Summary: (LotR crossover) After the deaths of the Fourth and Rin, Kakashi joins ANBU to be a lifeless Shinobi tool. The Third who's worried of this, sends the young ANBU on an unlikely S-Rank Mission to the large continent known as Middle Earth…
Disclaimer: I do NOT own anything of Naruto and LotR, do not sue! They belong to Masashi Kishimoto and J.R.R Tolkein respectfully. I only own my twisting plot that intertwines with Tolkein's masterpiece, that's it really...
I'll put this note on every chapter:
Elvish Xx … Text … xX
Any Japanese will have a translation next to it or somewhere in the same chapter.
Thanks to: Everyone who's still supporting this fic! Over 140 reviews, 12 C2s, and 140 alerts! I can't thank you enough for bugging me to keep me on track : D. And of course to my Betas: Sherlockian Slytherin and Tsukiyomi the Kami
I am back! Phew, it's finally the holidays... I can get back to this fic. I swear during May, June, were the hardest working days in my life. I had to do this really awful Geography survey report and there were tons of assignments at the end of the semester... plus the semester exams were going on... wow... no major entertainment for the two months or so... Sorry for another yet (unsurprisingly) delay but here we go another Chapter! Oh, why is it chapter 6A??? coz... there's a 6B soon (grins widely)... Hey, it's not like I don't do anything during my free time... Take it for my absence... Ok... back to the fic...
Chapter 6A: 'The Free Folk of Middle Earth'
"You are unique. Nobody else has your ideas, thoughts, or your way of doing things. Most people think they are ordinary, but don't YOU make that same mistake." – John Dewey.
West of Eriador
Southern Side of the Brunien River
The Next two weeks…
Kakashi didn't know how the twins had managed to get themselves out of the ground after they got hit by his earth based jutsu, though there were signs the other elves had to dig them out with shovels (there were bruises on their arms, legs, and notably their faces). They hadn't even tried to ask the young silver-haired jounin anything else since. Finally, with Elladan and Elrohir quieted down, Kakashi was able to focus more on his task.
As they found out, the trek heading towards Caradharas was open for them to travel. Yet, the ANBU wasn't too keen on hiking the snowy mountain, one of the reasons was because he was wondering how he would handle the freezing temperature… the other reason was that he wondered just how long would the hobbits last against the snow. Hobbits weren't actually considered to be travelers like the elves, dwarves, or humans. Or Bilbo had said to him once, "Hobbits prefer to stay in their homes, locked up, happy with food and smoking pipe weed, with no troubles, and absolutely no adventures."
The Northern passage that led to Mirkwood was too far to reach Mordor and even, in some cases, more perilous. He had heard from the elves that spiders as large as horses existed, which made Kakashi easily imagine the hobbits being trapped in a spider web. In the end, the company decided to move further south towards the trail that led to the Gap of Rohan.
The trails that led to the Gap of Rohan fortunately were open to them. Kakashi gave a happy sigh. Then it occurred to the shinobi- what about the wizard Saruman the White? Kakashi also heard through the council of Elrond that one of Gandalf's kin (Istari/Wizard kind) had turned against him. There was certainly a chance that he would be guarding the passage later when the Fellowship would travel. The other bad thing was, Gandalf had a lower rank than Saruman did and was weaker in magic. Getting into a wizard fight was not what the ANBU needed.
The last few days went by without much happening. It wasn't that Kakashi didn't like the peace, it was just unnerving to wait for an enemy that was hiding and even watching them all this time. He liked how he was getting more tracking tips from Aragorn since the Dûnedain was far more experienced than he was, yet he also noticed how Aragorn was restless from the lack of orcs for the past few weeks. Kakashi heard from the elves and rangers that they frequently came to this area.
Kakashi was now on edge as the forest was quiet. The whole company realized this and prepared themselves. While they were scouting, they had separated into smaller groups. The ANBU cursed as howls and grunts were heard nearing them. At this time and second he just had to be apart from his client. He should have requested to be in the same group. If his client or his brothers got killed…
'Oji-san will kill me,' Kakashi concluded.
To get a better view of the situation, Kakashi leapt up into the trees to see where his enemies were coming from. He was rather surprised how they were slightly more organized than they usually were. Could Saruman be behind this? Or the power of the dark lord was increasing, so their intelligence had started to rise? What ever the answer was, it simply gave an idea that the company were in for a fight.
The shinobi jumped into one tree and then to another and proceeded quickly to the group with the most people. Safety in numbers was a basic rule to fight against a large group.
'Well, well. We got orcs… orcs… and more orcs,' Kakashi thought sarcastically. 'No difference in the menu, huh?'
It looked like the elves weren't kidding about how the orcs were multiplying at an alarming rate. Not that he wanted to add a mix of goblins and trolls though; it clearly told the shinobi that Middle Earth indeed had a war coming onto its front door. And with all the army full of orcs like this, he was starting to doubt that his five-man team would be enough. Konoha possibly couldn't send any more teams since it was rebuilding itself from the Ninkai War and the Kyuubi attack. The ANBU sighed again as he looked at the rangers and the elves beside him getting into battle positions. 'At least this is the first fight in my current mission,' Kakashi figured as he readied his katana. It basically meant that he could let out the tension that had been in him.
His mind was alert and his main aim was to kill these creatures. On the other hand, he also had to protect his client and his two foster brothers as the wizard commanded. The immediate action he would do was basically to be near his client and his foster brothers as soon as possible… But where were they?
Kakashi glanced around and saw that they were on the other side of the field across a shallow river where there were at least twenty orcs. Three versus twenty wasn't exactly a balanced number.
And how many orcs were in his way? At most forty, at least thirty… Kakashi was now starting to question how many children orcs had, or was it even possible that Middle Earth already had some form of method to create clones? This wasn't actually good news to the shinobi; should the Ring be in the hands of the Dark Lord, he had a gut feeling that his next target would be the Five Great Shinobi countries. Sure, the shinobi had plenty of jutsus that could take out masses of orcs, but for how long? Training shinobi took years, and for the Dark Lord… it didn't take him that long to create a large grand army. His mission now was starting to become a lot more important than he had expected. But that didn't matter for now…
As Kakashi tried to race to where his client was, he soon found a horde of orcs in his way trying to kill him. He was pretty sure that the others would be fine without him for the time being, though he wasn't sure how they would stand in the next two minutes. As swords clashed and arrows were flying to meet their targets, Kakashi had noticed how unfavourable their numbers were against the orcs. Even if the company of elves and rangers had killed a decent amount of those ugly creatures, stamina wise they were being worn down pretty quickly. Kakashi himself found that even though he could last the whole day (since he last counted he killed ten and still more were coming in), who would be left of his company? Zip, zero… The ANBU knew he had to end this quickly.
Halbarad hadn't been lucky when he fought a larger orc, and was pushed to the ground. 'Damn,' Kakashi cursed. As quickly as he could he took two kunai from his pouch and embedded both of them at its throat, giving the ranger time to recover.
"Thanks," Halbarad said as he quickly rose to his feet in a back-to-back position with Kakashi. "You're holding up pretty well. We need to get to Aragorn fast."
"It's better if we get there together and fast, or else it's a matter of picking us off in smaller numbers," Kakashi advised.
