In Rockland

Chapter Two

. ... .

The DISE - or Dicey Division, as it is called in black humor by its members - is the classified section of LEAF. Its missions are as a rule political in nature, slotted into assassination, intelligence extraction, and torture and interrogation. Unlike the less classified sections of LEAF, whose respective responsibilities mostly revolve around contracted missions, the DISE deals solely with LEAF goals, directives, and internal affairs. It is an old hat for Kakashi, something almost too easy to slip back on despite three years of inactivity. The five years of service before his voluntary demotion and subsequent assignment as Obito's tech support seem to be overcoming that. All that is required of him is that he steadily intensify his daily exercise regime again.

He is waiting for something to happen, but other than a few unremarkable assassinations stretched out over the course of a month, nothing really does.

. ... .

"Kakashi, get your ass in gear. Ibiki wants you."

Kakashi doesn't glance up from Icha Icha. "Where is he?"

Asuma snorts. "The docks, of course. Squad D came in with that Czech kid, and Anko's been working on him for the past six hours. Five to one odds that Ibiki's going to have to handle it himself."

"Huh. Tough kid."

"Yeah. Took out Takanada."

No response is forthcoming. Kakashi turns a page.

"You know, Takanada. Raging asshole on Squad B - right, you weren't unlucky enough to know him. Keh. Fuck off already, would you? God, you're back after a few years of nothing and you've only made being a pain in the ass even more effortless."

This earns a small smirk. "Feeling old, are we?"

"I've got diplomatic immunity in three countries."

"And I've got in nine."

"Yeah, sure. Wanna guess how many of those Ibiki can track you to?"

Kakashi's smirk stretches into a smile as he stands, popping his neck lazily. "Going, going."

"Say hi to the crazy bitch for me."

Kakashi meanders his way through the brightly lit halls, passing a few agents he knows and a lot more he doesn't. That is really the most jarring thing about being back in Dicey - same old assignments, completely different people. Aside from Morino Ibiki, Mitarashi Anko, Yamato, and Sarutobi Asuma, most of the members he knew in his first stint have either resigned, died, or retired completely. He is aware that a lot of the drastic turnover rate was to do with the IWA-LEAF clusterfuck and the aftermath that LEAF is still feeling, but that doesn't make it any less strange.

Morino Ibiki, though, is exactly the same, and so are the docks. Kakashi wrinkles his nose at the pungent scent of disinfectant that doesn't entirely hide the smell of blood and human defecation as he knocks on Observation 5.

"Get in here already, Hatake."

He opens the door and steps inside. "Yo."

Ibiki doesn't reply, frowning down at the scene on the other side of the two-way mirror. Kakashi joins him and is almost surprised by the wreck of a human being that is strapped to the table in Dock 5.

"...I don't think Mitarashi really gets enough credit in the ranks."

Ibiki snorts and turns somewhat to face him. "There's really only so much constant terror someone can inspire on what's mostly hearsay. I don't let enough people see what she can do, though I suppose that may change soon."

Kakashi tilts his head back a little and sighs. "So you've got confirmation on some kind of plot."

"Spot on. The director told me he mentioned the situation to you."

"Just that there are internal and external factions against him."

"Yes. Have you been approached by any of them?"

"Not yet. I've been gone for a while - everyone's still taking my measure."

"Right. Listen to me, Kakashi." There is something tense in Ibiki's voice. Kakashi straightens.


"I - fuck. I know that you've been away, and not just from Dicey. And I know that you never worked with Director Namikaze - "

"Wait. Why is that? Our service in Dicey overlapped for two years."

Ibiki's lips thin. "A legitimate question, but shut your flap for a minute. Look, you did know him. Or at least you knew of him. Yondaime ring a bell?"

Kakashi feels the blood drain from his face. "I can't believe I didn't catch that."

That wins a raspy chuckle. "Yeah, well. Even your hacking skills fail sometimes. But you know what he did."

"Other than take out half of IWA's elite and burn three of their bases?"

"That's the meat of it, yeah. Bottom line is, LEAF would've lost if we hadn't had him. He retired the codename eventually - too many of IWA's people out for his head."

"...Okay. So now I know this. Go on."

"You don't know the director. You don't know the kind of man he is, and maybe you don't trust him. Fuck that. He's the best person for the job, the only person for the job right now, and if he falls then LEAF will fall with him."

Kakashi nods slowly, willing to concede that for the sake of the conversation. This is the most serious he has ever seen the head of the DISE, which means a lot considering the man's usual demeanor.

"There are going to be some assassination attempts over the next few months. I'm assigning you as his bodyguard."

