Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters, but those that I make up are rightfully mine.
Explanation: Being a sequel to Nakama, Touketsu no Namida follows Kakashi as an ANBU, treading down dark and dangerous paths that can well lead to the destruction of his mind. As Nakama became an AU, I guess this will also be one, since I'll be using Midori's name and history.
It would be advisable to read Nakama before reading this fic.
Blood. Many droplets of it clung miraculously to the sharp blade of a katana. One by one, the drops slid down the length of the sword, slowing only when they reached the very tip of it. There they gathered once again, then dripped off one by one once more, pulled by the force of gravity. After several fractions of a second, they splattered onto the thin blades of grass that grew from the early spring soil. The katana was held loosely in the shinobi's hand, hanging almost vertical to the ground. Trails of water painted the arm that held the weapon, originating from the soaking clothes that the ninja wore. The dark sleeveless shirt was plastered to the lean body, and layered over it was the thin and flexible silver metal plate that fitted close around the torso. Long, dark gloves reached halfway up his upper arms, though leaving the swirled tattoo of his left arm revealed, vivid against the pale skin. Along his lower arms and continuing until the base of his fingers on the back of his hands, was also a metal protector.
The ANBU, marked with the characteristic animal mask stood motionless on the forest floor. The rain poured down from the dark, heavy clouds, oblivious to the fact that it was still before sundown. The surroundings were dark and hazy through the countless curtains of falling water. The rain washed away the blood; the earth absorbed everything into its embrace.
The shinobi raised his free, left hand to the mask and pulled it slowly down. He stopped when he had lowered it enough so that just his eyes peered over the top of it. They were closed, but he opened them, revealing the unnatural red left eye under a hideous, vertical scar. Both eyes took in the scene before him in one sweeping gaze. Eight bodies of dead shinobi lay scattered around him, some still with their eyes open with a disbelieving expression etched into those glazed pupils. The ANBU closed his eyes once again and replaced the mask over his face.
Silence reigned for only a brief few seconds before the faintest thuds announced the arrival of several shinobi. The ANBU did not stir. The new arrivals, also wearing the Konoha ANBU uniform, straightened out of their battle ready stances and relaxed a little. They dropped down onto the ground and one of them approached the still shinobi.
"We're finished here," he said. "Let's move."
The shinobi nodded, absently swiping his katana through the air to rid it of the blood and rain, then he replaced it in its sheath strapped to his back. The four other ANBU turned and disappeared into the trees without a sound. One of them glanced back to make sure he was coming, and paused, when he saw that he still hadn't moved.
"Hatake," he called. Finally, Kakashi turned from the circle of shinobi that he had killed, and followed his group in silence.
Kakashi stood under the shower that was turned almost to the maximum. He allowed the warm water to drench his silver hair and stream down his well toned, muscular body. His eyes were closed, and his head tilted back so that his face received the stinging droplets of the water. Despite having been under the shower for almost ten minutes, he could still smell the stench of blood on himself.
From beyond the door, he could hear snippets of conversations from the other shinobi, as he was using the showers in the changing rooms below the ANBU headquarters. They were mostly casual talks, and the mentioning of their various missions was often left out. The word 'often' did not imply 'always'.
"Say, you were on the mission with Hatake Kakashi, weren't you?"
"I was assigned on the same mission as him last week. I felt really uneasy around him. It's not like I don't like him or he's mean, but there's just something strange about him."
"I know what you mean. He killed eight enemies in one go. He's a real genius, being so young, but you inevitably also think of the word term 'killing machine'."
"There are so many rumours about him, you know."
"Sh! Not so loud."
"Things like he openly defied the whole Uchiha Clan's decision."
"Oh that event, like a year and a half ago, if I remember correctly."
"It's weird to think that he's actually using an eye that belonged to his friend."
"People say that manipulating that eye should have been impossible for anyone who didn't possess the Uchiha blood."
"That's one of the things that freaks me out about that kid."
Kakashi reached down to turn the water off and put an end to their foolish gossiping. He didn't care what they thought of him, or how they talked about him, but he found it dull and boring to listen to their hushed whispers. When he was turning the water knobs off, however, he heard someone close the door of the changing room with a loud bang.