As he fought hand in hand with Kakashi, Halbarad found out it was true. The orcs were surrounding the other members of their company that had separated completely by themselves. It was now or never, instantly he issued an order.
Xx… All of you! Gather! We need to get to Aragorn and the sons of Elrond quickly! …xX
Kakashi smirked at the ranger as he commanded them all in Elvish; the orcs had no idea what he was saying.
In one fell swoop the company of eleven people united and took a defensive circle position, but even then it wasn't enough. There was a sudden scream on the other side of the field; Elladan had been stabbed on his right thigh. Aragorn and Elrohir were in even more trouble because now they had to defend their injured brother. The orcs were using this opportunity to finally slay them down. So far the eleven of them were already passing the river, nevertheless time was short, and if they didn't hurry those three were doomed.
Kakashi decided he had to use ninjutsu quickly. At least the orcs trying to cross the river would give him the upper hand.
"Halbarad, cover me!" Kakashi shouted.
The ranger looked at Kakashi oddly but agreed, "Right!"
As much as he didn't want to waste too much chakra, he would have to kill all the orcs surrounding the group to get to his client. Elladan was already down; he couldn't afford to waste any time to have Elrohir or Aragorn being down as well. He sheathed his katana to his back and his hand blurred with seals.
'Suiton: Suigadan!' (Water Release: Water Fang Bullet!)
The water surrounding them was drawn in leaving the shallow river nearly dry. In a flash, a wave of crushing water spikes raised from the water, encircling each and every orc and drilled through their bodies.
'SLASH! SLASH! SLASH! SLASH! SLASH!'
All of the orcs that stood in front of the company dropped dead into the river with their black contaminated blood oozing out of them, leaving the company of the remaining rangers and elves in bewilderment at how the water had been manipulated by the young shinobi so sufficiently to kill a group of orcs in an instant. But it seemed that the orcs were ready with bows to slay the company down. The company was in danger of dying by the arrows that were now shooting in their direction, but Kakashi was already onto his next jutsu.
'Suiton: Suijinheki!' (Water Release: Water Encampment Wall!)
This time, the water in the river roared as it created a protective barrier around the company, thus nullifying any offensive attacks, either it was the arrows being shot or even other orcs that were trying to make a surprise ambush. In turn, the company prepared themselves to charge the surprised orcs as the barrier changed back to normal. They still needed to get to their leader and the twins of Elrond.
Kakashi, while he saw his jutsu dispersing back into the river thought up of a quick plan to join his client quickly. He knew he wouldn't get to his client quickly enough if he kept on fighting head on. Well, in the shinobi world there were two simple rules, 'if you can fight, go for it. But if you can't, do what you can.' Running to his client would be convenient to save his client's life now. Since the company was together and he did drastically cut down the number of orcs with the water jutsu, most likely they could hold their own now.
As quickly as the water was down, Kakashi leapt straight into the group of orcs. 'Henge!' As fast as Kakashi killed two orcs in his way, he transformed in a blur into an ugly orc and acted in wanting to kill the elves and ranger on the other side. The orcs were rather stupid, as they couldn't differentiate which was friend or foe. Given this advantage, Kakashi easily went through the mass of orcs in getting to his client, thankfully he turned into a small orc so he could huddle in the crowd without much attention.
He risked checking on the company he left behind, the shinobi looked back and found they were doing fine. The elves were somewhat elegantly slicing off the orcs with fluid motion and deadly precision at the rear; as for the others, the rangers were pushing through the ranks of orcs to cross the river towards Aragorn and the Twins as a group. As the battle against the orcs ensued, the ANBU was very much aware that the elves were fighting a battle they had long practiced in. He stood for a total of 5 seconds, watching their deadly prowess in the struggle. It seemed out of all the company, they showed the most experience in taking down an enemy fastest. In a very fair fight, Kakashi thought he would have lost to the elves due to his lack of experience, but since he had ninjutsu and genjutsu, it was different. It was a shame the practice of ninjutsu or chakra control had never existed in Middle Earth, if it did, the elves would probably be undefeatable.
Satisfied they wouldn't need him for the time being, Kakashi pushed his way through the crowd amidst the growls, grunts, and protests from the orcs around him. Not that he cared, but it was his client's safety being his first priority.
On the other side, Aragorn and Elrohir frantically tried to ward off any orcs that came close to Elladan. Things weren't looking too good as they were forced back in a wooded area where the shrubs and plants were thick. The orcs could get behind their backs as an advantage; however the increasing number of orcs coming from the front was starting to overwhelm them. The ranger noted there were thirty orcs at least; he doubted very much how he and Elrohir would stand against all of them.
Things turned worse as Elrohir was separated from Aragorn and he was left to fight the orcs alone. Not only that, but they were coming from two opposite directions. But he was too distracted, which left Elladan completely unguarded. Aragorn struggled between the clashes of his sword with the two orcs he was against.
"Elladan!" Aragorn shouted.
Elladan's leg was bleeding freely. He couldn't hold his own against the enemy. There were two orcs coming from the left and right and one very fast orc coming from slightly behind him. The Elf winced at the upcoming impact.
The Elf opened an eye in astonishment as he recognized the fast orc defending him against three of his enemies.
A silver haired shinobi was right in front of him holding off the orcs.
"What? Why-" Elladan asked in the confusion.
"Sorry, I had to transform into an ugly orc to get here," Kakashi said sheepishly. "They're not too bright in distinguishing themselves."
The ANBU deflected using his katana and forced the three orcs to stumble a few feet back. Instantly from his pocket, he took several kunai and shuriken and killed the orcs that were attacking Aragorn and Elrohir. Seeing an opening to get to their brother, they ran to Kakashi's side and protected Elladan in a swastika formation.
"What's this brat doing here?" an orc said.
All the other orcs around Kakashi, Elladan, Elrohir, and Aragorn seemed to stop for that brief moment to stare at the kid.
Aragorn wasn't sure why their enemies were staring at Kakashi, was it because he was a child?
'Now seems the right time to confuse them more,' Kakashi decided. "Henge!" And Kakashi turned into a copy of Elladan.
"It's a shape shifting Elf!" exclaimed another orc. "Kill him!"
'Shape shifting Elf my ass,' Kakashi grumbled in thought. "That's shinobi," Kakashi corrected. But while he said it his hands had yet again blurred with seals.
"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!" (Fire Release: Great Fireball Jutsu!)
Ten orcs burnt to a crisp, and another seven of them ran like mad as they were still on fire. The rest of the company soon managed to slaughter half of the remaining orcs. Although there was a lesson the band of rangers and elves learnt that day…
The boy wasn't kidding at all when he said he could breathe fire.
With the battle over (as the remaining orcs wisely fled due to a fire-breathing boy), the rest of the rangers and elves went around the corpses of the orcs making sure they were dead and burnt on a mound. Kakashi had gone off to look for his kunai and shuriken in the remaining corpses, and afterwards washed the orc blood off in the river. Aragorn was tending to Elladan, as Halbarad and Elrohir took the first watch even though they were decorated with scratches, cuts, and bruises, on their faces, arms, and legs.
After Kakashi was done he simply sat near his client.
Aragorn studied the boy as he was sitting with his hands on top of his bended left knee on his right. He noted how Kakashi had his eyes closed and he was focusing on his breathing. "Is there anything wrong Kakashi?" Aragorn asked, obviously concerned.
