Title: The Departure Lounge
Characters: Kakashi, Yamato. Light Kakashi/Yamato.
Rating: K+, just in case.
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Summary: One-shot. It's typhoon season and, unfortunately for Tenzou, it will be one more day until he can go home. ...Hospital visits were never his thing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Author's Note: This one-shot was written for the LJ community 30kisses, based off prompt: # 2; news, letter.
The Departure Lounge
"How's his condition?"
The medic-nin laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed tightly with an even tighter smile.
Tenzou bowed his head in understanding. The look, one he had seen countless times before, seemed to convey a message of good news with a lingering warning: to not to expect a positive survival rate but, at the same time, it allowed him to loosen the burden of worry as much as he could.
"He's being sent back to the village first thing in the morning," the nameless medic said. "We've got him stable. But at this point, whether he improves or deteriorates is entirely up to him."
The medic wiped his hands on his apron. "You're allowed to visit."
"Thank you." Tenzou brushed past the man.
For the past two hours he had lingered outside the mouth of the medical building, flagging down doctors and nurses to learn information of Hatake Kakashi's condition. It was a difficult task as the medical shinobi wanted nothing to do with him—the nurses especially. But, finally, someone came out to give him the rather neutral details.
He entered the building and caught sight of himself in the surface of the walls.
He looked like a walking corpse. Faceless, soaked to the skin, and coated with blood. It had been raining at the border of Water Country and Fire for weeks. It was typhoon season. Another faceless teammate had informed him of it earlier. He had been stationed at the drenched border for a week and his skin had lost whatever life it'd contained; the pads of his fingertips were perpetually shriveled and ashen. A porcelain ANBU mask hid his identity all the while, earning him the nickname of Grey Cat. It was a useless nickname, he knew, because the face that was painted on his mask was certainly not of the feline nature.
He ran a hand through his damp hair, fixing the flat pieces and patting down the ones that stuck up. His audience would be unconscious and, if not unconscious, very much sedated. There was no point in making his appearance as pleasing as possible. But he felt compelled to do it, so he did. Fixing his hair was the least he could do, really, since there was nothing he could do about the dried blood that was smeared along his arms, underneath his nails, and down the front of his chest guard. Showering was an accommodation he would only treat himself to after he was able to see, with his very own eyes, that Kakashi was behaving himself.
A nurse with a clipboard touched his arm, looking up at him with concerned eyes.
"Can I help you find someone?" she asked soothingly. Soft lines creased around her eyes and forehead. She reminded him of his favorite grandmother. Well,, the one that he imagined he'd had, years ago.
She flipped through her clipboard, dragging a finger down the lengthy list of shinobi at the infirmary. "Hatake... room C10."
The medical station was a long barrack that was separated into four sections: surgery, post-operation, pre-operation, and the infirmary. Unlike the hospitals back home, the place smelled like copper. The scent wasn't so distinct that he thought of blood upon entering, but it was a smell that lingered in the back of his throat; it was the type that, until only after leaving, could you pinpoint exactly what it was. Tenzou knew that Kakashi would hate waking up here. The man's sense of smell was uncannily acute and the tangy scent of blood would surely give him a headache.
Based on the talk around the camp fire, Tenzou gathered that wherever they were stationed was a very old base. Someone said that it almost dated back to before the official founding of Konoha. Either way, the compound they were at was large enough to permanently station around fifty shinobi and another sixty non-combat personnel. The exact uses of the compound, beyond it being a frequent ANBU checkpoint, were unknown to Tenzou. The medical barrack was frighteningly long—almost the largest building at the compound. It reminded him, briefly, of the days before the tentative peace Fire Country currently had.
Either way, he was relieved it was built and functioning. Without it, another name would have had to be added to the memorial.
His sandals, still heavyset with water, squeaked against the linoleum floor as he walked. Under normal circumstances, creating the least amount of noise was Tenzou's specialty. But the squeaking was a normal occurrence around the compound during typhoon season. Tenzou didn't bother putting effort into a noise that never bothered anyone.
