Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, or the song (Guster - Backyard) that I listened to obsessively tryin to come up with this fic.

Notes: For sna for Christmas!

Hope everyone had a wicked holiday, whatever you celebrate, and have a great new year! XD

Rin knelt in awkward silence next to Kakashi, waiting for the Yondaime to enter his office.

They hadn't exchanged a word since Kakashi had joined the ANBU, almost two months ago now, and their blazing row – well, her blazing row, his maddening calm – still rang in her ears. He sat so still now, newfound deadliness singing from his wiry form, making Rin hyperaware of him. He'd been still before, perfectly proper when stood to attention, but it wasn't natural, this new stillness. This absolute quiet. It was like he wasn't there at all, and only the minute movement of his chest as he breathed made her certain she wasn't dreaming.

It was horrible.

"Kakashi-kun," she started, having to clear her throat twice before she could hear herself speak, and even then her muttered words felt too loud against the hush of Kakashi's subdued chakra. "How've you been?"

He gazed at her calmly, his head remaining perfectly still as his only visible eye shifted towards her. That was new, as well, that calm acceptance of his semi-blindness. She remembered before he'd grasped the method to Obito's Sharingan, his head moving in sweeping arcs to over-compensate for the horrid blind spot when he needed to conserve chakra. Apparently, he'd adapted to that as well now, and suddenly the rumours of a Copy Nin began to make more sense.

"Good. Busy." His voice was quiet, clipped, and Rin couldn't help but wonder when he'd last taken part in an actual conversation. Not that he'd been particularly good at them before. "You?"

"About the same," she said, smiling away the irony. What she spent her time doing was in no way similar to actively seeking out the worst possible missions and throwing yourself into them. She tried to save lives, as well as rip them oh-so-precisely apart. She didn't want to say that Kakashi made her feel sick, but then, he did. "I've completed my medical training, and am working on some jutsu improvements, for field use. Just little things, like blood coagulation, and muscle relaxants. Little things."

Kakashi's eyebrow rose, crawling up beneath the skewed hitae-ate. "Do you need a guinea-pig?"

"No," Rin lied, and lapsed back into silence. She didn't want to imagine the things he could do with a blood clotting jutsu, the amount of times he might've needed one on the field. She wanted him to be an awkward, bratty Chuunin again, not this parody of a shinobi so obsessed with saving the lives of his precious ones that he couldn't even look her in the face.

She clenched her fists in her lap, biting down on the things she wanted to say.

"I wish," Rin tried to find a way to phrase her question that didn't come out as an accusation. She could find nothing. "I wish you hadn't joined the ANBU. It's killing you."

"I'm stronger than I've ever been." Kakashi said, still not-quite-looking at her. "Really, you're worrying for nothing."

"That just means it's killing you faster." Rin glared at him, trying desperately to keep her voice steady. "You know I don't worry -"

Kakashi raised that same eyebrow, cocking his head a little in amusement. She wanted to wiped that false cheer off his face – Kakashi had never raised his right eyebrow in the past, had never smiled quite so forcefully. "Not for nothing, I don't!"

"Rin…" Kakashi looked at her, too sober for a thirteen year old, and far too confident in his command. Rin would never have that, that sense of power that crackled around him and make shinobi twice his age obey. "There's rumour of an ANBU organisation rallying forces again. It isn't opposed to the Hokage's rule but it takes matters into its own hands far too quickly to be of benefit to the Leaf. Yondaime-sama needs someone he can trust absolutely within the ANBU..."

"Sensei has other people he can trust," Rin hissed, emphasising their closeness to their Hokage, a little afraid of how detached he sounded. "And how can he trust you when you're so very good at lying to yourself?"

"When you think about it, really, he has you, me and Jiraiya-sama." Kakashi said, ignoring her barb brilliantly. "because we're loyal to the Yondaime first, and then to Konoha. Anyone else is suspect to the ANBU."

"And after that? When you've helped finish this stupid excuse for an investigation?" Rin was seething, clutching at her skirt to prevent herself from saying something stupid. "Will you quit the ANBU then? Or do you like being a poor excuse for an exceptionally short body guard?"

Kakashi, to his credit, didn't even flinch. And Rin hated him for it. "I'm good at this, Rin. I don't have to worry about other people."

"Caring about the lives of others is what keeps people like us human, Kakashi-kun."

"Maybe I'm just not good at being human," he replied, his eye shining with a smile so broken it made Rin want to reach out to him, as she used to do, before it had all gone to shit.

"You know, for a genius," Rin snapped, slamming her fists against her lap, "you're not good for very much at all, are you?"

Kakashi bowed his head, huffing a little as the door slid open suddenly, revealing a remarkably sober looking Yondaime.

"Sorry to leave you both hanging," he said, moving swiftly to his desk. "I take it you two had a nice little reunion?"

"If it's alright to get on, Sensei," Rin started, voice shaking with suppressed hurt and rage and the mad urge to push Kakashi to the floor and have done with it, prove to the horrid little boy that yes, in fact, he did have some measure of human emotion left. He was just far too good at lying to himself. "But this meeting is cutting in with my consultation shift at the hospital?"

The Yondaime sighed, heavily; smiling far too nostalgically, as if some great plan had failed to come together. On their fearless Sensei, it was a strange expression. "Yes of course. I was curious as to how those jutsu were coming along, and would like a report as soon as you get a chance, please, Rin. We'll call it a personal curiosity, so feel free to hand it straight to me, when you're ready."

"Yes, Yondaime-sensei."

"Thanks, Rin! See you!" he said, waving distractedly, and Rin knew it as her cue to leave. The atmosphere of the room changed before she'd even reached the door, and as the Yondaime beckoned Kakashi to his desk – a distinctly S-class mission brief fluttering in his hand – Rin realised she'd never get Kakashi out of the ANBU while their Sensei needed him in it.

From the easy look on his masked face as he studied another report that would no doubt further cement his reputation as Sharingan no Kakashi, Rin wondered – if she ever did get him out – if she'd even have the Kakashi she knew left.

It was strange for Rin to think that the one man who'd insisted on treating Kakashi like a child would be the one to encourage his career choice as a faceless assassin, but what did she know? For all Rin could see, underneath the underneath, her team was slowly dying.