will face this alone.
(Father died alone. )
SHUT UP. The voices go silent suddenly, finally. He ignores Obito's tears and explains, for the seventh time in half as many days, what happened.
The Uchiha are not impressed. They never are. "We have heard of you, Hatake Kakashi. You are called a genius by many- in our opinion, you resemble your father too much."
The spinning wheels of three sets of sharingan hold him fixed in place. Otherwise, he would have gone for their throats.
"We cannot order your execution, despite your insult to our house." It doesn't matter that the sharingan is a gift; the fault lies with him for accepting it, not Obito for offering it. Not even the Uchiha are cold enough to speak ill of the dead. "Konoha cannot afford to lose any of its jounin, particularly not after losing one of its valuable healers as well."
(See? Sensei was right.)
(They'd be better off killing you.)
"Your theft of the sharingan is made tolerable only by the knowledge that you will be unable to master it properly, and it will prove a distraction that will eventually cause your death."
(There, now don't ever do it again.) He can't tell who is laughing- the voices or the Uchiha. Kakashi is starting to regret accepting Obito's gift. Do you want me to remove you with a kunai?
(You'd never get all of us.)
I could try.
"You will be kept under close supervision while in the village."
"You will be given only low rank missions until your trustworthiness has been proven."
"You will be given one week to decide whether or not you wish to keep our clansman's eye and all the consequences that accompany it."
"It's your fault they're dead."
He looks up sharply, not caring if he is being rude. They hadn't actually said that, had they? The three clan heads stand still, silent and foreboding as statues. "I will abide by your decisions." Abide by the laws and regulations, or you will be nothing but trash. You're a disgrace, worthless, shameful.
(We never thought so.)
Who are you?
(Does it matter?)
"Of course you will."
Red eyes whirl around him, too fast to see.
Humiliation burns like a knife through the eye. Whose eye?
(We saved him, it wasn't his fault!)
It's okay. It's not worth it. They're right. There is still blood in his mouth, where he'd bitten his tongue.
The bickering is endless, and the Uchiha are speaking again, but he hears nothing beyond the ringing in his ears.
If he shuts his eyes, he sees cave walls closing in. He keeps them open even after his vision goes gray, irrationally afraid that if he closes them, there will be nothing but darkness when he opens them again. The voices continue speaking long after he stops listening. He isn't sure which voices they are, anyway.
At some point, he is left alone in the room; eventually, his knees ache. He returns to himself slowly, tasting blood and bile and salt in his mouth.
(Are we okay?) We? He hasnever been a "we." He works best alone, needing no one.
No. If nothing else, he is honest.
His left eye is tearing again. He rubs at it, wearily, and replaces his mask. He can look at the situation rationally; he has always been a rational person. Things could be worse. They hadn't killed him, and he will not be publicly disgraced. His team is gone, but he won't be demoted.
Sensei is still alive, still a hero, and maybe when the war is over, they can hang out and...eat ramen, or something. Talk about things. He isn't really sure how these things are supposed to go, isn't familiar with the etiquette of mourning. Ninja do not mourn, do not feel emotion, do not cry. But sensei will understand, and Kakashi can always pretend he doesn't see the shadow of disappointment in the man's eyes. His own eyes burn- both of them.
Shinobi don't cry. Rule twenty five. (We did. We're sorry.)
Kakashi stumbles out of the Uchiha complex, forehead protector askew. He feels raw and incomplete. Perhaps "broken" is the correct word; he doesn't know. It's best not to dwell on it, he decides. He will go home, and sleep, and tomorrow things will be back to normal. He hasn't slept in nearly a week.
On his way home, though, he'll have to get some of those eyedrops. His eyes won't stop itching.
Kakashi stops by the memorial stone, instead, and listens to the silence.