Kakashi's mouth opens to - he doesn't even know what would have come out, but Ibiki slashes a single scarred hand through the air and he remains silent.

"It has to be you, Kakashi. Of the operatives from the war who are still with us, who I can trust fully, you are the only one who has been out of LEAF politics entirely for any length of time. You're the only one who wasn't here to have an opinion when Sarutobi picked Namikaze over the other candidates, the only one who wasn't caught up in the bullshit." Ibiki looks him full-on in the eye. "Sarutobi picked a fuck-all time to retire. It was a stupid move - IWA just out of the way, most of the old regime dead or out of commission, too many new recruits and not enough of the old loyalties. LEAF will tear itself apart at this rate, and if the director is taken out, it's assured."

"So you want me to be his bodyguard." Kakashi doesn't raise the issue of the director's normal detail - they are just as suspect as anyone else, if not more so.

"Don't ask rhetorical questions, Hatake. Eat with him, sleep with him, piss with him. Don't let him out of your sight. Don't let him kick the bucket. If he dies, we're all as good as dead, but I swear you'll go really slowly and in more agony than the brat Anko's working on."

A bubble of amusement rises in Kakashi's chest as the other man's normal irritation with the world reasserts itself. "Right, right. Do you have any more details on the threat?"

Ibiki frowns again and turns back back to the scene in Dock 5, where Anko has just dislocated the nameless Czech kid's right ankle. "Not yet. But I will."

. ... .

And now Kakashi is exactly where he doesn't want to be - stuck 24-7 hanging around the one man who freaks him out. This is not a man he wants to get to know better. This is not a man he feels in any way safe around, possibly because he likes the idiot too much. And he keeps having to remind himself that the man isn't in fact an idiot but the head of LEAF. Namikaze Minato has a thousand levels of danger in the layers of his pinkie nail. Fucking Yondaime.

It encompasses about five different universes' capacities for fucked up.

He knocks on the director's door, conveniently labeled with a plaque that reads Namikaze Minato in dignified letters, Director a tad smaller beneath it. Of course he only notices it now, when it is too late to redo his first official meeting with Namikaze. His observational skills have obviously gotten a little dusty.

And he is the sole defense between the man and death. Life is just excellent.

...There is no answering call to his knock. Kakashi immediately relaxes all the muscles in his body, his gun slipping into his hand like a lover. He reaches for the door knob.

He almost wants to shoot the idiot himself when the scene that greets him is not one of blood and mayhem but instead: A yellow-headed dumbass with blue ink on his chin whistling behind towers of paperwork while folding paper airplanes.

This is going to be a stressful assignment.

Kakashi takes a moment to come to terms with this before clearing his throat quietly. With a welcoming smile on hand, Namikaze looks up from the top-priority document he is folding, completely unsurprised by his presence.

"Kakashi. What can I do for you?"

"Director. I've been assigned as your bodyguard."

The man's eyes sharpen infinitesimally. "What is Ibiki - ah. Right. You've been gone. Still, possibly not the best move. I did destroy your precious book, after all."

Kakashi successfully fights the glower that wants to take its place on his face. "Easily replaced, sir."

Laughter. "Easily replaced, hm? I seem to remember you having different thoughts on the matter. Attachment, even, if the death glare you radiated at me for the first half hour or so of our acquaintance was anything to go by."

"Simply a natural reaction to unnecessary pain, sir," he replies smoothly.

Namikaze leans forward, a smile curving his mouth. "So if I, for instance, banned Icha Icha within the bounds of LEAF headquarters...?"

Kakashi swats down the automatic protest that wants to fly out, irritated that this man so clearly knows how to rile him. "As the director, you are of course most aware of what is best for the organization."

"Heh. You do realize that you're - wait, relay your exact orders to me."

"...'Eat with him, sleep with him, piss with him. Don't let him out of your sight. Don't let him kick the bucket.'"

There is a glint in Namikaze's eye that Kakashi is sure he doesn't like. "Hm. Imagine that. Well then - why don't you make yourself comfortable while I finish this paperwork, and then we'll go down to this cute little cafe I like for a quick lunch."

Kakashi ignores the cafe comment and settles himself in the corner to the immediate left of the door, where he will have a clear shot at anyone who crosses the threshold. He examines the office from this vantage point. Dark green carpeting, rich woods, bookcases lining the far left wall. Two different air vents, no windows. There is no strikingly obvious entrance other than the front door, but Kakashi is sure that there is a secret passage somewhere. He will question Namikaze over lunch.

...Evidently Namikaze's definition of finishing paperwork involves setting the planes on fire and trying to get them to fly into the trash can before complete incineration.

