A long time ago, in a journal entry a long ways away, asukaisms on livejournal requested a Kakashi/Rin short. Well, even though it took me FOUR MONTHS (give or take a week) to respond to the request, it is done. Considering this was my first fic with Kakashi in it, I have to say I'm dubious at his characterization. However, asukaisms and the notorious kimi no vanilla were well pleased with it, so I suppose it's better than mediocre. xD;
Naruto not mine, etcetera and so on.
He didn't say a thing when he walked into the apartment. Didn't acknowledge her presence, didn't even look at her. But that wasn't so unusual. She had gotten used to not existing.
She held his discarded mask, stared down at the painted whiskers and slitted eyes, the porcelain edges biting into her palms. The ribbon that would bind it to his face curled loosely around her fingers before draping down to the floor. There was a speck of blood on the mask's brow, smeared from when she had drawn her fingers over it. Dark against smooth white ceramic, it mocked her with its sharp contrast, as if to say, 'I don't belong here, and you know it.' But she didn't bother to clean it off. The next time he returned from a mission it would be back, and she had grown tired of uselessly trying to wipe the blood away.
She didn't know when things had changed, but more importantly, she knew that telling herself this was a lie. Things had never changed. Things have always been like this. She had always been the one on the outside, trying to clean up the mess, trying to pick up the pieces, trying tom end all the wounds and put everything back together again.
She was a fool.
The urge to smash the porcelain mask she held was overwhelming. To throw it against the wall again and again until it shattered under the force of her broken dreams. To drop it on the floor and stomp on it until it caved under the weight of her fears and carefully concealed misgivings. She wanted to break something, to destroy something. To give vent to this bubbling morass of emotion that seethed behind her breast and demanded escape.
She wanted to kill something. She wanted to kill him, because God knew he'd been killed and brought back to life so many times that once more couldn't possibly hurt.
Sensei would be sad if she did, though. He'd look at her with those kicked-puppy eyes and wouldn't say a thing. Wouldn't need to, because the one thing sensei had done best besides living and killing and disappearing in the twitch of a closing eye was saying a million things with a look alone. He'd always had the most expressive eyes.
So had Obito. But sensei was dead, and so was Obito, and Obito's eye was cold and dead and lifeless as a fish's when it stared out of Kakashi's eye socket. It had no business on Kakashi's face.
She'd had no business putting it there.
Rin put the mask back down on the bureau, coiled the red ribbon on top of it, and went to the bathroom to throw up.
The shower always took forever to get warm, for the heater on the first floor to pump gallons of steaming water up three stories of twisting pipes and squeeze scalding droplets through his showerhead. Rin usually let the water run until the mirror over the sink started to fog, but he was more practical. It didn't matter if the shower was hot or cold – the only practical purpose of it was to get clean. Comfort was a non-essential.
Bloody water swirled around his toes and down the drain, like a tiny whirlpool, like the tomoe of a Sharingan, and he stared down at it with both eyes open as if maybe there was a secret down there waiting to be revealed. As though, maybe, if he stared long enough, something deep down that drain would show him a piece of the puzzle that had always been missing. Something that Obito's eye could latch onto and decipher the meanings of and force the translation into his brain, like the hot water through these pipes, burning a path across synapses and neurotransmitters that weren't trained to handle that kind of information, weren't bred for use by a Sharingan, but it was either adapt or risk insanity.
Kakashi adapted. He always did.
The bathroom door opened and closed again. He could tell not just because of the sound, but because of the breeze, the cool air that wafted over the shower curtain, the multitude of scents that came with it. He ignored the intrusion, didn't bother looking up from his perusal of the drain grill. He knew who it was, after all. Her scent was as familiar to him as the scent of blood, sharp and metallic and permeating in its own way. Sometimes he had difficulty picking her scent out on a battlefield because of it – but then, everything eventually smelled like blood to him. It was the one thing everyone had in common, after all.
A plain bar of unscented soap rested on the ledge to his left, half-used and stuck to the plastic of the tray with soap scum, but he didn't bother to reach for it. The lukewarm water pounding on his head and plastering his hair to his neck and running down his face to drip off his nose and chin was too distracting to interrupt. The rhythmic sound of it broke up the scattered images of his thoughts, sooth away the echoing screams of his memory, let him exist without thinking. He concentrated on the steam and the spray and the pressure and watched the water swirl down the drain.
He heard Rin retch into the toilet over the hiss of the shower pounding on the tile, but he ignored it. Kakashi was getting surprisingly good at that of late.
She swallowed, the taste of bile sharp in the back of her throat, bitter like the taste of dreams left unrealized, and she couldn't help but find it appropriate. To be here, vomiting up her fears, purging herself of idyllic unrealities, with Kakashi listening on in silence in the shower.
She wondered if he cared. She was afraid to ask.
Rin wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and flushed the toilet, forcing herself not to wonder if Kakashi would get scalded from the act. If he didn't care about himself, why should she? He could do with his body what he wanted – it wasn't for her to protect him if he wouldn't even protect himself.
But that, too, was a lie, as much of a lie as pretending she had never seen this realization coming. She had seen this realization coming years ago, but foolishly thought that she could teach Kakashi to care for himself. She could tell herself she was over it, that she could not longer care for him in his place, but like a fool she would heal his wounds if she regretted it later. And she always regretted it later.