"What is this, a secret conspiracy?" the new voice, a male, said loudly. "You guys are too old for childish rumours and not old enough for old women's gossips (granted, you're guys who'll never (hopefully) become women). Now get out of here if you're finished. The ANBU changing rooms aren't meant for social gatherings!"
"Hatori-san!" a few muttered with surprise. "Excuse us."
Kakashi turned the tap completely off and pushed aside the curtains. He stepped out into a small cubicle. He pulled the towel off a rail and dried himself, then slung it across his shoulders. He dressed the lower half of his body in casual trousers, fixed the dark mask over his mouth and nose, then slid the door open. He kept his left eye closed. A few of the shinobi were still there, closing their lockers. They avoided glancing at him and swiftly made their way out of the room.
Tanaka Hatori turned away from his locker and made his way to the showers with a towel in his hands. He was a high ranking ANBU in his latter twenties and he often led missions of high value. His brown hair was only long enough for it to be tied into a short, thin tail at the back of his neck.
"Hi there," he said. Kakashi bowed his head in a nod but said nothing. As he went to his locker, he heard Hatori chuckle softly to himself and mutter, "I think they define it as reticence."
Kakashi hung up the damp towel and pulled on the plain, navy shirt of a Jounin outfit. He also placed the Konoha Hitai-ate over his forehead and pulled the left side of it over the Sharingan eye. He had left the vest that he hardly wore nowadays in his apartment. As he was about to close the locker his eye fell on the katana that was leaning against the side. It smelled strongly of blood even at the distance. Kakashi closed the locker completely and walked out of the room.
The dimly lit corridors were empty, but he met a group of ANBU coming down the stairs. They brushed passed without a word, and Kakashi made his way up towards the main entrance. The rain had stopped, but it was still dark. The lights were on in most of the buildings and the street lamps glowed orange.
Kakashi stuffed his hands into his pockets and leapt lightly up onto the rooftops. He was in no mood to run into anyone. He wasn't hungry or thirsty, he wasn't tired, he didn't want to do anything, he didn't need to do anything, and he didn't know what he would do even if he did go back to his apartment. His mind was blank, except for a dark red hue that resembled wet blood too much.
Closing his eye, he leapt silently across the roofs, and when he found no more, he ran like a shadow over the grass and into the trees. He didn't have to think; his body acted on its own, and Kakashi stared at the black Memorial Stone once his feet had stopped moving. He stared at it for a few minutes, then he crouched before it and reached out to brush the tips of his fingers down the cold face until he reached Obito's name. There were a few others carved after his.
"Obito," he whispered, his voice almost void of any emotion. He allowed his knee to sink down onto the wet ground as he continued to stare unseeingly at his best friend's name. The fabric of his trousers began to soak the water of the soil, spreading the cold over his skin once again, but he hardly noticed the small details of his body's discomfort. His eye was fixed on his hand and he saw blood trickling freely over them. It wasn't his blood. It was the blood of those he had killed.
Obito, your blood is also here staining my hand. Even if all the others washed away someday, your blood will always stay.
For a second, he saw his friend smiling so sincerely, bleeding and dying in his arms. Then the image faded, as abruptly as it had come. Kakashi's expression did not change. He had seen and watched that scene too many times to even try and count.
His thoughts took him suddenly down another path. The ANBU.
He had spent nearly half a year to rebuild his body to its former condition after his encounter with Orochimaru and the Sharingan transplantation. After the hospital had confirmed his full recovery, he had resumed missions. They had often involved leading a small group of shinobi, but the Hokage had given him occasional solo missions from time to time. He had continued that regular life style for roughly half a year, when he had heard the sudden news.
Kakashi stood with his hitai ate drawn down over both his eyes to use as a blind hold. He was in the middle of a clearing in the most unused regions of the training grounds. As a wild bird gave a cry in the distant, he pivoted on one foot, spinning clockwise. In his right hand, he held numerous kunai, which he flung one at a time during his movement. They all hit the marks he had intended to, which consisted of various wires connected among the first line of trees and branches. Beyond that, he had erected a thin wall from the ground to make sure no wanderer got injured.
He heard the sharp pangs of snapping wires and the whistling rush of further weapons. Although he did not immediately stop his spin, he strained his ears to listen beyond the scratching of the dry ground beneath his feet. He had set up traps at random, and had no idea which of them he had hit first.
