His steps were slow only, he wasn't in a rush. Obito was unpunctual, anyway, so he wouldn't need to reproach himself if he, too, arrived with some minutes of delay.
A light rain concealed the surrounding landscape behind an unsteady grey veil of haze. The leafless trees' silhouettes contrasted only coarsely with the sky and the mountains that loomed far away at the horizon. Kakashi emitted a faint curse inwardly when the moist grass stuck to the bare skin of his toes and heel and covered them with an unpleasant, gel-like film. The wet soil hardly offered any adhesion to his sandals, and his walk more and more grew into an uncontrollable slither. Disgruntled, Kakashi eventually quickened his pace for to get out of the floodplain as fast as possible.
The meeting point with his comrades lay quiet and deserted, as most of the times, the few noises an attentive ninja maybe could have perceived swallowed by the hollow melody of thudding water drops. Kakashi hesitated as he approached Obito. His legs moved slowlier, eventually paused completely.
"Hel..." Kakashi bit his lips, crossed the arms behind the back fidgetily and shook the head, frustrated due to his foolish begin of their conversation. As if "Hello" was an appropriate reception for someone like Obito Uchiha.
For a period of several seconds that seemed like idly creeping minutes to him, Kakashi searched for words. When he, despite intensive endeavours, didn't find any, he turned away from Obito and stared with ostensible interest in the rain getting denser.
Two swallows, only pale in front of the background of the dull sky, glided skilfully underneath the ominous clouds. Both probably still young animals, caught in a childish quarrel, upon which they forgot the danger that was enthroned above them. A squall grasped one of the birds and drove him towards the ground. He paddled with his wings helplessly, but wasn't able to cope with the power that had seized him, and collided with the soot-blackened trunk of a leafless oak. A quiver run through the slim body before he tumbled down lifelessly.
The second swallow sat down on one of the branches of the oak, apparently anaesthetized by the shock and unable to realize the situation. Silently, the animal starred down at the corpse of its friend, desperately imploring that he would move again and they could carry on their impetuous chase, flying towards their lives, unencumbered and free, like before.
"You know, Obito..." Kakashi was surprised about the calmness in his own voice. It didn't reflect any of the emotions whirling in his chest. He gulped, unsure how to word his request, but eventually decided with a resigned sigh that he would simply talk. Usually, he prefered to express himself rather thoughtful, but Obito had never been a friend of big words, anyway.
"I spoke to Hokage-sama yesterday." A shadow of anger glided above Kakashi's face. "Sarutobi-sama told me that our current missions aren't in accordance with my skills. He said he wants me to take over higher-ranking missions." Kakashi laughd lowly, embittered.
"How shall I do that?" he asked. "I can hardly go to my team and say: 'So, watch how you get along, I'll leave for an A-rank mission now. See you in a few days! Take care until then!' I can't do that. What does he think how that shall work?"
Kakashi turned around, swiftly only, and as he had expected, he didn't receive any reply.
"You know, Obito…" Kakashi newly starred into the grey in front of him. "Part of me wants to take over higher-ranking mission. After all, Konoha is my home. I want to support and protect this village, and the price, even if it would be my own life, doesn't matter for me." He let his gaze wander over the pale roofs under the shelter of which hundreds of people ate and drank every day, laughed and cried, were born and died. Hundreds of people, some who had never met, but who still formed a family, a family he was a part of, too. "But… how shall a student learn something if he doesn't exercise with his sensei?"
Exhausted, Kakashi sat down next to Obito. He had slept only two hours after his discussion with the Hokage, and the pleasant safety his team mate offered him gave him the rest he hadn't found during the former night. His eyes closed.
"I don't know what to do, Obito." Kakashi had never admitted a weakness that frankly, but he was too tired to feign the strong, independent ninja. "I know you're probably the last one who will give me an advice now, but… you're probably also the only one who understands me." Kakashi almost expected to hear a taunting comment from Obito, but his friend kept silent.
Kakashi vaguely remembered the exercises which Rin, Obito and he had absolved under Sensei Minato. Irrespective of the degree of difficulty of the task, Obito had failed again and again.
"An Uchiha is not necessarily a good ninja, just because he is an Uchiha." Kakashi's voice was free of scorn, yet filled with determination. "It takes more than a famous name to be a honourable shinobi."
He shook his head for to get under control the weariness, caused by a lack of sleep, which had taken possession of him.
"For to become a good shinobi, one needs training. Appropriate training, under a good teacher, of course." Kakashi arose and stretched his legs and arms. "But Hokage-sama has not understood that entirely yet. I, however, have. Und because of that, I will…"
Kakashi turned around, quite startled due to the resolute voice. He had in no way noticed the approach of the young student, an alerting proof of how much he had been preoccupied with his conversation with Obito.
"Sasuke? What are you doing here?" Kakashi quickly dug his hands into the pockets of his pants and ambled over to his pupil. "Is there a certain reason for you to come to see me, or are you here only coincidentally?"
"I've talked to Hokage-sama a moment ago." Sasuke's voice was gruff as usual, but a barely noticeable undertone of concern was vibrating in it. "He said you would confer the lead of our team to someone else. Is that... in accordance with the facts?"
Kakashi eyed him, amazed. He hadn't believed that he meant so much to Sasuke as a sensei. The realization filled him with a pleasing feeling of joy.
"Yes and no." Kakashi stepped beneath the Genin and watched the horizon at which a few solitary, still pallid rays of light broke through the clouds.
"Hokage-sama asked me to take over more difficult missions," he reported. For a second he took into considertaion to betray Sasuke the details – that Sarutobi-sama had urged him to enter the ANBU again. But this weren't affairs he should worry Sasuke with. "But I've talked to a friend. I tell him about you, Sakura and Naruto often, you know. Hence he knows you well meanwhile. We agreed that a student needs a teacher. And the three of you, you are my students after all." He noticed, satisfied, how Sasuke heaved a sigh of relief secretly. "Sarutobi-sama sure expects me to assign a new leader to you. But I won't."
Kakashi darted a surprised glance at Sasuke, and the Genin flushed when he got conscious of the fact that he had just freely shown his emotions which he normally knew to hide so well.
"I mean…" Sasuke fixed his eyes on the wet grass. He couldn't think of any lie he could lessen his involuntary confession with, so he could as well stay with the truth. "You are the only one who can teach me how to use the Sharingan. There's no one else who could instruct me in that."
Kakashi nodded, understanding.
"An Uchiha is not necessarily a good ninja, just because he is an Uchiha," he said lowly. "It takes more than a famous name to be a honourable shinobi."
Sasuke looked up to him, inquiring. Kakashi smiled gently.
"You need a sensei who trains you, a good sensei, with an appropriate training schedule for you." He put a hand on Sasuke's shoulder. "And that's what I'm there for. Because of that, I will stay your sensei. Even if it contradicts Hokage-sama's wishes."
Sasuke starred at him wordlessly, then he turned his attention towards the memorial stone. His gaze wandered passingly over the names that were engraved in the rock, yet got caught by one of the many writings.
"An Uchiha?" Sasuke frowned. „Obito... I don't think I know him. That's strange."
"He died before you were born at all."
"You knew him?"
"Fleetingly only." Kakashi started to head for the village. "It's not exactly pleasant outside here." He waved towards Sasuke airily. "Are you coming?"
Sasuke darted a thoughtful gaze at the memorial stone, then nodded reluctantly and followed his teacher back into the streets of Konoha.
Fleetingly only. Kakashi carefully minded that Sasuke wouldn't spot the single tear that was running down his cheek. He died only a few hours after I got to know him.