He was an interesting kid
Always wearing solemnity on his face like a mask
Looking like he was going off to a funeral, even if
he was just showing up for training. He reminded
me of an elderly man. One who had seen much of life
and was content to sit back and watch others endure
hardships that he had already prevailed against.
May'be it was the hair.
An untamed mop of gray. Thick strands that stood all over
his head like a halo and in the light
shown like a newly minted dime. An ethereal blend
of gray and white like snow found in the gutter.
He was extremely conservative most of the time.
A creature of little yet profound words. And a somewhat
boisterous temper. The girls liked to guess
at what was underneath the cloth mask he always wore.
When they pestered him about it, he would glare at them from underneath long dark lashes.
His eyes were black as coal and he
had this special look. When he gave it to you, you knew
what he meant. This was rare however.
He normally held his eyelids like lampshades over those
coal black irises. Heavy and reserved. Tranquil as a doe.
That was Kakashi Hatake.
His friend was the exact opposite.
He was a jester. Always finding something to laugh
about in whatever he was doing.
If anyone would have asked me about him, I would have said he was unfit for being a shinobi.
But he was an Uchiha, and we all know how much potential
that clan has. Even if you have to dig it out.
He lived through adventure. Functioned on a sense
of humor that crawled under my skin like ants at times.
He lacked concentration and preferred to
see his tiny world, through the tangerine
lenses of these huge plastic goggles, he'd dug up in somebody's garbage disposal. As if life was brighter in
I suppose it was.
He walked with a swagger that was typical of young boys
and his ignorance was both charming
and a handicap. He was the one who plunged forward
into dangers and emerged miraculously unscathed.
He was also the kind of lady's man that
couldn't get a lady. He was so in love with Rin
that it was kind of sad. But those two together
would have been like Lady and the Tramp. Yes, Obito
Uchiha was Obito Uchiha.
He was day and Kakashi was night.
They were as different as the Leaf and the Mist and
yet they stuck together like magnets. And whenever
you saw one you saw the other. Each one giving
a little of what the other was lacking
and losing a little of their own faults in the process.
Their friendship was very deep. Looking back on things
they were more like brothers.
That's why when I heard the news of the accident
I feared the end of the world.
It was a foggy day. The sky was crisp like a starched
shirt. Birds could be heard calling like
starcrossed lovers in the distance. It was not a day
But as you grow as a Shinobi. And advance in your
you become accustomed to these kinds of things.
You develop a certain intuition. A 6th sense. And
as I raced my way through the foilage I could sense
the inevitable horror that must have been awaiting me.
Death comes with a sagging feeling. Like someone slowly
lowering a brick house down on your
body. You can feel it coming. The approaching
sensations drive you crazy. But you can't stop it.
And the aftermath crushes you.
It was a rescue mission. Kakashi and Obito
had been sent to retrieve their captured teammate Rin.
I knew the effort had failed in some way.
Because a scout had notified me to make an appearance
on the scene.
Even though I was no longer their sensai and the
mission was theirs alone, I still cared.
And I was needed. My body buzzed with that 6th sense.
As I moved onward I could see the peak of the
cave cut out into the mountainside. I made it
into the clearing in record time. A
light rain had begun to fall as I landed in the soft
grass. I felt it against my shoulders.
Tickling my brow. Saw it on Rin's cheeks. Her eyes
were red. Swollen. Her arms folded around her small
body. Her wrists raw as if she had been bound with rope.
The thickening rain drops pushed her dark bangs down,
plastering them over her face.
Her expression was like darkness. She looked like
an abandoned Barbie doll. Longing
to be put back into her box. Where things would be
safe and sound.
I swallowed hard.
Rin's hazelnut eyes flicked over in my direction.
Almost instantly recognition hit. Her mouth
widening into a pained O.
"Minato-san!" she cried. She ran toward me
nearly slipping in the wet grass. I'm not
one for intimacy. For physical contact. But she
flung her arms aroud my waist. Buried her face
in my robe. And I put my arms around her small frame.
She was a fragile baby bird wracked with sobs.
Trying to form words
but only strangled sounds escaping.
"There, there." I heard myself say. Giving her
a pat on the back. When all the while a lump
was rising in my throat. And I was sure. And I was certain
that Monsieur Death had paid a visit
shuffled someone into a his carriage and kindly
There were bodies strewn about the area
collapsed in the wet grass. The rain nourished
them falling on paled skin.
At least they wouldn't be thirsty in death.
Their bodies were adorned with blood, some dried
some still flowing freely.
They were all enemy nin. All come to a just demise.
If there is anyway to call Death just.
All now beyond my sympathy.
In the midst of it all.
At the center of the circle of corpses stood the stiff
form of little Kakashi Hatake.
His back turned towards me. The rain blanketing his
small body. Kissing his bare skin.
Plastering that snowy hair down around his cheeks.
He stood as still as a statue. Someone was missing from
"Rin are you okay?" I asked down to her. She sniffed.
And broke our embrace
to tuck strands of her wet hair behind her ears
so that I could see her face and the pained smile
there in the midst of her tears.