Kakashi slowly opened his eyes to meet the ranger's, "Just resting. The one you should be worrying about is Elladan."
"Aragorn was only worried for your well being," Elladan said behind the ranger, but soon winced afterwards due to the pain in his leg. "I have to admit, I do owe you my life. Those were pretty impressive jutsu."
"That's true," Elrohir backed his twin. "You could at least tell us if there's anything wrong."
"I-It's not much of a prob-"
"Please tell us," Halbarad insisted.
Kakashi only stared at them blankly; they seemed to want to know so eagerly. Yet, it looked like his mouth was clamped shut.
Aragorn was not pleased to see how Kakashi was acting. The ANBU was silent, acting very strict, stern, and stubborn. Yet, somehow an idea came into the ranger's mind.
"Kakashi, I order you to tell me why you're acting this way. Your health is at least one of the things I am concerned about and I have a right to know," Aragorn said quietly.
That definitely hit the spot for Kakashi. Despite he could keep his mouth shut for any other conversation, an order was under different circumstances. If it was an order from his client… he had no choice but to obey them. It was a part of the contract. He exhaled loudly, "Fine… I'll tell you."
The others looked at the shinobi in surprise and were unconvinced at what they had just heard. Aragorn was rather hurt than glad that Kakashi was finally speaking; he had realized Kakashi would only speak if he were forced to or if it was absolutely and unavoidably necessary, not by his own will. What on earth was going on? The ranger then realized that shinobi were taught to obey their clients without question. What was Gandalf thinking in sending Kakashi to obey his every order? Aragorn noted in his mind that he would have to have a long talk with the wizard once he arrived back in Rivendell. For now, he could only listen as to what was troubling Kakashi.
Kakashi pondered for the moment in how to explain it to the company as clearly as he could without getting too technical about how chakra worked. Not to mention, if the information were something that he would have to translate from his own language, he would need to give more explanations to make them understand. It was basically the thing that he wanted to avoid the most.
"Each elemental ninjutsu requires a different amount of chakra, or energy, from my body. Depending on how large, what element, how wide the scale and rank it is, when I attack or defend drains a considerable amount of chakra. Therefore it depends on my chakra capacity to use a required elemental ninjutsu." Kakashi explained. "I guess I wasn't expecting that many orcs when we fought over the river, and I had to do a large wide scale jutsu. I'm resting so I can recharge my chakra back."
"So, when you use ninjutsu it tires you considerably?" Elladan asked which in turn was confirmed with a nod from the shinobi.
"How much energy do you have left?" Elrohir said, face marred with worry.
Kakashi waved his hands in front of them, "Its okay, I'm fine. I'm only resting so my chakra can be preserved should we get attacked again. I can't afford to get anyone else more injured than they already are."
The four of them only stared at Kakashi in wonder. When they were all resting and even giving their thanks to him, the shinobi had already planned ahead for their safety in returning to Rivendell.
"Are you sure you don't have any injuries?" Halbarad asked, breaking the silence.
Kakashi shook his head, "None."
"Kakashi, may I ask… What would happen if you drained all of your chakra?" Aragorn questioned as he chose his words carefully. The ranger again saw how Kakashi was slightly reluctant to tell, but chose to obey his order.
"I'll die," Kakashi said simply.
Elladan's, Elrohir's and Halbarad's faces had darkened, as they didn't seem to be too happy hearing this.
Aragorn frowned at this as he was taken by surprise, "But, how-"
"Chakra is also life energy and is connected to my body," Kakashi cut him off. "Should I overuse it, it has nasty side effects on my body and may cause paralysis. If I wasted every ounce of chakra in my body, it takes my life away."
Aragorn warned, "Kakashi-"
"It's fine," Kakashi reassured. "I promise I won't go over the limit, unless I'm truly forced to. This rule applies to every shinobi, I'm fully aware of it and so is Gandalf."
It soon dawned on the ranger that there was a reason why the wizard had limited the shinobi from using high-level jutsu when he fought with the elves. One of the reasons was to keep Kakashi from over powering the elves too much and the other had to do with chakra conservation. Aragorn also had concluded the reason why he had not told them in the first place was because he didn't want to make any of them worried. And maybe to Kakashi it wasn't such a big problem, seeing how he was trained and knew when not to exceed the natural capacity of his body.
"Alright, I'll trust you Kakashi, but if you do have major injuries even when we are in the Fellowship later on, I want you to report to me." Aragorn stated clearly.
"Clear," Kakashi obeyed.
As soon as they finished resting, the company packed up and mounted their horses. Kakashi felt rather daft now. How could he let his client worry about him? He was responsible for his client, not the other way around! If Sandaime Hokage knew about this, he wasn't going to be happy about this. Inwardly, he wished he could bang his head on a tree. 'I really need to take care of my client more,' the ANBU sighed inwardly.
Thankfully on their way back to Rivendell there weren't any attacks, but Kakashi was determined he would train his chakra capacity as hard as he could before the Fellowship departed.
West of Eriador
Fall (Coming towards Winter)
"Nice move, Kakashi," Gandalf complimented. "You're pretty good at this. Better than Sarutobi Sandaime Hokage, if my memory serves me." The wizard only received the usual blank stare from the youth in front of him looking at the shogi pieces, in which Gandalf replied with a frown. Gandalf the Grey actually wished that the shinobi would at least react a bit, as at times Kakashi looked as if he were devoid of all emotion. Well, you couldn't really expect every shinobi to be cheerful like Sarutobi the Sandaime Hokage of Konoha.
It had been yesterday the company of the elves and men arrived back in Rivendell from their two-month absence in the elven realm. They shortly arrived at dusk, with a few of the men and elves injured. Notably, Elladan this time had a far worse injury than before, which made Lord Elrond extremely displeased. The injured Elf was sent straight to the healing wing. As for Kakashi, he made it back without any injury whatsoever. Amazing for someone who was so young, but good for an ANBU with a jounin-level rank.
"So, anything else I need to report, Oji-san (Old man)?" Kakashi questioned as he waited for the Istari to move his next piece. The ANBU was in relief that his client wasn't disappointed in him in seeing Elladan wounded; Gandalf was thoughtful in his judgment as he asked all the witnesses at the time that it was Elladan's idea to head into battle without the company.
"Hmm, aside from the battle, what are the conditions of the roads?"
Kakashi thought for a moment, "…old, but can be used at least. The Northern passage that leads to the Rhovanion region is perilous and takes us too far from our destination, but the Gap of Rohan is probably the best route to travel in the easterly direction towards Mordor."
"And what of the Redhorn Pass that leads to the High Pass of Caradharas?" Gandalf asked in a careful manner.
"It should be avoided completely," Kakashi answered bluntly. "I don't know what you're planning Oji-san, but you know very well it's fall now. Traveling those peaks in the middle of the winter season isn't going to make our movement any easier, especially if we're traveling with the hobbits."
Hatake Kakashi only stared at the old man, as he wondered just how old the wizard was. Or, to put it more accurately, he was trying to predict what his main client was planning to do in the future. Gandalf's reply had put the shinobi's warning system on the alert in his brain as there was something bothering Gandalf enough to consider taking the High Pass of Caradharas as an option. Not to mention during the winter season, when blizzards and avalanches had higher possibilities of occurring.
