Inheritance of Memory
(So it began revolving around the theme of symbolism…and kind of evolved into an angsty death fic. by the end. Oh well, what can you do?
I suggest you don't think too much about why some parts are italisized and others aren't. I couldn't explain if it tried. It just feels right, haha.)
"It's not really that I wear them for their use. It's more of like their message. You know, symbolism! Yeah, their symbolism!"
"So…you're symbolizing your incompetence by wearing goggles that hinder your peripheral vision?"
"NO. I'm symbolizing my…my ability to see underneath the underneath!"
"I see. You're symbolizing the fact that you're supposed to have the Sharingan."
"SHUT THE- well then why do you wear that dorky mask huh?!"
"I don't want to tell you. Though it helps when people with bad breath lose their control and yell in my face," he turned his head away, using his hand as a fan in front of his face.
As a result he was almost caught off guard when the other boy launched himself at him.
They gave the goggles to their sensei after the funeral. He accepted them from the apologetic Sandaime with a solemn word of thanks, and fled the gathering with his blue eyes a little brighter than usual.
Kakashi watched him go with his single uncovered eye, realizing belatedly how much his vision was obstructed with his left eye under light bandaging. He considered tearing it off, ripping the stupid, annoying paper into a thousand shredded pieces and throwing it in the faces of the dry-eyed Uchihas.
He didn't need them anyway, it had been a clean operation (of course, Rin did it) and it barely stung anymore.
But he didn't move, didn't expose Obito at his own funeral. His sensei had been right; they were staring at him enough already. Kakashi wouldn't turn Obito's remembrance ceremony into a circus performance starring him, the corpse thief. He stilled his shaking hands and ignored the whispers with an effort, finding with surprise that his eyes were dry.
They had been dry since the day in the Grass Country, when they burned up in the heat from his lightning chakra as he drove it through the Rock shinobi.
But too late, too late.
He went home sometime later, after removing the bandages on the way to the memorial and staring at the fresh name engraved into the stone tablet. His body was weary, and he could feel that his chakra was gone already. Obito's eye left him as weary as its original owner used to, and he fell onto the bed and into an uneasy doze without bothering to change out of the heavy black clothes.
It was a while later (seconds, minutes, hours?) when he realized some part of his discomfort came from an object that was underneath his back. After a moment caught between exhaustion and curiosity, his fingers found nicked metal and smooth glass.
Holding the goggles up to the light above his bed, Kakashi noticed that the broken glass, where the rocks had crushed Obito and his goggles, had cut his fingers and the blood was running over the goggles, dripping onto his mask.
With grief and anger building up within his chest, he threw the goggles haphazardly to this side, feeling momentary satisfaction as the glass shattered further, pieces littering the floor as the first sob broke from the thirteen year old's throat.
"Yeah, that's what they're calling your dad! People say he might be able to fight evenly with the Sannin!"
Kakashi scoffed. "Of course."
He didn't know who built it, or where. It had been with his father for as long as could remember. It was like Neptune's trident, or Sandaime's monkey staff. Legendary.
Sakumo let him hold it for the first time when he graduated from the Academy, at the age of 5. He held it carefully, tentatively, afraid of dropping it- breaking it, and fully aware of its power. His father had scolded him for that.
"It's a weapon. Treat it like one. Respect it, revere it, but control it. A tool is only good when you have power over it."
Slowly, carefully, he sent the smallest surge of chakra through the blade, causing it to flicker for a second like a dying light bulb. His father smacked his head lightly.
"What did I just say? If you're going to try it, try it. Don't do things half-assed."
Kakashi obeyed, sending his considerate amount of chakra through the blade and grinning as it lit up with the signature white lightning, the glow illuminating his young face.
"I have something for you Kakashi."
He blinked in surprise, realizing he could not remember when he had been given his last present. He caught the dark cloth that flew towards him instinctively, then he looked up with an expression of gratitude and awe as he felt the smooth silk of his new mask beneath his fingers.
"Your face is too cute and revealing. That mask will be good for you," despite his stern tone, Sakumo was smiling as well, ruffling Kakashi's hair.
"That mask means you are a Hatake. Wear it proudly."
There were no funerals for the dishonored. There was only shame and anger for the dead.
Kakashi hated that he couldn't hate his father. He hated that he was ashamed of his father, and he hated that he wasn't more ashamed to be his son.
It was the morning after they burnt his body, and the ashes rested in the urn within his hands. It was a pretty thing, Sakumo chose it years ago. He said it reminded him of Kakashi's mother.
Kakashi wouldn't know, because he doesn't remember anything of her, but he thinks she must have been a pretty woman, but it bothers him a bit that the urn is blue. Hatakes are white or grey, cold and depressing colors, the colors of failure and shame.
He puts it back on the shrine that also holds the remains of his mother and his grandparents. He wonders who will pray for them when he's gone.
No one. You're the last one. You're alone.
He feels weary, his body too heavy for him to hold up and his chakra leaking out of his body. He notes with surprise that his Sharingan, no, his entire face is uncovered, the mask lying quietly on the floor.
He had been contemplating it before he picked up the urn, deciding whether to wear it or not.