He waited, then began to shift his body very slightly and in a flowing motion. Moving lightly over the ground, he ducked and spun, leapt and twisted his body. In the matter of a second or two, he stood still again and pulled up the forehead protector from his right eye. The weapons numbering roughly thirty odd were scattered around him in the ground or the trees. He remained unscathed and his expression didn't change as he scanned the area.
"Bravo, let's call for an encore."
Kakashi sighed and turned to his left to the source of the voice and slow clapping. He squinted his eye against the sunlight that threw its bright rays in his direction. A figure squatted on the top of the ring wall he had made, silhouetted by the afternoon sun.
"What do you want, Yuki-san?" he asked. He didn't need to see the face to know who the presence and voice belonged to.
"What an impertinent way to greet a friend," Yuki scoffed, straightening and stepping down from his observation seat. He grinned nevertheless as he approached Kakashi and he raised his hand in casual greetings. "How're you doing?"
"Fine," Kakashi replied nonchalantly.
"I can tell that much," Yuki muttered, glancing around at all the weapons. He raised an eyebrow. "Kage Bunshin?"
Kakashi simply nodded. The mass numbers of shuriken and kunai disappeared in small puffs of smoke, leaving only five original weapons, which Kakashi retrieved and placed them back in his holster. When he straightened, he turned his head to face Yuki.
"And, what do you want? You couldn't have come without a reason," he said.
Yuki shrugged. "Truth be told, I wanted to ask if you wanted to come out for a drink this even – I'm joking, I'm joking, stay here!" he shouted hurriedly as Kakashi was ready to spring over the earthen wall. Kakashi threw him a rather dry, humourless look but he slid his hands into his pockets and didn't move. Yuki sighed and scratched the back of his head distractedly.
He closed his eyes momentarily, and when he opened them again, they were serious and devoid of any playfulness. He dropped his hand and reached into his pocket, pulling out a thin scroll. He brought it in front of him and looked down at it with slightly narrowed eyes. Kakashi, feeling the difference in Yuki's attitude turned around to completely face him and also cast the scroll a glance.
"This is from the ANBU," Yuki said. "They're offering you a position as an ANBU agent."
Kakashi was surprised to hear this. "ANBU?"
Yuki nodded. "To be exact, they already had their eyes on you two years ago. You and Obito. I managed to stop them back then, reasoning that you were still too young and inexperienced to manage in the ANBU. The matter was put away, but ever since you've successfully mastered the Sharingan, they've been pressing more and more."
Kakashi walked over to him and Yuki gave him the scroll. He untied the string and opened it, scanning through the brief, formal letter, simply stating that the ANBU wished to have him as a member.
"This is merely an invitation, it's not obligatory," Yuki said. "You can turn it down without any – "
"I accept it."
Yuki slowly closed his mouth and he sighed almost inaudibly. He tried to search Kakashi's eye, but it was fairly well shuttered as usual.
"Alright," Yuki said quietly. "I'll inform them about that, and they'll send for you."
He watched Kakashi turn and walk away from him. He was about to leave as well, when he heard Kakashi mutter something back to him.
"I'm sorry, Yuki-san," he whispered softly.
Kakashi straightened before the Memorial stone. Slowly he turned and walked back through the dark training grounds with his hands in his pockets and his eye cast down on the wet ground without really seeing it. He had joined the ANBU in search for strength and a busier life. He had acquired both of them over the course of roughly six months since he had joined the ANBU, but his mind still found the time to brood over the past. Kakashi closed his eye and continued back to his apartment.
Before the sun had risen and before most of the villagers had become to stir, Kakashi walked silently down the streets of Konoha. It was still dark with only a few thin rays of light in the distant East. The rain had fled and the clouds that were visible were merely thin streaks across the dim sky.
He once heard the slurred laughter of drunken men in the distance, but it soon faded and he was left in silence once again. He had no assigned missions that day, but he intended to go the ANBU headquarters to retrieve his katana and then head towards one of the confined training arenas.
Just then he felt the presence of two people getting closer to where he was. It didn't take long for him to pick up the quiet padding of feet running over the ground and hoarsely whispered shouts.