'Are immortals hard to read?' Kakashi thought.
From what the silver haired shinobi had seen what the immortals were like, Gandalf was surely different. The elves for one, held themselves as nobles, they were usually kind by nature, and yet, not all of them were too concerned about the lives of mortals. In many cases, most of them avoided being too close to mortals so they wouldn't have to suffer so much loss. But Gandalf was different, in a way, he was there for anyone who needed his help, his advice, or his presence, no matter how small (the hobbits), wise (the elves) or short lived (men) they were.
"Your move, Kakashi," the old wizard said with a satisfied smile.
Kakashi gaped inwardly as he looked to the Shogi board, 'Damn, he's good.' Despite Kakashi having made a protective barrier around his king, Gandalf seemed to somehow know where to start infiltrating. Most likely he would have to make some necessary sacrifices to beat the old coot. The silver haired jounin couldn't really understand why he'd agreed to play Shogi in the first place. 'No wonder Sandaime told me to bring this Shogi board to Middle Earth,' Kakashi thought. But on the inside he wished he could do something else like more training or read the books in the library than this.
"What's with that look on your face, Kakashi?"
"Nani? (What?)," said Kakashi as though nothing was wrong.
"You seem disappointed." Gandalf concluded.
"Care to share young one?"
The elderly wizard only looked at the youth in front of him as he went silent. He only gave a gaze that definitely was ordering the boy to come out with an explanation. Kakashi gave a sigh, as he had no right to go against his client.
"… It's just, when I traveled with the company I expected something…"
"Beneficial?" Gandalf finished.
((Well… yes, but I thought I could have learnt more than I did. I learnt a lot of the tracking skills they used in Middle Earth from Aragorn, Halbarad and the other rangers, the elves were helpful in knowledge and the history of the realms, but… there's not much new information I've learned for the next mission. Most of them we already knew beforehand.)) Kakashi stated in his own tongue, as he was slightly cautious that someone would pass by the arch door.
He then continued, ((And ability wise… I can say Aragorn is best for the journey when the time comes, I have yet to meet the other Fellowship members in person.))
((Do I see doubt from your body language?)) Gandalf asked in wonder.
Kakashi inwardly made a conclusion, 'Seems like Oji-san is pretty good at guessing others' actions too.'
((Whose abilities do you doubt?))
((No one… But, the elves…)) Kakashi said uncomfortably trailing off, ((I mean… I know they're great fighters, skill-wise, and have a lot of experience. But at times it's just…))
((They act as if they think you're too young to know anything.))
((…Yeah.)) the shinobi sighed. ((I just feel I can't really learn much from them in how they fight…yet…))
((I'd advise you to not underestimate them, Kakashi.)) Gandalf corrected. ((All of us who exist in this world are given strengths and weaknesses, shinobi may have advanced fighting abilities, and yet still there are things here that can be considered impossible to do on your side of the world.))
Gandalf chuckled, "Now, no need to push yourself so hard, Kakashi. You should learn everything at a steady pace, nice, and easy."
Oh, how he wished those words were true. Being an ANBU was the same meaning as a hard and fast paced life of endless slaughtering and killing people for your country and Kage. Everything was based on careful planning and preparation in order to make a mission successful. And here was this old geezer telling him that life was a simple, steady, walk in the woods. Whether Kakashi believed in what the wizard said, he wasn't sure. He knew Gandalf himself had been in countless battles himself all across Middle Earth, but how could he say those words just as easily? Life was more complicated than it actually was thought to be.
Kakashi shook his head and concentrated back on the game; carefully, he moved his knight (the horse piece) forward with a small clacking sound on the wooden board. "What now, Oji-san? I wish I could understand more about the elves, yet you know the examples so far I witnessed aren't too… convincing…"
Gandalf looked at the Shogi board with thought. And then a twinkle sparkled into his eyes; "Certainly Elladan and Elrohir didn't give you the right impression. Then I would advise for you to meet Legolas; he's not as old as the twins but he would be a worthy example as to what you're looking for and plus, he will be with us on the journey with the Fellowship."
"I heard he was the prince of Mirkwood," Kakashi remembered as he recalled the Council of Elrond. "He said to Frodo that he would lend his skills of his bow."
"There is your answer then," Gandalf pointed out with a wink.
"It is?" Kakashi asked in confusion.
"He may have the title of a prince, but he is more than just a crown. He is renowned as the best archer amongst the elves," the wizard explained. "Or you could say he is a master when it comes to projectile weapons."
Gandalf watched Kakashi's expression light up as he heard the new information. He couldn't help but chuckle to himself, as he looked at the shinobi, 'Young folk with their inquisitiveness and spirit full of eagerness.' There was little of that sort of behaviour when it came to living in Rivendell, since many of the folk who lived there were mostly over a hundred years old if you excluded the Hobbits.
He then moved his rook across the board. "If I'm not wrong, he should be in the training grounds this afternoon. If you're fortunate enough, his fighting skills with his long knives might be useful if you take a 'good' look."
This time Kakashi looked rather perplexed at the old man as to what he was going to say next.
"You know," the wizard suggested absent-mindedly. "Copy his moves."
"You seem pretty persistent about that Oji-san," Kakashi commented, as he was unsure the Sharingan was worth it. "Is there something interesting about his moves?"
"They're definitely unique, you won't find that type of fighting amongst the Rivendell elves," the wizard replied. "Only wood elves tend to use it."
"Is it because Greenwood the Great turned into Mirkwood?"
The wizard responded to his question with a nod.
"I see, that would explain why the wood elves tend to have a more slender but strong build than the Rivendell elves. I guess it wouldn't be odd at all if the most skillful elven fighters come from Mirkwood. The warriors there face danger more frequently than the Rivendell elves, and usually when people are forced into submission often they become harder to defeat."
"Very good, it seems you've done excellently in your research," Gandalf grinned.
"It's a habit," Kakashi shrugged.
"A normal habit for someone who works in the Assassination Tactics Special Military Force (ANBU)?"
Kakashi shook his head, "For any normal Jounin." He then moved his bishop sideways across the board.
They both soon returned their fullest attention back to the game. Kakashi soon had found out that he wasn't really going to win this match by doing normal moves. The Istari wasn't going to be fooled by any other trick. He moved his bishop beforehand to make a bait to where his King piece was left as though it was unguarded. Now it was all up to the wizard to take the bait or not.
Gandalf took out his wooden long smoking pipe, and lit it up inhaling its contents, and thought of his next move on the Shogi board. The Grey Wizard was deep in thought as he watched Kakashi. His style of play heavily resembled the Hokage's in how he made an extremely protective barrier before going in for the kill. Knowing that he needed to seize the opportunity to strike hard and fast at Kakashi, Gandalf unknowingly fell into Kakashi's trap.
"Check," Gandalf stated as he placed his Queen piece threateningly heading towards Kakashi's King piece.
"Checkmate," Kakashi replied in turn taking over the Queen piece that Gandalf had just moved.
Gandalf's smoking pipe slightly lowered from his mouth as its grip loosened from his teeth. "Good gracious me," he looked at the Shogi board with astonishment. He was slightly shocked that Kakashi actually fooled him into trying to take Kakashi's King by using the Queen, to only have Gandalf's own Queen being eaten and closed in the kill for the wizard's own King.
