Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Kishimoto's characters in any way, shape or form.
Notes: I'm posting this here in honour of sna's new livejournal community fourbyfour, dedicated to the members of Team Yellow Flash (yay them!) check it out! XD
Spoilers for the Kakashi Gaiden, and extra thanks for everyone who's already given such warm comments and crit XD
BY THE WAY! I suck at ratings, so this is rated for one incident of 'coarse language and minor adult situation.' If you think this is worth an M please let me know and I'll re-rate it accordingly. Thanks XD
Uchiha Obito wants to prove himself.
That's it, that's all; he wants to be the excellent ninja his father and his clan expect him to become, a famous sharingan user like his father and cousins – he wants to be a hero, like his sensei. It is little wonder then, that it's the already almost-famous Hatake Kakashi that becomes his reference point, his horrid fascination, worst enemy and best friend all rolled into one annoyingly well behaved package.
When he'd been assigned his jounin-sensei and gennin team-mates, the Clan had been furious. Obito can remember his father explaining that Hatakes are scum, Obito, do you understand?and he had understood, completely. The first time he metthe genius prodigy for himself, Obito whole-heartedly agreed - Kakashi is total scum, because for Kakashi, it's the Mission that comes first.
The rebuke becomes common in the weeks after Obito graduates as a gennin, the words 'Hatakes are scum' drilling it's way confusingly through Obito's head. The first time he manages to break through that instilled more-kickass-than-thou Uchiha mentality and thinks 'yes, he's scum - because he thinks just like you' Obito finds himself crying.
Later, as the self importance of his clan becomes clear to him, Obito longs for the day when he'll be judged by his own merits, rather than theirs, and for a briefmoment finds himself hating Kakashi a little more for the luck that made him an orphan, that made him a genius, that made him so utterly single minded about what he feels must be done.
He watches Kakashi obsessively, almost.Obito sees the way Rin fawns over the silent boy instead of over him and mistakes all three of themfor being in love. The way Kakashi doesn't respond properly to simple touches and affection and mistakes it all for arrogance. The way Sensei seems to spend so much more time being nice at Kakashi, when he spends so much time being Ninja at them.
Soon, during peace talks,Obito and Rin are finally nominated for the Chuunin Exams - the first one held in several years. The exams are small, not the spectacular event Obito had been expecting, and the nominations include the few students of the Allied Villages who are brave enoughto travel to the war-torn, once-splendid Fire Country.
The peace talks don't work out, and the jounin are sent immediately back out to fight.However, the last leg of the exams is held despite everything - Konoha is desperate for soldiers, after all. The referee's body is found the morning of the third test, and the only available Chuunin to referee truens out to be Hatake Kakashi.
Kakashi makes it purposely difficult for Obito, insists on calling penalties in his opponent's favour when it's clear that Obito has done nothing illegal or incorrect. Later, after he's managed to stop shaking from the sheer force of will it takes not to at least try and use Kakashi's spine as a skipping rope; he realises that he's won, he's a chuunin now, without even the help of the Sharingan!
And later on, Obito realises that by making it harder, Kakashi had simply been expecting more. It's annoying as all hell, but Obito feels flattered, accepted, somehow. After that, Obito stops hungering for the arrogant Hatake's recognition, and decides to work on teaching him about friends.
The famous Yellow Flash of Konoha lives in a world of too-bright colours. His students are full of colour - Rin's earthy solidity and Obito's bright grins, and even Kakashi's colourless grey isbright and glorious against the vivid green of his home.
One day, he thinks, he will die.
He's wanted to become the Hokage since he was a child (and finally there's a sentence he can end with the words: 'since he was younger than Kakashi is is now.') but it's taken many years for him to realise just what that could mean. The title is a death sentence, everybody knows it, every citizen of Konoha has said it a hundred times before. The title is the best death sentence, because the death of the Hokage means everything to these people, these people that he has always wanted to protect.
The Yellow Flash is not afraid of death, but he's terrified of not being good enough to stand out, to make it worthsomething. If the jouninhas a flaw it's vanity; the ability to know he's awesome enough to find a way through the dark and the dank and thesuicide missions. Sometimes he makes certain to come back unscratched, just to prove how much a stupid little drop-out can do.It's a flaw that's made him get up when other's couldn't, and protect a friend who's given up. It's a flaw that still makes Jiraiya-sensei chuckle proudly and ruffle his hair. It's a flawhe's proud of, if it's a flaw at all.
But war seems to suck the colour out of the earth, and the Yellow Flash can't remember when the proud bright redness of his wounds dulled tothat pointless, quiet rust. Kakashi looks more and more at home out here, in this colourless world, and it makes him feel sick when he realises thatObito's made his first and second and twentieth kill, and Rin's techniques have been adapted to hurt as much as heal, and all while he was too busy blinking and protecting his students to notice.
So the Yellow Flash slowly gives up on the too-bright beauty he used to see everywhere - like the sun glinting off the orange tiles of the Hokage's Tower, framed by the deeper russets of the autumn leaves as the forest grows old - and starts trying to accept that the world is crumbling a little, a little more each time the Sandaime Hokage sends another child into a battle field with a kunai and a song.
He's been sleeping longer, or trying to -just minutes at a time -and is less surprised than he should be when one of his students starts to sleep a little less to make sure his team are sufficiently guarded . The jounin starts to listen fondly to the way Kakashi sniffs the air, and wonders how long it will be before they decide to promote him to his teacher's level. With his eyes closed, the future Yondaime starts to hear beauty - in the the humming of the trees and the unbreakable fury of the wind.
