Disclaimer: I do not own any of this.

Thanks so much to DCourtes who beta'd this for me.

Breaking Point

What destroys a ninja?

It's not the physical.

Kakashi could barely breathe. His captor's boot was firmly pressed between his shoulder blades, which made drawing a single breath almost impossible. It didn't help that the man's weight also ground the jagged edges of his broken ribs together, sending cables of fire through his lungs and body.

Another man squatted beside Kakashi, taking up a conversational, chatty tone.

"You know Hatake. You could save yourself a lot of time and pain and just tell us the codes." He said persuading.

Kakashi tried to answer, but it's very hard to talk when your jaw has been dislocated.

The man noticed Kakashi's muttering attempts. Quickly, he leaned forward, and with his long cruel hands he roughly shoved the joint back into the socket. Kakashi's jaw jerked back into alignment with an audible pop.

Kakashi, wincing, spoke, his voice hoarse and cracking from previous screaming.

"You can go to Hell you fucking asshole." Sighing, the man stood up.

"Thought you had more common sense Hatake, I'm very disappointed with you." Glancing at the other three men, he gave a short nod.

"We're going on as planned. You three hold him down."

Two men surrounded Kakashi, pinning his arms down by his sides, while the third man kept his weight on Kakashi's back. The first man drew a knife from his belt. It glittered coldly in the dim light, the edge keen as winter's bite. Carefully, he drew it across Kakashi's bare back, twelve cuts, six on either side of the spine, perfectly parallel. They were relatively shallow, about half an inch deep, but bled profusely. Oily crimson rivulets ran down Kakashi's back and sides.

The whole time Kakashi kicked, bucked and struggled, but it was no use, he could not stop the knife's painstaking progress.

When he was finished, the first man stood up and took a small vial from his pocket. He deftly opened it and sprinkled the contents into Kakashi's open, bleeding back. Stepping back, and motioning the others to do so, he waited with the air of a man anticipating a particularly amusing show.

At first Kakashi felt nothing, then slow warmth began to creep into his back. Rapidly, this warmth turned into a full on raging fire. The burning pain seemed to spread from his back to the tips of fingers and to the roots of his toes. He felt as thought his blood had been drained and replaced with acid, corrosive, burning through his organs, from the inside, out.

He screamed, an earth shattering wail that went on and on, ending in a breathless gasp. He was barely able to suck in another breath. His world narrowed down to trying to breathe and the pain that filled his entire body. He barely noticed when the men left him alone in his cell.

He started to helplessly thrash, trying to find an outlet to release the pain. His twisted, broken hands scrabbled futilely on the cold stone floor, tearing fingernails and shredding fingertips.

The pain lasted for over an hour, an eternity of red hot pain and agony. When it was finally over Kakashi just lay, trembling on the floor. His fingers were bleeding sluggishly, fingernails almost completely ripped from the quick. He had a new collection of bruises from slamming his body into stone walls and floors in an attempt to escape the pain.

He couldn't move, only lay there, shivering from shock. Suddenly, in a wrenching rush, he vomited onto the stone floor.

'In response to the pain and shock I suppose.' He thought dully, his cheek slimy from the contents of his own stomach.

It's not the mental.

Darkness, cold, blank darkness was all Kakashi could see. It didn't matter if his eyes were opened or closed. The view was all the same.

They had locked him in a new cell, different from the first one. Five feet wide, six feet high, and seven feet long it was claustrophobically small. They had dragged his broken body in there, thrown in a large packet of protein bars, and then turned off the lights.

He was in there for god knows how long, days, weeks, months? Time had no meaning in this black vacuum. Kakashi sometimes wondered if they had forgotten about him, and left him in there to die, slowly wondering while his food ran out.

In the beginning, he tried sabotage. Broken hands touched every inch of the walls, floor and ceiling, looking for loose stones, or openings, anything that he could use to escape. All he found was a tiny drain that was use to him. There was a small spigot he found on the side of his cell; it was his water supply. He tried flooding his cell by plugging the drain with his clothes. He was hoping that some alarm would go off, and they would be forced to open his cell, allowing him to escape.

He failed miserably. The spigot allowed only a small allotted amount of water to come out a day. He wasted an entire days worth of water before he realized this.

Later, a sort of apathetic listlessness took him over. He would lay unmoving for hours, waiting for time to make its slow, punishing march.

Sleeping was the worst. He would dream of a crushing stygian darkness that he could no escape, one that greedily swallowed him whole and left nothing behind. And then he would wake up to be met with the same darkness. Most of the time he did not know if he was still dreaming, nightmare and reality were fused into one.

One day he was jerked awake from his sleep by screams. There must have been a speaker in his cell piping in the horrendous sound. He searched for the speaker in vain but could not find it. He could not end the desperate shriek that surrounded him.

Suddenly he realized whose screams they were. That little breathless gasp, the pitch and timber of the voice were all horribly familiar. They were his own. They must have recorded him when they had tortured him.

Curling into a fetal ball he tried to escape from his own voice. He couldn't sleep with the screams. They seem to invade his mind, slowly working their way into his mind. His skull seemed to echo and reverberate with them.

After three days of this, and three days of no sleep, the screams stopped and were replaced with an equally hated voice.

"Well changed you mind yet? The screams can stop. We can take you out of that nasty cell, unseal your chakra, fix your hands and the rest of your wounds and send you on your merry way. But we still need those codes. What do you say?"