"Main rules that applies to all shinobi," Kakashi said as he took the victory over the wizard. "Look underneath the underneath."
"An Excellent game, Kakashi!" the wizard exclaimed cheerfully. "Three wins and four losses today. I must say I'm very pleased!"
Kakashi only sweat dropped at the wizard's attitude. The shinobi had learnt that moment just how aggressive Gandalf was when it came to battle tactics. He wasn't hostile in the beginning of the game, but when it came to the end… the shinobi couldn't even come close to predicting most of the old man's traps. But why was the Istari so chipper about Kakashi beating him three times? It was just a game. Was it a big deal?
"Ano… Oji-san? What's there to be proud about?" Kakashi asked awkwardly. "I lost four matches out of seven."
"Oh… that," Gandalf said as if it didn't matter, but it soon turned into a sheepish grin. "Your progress is better than any of the elven lords I faced in a chess game."
"You told me you've faced Legolas' father King Thranduil and Lord Elrond before we started the matches," Kakashi said. "What happened to them?"
"Oh, they lost all the matches…miserably."
The shinobi could think one word that would describe the tactics old man had.
But then Kakashi's logical mind clicked in, 'Wait a minute…there's something fishy going on…'
"…Really?" Kakashi asked again still unconvinced. "I mean, they were generals during the First Age and they've even fought in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, they couldn't have possibly lost all the matches…"
"But they did," Gandalf smiled sweetly.
Kakashi only stared at the old man, still unwillingly persuaded that he actually won over the most renowned leaders in Middle Earth and suffered no losses whatsoever.
Gandalf only gave a humorous gesture to the young shinobi. It was rather fun seeing the boy giving him a 'soul-scan' from up to bottom as if he (Gandalf) were lying. The wizard even pictured if someone had past the arc way right now and didn't know who they were, it would have looked like a scene where a very curious and demanding grandson trying to get knowledge from a patient grandparent.
"Well, Oji-san?" the ANBU said getting irritated. Was it possible he cheated going against the Elven Lords?
"It's quite possible to beat the Elven Lords completely even for me… If you know the right trick," the Istari gave a wink and continued, "And no, Kakashi. Don't give me that 'look'. I do not use methods with cheating…"
'Then what?' Kakashi thought frustrated, although his facial expression had not changed.
"Did you know that Elven Lords have a bad habit of playing chess while drinking too much wine? The stuff the Elves make are thrice more strong than any alcohol Men make. Wait till they get a bit tipsy, and then it's all about making fast moves in order to win," Gandalf explained as he laughed. He then added, "Like you said Kakashi, 'Look underneath the underneath.'"
'Baka no wizard,' Kakashi thought as he rolled his eyes. He was nearly fooled by the wizard. For an old man… he was pretty sly when it came to tactics… Well, he didn't literally cheat during the match. More like, he took advantage of the situation… not a bad idea by shinobi standards…
"Ah, yes. That's our little secret, no leaking information, Kakashi," the wizard's grin grew wider.
'He even took advantage of my contract with him. What a bothersome client,' the ANBU thought. But maybe that's what he liked about Gandalf, Kami (God) knows how old he was, and yet witty to the end. The young-nin sighed in defeat and smiled, "My lips are sealed."
"Care for another game?" Gandalf offered enthusiastically.
Kakashi sweat dropped, "Err… I think that's enough for today…"
"Enjoying yourself, Kakashi?" Aragorn said as he appeared through the arc way and made his way to the Kakashi and Gandalf. "What game is this?"
"Ah, Aragorn! Just in time!" the Wizard welcomed the man warmly. "It's a game of chess from where Kakashi comes from. Care to join?"
Aragorn chuckled weakly, "I think I'll pass old friend. I'm not an expert at this game." The ranger himself couldn't really match his own foster father; going against the wizard was considered suicide.
"How's Elladan?" Kakashi asked, as he knew his secondary client had been with his foster brother in the healer's wing since the night before.
Aragorn smiled, "He's fine, better than he was when he first received his injury. It's a good thing you arrived at the right time when we fought the masses of orcs. Or else Elladan would not be with us here right now."
Kakashi nodded, "That's good to hear. Is my report done, Oji-san?"
"I think, it's enough for the time being," the Istari said. "You're dismissed."
"Thank you," Kakashi said as he stood up from his seat and bowed to Gandalf.
"It seems that the report I was planning to give to Gandalf is done," Aragorn said. "Heading out Kakashi?"
"Sure, I need some fresh air. And… to check out something I'm curious about…" Kakashi trailed off as he exited the room.
Aragorn raised an eyebrow in confusion as to what could be the cause of shinobi's curiosity. He then turned to Gandalf. "Perhaps you know what he refers to when he says something 'curious'?"
"It's seems our Elven prince and his skills for archery is Kakashi's target in training himself," Gandalf said happily.
"Well, let's just hope the Elven prince of Mirkwood knows who he will be up against. Kakashi is no mere child," Aragorn chuckled lightly as he resumed Kakashi's seat just across Gandalf.
"Indeed he is not," Gandalf reminded. "Can you imagine Aragorn? Seven chess matches and he won three?"
Aragorn raised an eyebrow as he picked up and examined a shogi piece that indicated it being a knight, "Are you sure you didn't go easy on him?"
Gandalf only laughed at the ranger, "Since when have I gone easy on you or your foster father or any of the other Elven lords?"
"Never, from what I know by the last eighty years that I have lived," Aragorn grinned. "But how did you lose three matches?"
"Hmm…" Gandalf thought as he remembered back, "Kakashi is both an aggressive and passive player, though truthfully I could have lost all seven."
"All seven?" Aragorn looked at the wizard disbelievingly.
"He lost the first four matches deliberately to see how I moved or to understand my tactics," Gandalf explained. "A simple procedure of trial and error. Yet he uses that experience to wipe me out in the next three matches."
"That is a trait of his that I have noticed as well when we were out in the wild," the ranger said. "He seems to plan even further than everyone else, at times even I can't see what he's planning."
As Gandalf cleaned up the shogi pieces into a pouch, the Dûnedain silently watched and was absorbed by his own thoughts.
"Why are you quiet all of a sudden, Aragorn? Something on your mind about Kakashi?"
"What did you do with Kakashi, Gandalf?" Aragorn asked quietly. "He's listening to every order I say and actually doing them without complaint, and at times… without question… it's as though at times I feel like I'm using him, like-"
"A tool?" the Istari cut in.
Aragorn's face darkened.
"Shinobi are very disciplined folk, they have rules, and regulations they must follow, Aragorn. Even if those rules are at times inhuman…"
"One of the rules concerning them is that, Shinobi are Tools. But the most important rule for a shinobi is Shinobi Rule No.25…"
"Shinobi can't show their feelings no matter what happens. They must put their own feelings and emotions aside, and make the mission their first priority."
"Gandalf-" Aragorn gasped. He was lost for words; nothing could come out of his mouth. All this time the boy was silent, expressionless… all this time he would interact so loosely with everyone else… and then…
"I'm moving, but I'm literally going in circles," Kakashi said, extremely quickly and nervously.
"Kakashi, have you ever talked about this to your family members? Like your mother?" Aragorn questioned.
A dead silence and then a sudden answer.
"I never knew her."
"Died after a mission when I was seven."