She knew she needed to leave. She knew she couldn't keep putting up and putting up with his endless self-abuse, because eventually it spilled over and made her want to hurt him too, and she was half-afraid he wouldn't stop her if she tried. She wanted to heal him, not watch him rot piece by piece from the inside. She'd hoped that Obito's death would become a blessing in disguise, to make Kakashi realize that people did love him and to make him stop what he was doing to himself, but instead Obito's death had been a fucking waste, because Kakashi never realized anything, and that only made Rin want to hurt him worse.
She wished she could drag Hatake Sakumo out of his grave and say, 'Look what you've done to your son. Look what your death did to him. Look at what happened when you didn't insist he be a child and just let Konoha mold him into the perfect soldier.' But Hatake Sakumo was dead, killed by his own hand, killed by the tanto his son carried every day into battle, killed because he was too weak to stand up under the pressure of betrayal and thought that suicide, of all things, would clear the blemish on his name that shoudn't have been put there in the first place.
It made her hurt for Kakashi, but even worse it made her fear for him, made her frightened that every time she opened the apartment door she might find him lying in a pool of his own blood, defeated by the demons of guilt both real and imagined. And she just could not could not could not keep living like this.
She had to say goodbye.
Plastic rustled and rattled against metal, the shower curtain pushed open and pulled closed again as Rin stepped into the tub behind him. The sourbitter scent of vomit still clung to her faintly, still hung in the air like blood on a battlefield even though the toilet had been flushed. He wondered what had made her sick. He wondered if it was his fault. And somehow he couldn't bring himself to care enough to fix it, because he'd just make the same mistake again and send her right back to the latrine.
He had seen her naked a dozen times, and she had seen him naked a dozen times more than that; there was nothing awkward about this situation. But it should have been awkward, it should have been at least a little embarrassing when she wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed, still fully-clothed, against his back. He should have felt something, arousal at the very least, but Kakashi couldn't even bring himself to feel that. He was eighteen and she was seventeen and they had lived together for two years and he had never touched her in anything but the most professional manner. There should have been something wrong with that, something wrong with his lack of attraction to any sex, male or female, and he thought Rin knew it, too, but he just. couldn't. care.
Her hair stuck to his skin when she rested her cheek against the back of his shoulder.
"You're bleeding," she said unnecessarily.
"I know," he replied. Blood still swirled down the train from the gash on his thigh, the water from the shower preventing the flow of vital fluid from slowing and clotting and scabbing over. He expected Rin to berate him for it, to order him to turn around so she could attend it, but she didn't.
He was almost glad.
"Kakashi," she said, but didn't continue. It almost sounded like a plea, but for what he didn't know.
He turned his gaze from the drain to her hands, where they were clasped just above his navel. Her embrace was not tight, but her knuckles were white with pressure beneath the water that beaded on her skin. Her hands were pale and small, for all her being a grown woman.
Small like the hands of the child whose throat he'd slit to keep the boy from betraying his presence with a scream. Small like the hands of the young mother whose last act of defiance as she was dying as to stab him in the leg with a kitchen knife.
"It isn't deep," he murmured, and concentrated on the hush of the shower to block the memory of a broken woman's sobs over a dead husband before he ended her life, too. "It will heal."
Rin shifted against his back, clothing clinging to his skin, skirt slapping wetly against the backs of his knees. "They always do," she replied, and sounded vaguely hopeful as she said it.
He resented that, somewhere down under the thick layer of apathy and numbness. Kakashi wanted to keep these wounds, wanted to guard them like precious child, to count over them at night and remember each one's fond memories. But Rin always smoothed them away from the cuts could bleed him out, traced away the scars with her child-like hands, forcing him to live with a phantom patch-work quilt of skin that only he could see.
That, and the screams and the sobs and the moans of battle, like some kind of hideous mockery of sex, with cries of completion as death stole his victim's lives away echoing in his sleep. She could take the scars away, but at least the sights and sounds of his conquests would always remain locked behind his eyes, behind Obito's eye, where they couldn't be reached. At least he had the nightmares to remind him.
She sighed, a soft sound, a whisper of hot breath against his skin, and it sounded like a dying man's last gasp of air.
"I'm leaving," she said, and paused. "On a mission."
"When?" he asked. He would probably be gone again by the time she returned, but it paid to know these things in advance.
"Now," she said, and let go.
The water was still lukewarm, but when she let him go it was as though all the cold air in the room rushed in to replace her presence. Standing in her minimal warm left him freezing afterward, and for a dangerous half-second he wanted her to wrap her arms back around him and stay. Even though she was behind him, if her arms were around his waist he would know she was real, he would know that she was alive and safe. If she wasn't touching him he could only smell her, that scent of blood and vomit and death, and that made her just as ephemeral as a dream.
He didn't want her to join his nightmares.
But instead of asking her to stay, instead of asking if he could go with her, he asked, "When will you be back?" and stared down at the drain.
"I don't know," she said, and left.
Rin didn't take anything with her. She'd lived with Kakashi for two years, but there was nothing in that apartment to take with her, not even her broken dreams. She left those on the bureau with his stained and painted porcelain mask.
Rin hadn't taken anything with her, for she had nothing to take, so when they brought back her body there was nothing for Kakashi to keep but his nightmares and the regret that he hadn't asked her to stay.