She was a spitfire.
Would be a great a kunoichi someday.
I touched her shoulder.
Because giving comfort makes me feel awkward and said
"Could you have a seat for me? I'll be back."
A ludicrous request all things considered.
But Rin nodded, wiping at her distraught face and slumped
to the wet ground.
I turned and walked up to Kakashi.
"Kakashi." I called softly. He didn't respond. Didn't
turn around or even flinch. Just stood
perfectly still. When I reached him, I put a hand
on his shoulder and he might as well have
been made of stone.
Because he remained as still as an inanimate object.
"Kakashi?" I leaned down into his face. He was
expressionless and there were no
tears in his eyes or on his cheeks. Rain
water caught in his eyelashes dripped down
into his eye and he didn't even blink.
I felt a small ping of fear.
"Kakashi!" I commanded. I grabbed his thin shoulders
and turned him around to face me.
I had to bite my lip almost until it bled
to hide my horror.
His expression was calm. His eyes seeming to stare
right through me. To penetrate my thoughts in a way
that paralyzed me. His right eye held the eeriest look
in its rich brown depths. But that was not the source of my horror.
It was the other eye.
The left one.
It was horribly mangled. A heap of twisted flesh,
blood stains running down his cheek. And the iris
peering out at me was red. Sharingan red.
I was speechless. My mouth moved
but nothing came out. My hands clasped on his
shoulders felt odd. And all the while he was staring
With that same blank, yet piercing expression.
I didn't know what to say. Didn't know if I wanted
to understand him and what had happened. I knew I should
have done something. To comfort him, may'be to
minimize the pain. But I didn't know what to say.
So I just said.
And he turned away from me and pointed solemnly like the
Ghost of Christmas Future toward the rocks,
branching off from the clearing. I followed
his fingertip toward a crop of mountains,
a cave cut out
in the side.
Rocks stacked like a fallen lego tower and a small pale hand sticking out between the rubble.
Fear. Pain. Anger. They all washed over me. Filled
me to the brim. Made my chest expand lke a mylar
balloon. And tears
unwanted pushed at my eyes. Kakashi was still pointing.
I half ran, half dragged
myself towards the rock slide. Heard Kakashi following
stiffly behind me. I could see
Obito's hand and forearm.
A few large rocks were crushing his torso, and the right side
of his arms and legs.
I could see fresh blood
streaming down what I could see of his arm
His eyes were closed. I grabbed a rock tossed it
off of him. Kakashi followed suit. More rocks.
They were heavy
but was I was determined. Obito was my student.
I could remember all the training exercises.
The hunger in his face when he was
concentrating on a technique sometimes.
It wasn't his time. Not now. Not yet.
I started chucking rocks harder, faster. I stole
a glance at Kakashi. There was tornado of emotions
spinning around inside my head.
But he loooked unaffected. The same expression
he'd wear in class everyday.
As if this was nothing, new. And his best friend
wasn't crushed under a heap of rocks.
we freed his body.
Then stood back.
His limbs were mangled. Crushed. But there was no sign
of pain on his face. His glasses were gone from
his face and were resting instead in his broken hand.
Kakashi stepped toward his brother,kneeled down
at his side.
It was weird, but I felt like the child. So unsure
of what to do. So pained. Obito Uchiha. Not even
twelve years old. Not even...
"Is he breathing?" I asked, swallowing hard. There
was still hope. It didn't have to be this way.
Kakashi said nothing.
He pushed his knees into the grass,
grabbed his friend's limp body,
and cradled his head in his arms. He rocked slowly,
silently back and forth like a cradle.
Like an ocean. As the rain fell down on all of us
and masked my tears.
That was all the answer I needed.
Obito Uchiha was buried in a rainy day
service on the memorial grounds. The turnout was good.
The entire Uchiha clan showed up.
And then there was Kakashi
dressed all in black standing under the protective
eaves of his mother's embrace.
His bad eye hidden under an eye patch and I couldn't help
wondering how it was shaping up.
His face as usual was expressional.
He was the only one that didn't shed a tear
through the service.
When the coffin had lowered into the ground and smoothed
over with dirt the crowd began to depart.
As I turned to disappear into the misty rain
to make sense alone of Monsieur Death
and his reasons for taking young Obito Uchiha;
I was accosted by Miss Hatake.
She was a widow,
fresh faced woman
who had lost her husband to fault,
and had since become a recluse.
Her dark hair was pulled back by a black barette
and the fit of her black clothing was becoming.
Her eyes were bloodshot, and her cheeks were stained with
She took my elbow in one frail eggshell
hand and pulled me aside with a wan apologetic smile.
In her other hand she clutched Obito's orange glasses.
One of the lenses was cracked, the other missing.
Miss Hatake spoke softly in a tone that must have
been passed down to her profound son.
"Minato-san. May I have minute?" she asked of me as if
'no' would break her.
"Of course. Is there something you need to talk about?"
I asked her.
Her grip on my elbow
tightened as if my question
was a raging ocean and she needed an anchor.