"It's your fault we're late!" said a girl's voice accusingly.
"I'm terribly sorry," snapped back a boy. "Somebody told me the wrong time!"
"Are you blaming me?"
"Oh forget it; I'm not bothered to argue with you so early in the morning."
"Take it back then."
"Drop it, Mie."
Kakashi stopped a second before the two burst out of a smaller street on his right. They continued a few paces before the boy noticed him and abruptly came to a standstill, earning a seething curse from the girl who nearly crashed into him.
"Yo, Kakashi," greeted the boy, doubling back the small distance. His head was covered by a thin, navy cloth with the knot above his forehead. Between his teeth he held a long piece of stick and he wore the standard Chuunin vest.
"Morning Genma," Kakashi replied quietly.
"You're up early as usual," Genma said with a grin. "I wouldn't be bothered if I were you."
"Aren't you running late?" Kakashi muttered.
"He's absolutely right!" shouted the girl, Mie. She emphasised her point by slamming her fist down on Genma head. He winced and swore under his breath, but didn't have the time to retaliate before Mie grabbed the back of his shirt and began to haul him away. Kakashi watched with little amusement for a moment, until a thin, shrill cry drew his attention to the sky where a bird was soaring overhead. Mie and Genma stopped for a moment as well.
"I guess that's for you," Genma said, glancing back down at Kakashi who merely nodded. Genma looked back up at the bird, and then was almost toppled off balance by Mie again. Grumbling, he was about to bid Kakashi goodbye, but he was no where in sight. He blinked and shrugged.
Kakashi was already in the air, picking out a quicker route to the headquarters over the rooftops. The bird that had by now flown away had been one to indicate the need for his immediate presence. Still, his mind wandered and he suddenly recalled his first meeting with Genma. Obito had been there as well. They had still been Chuunin, and Genma had been furious that he was still a Genin. Since the war had ended, Genma had passed the reorganised Chuunin exam. The only reason Kakashi became properly acquainted with him was because he had once led their team through a mission, shortly after he had finished his rehabilitations. Although Genma had been stiff towards him at first, he had gradually grown friendlier and now often asked Kakashi to help his training.
Kakashi withdrew from his memories as he landed back on the ground and looked up at the ordinary building before him. No signs or marks were placed over the entrance to attract attention, and it looked to be a small, one floored office building. Hatori was standing by the entrance, clearly waiting for him. Kakashi walked towards his superior and after an exchange of nods, they entered the ANBU headquarters without a word. As soon as they were inside, Hatori closed the door securely and stopped. Kakashi glanced at him questioningly.
"An emergency mission from Sandaime that reached us just now," Hatori explained. "You are to head down towards the southern most part of the peninsula in Fire Country. A team of Chuunin was sent on a C rank body guard mission, but a recent missing nin from the Mist Country seems to have made his way to where the team is. They encountered the missing nin last night and sent a message for help. You will be going as a pair with a Jounin. Your mission is to aid the team and kill the missing nin."
"If it's just a missing nin, I can take care of it by myself. I can travel faster – " Kakashi began.
"The Jounin is the team's teacher," Hatori cut in with a shake of his head. "Take him with you."
"Fine, I understand."
"Good, then get ready and meet the Jounin at the South Gate as soon as possible."
Kakashi descended the stairs and entered the empty changing rooms, walking straight to his locker. He changed into his uniform from his regular Jounin outfit, and pulled his canine mask over his face. He strapped his katana to his back and was about to close the locker when he glimpse a second blade. The Hakkou Chakra Tou. His father's old sword. Without much thought about it, Kakashi took it as well and swiftly left the room. While he walked back up the stairs, he attached the second blade vertically down his back, under his ANBU katana.
The dawning light was filtering into the village when Kakashi arrived at the gate. To keep himself out of plain sight, he waited in the shadows of the great wooden doors for the Jounin. It wasn't long before he arrived, leaping down from the buildings. Kakashi was surprised when he looked to see who it was.
"Akira-san," he muttered as he pushed off the wall. Akira turned to him, clearly surprised as well. He blinked, a slight frown pulling his brows together.
"That voice," he muttered, "Hatake Kakashi? The ANBU they were talking about was you?"