He flicked a water droplet from the eyehole of his mask that refused to fall on its own. Every time he got close to being dry all he had to do was go outside and stand in the open air to be soaked once again. The first day he'd been annoyed at having to wring his shirt out every five seconds. As the days wore on, the constant wetness on his neck no longer bothered him. The compound natives showed no signs of being annoyed and Tenzou had to express sympathy for them. If he would have to spend months of his year at the compound and then deal with typhoons—well, handing in his headband and leaving for the beaches would have been his first act.
In his thoughts his feet had taken him to stand in front of Room C10. Very convenient, he thought.
He placed one hand on the door and turned the doorknob slowly. As quietly as he could, which was near silent, he slipped into the room. There were no windows; only a panel of dull fluorescent lighting overhead. There were no flowers beside the heart monitor or cards of well-wishing. Kakashi looked disturbingly alone, lying on his back in the hospitable bed, attached to more tubes and wires than Tenzou wished to count. A slow, steady beep cut through the silence. The swish and gurgle of the oxygen pump worked quietly in the corner. An IV drip was taped to Kakashi's hand; another bag, one Tenzou assumed was a pain killer, converged into the IV line.
It was the first time he had ever seen Kakashi down for the count and all he could do was stare.
The door clicked closed behind him and he stepped forward. The air was expelled from his lungs on a slow breath and he couldn't seem to take another. What he felt at seeing someone he admired so much was stiff and painful, like a clean blow to the head. Knowing that the image in front of him was entirely his fault added to the weight in his stomach.
"Sempai, while I mean no offense, I have to say that you look like shit."
Whether or not Kakashi heard his astute observation was up to interpretation, but Tenzou swore he saw a finger move at that moment.
He sat down in the cushy chair by Kakashi's bedside, knowing his visit would take longer than an obligatory five minute viewing. Feeling his clothing plaster even closer to his skin was awkward, but it was an awkwardness he was willing to bear without complaint. It was the least he could do, sitting beside his comatose captain, because he owed the man his life. He slumped against the chair and pulled his mask off; discretion could be avoided for the moment. Even if anyone walked in they would only catch a glimpse of his back.
Kakashi really did look roughed up. His skin was paler than usual and it had a clammy kind of sheen to it that made him look washed out. Disobedient silver hair laid limply against his pillow. If Tenzou leaned closer, which he did, he could still see the faint flecks of blood around Kakashi's neck.
The tug of memory transported Tenzou back to the scene of the crime. It had been a standard reconnaissance mission between Water Country. A team consisting of four ANBU was ordered to scope out the area to either confirm or dispel the rumors of an increase in shinobi forces around the area. Tenzou and Kakashi had split up to scan the Eastern part, while the other pair had covered the West. After hours of no news of movement, a group of Fog ninja had engaged them in combat. While they had been able to effectively dispose of the threat, Kakashi had dropped out of the trees half-way back to the compound. Backtracking through his memory of the battle, Tenzou realized that several senbon, initially intended for him, had been taken by Kakashi instead. Upon inspecting the entrance wounds Tenzou could correctly assume that the senbon were poisoned. What had made matters worse was that, not only had he found poisoned senbon, but a rather deep gash along Kakashi's side as well. How Kakashi even managed to get half-way back to the compound like that, Tenzou would never know.
Using a fireman's carry for another two hours to reach the compound at a breakneck pace had pushed his muscles to the limit. Some fast acting poisons were able to take a man out within thirty minutes and Tenzou had prayed that whatever was in Kakashi's system was not as potent. Then again, if the poison didn't do him in, blood loss would most certainly be the next culprit. Thankfully, the medic ninja at the compound were proficient. They had been able to stop Kakashi's organs from shutting down and stitch him back up.
But now that the medics were done with their portion of the work, the body's natural healing process was the only thing that kept Kakashi from recovering.
"I…" Tenzou started nervously, choking on the words he really wanted to say. "I don't usually talk to myself."
Carrying on a one-sided conversation was something he was used to doing around Kakashi. But there was a distinct difference between talking to someone who chose to be unresponsive than someone who was medically induced to be in such a state.
Tenzou leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees. He cupped his chin with his hands, trying to find the words to express his gratitude. He felt indebted to his sempai, but knew that Kakashi would smack him with his dirty novel if he ever heard that. The man meant it when he told Tenzou that he would rather die than forsake his comrades.
And then he just felt guilty about the whole situation. Arrogance at one moment made him disregard an opponent for a second instead of taking him out. If he had just made one better decision, the two of them would have already been well on their way home.