The rain stinging her eyes mixed with her tears.
"Its my son. Kakashi." she bit her lip a little.
"He...he hasn't eaten or spoken since Obito's death.
I'm very worried." she said.
Then she paused, reached into her pocket,
and extracted a hankerchief.
I looked away a little embarrassed as she dabbed
at her tears, and caught sight of Kakashi.
He was kneeling down at Obito's freshly
made memorial stone, the rain flowing around him.
As I watched he reached out and placed
a flat hand on the stone, then
bowed his head as if in prayer.
"Could you may'be talk to him, please? I don't
know how to reach him. He won't look at me...and
his face...its destroyed." she said
beginning to talk herself into a fit.
I patted her hand a little stiffly
unsure whether or not that was the
right move to make.
"I'm sure it's not that bad. It will heal with time."
I assured her.
Her eyes grew to the size of mud brown quarters.
"He just lost his father recently. And I'm
afraid this has thrown him off again.
Mentally, I mean."
"I'll take care of it. I'll to talk to him." I said.
Because she wasn't going to calm down
until I said that.
Her smile was speckled with raindrops.
She extended the cracked glasses, to me
bowed her head, then took off
in the opposite direction.
I discreetly slipped the frames into my pocket
and watched her go.
Weaving her way into the departing crowd.
And I couldn't remember the last anyone had cared
about ME that much.
Except may'be Kashina, that pretty redhead
that runs the slots in Tanzaku Town.
But thats another story all together.
Everyone had packed up their sorrows
and taken off.
Including the priest and Obito
Uchiha's parents. It was only me and
who was still praying over the tomb stone
as if he himself was an ordained minister.
Oblivious to everything including the fact
that the rain was picking up.
I walked towards him carefully.
Plotting inside my head a course of action.
If he had indeed been "thrown off again"
then I didn't think he was in the mood
I stopped a few feet behind him.
He must have heard me come up,
but he didn't move an inch.
"Kakashi." I said keeping my tone neutral.
Teacher to student.
He dropped his hand from the tomb stone,
but didn't respond or turn around to face me.
I inched closer towards him.
"Can we talk?" I asked. As if the decision
was all his.
In truth I would have kept on talking regardless.
He must have picked up on that.
He stood slowly like an old man
and pivoted on one foot until
we were eye to eye.
His stance was stiff and guarded.
But something in his eyes said 'Talk'
I needed to be tactful about this.
To ease into the subject.
"How's the eye?" I asked carefully.
He just stared at me
with that one brown eye.
I opened my mouth to pose another question
but then he moved.
His arm came up climbing one
after the other
until his fingers grasped the eye patch.
He pulled it back.
I hid a wince.
Though it wasn't as bad as I thought
that eye would never be the same.
The flesh had settled and smoothed over nicely
but the iris was still
the eye to that side of his face,
a thick deep scar
cutting a line from underneath his eyebrow down to the
top of his cheek.
I knew that scar would never fade.
And his features seemed a little mismatched, now.
One red eye, one brown one.
He blinked the newly exposed red eye
as if it had trouble adjusting to the open air.
"Still a little sensitive to light?" I asked him.
He stared at me.
"You shouldn't be ashamed of that you know.
Its a badge of honor. No need to hide it under
that eye patch. Just tilt your hitai-ate down like
this." I instructed him.
I moved forward to tilt his forehead protector down
over the eye and the scarred flesh disappeared again.
Then he turned his back to me and kneeled
down at the stone again.
Coversation over, I guess.
Except I wasn't finished asking questions.
"Your mom tells me you haven't been doing well, Kakashi."
He didn't respond.
"Is that true?"
I sighed. I wasn't reaching him.
If anything pushing him farther away.
I felt like pulling my hair out.
The rain kep the beat of our silence.
"Its not your fault, you know."
He stood up and turned around in one fluid motion.
So fast that I took a step back.
His hands were balled into fists.
His voice low, but the expression
in that one remaining eye spoke loud and clear.
"Yes it is." he said.
I swallowed hard, choking on the pain in his voice.
He was staring me down.
"No. Its not your fault Kakashi." I said gently.
Hoping to soothe him.
His voice rose to a fever pitch.
A scream so loud and fierce
it scared the lowly birds from the trees.
"Yes it is! It is my fault! I should be the one in that
coffin! Not Obito! Me! Me!" he exploded.
His anguish echoed through the trees.
There was a heavy moment of silence
then he broke down and cried.
Loud and an uncontrollably like a baby.
He sank down onto the wet soil
sobbing and shaking.
Body wracking sobs that made his voice crack.
And filled the
tiny cemetery with their pain and hurt.
I kneeled down beside him
and put my arms around his shoulders.
And somehow it felt right.
And somehow I knew it was the right thing to do for him.
He clung to me as if his life depended on it
and his sobs soaked through my shirtfront.
He cried and I thought how fragile he felt.
How young he was.
How young and lost and pained and
"It's okay." I breathed.
Because I believed it.
"It's okay to cry."