Kakashi nodded. "Gai's team, then, is it?"
"I'm afraid so," Akira said. "I was away on my own mission when they received theirs, and they have completed C rank missions on their own, so I wasn't worried. Let's hurry."
The gates were opened and they leapt immediately up into the trees for quicker passage. They both kept their silence while they travelled, and Kakashi used the branches a little higher to keep some distance between Akira.
Since the days when Kazuma had trained Obito and Kakashi, Gai had achieved the rank of Chuunin along with his two team mates. After Obito's death, Kakashi rarely saw him, and it wasn't until he had fully recovered that Gai suddenly began challenging him to 'rival duels'. So far it was 7 wins to 0 losses for Kakashi, as Gai continuously mentioned, vowing each time to beat him.
Gai's teams mates were a boy named Jun and a girl called Yuina. Kakashi had come to know them a little better since they often came along with Gai to watch the so-called duel. It never lasted more than a few minutes in any case so Yuina and Jun would usually drag him into a conversation while Gai was left to recover. Nevertheless, Gai was currently the strongest in his team, and he had become a Chuunin half a year before Yuina and Jun. Just as Kazuma had done with Midori, Obito and Kakashi, Akira had begun to withdraw himself from his team to make sure they could learn things on their own.
Kakashi suddenly felt the strong desire to turn back and return to the village, back to where Kazuma might be, and Obito and Midori, reassuring and comforting, welcoming him back. Immediately on impulse, he smothered the feeling and reprimanded himself for being so weak. He ground his teeth together, his hands tightening into fists and his feet slammed harder against the branches. He was on a mission; he had better things to do than wallow in self pity.
Akira glanced up at the young ANBU when he felt a slight disturbance in his steady, swift pace. There didn't seem to be anything wrong, but he didn't miss the boy's clenched fists. He had no way of knowing what Kakashi was thinking, but his mind automatically saddened. He looked back down in front of him, and though he was still worried about his team, he couldn't help but think that to the time many years ago. Kazuma, he's a strong kid, but he's heading towards dangerous edge.
Kazuma raised his right hand with his index and middle finger raised. He stood before the Third Hokage with a group of Jounin gathered behind him in the meeting room. Akira stood among the Jounin and watched with surprise that was reflected in the faces of all of those gathered.
"The Kazuma led Team Two, Hatake Kakashi, Uchiha Obito and Nakamura Midori. Under the name of Yukisaka Kazuma, I nominate them to take part in the Chuunin Selection Exam."
The room fell silent for a moment, and then a murmur rose at once. Kazuma and Sarutobi locked gazes and stared into each other's eyes for a long moment. It was the latter who spoke and in doing so, effectively silenced the other noises.
"Kazuma, your team has definitely met the requirements for entering the Exam, but you must remember that they are still very young, and the Exam is particularly dangerous. Do you still wish to nominate them?"
"Very well, then. Next, those who are leading former Genin groups, step forward."
Once the Jounins had all finished nominating the Genins who wished to enter the Exam, the Hokage dismissed everyone and they slowly left the room. Akira made his way over to Kazuma and walked along side him.
"Are you sure about what you're doing?" he asked.
"Yes," Kazuma replied.
"If I remember correctly they're still around six years old," Akira said. "No one's entered the Chuunin exam at such a young age."
"I'm not worried about their skills," Kazuma responded, "and their teamwork is something to admire. I am nominating them because I believe it will be a good experience, not because I want them to quickly climb the ranks. On the contrary, I am hoping that they will survive the Exam, but not pass it." He smiled, but with sad eyes. "I am too selfish at times, Akira."
But Kakashi became a Chuunin on his first try, and no matter how much you tried to hold them down, the other two quickly followed two years after. When they were ten, the girl was killed in battle. Soon after that, Obito and Kakashi rose into Jounin ranks. You became the Hokage, and the war ended, but peace did not last long. The Kyuubi attacked the village, and you sacrificed yourself. And then Orochimaru killed Obito. Akira didn't turn his head, but lifted his eyes again to Kakashi.
And then they selected Kakashi to become an ANBU.
Well, I'm back! Please look at my profile for details on this story (ie: my notes and ramblings).
Hakkou Chakra Tou: White Chakra blade (I should think)
Thank you for reading!