"I don't have any."
"Your teacher and friends?" Aragorn said desperately.
"…they're all dead."
Aragorn frowned at the memory of that night. Even then, Kakashi was struggling to actually tell him that he had no one… And yet all that time they spent in the wild, Kakashi never had said anything of what he actually felt directly to anyone. All of his emotions sealed just because of a single rule…
"You may not like hearing it, yet that is what his kind expect of him. Their duty as shinobi is to serve others who are in need of help for a price."
"You hired him, didn't you, Gandalf?"
"And why did you not send him back when you knew he was still 14 years of age?" Aragorn asked. "I know it's too late for him to turn back and leave Middle Earth now, but why would his Hokage send him all the way here into a country that is known to suffer so many wars that many of his kind wouldn't dare step a foot here?"
"It was a favour," Gandalf said, as he blew another ring of smoke through his pipe. "I had asked the Hokage to have the best shinobi to do this mission and be willing to die for the mission. It is for them an S-Rank to an un-ranked mission, therefore the client's orders come before anything else."
"You saw what his skills could do, and maybe have a rather small view what he's been through."
Aragorn looked away and clenched his teeth knowing what his wizard friend had said was right. It was yesterday in the healer's wing Aragorn found out how little their worlds differed…
Rivendell, Healer's Wing
(The night before…) Evening
The company had arrived that evening in Rivendell with many of its members being rather battered, bruised, and having a few cuts adorned on their bodies. Much of the healers in the House of Elrond went straight to work as soon the soldiers went into the rooms and examined each one for any injuries. The young-nin noticed how their healing methods weren't too different. They somehow used a healing treatment in giving their energy to others, but it wasn't as visible as the chakra he had always seen from the palms of medic-nins. He wasn't sure whether the energy they used was chakra or not, as Kakashi didn't want to use the Sharingan in front of the healers or else his cover story for his Sharingan eye would be blown.
Other treatments that the elven healers used basically consisted of herbs and other drugs. Nevertheless, Kakashi had found most of the drugs the elves used were served for healing purposes in battle and yet somewhat lacking when it came to minor diseases. He was confused at first why would elves that indeed had the highest amount of knowledge in healing have a shortage of drug supplies that would cure minor illnesses. Aragorn again reminded Kakashi that elves never get sick and even recounted the times when he was ill Lord Elrond would have to specially make medicine at that moment.
There was an examining procedure that every person of the company was to receive a check-up by a healer. Kakashi in particular was reluctant to even do an examining procedure with any other healer, and apparently Lord Elrond was busy tending to his own son Elladan. Seeing Kakashi was reluctant to be examined for any injuries by any other Elf, Aragorn had volunteered to do it instead.
Kakashi himself wasn't in the best of moods; he didn't necessarily hate being in a healer's wing since he had lost count how many times he would wind up in Konoha's hospital when he was back at home. But being here in Middle Earth was unfamiliar to him, which made him rather tense. And yet again because he was too stubborn to agree, Aragorn said the magic words of 'it's an order'. The shinobi was defeated, as even Gandalf had appeared to make sure the bodyguard wasn't getting away from the examination.
"You only have to roll your shirt up to your shoulders, alright?" Aragorn said. "We might as well get this over with quickly."
"Don't you worry, Aragorn is an advanced healer himself. He's been trained by Lord Elrond," Gandalf reassured the shinobi.
"…Right." Kakashi agreed grudgingly.
As Aragorn uncovered and rolled up the young-nin's shirt he had found many scars, though what had caught his attention the most was the three thin scars that were as long from his shoulder and crossing down diagonally to the left of his lower spine. Though the scar itself was healing slowly, Aragorn couldn't imagine what had hit Kakashi. The width between the three scars was wide and somewhat looked like a large animal with claws had scraped it. The other scars on the operative were more recent than the larger three scars but were quicker to heal.
"You don't have any injuries from our trek through the wild… yet…" Aragorn's face frowned. "Kakashi, where did you get these three large scars and smaller ones?"
Gandalf looked thoughtfully at Kakashi's back and chose not to comment on anything.
"… They're recent injuries from previous missions about a few months ago…" Kakashi said as he pulled his shirt down referring to his smaller scars. "I was… unfortunate enough to be caught by the enemy and went through interrogation."
"Torture," Gandalf corrected quietly.
Kakashi ignored the wizard's comment as he looked to his secondary client whose facial expression showed his disbelief at the horror, "It comes with the job of being in the ANBU, Aragorn. It was my fault I got caught in the first place. But I was considered lucky enough to escape…" He then looked to his main client, "My examination is finished. May I retire to my room?"
"Very well, and make sure you rest to recover your chakra," the Istari advised. "May I ask one more question?"
Kakashi didn't answer but he seemed to be unconcerned with having been tortured. He was actually fortunate the incident wasn't a full procedure interrogation and ended up escaping or else he would've ended like Morino Ibiki.
"What creature gave you those three scars?" the Istari asked carefully.
The young jounin was then suddenly aware there were two people eaves dropping on the room door. No wonder he had a feeling he was being overheard all this time he did his medical examination. Kakashi simply walked to the door and opened it. As the shinobi opened it quietly and quickly, Elrohir and Halbarad plopped to the floor and were found to be the eavesdroppers.
The both of them received disappointed glares from the Dûnedain and the Istari.
Without any heed, Kakashi only walked around them and said two words before he body-flickered out of sight.
-Back to the Present-
"He's been through too much perhaps," Aragorn said miserably. "He helps everyone around him and yet-"
"He forgets to help himself."
"Yes," the ranger agreed to Gandalf's comment.
"You may have noticed some older scars on his chest," Gandalf informed.
"What could have possibly happened to earn him so many scars?" Aragorn asked.
The Istari gave the ranger a steely look as he answered, "The Ninkai War, or known as the Shinobi War. It may have happened and ended on the other side of the world, yet the scars of the past are still there. Some visible and others invisible."
Aragorn tensed at what Gandalf said next.
"Should you lose this war, and the Ring fall into the hands of the Dark Lord, then the younger generation of Middle Earth will suffer no differently than Kakashi has or even worse. Remember that well Aragorn."
The ranger swallowed hard, "I will, Gandalf."
West of Eriador
Rivendell, Garden Balcony
After Kakashi parted with his client, there was still plenty of time before Legolas would show up at the training grounds at noon. He thought maybe training was a good idea, but soon had second thoughts about his chakra usage. Yesterday, he had used up a pretty large amount for a small battle that it bothered the shinobi how he would last a larger battle, especially if he was caught in a war. It seemed his preparations two days before he went into the wild weren't enough. That experience clearly showed Kakashi that he needed more training.
But for now, he needed to rest his chakra usage. The shinobi sighed to himself as he thought about his disability. True, the young Hatake was a genius in mind and skill… but what he really lacked was chakra capacity. It mainly meant he would have to plan more on how to approach enemies than other shinobi. Yet that was compensated by his knack for reading the situation correctly and acting quickly, but at times he was considered reckless in trying to wipe out the enemy quickly. At least there wasn't anything wrong about relaxing for a little while.