It doesn't surprise him, in the end, after months of finding his colour in the sounds of the world, that the most comforting sound he's ever heard is the sound of his student's bickering. The manic excuses, exasperated pleading, and drawling listshad stamped their stroppy little feet across the Yellow Flash's subconscious, and he finds he doesn't mind at all.
Kakashi watches as two newly orphaned kids mourn their losses at the cenotaph, and wonders how someone who could kill before he could read properly can find it this difficult to walk up to one lousy piece of stone? Rin is up there too, and he uses her as a beacon, the way Obito used to years before.
The kids have got furious loss all over their expressions,and half healed wounds across their faces -one pulls awkwardly at the cloth around his neck,fightingtheurge to cover up thatfresh scar tissue. It makes Kakashi want to run a hand over his own scar, the important one, the one from the kunai that gouged his eye out when he was trying to save a friend who'd just die a little later anyway.
He can't quite look at those names just yet, his team is the closest thing he's ever had to a family, really, and it feels beyond wrong to go on without the father of their little group. He feels like he's waiting on some terribly important piece of informaton; because however he looks at it, however proud he is that his Sensei was the one to finally defeat that demon... it's still too much like suicide for Kakashi to understand.
He feels angry, and betrayed. He mentally assesses the torrent of emotions that cause him to dart his visible eye away fromthose names, and away from Rin's caring brown eyes. He feels sick, and as hot tears get caught in the fabric of his hitai-ate he feels horribly frustrated at a world that gave him Obito's eye, of all eyes. He wonders why that cry-baby can't just let him grieve alone for a while, and wonders if he'll ever be truly alone again.
He feels a lot, in the afterglow of that wrenching funeral, and it's slowly overtaking the numb exhaustion he's been survivingon since Obito's death. He feels the angry stares of the Uchiha Clan still prickling up his back, feels the crescents of Rin's nails where she clutched at him during the service, and blindly gropes for her hand again as the sound of her sobs finally breaks through the blood thundering in his ears.
Kakashi has always felt safer with simple creatures, like his dogs, and wants to ask Pakkun whatfourteen year old boys are supposed to do when the world is pulled out from underthem. He wants to work, to just get on being a shinobi, but he thinks Yondaime-sensei might've had a few choice things to say about that.
In the end, Kakashi just smiles, mutters something about heroics and show offs because it seems to cheer Rin up a little, and is the best way he can think of to not throw up.
The tears get caught up in the fabric of the hitae-ate, so Rin never has to see Obito cry, and Kakashi has a new name to visit in the mornings.
So Rin's an orphan. It's a thought that leaves a strange taste in her mouth, like a strange membership to a club she never knew existed. Old veterans give her understanding looks from across the street and she has to bite her tongue to keep from crying in public. She can't imagine what everyone would think of that; after all, she's a kunoichi, not a child.
She's so tired of crying that she's gathered the courage to start pulling the neat little bottles from her father's liquor cabinet. Rin figures she might as well save what she can, and use up what she can't – it's the ninja's way not to keep the clutter of the dead, and somehow between her becoming a medical expert and her Sensei becoming a former Hokage, Rin became an example.
When Kakashi crawls awkwardly in through her bedroom window – just as she's unscrewing the lid of the first glass bottle – she's only slightly surprised that he knows so soon. He ignores the irony of a fifteen year old medic playing with her father's sake just as she ignores the beaten state of his ANBU uniform, but she can't help but mourn the shouting festivities in the street below that prevent her from hearing Kakashi's quiet breathing.
Her eyes fill with tears she refuses to let slip in front of Kakashi – she's cried more in front of this cold little boy in the last few years than she ever thought she could and it burns that he still doesn't care – and she covers by taking a long gulp of the drink, shocked when it burns bitterly down her throat.
He smiles that fake little jester's grin and wordlessly opens a bottle of his own.
A while later Rin somehow ends up sprawling on her bedroom floor while Kakashi's body rubs bloodstains on her bed. She thinks it's sort of fitting, and has already decided to burn those anyway, so that's alright. A lacy, floral patterned cloth is carelessly draped over his head, the lilac and gold fabric covering his bloody ANBU uniform.
"You look ridiculous!" Rin giggles, taking an awkward gulp from whatever it is she's drinking now and shuddering violently.
"Hn. M'a elite assassin, Rin. I never look ridic'lous." Kakashi leans his chin pathetically on his fist, pouting deliciously; lips stained red from the wine he's drunk, and not quite as chewed to pieces as usual.
"Hah!" Rin jumps a little, pointing at Kakashi's strange, sulking appearance from her own sprawled position on the floor beside her bed. "You look fuckin' ridiculous, 'Kashi-kun!"
"Don' call me that." He mutters; and somewhere in her hazy awareness she can see how his tipsy mind is distracted too easily by a glimpse of underwear as Rin shifts carelessly on the floor.
It's almost the last straw; the alcohol has made her loose and philosophical and she wonders exactly what Kakashi's nose would taste like when it's cold. Kakashi is quiet anyway, but he's almost unearthly when he's drunk – or maybe it's because Rin's drunk – but it's like the world is a vacuum and he's all alone inside of it. Rin wonders if that's her now, if that's the club those veterans have accepted her into?
She wants to kiss him badly, the way only a fifteen year old girl can want to kiss the only boy who's ever made her feel so very young. She wants to make him feel something that doesn't end in a killing spree; she wants something that will stop the words My Parents are Dead from chasing the ghosts around her brain.
They blame it all on the alcohol later, when he's still shuddering a little around her and his fingers have left desperate bruises on her hips and she's sure it should've hurt more than that, and kind of wishes that it had.
At the end of all, she just feels empty, and if she wonders why it's only the truly alive that die she doesn't let on. They both seem to wear Obito's fake little smile after that, and she realises that all she could taste on him was herself.