He still had a great deal more to learn about teamwork. He hoped that Kakashi would still be around, the one teaching him.
"Mrm," Kakashi emitted a low groan.
Tenzou shot upward out of his seat and leaned over him. He wasn't sure if he ought to page a doctor or if he should quietly rejoice that Kakashi wasn't dead.
"How are you feeling, Kakashi-sempai?" he asked, gripping the edge of the hospital bed hard enough to turn his knuckles white. This decision was already made: no one had told him they needed to be alerted right away if Kakashi woke up.
"Like I ate a bag of cotton balls." A slight slur tinted the edge of his voice. Apparently whatever drugs they were giving him for his other (minor and major) injuries were working. His visible eye also had a hard time focusing on the picture in front of him; it lolled back and forth, the pupil dilated. Tenzou knew that Kakashi generally objected to being under the influence of any sort of substance and was probably inwardly cursing his drugged-up state.
Tenzou picked up a styrofoam cup. "Do you think you can have water?"
Kakashi grunted. "I think I can have whatever the damn well I want."
Tenzou poured ice water from an ugly pitcher into the cup and held it up to Kakashi's face. Kakashi managed to tilt his head forward enough to capture the lip of the cup and drink. It was an awkward position to be in, Tenzou had to admit, but it was nothing to be embarrassed by.
Kakashi sighed and pulled the air tube away from his nose. He then took a sniff of the air and his face contorted into a look of pain. "What's that smell?"
"Blood." Tenzou fiddled with a buckle on his chest guard. Although he didn't want to deal with Kakashi complaining about staying in the compound hospital, lying to a man that could identify you on scent alone would be useless.
"Pleasant," Kakashi said sarcastically.
"We'll be heading home tomorrow," Tenzou supplied. "I can suggest to the nurse to up your dosage of morphine?"
Kakashi smiled. "And sleep through you doting on my every beck and call?"
"I don't remember offering that service."
Kakashi rolled his head from side to side with a sigh. "So ungrateful."
"While I admire you, sempai, I think I'm above lowering myself to being your lackey."
Kakashi yawned. "I can't say I didn't try."
"You ought to rest." Tenzou sighed. "Get more healing done before tomorrow."
"Mm, maybe later. Where's Icha Icha?"
Tenzou frowned; he'd almost forgot about that piece of information. "About that…"
"I… don't like the sound of that."
"Well, it kind of fell out of your pocket while I was taking you to the compound…"
Kakashi paused. "This is just a morphine-induced nightmare."
Tenzou cleared his throat. Why didn't I just lie about his damn book? "I'm… afraid not."
A hand shot up from the bed and clutched at his damp shirt front. He was yanked down so that he was bent at the hip; his blood-covered chest guard cleaned itself on the hospital issued blanket that covered Kakashi. A furious eye and a scarred eyelid stared him dead on. Who knew that losing his favorite novel would instigate a deeper set reaction than being sliced open and getting stuck by a wayward poisoned senbon?
"S-sempai?" He tried to pry the fingers off his shirt, but Kakashi held on tight.
"Go back," Kakashi punctuated his each word by tugging Tenzou up and down, "and get it."
Tenzou managed to yank one of Kakashi's ring fingers off his shirt before he attempted to step backwards. With a loud squeak, his sandal slid out from under him and he flopped on to Kakashi. His diaphragm was compressed by the railing and a harsh breath hissed through his—
Oh my god.
—teeth clacked together, noses smashed, and cracked lips were further aggravated in quite possibly the worst kiss ever. With a strangled gasp, Tenzou twisted off the bed and knocked down the hospital tray with his arm. It clattered to the floor beside his head.
Kakashi was silent and Tenzou just panted, face-down, on the floor.
The heart monitor kept its steady rhythm while Tenzou was sure his heart was about to burst out from his chest and do a little dance. The moment, with Kakashi still stunned into silence, would probably have been a good time to crawl out of the room. On his way out, he'd tell a nurse the Copy Ninja was awake… and then never come back.
"Was it good for you?"
Tenzou found himself laughing and clutching his mask to his chest. Out of sheer horror of the question or because it was a genuinely amusing moment, he wasn't too sure.
"No, sempai... not really."