He looked around him as he took the surroundings in. Rivendell hadn't changed at all, well, save the fact the leaves were now in many colours of brown, orange, and even gold. There was a change of scenery, but oddly the feeling of Rivendell hadn't changed at all. Elves were moving around the realm here and there, interacting with one another, resting or working, but one thing remained true… it was as if time didn't affect them. Their time was endless. 'This is an immortal realm after all,' Kakashi thought, as he began to realize that he had actually missed a lot of things about Rivendell. Well, he did only stay at Rivendell for two weeks more or less.
The shinobi's gaze stopped at the design of the balcony made out of wood. He looked at it thoughtfully as there was this beautifully carved crest entangled by carved vines. What had caught Kakashi's attention was how it was crafted. Humans would have a tendency to make new things to improve their lives better. But the elves had a different approach; the crest in front of him showed elves were developing the previous findings to a perfect level.
'Endless and slow to change but ever evolving into pure perfection,' Kakashi remembered from what Bilbo's book had said. Surely, being immortal was something Kakashi would not want to be. At least that was what he thought after meeting the Elves.
There was a lot of chatter down at the garden as the hobbits were having some leisure time to themselves. Kakashi interestedly looked below from the balcony deliberately without hiding or getting out of sight. Pippin and Merry were more interested in who could climb higher on top of the tree; the elder hobbit was sitting on the granite benches not too far off, with Frodo and Sam talking about his red book in his hand. 'Hmm… the red book,' Kakashi thought as he took out his own copy (and very incomplete) book out of his pouch.
Even though he was in the wild, he managed to only flick through the pages that he considered would be useful in knowing the roads. He also managed to read about trolls because he found it interesting as they didn't exist back in the Shinobi Nations. The closest you could get was an Oni (ogre), pretty amazing that Melkor and Sauron created the most hideous and creepy creatures to terrorize everyone for hundreds of centuries. Other readings were about the rangers and elves… But Kakashi then wondered how Bilbo would describe his own race, the bobbits.
Kakashi easily found the information as it was written at the very front of the book. He gazed at the hobbits below him as he began to read. The shinobi read in his mind as he looked at the map on the left side of the book simultaneously,'Concerning Hobbits'
'Hobbits have been living and farming in the Four Farthings of the Shire… for many hundreds of years… quite content to ignore and be ignored by the world of the Big Folk…
The meaning Big Folk was definitely a reference to humans and elves. Kakashi wasn't so sure about the dwarves but most likely they were still considered big… he even raised an eyebrow when it mentioned Hobbits weren't really bothered about knowing the world around them, as Bilbo described them they were quite happy being not known at all.
'Middle-Earth being after all full of strange creatures beyond count… Hobbits seem little of importance… being neither renowned as great warriors… nor counted among the very wise…In fact, it has been remarked by some… that hobbits' only real passion is for food.'
"Merry?" Pippin asked.
Kakashi nearly tripped when he had heard those two words. 'Well, there's certainly the proof,' the young-nin speculated as he scratched his head in utter bewilderment. No wonder they didn't really have any history of heroic deeds or any creations of technology. The hobbits were pretty much food orientated folk to begin with. He watched the older hobbit, Merry, trying to persuade Pippin to not take a 'second breakfast', while Frodo, Sam, and Bilbo were laughing in the background. The ANBU shook his head in amusement, if he ate as much as Pippin he swore tree branches would crash down due to his weight.
'A rather unfair observation… as we have developed a keen interest in brewing ales… and the smoking of pipe-weed. But where our hearts lie… is in peace and quiet… and good, tilled earth. For all hobbits share a love of things that grow. And, yes, our way may seem quaint. But today of all days, it has brought home to me: It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.'
The operative then thought that nobbits were mainly farmers, he did hear that in Bree the ales and the pipe weed came from the Shire. It was said to be one of the best-produced dried plant for smoking in the western region of Middle Earth by men and dwarves. It gave a clear explanation that hobbit folk were more interested to do simple things for leisure than care about the problems the other races were facing. Kakashi then looked at the date indicating Bilbo's birthday, he had somewhat envied the life of a hobbit… as for shinobi, such things only happen in a very short period of time.
'And so life in the Shire goes on… very much as it has this past Age… full of comings and goings, with change coming slowly. If it comes at all. For things are made to endure in the Shire… passing from one generation to the next. There's always been a Baggins living under the Hill in Bag End. And there always will be.'
The last sentence had somewhat an ironic feeling to it. Kakashi only looked at Frodo, who was to some extent trying to spend the most of his time with his uncle. Would Bag End have a Baggins living Under the Hill ever again? No one could give an actual answer to that, as the journey to Mordor had yet begun and what would happen in the future was beyond anyone's foresight.
"Pippin? What are you doing?" Merry slightly panicked.
Kakashi's brainwaves were definitely detecting trouble; he knew that Pippin was one of the charges that had a magnet for all things of the worrying nature. Even though his clients had a somewhat similar manner, but at least they didn't look for trouble like one certain young hobbit did as a habit.
"Climbing to the highest branch," Pippin said.
Kakashi body-flickered from the balcony that he was standing in to the nearest tree and decided that he should head over to the one Pippin was climbing in, just in case there were going to be casualties… He knew very well only too few of the branches on top of the trees could support Pippin, and getting an injured charge was never a good thing to be known by the client. He might as well act for 'mission reasons'. The shinobi hid behind the trunk of the tree just below the climbing Hobbit and noticed Pippin had climbed one of the branches that Kakashi considered 'unable-to-stand-a-heavy-hobbit-branch'.
Kakashi then counted. 3… 2… 1…"CRACK!" "AAAH!"
He dashed immediately from his hiding spot, and Kakashi was yet again lucky, to grab Pippin's collar like he did when he first met his troublesome charge. The only difference now was he wasn't wearing his ANBU mask and that they weren't on a cliff.
"Do you always have to look for trouble, Pippin?" Kakashi snorted. "You could be a little bit more helpful if you were lighter as well." Seeing as the ANBU knew very well he couldn't maintain Pippin's body weight for too long on the current branch, he jumped to one of the lower branches and to the next. Once he was low enough, he simply let go of the Hobbit and leaving him smacking down to the bottom.
"Hey! That wasn't very nice!" Merry growled to the shinobi.
"It could've been a couple of broken bones from falling seven meters," Kakashi rolled his eyes. "If your head came down first, you could have ended up in a coma or died."
"Well, you didn't have to drop me!" Pippin pouted.
"Sorry Pippin, I would have to agree with Kakashi," Sam said. "You could at least save us getting into trouble. Like the time when you stole those vegetables at Farmer Maggots crops."
"Well, you and Frodo did 'visit' us," Merry said.
"That's a lie!" Sam countered. "We just happened to bump into you because we were using that road to go to Bree."
"And even gave us your stolen goods that made him think we were also the thieves," Frodo agreed and sighed.
"Well you could at least be more understanding, Pippin," Bilbo said. "I heard from Gandalf that Kakashi's responsibility also includes to prevent any of the Fellowship from getting harmed. Be thankful he was watching."
"Well he didn't have to call me fat," Pippin grunted.
Kakashi only stared at the Hobbit with a glare of annoyance, "I only mentioned 'if you were lighter.'" The shinobi then looked at Pippin in a mocking manner, "Although it makes me curious, how come you're so heavy?"
Frodo and Sam held the youngest Hobbit from trying to rip the shinobi apart, even if they were more worried that it would be Kakashi doing the ripping.