After a slight hesitation, Kakashi whispered, his voice rough from misuse.


It's the people.

The lights flickered on. Kakashi almost cried out from the sudden brightness. It hurt. After a few minutes he was able to crack open his watering eyes. He saw one pair of boots and one pair of bare feet. He looked further up and saw one of his tormentors, and a disheveled girl.

She was about fourteen or fifteen years old. Large black eyes were red rimmed and swollen form crying, and a few tears were rolling down her cheeks. She had long soft brown hair that was matted and tangled. She was trembling.

The man gently pushed her forwards.

"Well Ayame, tell him."

In small choking sobs she said, "I'm Sasaki Ayame. I'm fourteen years old and from fire country. My entire family was captured by these men. They say if you tell them a few numbers that they will release us. Please."

The glimmer of hope in her eyes made Kakashi feel sick.

"I'm sorry." He whispered. "I can't, I have to protect my village from harm."

The man shook his head. Suddenly, he grabbed Ayame and pressed a blade to her throat.

Kakashi froze, and Ayame began to cry in earnest, the weeping shook her entire body.

"Oh please," she begged, "Oh please, please, please…"

Kakashi opened his mouth and then closed it. The man whispered, cajoling,

"Come on Hatake, do you want an innocent fourteen year old girl's blood on your hands?"

'Hundreds of lives... Hundreds of lives... I cannot save one life to kill hundreds more. I can't, I can't, I can't.' Taking a deep breath, Kakashi mutely shook his head.

Ayame let out a wordless wail that was abruptly cut off when the knife plunged into her neck and ripped sideways. He pushed the corpse onto Kakashi, who recoiled as the hot scarlet stream striped his face and chest.

The man left, saying, "I'll leave that there for you to ponder."

Gradually, Kakashi crawled over to the fallen corpse. Hands shaking he brushed the brown strands from the girls face. Her eyes looked reproachful. He carefully shut them.

He tried to clean her up. But his hands were still healing and his awkward attempts only smeared the blood more. Giving up, he pushed the body into a corner, crossing the arms over the chest and arranging the hair.

He sat down and closed his eyes. The girl's last despairing wail played through his mind, and, for the first time since his capture, Kakashi cried. Wild, harsh, sobs, shoulders shaking from the force of them. Tears poured down his face, mixing with blood to form in little pink puddles.

He cried until his voice was hoarse, his throat sore, his eyes bloodshot. He cried until he had no more tears, until his eyes felt like they were full of sand. Then he just lay there shuddering and shaking until he fell asleep.

He woke up to a mostly familiar sight. Now there were two pairs of boots and one pair of bare feet. Looking up he saw it was boy this time, older, about seventeen, but he could still see the familial similarities. The same soft brown hair, though clipped at the ear.

The second man was holding the young man back, restraining him, while the first walked up to Kakashi.

"Well Hatake, this is Ayame's brother, Hikaru." Turning to the boy he asked, "Do you have anything to say to Hatake here?"

"You son of a bitch, you cold blooded son of a bitch. You killed her didn't you? You killed her." He lunged forwards, only to be restrained.

Desperately, Kakashi said the only thing that he could think of, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." Hikaru did not appear appeased, actually, quite the opposite.

"If you're so damn sorry, tell them the stupid codes. Give them the stupid fucking codes!"

"Very well put," said the first man. "I believe that Hikaru makes an excellent point. So here we are Hatake. Do you want another innocent's blood on your hands?"

The same brutal knife was pressed to Hikaru's throat.

Suddenly, Kakashi snapped.

"Stop," he screamed. "Just stop it. I'll tell you, I'll tell you the codes."

The first man's eyes lit up like a beacon, and a triumphant grin crossed his face.

"Excellent! Quick, give me some paper." He gestured impatiently to the other man.

"Ok, tell them to me."

Tremulously, Kakashi began, "Five, sev-…"

With a roar of flame and smoke, the door exploded inwards, and Genma and Raidou jumped in. Both men, distracted from their imminent success did not have time to react. Soon both were on the floor convulsing in their own blood and clutching the kunai that pierced their throats and chests.

Hikaru, free now of his captors, walked up to Kakashi. Genma and Raidou exchanged glances, and moved to stop him, but Kakashi restrained them. Hikaru, now in front of Kakashi, leaned down so he was at his level. Suddenly, he struck Kakashi hard across the face, and spit on him. Kakashi made no move to wipe the spit from his cheek or the blood from his lips. Abruptly, Hikaru turned around to the corner where his sister lay, and started dragged her out.

He was having trouble moving the corpse, but snarled, "I don't need any of your damn help." Finally, he disappeared out of the tiny cell. Genma and Raidou let out the breath that they were unconsciously holding.

Genma turned to Kakashi, and asked "what the Hell was that about?" Kakashi just noiselessly shook his head.

"Fine, but we're talking about it later." Now with all the distractions out of the way, Genma got good look at Kakashi's wounds and swore, loudly.

"Shit! Raidou, get the med-pack, quickly!" Leaning back, he let Kakashi lie back in his lap.

"Fuck man, those bastards got you good. But are you ok now?" Genma's eyes were concerned.

It didn't take long for Kakashi to find the answer to that question.

"No Genma, I'm not fine."