Even at 60:60

Faceted Mind

When Kakashi met Gai for the first time, he insulted the strange looking man.

Gai was new to ANBU at twenty and had just performed his first assassination. He was a gibbering, shaking wreck and the only reason his mission had been B-class was that it was an assassination and that automatically made it higher than C rank. He would have needed more firepower to kill a rabbit, and Kakashi was kind enough to point that out to the other man.

They had started a fight, right there in the middle of ANBU headquarters, and hadn't finished it until the two nearest officers had come to their senses enough to restrain them both. Sandaime would have been angrier at the behaviour of two of Konoha's elite if it weren't for the strange curve of a smile he was sure he could see on Kakashi's face through the mask, reflected in Gai's eyes.

Kakashi was nineteen and coming to the end of a very long growth spurt. He had already been with ANBU for four years - longer than most ANBU could stick it out. For that matter, longer the average survival rate for an ANBU member. Kakashi was good at what he did, no one could challenge that. He was also good at pissing people off.

-

The second time the two met, Kakashi had just returned from an S-class mission and was - in his own way - a little shaken. Gai appeared on the road in front of him between the offices where he had just delivered his report and his assigned barracks. He jumped out of a side-street, one finger a declaration pointed directly at Kakashi, and announced that they would be eternal rivals from this day on. Kakashi thought using the word eternal when in their line of work was fairly futile.

"You're new to ANBU, the enthusiasm will wear off soon." He said softly, knowing the shake that he could hear in his own voice would be dismissed as weariness by anyone else.

"My sensei taught me that only through a developed sense of competition can we grow!" The finger was pointed to the sky now, and Gai's face was twisted into something Kakashi thought he might be able to define as passion, though it looked a little like constipation.

"My sensei taught me that everyone around me dies, so I should join a profession where that is acceptable." Kakashi replied flatly. Gai's brow furrowed, but he was still young and he hadn't worked out yet that knowing everything about everyone was the best way to understand other people.

"I challenge you, Hatake Kakashi, to a fight with Ninjutsu!" Kakashi scowled. He just wanted to go to bed.

"I'll hurt you."

"And I shall heal so that I might train harder and beat you in our next challenge!" Gai declared, starting to get excited. Kakashi could tell because the pitch of his voice kept rising, and it didn't seem to be stopping any time soon. Kakashi scowled deeper. This man would not be dissuaded. He'd been using Obito's Sharingan for at least an hour earlier in the day and he hadn't eaten yet. His chakra reserves were running low.

"What do I get if I win?"

"AH! The first point in our Eternal Rivalry!"

"And if you win?"

"The same, my rival. The first battle is always the hardest to predict, but should not be delayed in our time of Passionate Youth!!" Kakashi rolled his eyes, not understanding, but wanting to get this annoying man out of his space as soon as possible.

"Where do you want to fight?"

-

Gai gasped when Kakashi shifted the forehead protector to expose the Sharingan. He wanted this over quickly, but he wouldn't have bothered if he'd realised quite how new to ANBU Gai was. There weren't many people in the ranks that didn't know about "Sharingan Kakashi", masked or unmasked - and he assumed the dark-haired ANBU would have done at least a little research before choosing his 'eternal rival'. But he was all but unknown outside of ANBU, perhaps the strange man had just never seen a Sharingan before. With the eye open, he could see the strong twist of chakra that corkscrewed out of Gai's centre, and could respect the strength of the other man.

From the way the chakra gathered around his arms and legs he suspected the man was a taijutsu user predominantly, but the battle he had outlined had been ninjutsu. He felt a deep pull of fatigue in his chest, and shrugged off his analysing. Quickly, and he could get to his bed. When he moved it was fast - hand seals forming almost faster than he could consciously remember them. The chakra pooled into his hands as if it was desperate to be there, but he didn't use the chidori. It was late and he was tired, and stabbing a team-mate through the heart wasn't considered terribly good form. He used the chakra to draw lines in the air and was only vaguely aware of the clones of Gai that split and scattered around the clearing. Only one image mattered, and that was the one with the cork-screw chakra. He stepped forwards and braced against the barrier he had drawn.

Taking in a deep breath he clapped his hands and pushed them up against the barrier, watching as the amplified shockwave shot away from him. The world tilted oddly, and started blurring around the edges. A little belatedly, he realised he might have been a little lower on chakra than he realised - and most of what was remaining was gathered in his two hands. He passed out with Gai's face looming over him, the look on his face something Kakashi couldn't recognise.

Later, Gai would tell him it was concern, and he would laugh at the strangeness of the man who had declared himself his eternal rival. Much later than that, Kakashi would understand.

-

The last time Kakashi met Gai, there was a mission brief in both of their jounin vest document pouches. They were both S-class, both more dangerous than would be given to a single ANBU in peace time. But this wasn't peace time, and there was nothing they could do about that. The village was short on Shinobi, so they sent whoever they could.

Kakashi didn't hold back any more when they fought. Gai had more than caught up with him - they were well matched in most areas, Kakashi's cunning and strong chakra control making up for Gai's superior strength and power. They'd both grown a lot since those days back in ANBU, struggling for recognition. Waiting for someone to see them through the ceramic masks.

When they were done - Kakashi knelt on the ground, disarmed, with Gai ready to land the last blow - the Sharingan user submitted before the blow could connect. Gai wouldn't have touched him regardless, but Kakashi had learned that there's nothing wrong with giving every once in a while. His students taught him that. Gai's students have taught him that there's nothing wrong with giving everything you've got and then reaching for more. Kakashi's worried that Gai has learned the wrong lesson. Gai's worried that Kakashi doesn't realise how much he gives, and one day will give it all before realising he's got nothing left.

"That puts us even at 60 to 60, doesn't it Kakashi?" The Sharingan user isn't taken in by the question, Gai knows exactly what points they're on. He always has done, since the whole thing started.

"Aa." He smiles. "Looks like you've improved a little, neh, Gai-sensei."

They part ways with soft laughter, and the scrolls in their pocket become the heaviest thing that they own. They won't see each other leave the next morning. They won't even exist - they'll be ANBU again by then.

-

"He gave too much."

"He reached too far."

-

Two names added to the memorial stone, and carved roughly next to them in untidy characters, two numbers. "60:60" The two teams watched as Naruto scratched out the last stroke and stepped back. No winners here.