"Let me go! I'll tell him off! I'll beat him down to pieces!"
Frodo sweat dropped, "Calm down, Pippin! He only said why you're heavy doesn't mean you're literally fat. And there's no point in trying to fight him, Pip."
"True, you'll be the one going to pieces. Can't you remember he defeated five elven soldiers without a scratch?" Sam said rationally.
Bilbo exhaled in content seeing how very energetic Pippin was in not even considering advice of his cousins and friends. "Well, it's true some hobbits eat a lot, but I've quitted that habit about ages ago, as it's not healthy for my current age and after I started traveling."
"Do you really want to know?" the elder mischief-maker asked which was replied with a nod from Kakashi. "That's because hobbits eat six meals a day Mr. Shinobi," Merry smirked.
'Nani?! (What!) Six times in ONE day?' Kakashi gaped inwardly in bafflement. He felt like his soul was taken out. Was it him or was it he just heard that hobbits can beat the eating record of an average person who was from the Akamichi clan? It's a shame those record seekers couldn't get their feet onto Middle Earth since it was considered a war country. The most alarming thing that Kakashi found out was that hobbits didn't even have a large obesity problem. 'No way', Kakashi thought. Could it be that hobbits have really fast metabolisms? Well one thing was for sure; the young-nin had no logical explanations as to how hobbits ate that much without getting too fat even if he was considered a genius.
"Not counting the snack times," Pippin snorted supporting Merry.
"E-Err… R-Right," Kakashi sweat dropped, as reminded himself about Bilbo's entry in the red book, trying to calm himself down and not lose composure what he was hearing right now had to be crazy. Well, he wasn't back in the Shinobi countries anymore, so he should expect the unexplainable.
"Well, we could get some exercise." Frodo mentioned as he avoided a playful punch from Pippin. "It should get my cousin here into shape."
"Stop it you two," Bilbo said. "You did promise to meet Boromir today at the training grounds?"
"We did. Let's head over there then!" Merry exclaimed.
"But what about our second breakfast?" Pippin said ignoring anything that had been said related to dieting.
"After we train. Then we could eat more!" Merry winked.
"That's a brilliant idea, Merry! Let's go then!" Pippin said and they both ran to the direction of the training grounds.
"Wait up!" Frodo called as he followed.
"Umm… uh… Mister Kakashi, Sir?" Sam hesitantly asked.
"What is it? Just call me Kakashi," the ANBU said calmly.
"I-I mean Kakashi, I haven't managed to say thank you for look out for Mr. Frodo. You know, when we were chased down by the Wraiths you protected Lady Arwen too," Sam said nervously. "I heard from Gandalf you helped in driving them off."
The operative only looked at the hobbit thoughtfully.
"Oh! And Gandalf, a-and Strider! I heard a lot about you saving them too," he said still a bit tense. "Thank you for saving them too!"
Kakashi chuckled lightly, "Thanks for the appreciation, Sam. I don't hear that very often since I'm ill-trusted by the folk here."
Sam's tension calmed down for seeing the first time Kakashi's lighthearted mood, "I didn't really trust you at all the first time I saw you. But After Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Gandalf told me that you were obeying a contract, I guess I was wrong. I'm sorry to think I've misjudged you, especially when we're going out as one Fellowship soon."
"No need to apologize, Sam," the shinobi sighed. "It comes with the work."
"It comes with the work?" Sam asked confusedly.
The ANBU put his hand on the hobbit's shoulder comforting him and said, "There are two basic reasons why people fear others. One is because the other person has immense power and because they are different. Although shinobi are considered to be a service to the people, it seems that fear of having someone very different and powerful remains no matter where we go. Two, comes with what the situation is; it's harder to earn someone's trust when you meet a complete stranger in times of war than peace. And yet…"
Sam just listened intently and nodded to Kakashi to go on.
"I am holding a service to Gandalf and I come from the Leaf Village. While many are regarded to be respectful Shinobi, there are many who are as ruthless as monsters. Just as monstrous as the orcs here, it's not much different back at the Shinobi countries. Even some cases can be considered worse," he explained.
"There's always an evil somewhere in the world," Bilbo said grimly.
"That's a fact," agreed the shinobi.
Sam in turn smiled, "Thanks for telling me about it, Mister- I-I mean, Kakashi! I hope you'll help us in the Fellowship."
"Don't worry, I will. And most likely an extra watch on Pippin…" Kakashi said which made the two hobbits laugh.
Sam then looked towards the trees that led to the training grounds. "I got to go and join them before I'm late. See you later, Mr. Bilbo, Kakashi!"
As Kakashi watched Sam leave him from the garden, all he could think of was the journey. He suddenly remembered when he was still green and came out of the ninja Academy that the world had its good and bad sides. Of course, it was natural that the painful experiences that made him what he was now the most but there were also the happier memories that saved him from giving up.
"The Road ever goes on…" Bilbo muttered and looked to Kakashi.
Kakashi only gave Bilbo a questionable look.
"That's what I see in your eyes. Or eye if you will." The old hobbit said.
"Why do you think so?"
Bilbo only folded his arms, "They are different from what I see in Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. You've tasted the Road and of its ever struggle to live. Much gain and loss is what I read when I look at you."
"Too much, I guess," Kakashi sighed, "But it's part of the Shinobi way."
"But you should rest, my boy," Bilbo advised. "A weakening heart should rest once in a while to continue its long journey, so it becomes stronger."
"In time, Bilbo, however, I'm preoccupied at the moment."
There was a silence between the two, but the both of them knew very well what the four young hobbits were in for.
"It's a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to," Bilbo said as he walked to the bench to get his papers and books.
"Swept off to the side if you're lucky," Kakashi sighed, agreeing with the old Hobbit. "If you're unlucky, it claims your life."
"Kakashi?" Bilbo asked as he stopped before heading indoors.
"Please, look after them, once they leave for the journey," Bilbo said quietly. "The road they have seen has yet to show its true form."
"I will," Kakashi assured, "but they'll have to grow up to face the real road soon."
TO BE CONTINUED…
There's another chapter...
A bit of action, a witty sly wizard, more Aragorn, and more hobbit reference! Oh, yeah, just a reminder to those who don't know what Oji-san means, it means old man… though it could also mean if its Oji-chan would be grandfather. Plus… are the three large scars on Kakashi's back is from Kyuubi? Yes it is, and it'll have its own story to tell. What story? You'll see later (grins).
Well... Let's just say Kakashi's going to learn more about the elves in the next chapter... I just want him to get to know the other Fellowship members a little bit better. So if anyone could suggest to me any ideas, opinions or anything on how would Kakashi interact with Legolas (perhaps the Elven lords), Gimli and Boromir, then please do so! The more innovations, the better this fic will be. Thanks!
For everyone who's saying for me to update faster, I'm so sorry, I could totally rush this fic and have an ordinary crossover… but what I'm aiming here is a topnotch quality crossover. I think the most important thing in crossovers is interaction between characters then just following the main storyline. So err… I'll be updating slowly? Ahh!!! (Runs behind a wall from a rain consisting hundreds of kunai). Well, I'm halfway through re-editing chapter 7 and chapter 6B… So it'll be in a while… I'm re-watching some of my Naruto DVDs to get more ideas…
Next Chapter:Chapter 6B: 'The Free Folk of Middle Earth'