...And here we are! The conclusion!
Robin lay on the grass of the clearing and wondered why she was still alive. And why her toe hurt, of all places.
"No, no! Mika!" Ronin's anguished voice cried.
Kakine was staring over her towards Mika, who was pinned to a tree on the other side of the clearing. Ronin had collapsed to his knees next to her, weeping as he tried to pull the chakra-enhanced blade out of her.
"Stupid bitch. She shouldn't have gotten in the way," he murmured absently. "And you shouldn't have tripped," he added, turning back to Robin.
"Master! Help Mika! Please!" Ronin sobbed.
"You must learn not to weep for a broken tool, foolish boy," he sneered. "She was a poor tool at best, anyway, failing in her mission to cripple Kakashi!"
Ronin stiffened. "Do you really care so little for her?" he asked in a low voice.
"I care as little for her as I cared for her mother," Kakine answered.
Darkness gathered around Ronin, and when he looked up, his eyes were filled with hatred. "She is everything to me!" he screamed, and charged at Kakine, blades of darkness extending from his hands. "Everything!"
With almost contemptuous ease, Kakine made a slashing motion with both hands, and blood sprayed from a large red cross that appeared across Ronin's chest. "She is nothing," he told him. "And you are even less."
Kakine's face took on a look of shock as his body jerked. "Those who treat their comrades so poorly are nothing but trash, big brother," Kakashi whispered in his ear as he drove the kunai even further into Kakine's back. "It took me a long time and a lot of pain to understand that, but I see you never learned that lesson."
Kakine crumpled to the ground and Kakashi, his body still aged, dropped to his knees beside him. "When you disappeared, it broke Mother's heart," he said quietly. "She died of grief not long afterwards, and that shattered what was left of Father's heart after you were gone. He was already full of shame after his failed mission, and without you, he couldn't continue on. He killed himself shortly afterwards."
Robin put a hand on his shoulder for comfort, and he briefly touched it before continuing. "Within ten years of you leaving, I had lost both parents, my best friend, the girl I loved and my sensei. I had also lost the most important person in my life: the older brother I looked up to and respected more than anyone. If you were alive all this time, why…" and here his voice broke, "why didn't you ever come back?"
Kakine weakly motioned for him to lean closer, and Kakashi, though wary of another attack, did so. "Because," Kakine gasped out, "I hated you."
And he died.
"Are you sure she's going to be okay?" Ronin asked, craning his head to look over at where Robin was carefully freeing Mika.
Kakashi smiled at him as he finished securing the bandages. "She is in better shape than you are," he said. "And me," he said ruefully, looking at his wrinkled skin.
"Mika will probably be able to fix that for you," Ronin said as he carefully sat up. "I'm pretty sure that she was better than… him at that jutsu."
"Yes, I can undo it," Mika gritted out as Robin helped her over to where the boys sat. "And I can send you home too… Kakashi."
Kakashi and Robin looked at each other, stricken. What do I do? Kakashi thought.
"Mika is nearly recovered enough to perform the time-travelling jutsu," Robin said, leaning back against Kakashi's chest. It had taken two weeks for Mika to heal enough to undo the jutsu, and she had been spending the past few days gathering enough chakra to send Kakashi home. Kakashi and Robin had been avoiding the issue, but now it could be ignored no longer. "What will you do?"
"I've been asking myself that question for days, but I still don't have an answer," he sighed as he held her tighter. "I don't want to leave you, but…"
"But you have responsibilities in your own time," she finished for him. "Your students, your comrades, your village. People are depending on you and you don't want to abandon them. Am I correct?"
"But are they worth having to give up you?" he asked.
"If you don't go back, then history will be changed," she said, turning to look at him. "And your name will be forgotten, as your brother's was when he disappeared. Your students will learn from others, your comrades will depend on others and your village will produce other ninja."
"But they will learn different lessons from another sensei, and comrades I count dear may fall because I am not there to fight by their side," he said slowly.
Robin cupped his cheek in her hand. "There are troubles ahead for your village," she whispered as tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. "Without you, they may fall. And the history of your entire world will change. You must prevent that, even though it means I will lose you."
"Are you ready?" Mika asked.
With a final glance at Robin, Kakashi nodded and used the Bubble Shield jutsu.
"I'll return you to the place where we fought," Mika said as her hands moved. "I wish you well… uncle."
Goodbye, he mouthed at Robin, and suddenly, he was gone.
Robin blinked away tears. Ronin looked up at her from where he sat on the grass. "You really loved him, huh Flowerchild?" he asked.
"Yes," she answered, her voice a little thick. "But there was something much greater than us that he needed to look after, so I had to let him go."
"Well, I hope that never happens to Mika," he said, looking over at her fondly. "I'm not as strong as you."
They started on their way out of the forest. "So, will you two return to your village?" Robin asked.
Ronin snorted. "Village? The so-called Village Hidden in the Shadows was just the three of us and wherever we happened to be at the time. Master had delusions of grandeur calling it a village."
"We have nowhere to go," Mika said, sounding a little lost.
As they left the trees behind, Robin caught sight of a familiar sail on the horizon and smiled a little. "Have either of you ever considered becoming pirates?" she asked.
Kakashi found himself standing on a familiar path that led to the training grounds. Just around the next corner was the bridge, and his annoyed students. Naruto and Sakura had obviously been talking, while Sasuke did his best to ignore both of them.
"Sensei! You're late again!" Naruto and Sakura exclaimed together when they saw him.
"Sorry. Afraid I got lost on the path of life," Kakashi said with a secret smile.
My dearest Robin,
There are so many things I wanted to say before we parted, not the least of which was 'I love you'. Our meeting was a matter of fate, but I fear fate is sometimes unkind, and I shall not live long enough for us to meet again. Though the years that separate us are long and impossible to cross, know that you will remain in my heart always, as I know I will in yours.
Forever and faithfully yours,
Robin smiled as she finished reading the letter, then turned her gaze to the horizon, lost in thoughts of her silver-haired love as in the distant past, Kakashi wrote a letter of love to his black-haired pirate girl.
Why does this keep turning cheesy? Anyway, if you survived all the way through, good for you. Hope you enjoyed the story, and hopefully I'll do better next time. Ja ne!