"That mask means you are a Hatake. Wear it proudly."
Kakashi finds it fitting that his father wasn't wearing his mask when he found him. A Hatake wasn't weak, a Hatake wasn't depressed, and a Hatake certainly was not a disgrace. A Hatake wouldn't do something so dishonorable, he wouldn't hurt his village by removing a capable shinobi.
He slips it on after only a moment more of hesitation, and his new tanto follows a second later.
He would make a new name for the blade, and he would redeem the name of Hatake Sakumo.
He was a Hatake. He would wear the mask and the saber proudly.
Sensei found him too fast. Kakashi's mask was down, his dead eyes were dripping, and he was faintly aware that he was staining his sheets with blood.
Just a couple hours later, and he would have shut off his emotion, burned his clothes and sheets, and saved the disgrace for himself. But it was too early for that, and his valve was still open, overfilling until it flooded his body and squeezed out his eyes.
He wanted to scream. He wanted to die.
He wanted her to be alive.
If only the Yellow Flash wasn't so fast. It was easier, much easier, to torture himself when there wasn't someone there to stop the blade before it broke skin. So the valve kept pouring.
"I'm sorry. I should have been there."
Kakashi wanted to hit him then, almost as much as he wanted to beat himself. He was being mocked. He was there. And he didn't do shit.
"I promised. I promised. I promised. I promised. I promised..."
Kakashi screamed, the dry, piercing, strangled scream of a dying animal.
His sensei was silent, maybe he knew that Kakashi would have attacked him if he had moved. Or maybe he was grieving as well.
"I promised him that I'd protect her. I promised. It's my fault, it's all my fault! I should have stopped her from going, I knew, I fucking knew it was going to be dangerous. I promised. I promised. I promised."
Kakashi stared into light that hung above the bed, hoping it burned out his eyes. He didn't deserve to have two anyway.
"I promised…I told him- I told him that I'd protect her."
Too fast, the man moved. Kakashi didn't have the time (the strength, the will?) to move before he was hauled up by the arms into a painfully tight embrace. He didn't struggle, didn't respond, didn't move.
"I promised Obito."
"He'll understand. You can't control the decisions of a jounin medic. She died the way she knew she would- fighting for Konoha. For you."
"I promised him…"
"Shut up about promises. I promised you guys I'd always be there. I wasn't. And I won't always be. But I'm going to try Kakashi. I'll try to be there."
"Why? Why do you want to be there? It wouldn't hurt if you didn't care."
"It would hurt all the time, not caring about anyone. This way it only hurts when they die. It wouldn't hurt if they weren't worth anything, right? It hurts so much because it was so good to have them with us."
The valve closed, slowly, gradually. Until there was only Kakashi and his sensei, together in silent, buried grief.
His- Obito's eye was exposed still, shocked and unblinking. Kakashi forgot everything now; that his chakra was gone, that his knees were struggling from the effort of remaining standing, and that a second ago he had been losing consciousness.
Sensei was fighting the monster. Sensei was winning.
But he was dying.
Fuck, he was killing himself.
Kakashi didn't know, didn't care, how many others knew the truth behind those hand seals that his hands flew through, as the Kyuubi lunged forward towards the giant frog.
He was always fast, way too fast for Kakashi to catch.
"Stop. Don't do it. Don't die."
"DON'T DIE!" He was mumbling, screaming, sobbing, breaking, and falling onto his knees in a futile call for the only person left.
But too late, too late.
He didn't go to the funeral. He went on a hellish S-rank mission and killed 11 people about the same time that they cremated the body.
He felt slightly better afterwards.
As soon as he got back, he dragged his body to the memorial stone, where he lost consciousness a couple hours later.
- (12 years later)
Kakashi knows there are only a few that can see what he's doing, because hell, most of the people that knew him then are dead now anyways.
"I'm symbolizing my…my ability to see underneath the underneath!"
He doesn't wear Obito's goggles, he wouldn't dishonor him like that, (and besides, the goggles over the hitai-ate doesn't work…he's tried) but he's never on time any more, and makes sure to remember who he's fighting for each time he exposes his left eye.
The tanto broke, so many years ago. He thought about getting it reforged a couple times, and maybe he will one day. But he has a superstition that it meant something when it broke and he used the chidori instead, something about growth and originality. He won't fix the broken sword until he can be sure he wants it back.
"Don't do things half-assed."
The mask is there, of course. It's helped more than once (on occasions twelve years apart) with blond, blue eyed ninja with ramen breath.
Yondaime didn't leave material things to him, he gave him a lot more. He sees it every time he sees his team, and realizes he is their teacher. Kakashi isn't a very good one (he could have predicted that much) but he thinks he's a lot better than he could have been.
He has an idea of how much it would hurt to lose them. So he fights to keep them with him, and tries to enjoy it while he can.
"It hurts so much because it was so good to have them with us."
Or maybe his sensei did leave something for him. He left him Konoha, he left him everything. He left Kakashi, and a new generation, a chance at the future. That's what Konoha means to him now.
It is everything the Yondaime fought for. It is Kakashi's inheritance.