"The ones that love us never really leave us. You can always find them in here." (points to heart)
Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie

Visiting Hours
Chapter Six: "Friends"

From a professional standpoint, the mission was a complete failure. But from Hatake Kakashi's standpoint, he was the failure. Four genin were badly injured and his team had broken apart because he didn't let himself see the warning signs in Sasuke. Now, Sasuke was gone, Naruto would be leaving soon, and Sakura would commit herself to studying. And here was Kakashi, standing before the collapsed cave that was Uchiha Obito's final resting place.

"Another team broken," he muttered. "I tried, Obito. But in the end, it fell apart."

"Maybe it's because you're stuck in the past?" suggested a voice. Kakashi sighed. Why was it that whenever his ghosts came back to haunt him, it was always Rin and never Obito or Sensei, or even his father? "Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are always looking to the future—to be Hokage, to get revenge and revive the clan, and to get stronger. But you keep remembering the past, and that holds you back."

"So you're saying I should just forget you all?" he asked.

"You know I don't mean that," Rin answered. Kakashi looked up at the darkening skies. It looked like it was going to rain again. "Kakashi, you're stuck. We appreciate that you're trying to honor us, but you're going about this wrong. You need to stop letting the past destroy you. It always used to before, and you haven't learned."

To Kakashi, past or present didn't mean a thing—everything eventually repeated itself in an endless loop. His now-former team was living proof of that. Naruto was a small, louder, blond Jiraiya, but less perverted. Sasuke turned, just as Orochimaru had, in search of power. And Sakura—well, she was different from Tsunade in that she wasn't going to give up on them. But the similarity was still frightening. So too were the similarities between them and Kakashi's first team. In the beginning, Sasuke had reminded Kakashi of himself, so he thought that he'd be able to keep him from repeating his mistakes. Sakura was so much like Rin that it hurt sometimes. And if Sakura's similarity to Rin was painful, Naruto's to Obito was far worse. Sometimes, Kakashi thought Obito had been reincarnated as Naruto, they were that similar. When he saw Naruto half-dead from his battle with Sasuke—honestly believing he was dead—he was reminded of Obito crushed under that boulder.

"When you found Naruto, who did you see?" Rin questioned. "Naruto or Obito?"

"Both," Kakashi confessed.

"Is that why you passed them?"

"No. I passed them because they actually understood the importance of teamwork."

"Maybe Sasuke's forgotten, but Naruto and Sakura haven't. Neither should you."

Kakashi smiled beneath his mask. "I thought it was Sensei's job to lecture me."

"You need a lot of lecturing. You never seem to listen the first time."

"Guess that's something I have in common with all three of my students."

"Don't give up on them," Rin advised. "Take off and train if you have to, but be ready to join Naruto and Sakura when they go to save Sasuke. Because someone who abandons his friends is worse than scum."

And with that, her voice was gone. Kakashi bowed in respect to Obito's grave before turning and leaping away to head back home.