There was something overwhelmingly relaxing about being an ANBU. No one relying on you coming home, no one demanding you be safe of worrying about you in the night. The only responsibilities those of your mission, the only requirements success – but then your honour would allow nothing else regardless. Coming home at night was to no more greeting that the sunrise and a warm shower, coming home during the day was usually avoided. The blood made people afraid.

No one complained about dirty clothes in the bedroom, bloody weapons on the kitchen table or nin-dog hair in the bath. Only you know how bad you smelt or the difference in colour of the skin under your mask and the skin exposed. You could sleep before you showered, after you showered, while you were showering…

When you were out on missions you could tear a man to pieces for information and no one thought any different of you as you walked through the street. You could be invisible, hidden in clear sight, or disguised as anything you could imagine and you didn't have to remember what was normal before you got home. Didn't have to remember what the real you looked like, before this had all started. You could exist alone. Totally alone. So alone…

Having said all that… there's a lot to be said about coming home to someone too.

Iruka watched as Kakashi changed back into himself, piece by piece, and smiled.