This is going to be a stressful assignment.

. ... .

Kakashi manages to get them to lunch with his charge's office mostly intact, a few scorch marks and small burns aside. When it turns out that they really are having lunch at Kakashi's cafe, he wants to punch the other man in the eye all over again. It feels like an invasion of privacy, of territory - this quiet, atmospheric little place with its special-made green tea mochi is where LEAF and death and bullshit were never meant to come.

He only ever even brought Obito here twice.

"Wow, Kakashi. You look a little pissed off."

"...Oh, you asshole. You complete cunt. You're doing this on purpose. I can't believe you're doing this on purpose. How suicidal are you?" He knows he is staring at the other man in a clear expression of disbelief but makes no effort to stop.

Namikaze just grins. "That's better. If you're going to be glued to my side for the foreseeable future, I'm not putting up with that perfect-underling bullshit. I've seen the saucy little sarcasm-sandwich you really are."

"Saucy little sarcasm-sandwich?!" He is gaping and his voice has just come out far too high for comfort. He is actually gaping, but this is the most horrified he he has been in...years, actually, and this is his cafe - it is so difficult to be a LEAF agent in his cafe; that is exactly the opposite of what he picked it out for. It was stupid, in hindsight, to allow himself even such a harmless weakness.

"Yup. Anyway, what'd you think of Swallowed a Fly?"

"...I. You. What?"

He rolls his eyes and twists comfortably in his chair, throwing one arm over the back. "The book I gave you, Kakashi. What were your thoughts?"

Kakashi stares at the infuriating man whose shadow he will be for an indeterminable amount of time and closes his slightly open mouth with a click. "You want to know what I thought?"

"Well, yeah."

"Get used to disappointment."

. ... .

The first thing Kakashi does when they arrive back at the innocuous office building that houses LEAF is get started on his job, wanting entirely to forget lunch and its silent, underlying struggle over what their dynamic is to be. He is ruffled and half-sick with the now-alien effort of prolonged interaction - it is by turns horrendously difficult and terrifyingly easy, but mostly so terrifyingly easy that Kakashi makes it horrendously difficult. He mentally damns the man's extraordinary charisma. He doesn't want - comradeship or friendship or anything personal at all, and he has a sneaking suspicion that Namikaze Minato is going to invade his life thoroughly.

He grimly acknowledges that he should consider accepting this, but he doesn't want any of it, goddammit, and he never has. He chooses to live the way he does - chose to hack LEAF's databases at fourteen, chose to apply to Dicey when it became an option, chose to take the tech support position, chose to leave, chose to return - and he has never shied away from accepting the fallout of those choices. This organization successfully recruiting him, his missions, his dead operatives, and now Namikaze Minato are all things he can and will live with.

There is no clause that requires Kakashi to be anyone other than who he is, though, and he is an outrageously dysfunctional and socially introverted genius with a fondness for soft-core porn and an amazing proficiency with computers.

Thus: "Don't even think about sitting down, sir."

Namikaze freezes halfway through sinking into his luxurious leather chair. "What?"

"You. Walk to that corner. Sit. Don't move."

The man follows his instructions without hesitation, but reluctance and confusion mar his features. "Kakashi, really. What's this?"

Kakashi drops into the desk chair and looks at the sleek monitor before him. It only takes him ten seconds to log on, five more to have the confidential files pop up. He huffs silently and shakes his head. "Sir, who designed your data protections?"

The director's face is unreadable. "So that's what you're doing. Carry on." And now a dismissive hand-twirl - and he is completely ignoring Kakashi's existence.

Infuriating. He didn't even answer the question. Kakashi's fingers tap away at the keyboard rapid-fire. Windows live and die for seconds at a stretch, codes and numbers flying across the screen.

"Sir, you should fire whoever did this. Maybe have them shot. They built in several spyware programs and left a couple of worms, not to mention a trapdoor," he tells his boss a few minutes later, eyes still on the monitor.

Silence still. Kakashi looks up. "Sir?"

Namikaze, sitting elegantly in his corner, makes a great show of startling. "Oh, were you talking to me? I wasn't sure. Since I'm obviously five years old, the 'sir' threw me a bit."

And this is why he really doesn't want this assignment. The interaction between them is messy - too messy, born of clicking intellects and tilted by work etiquette. Kakashi isn't good at messy. He doesn't like messy. He isn't good with people, and he knows that he is going to constantly be staggering all over the line between equals, which is what Namikaze wants, and employer-employee, which is their reality. Equals. That is the part that is going to be hard. Kakashi isn't used to considering the effect his manner has on others. Obito had been a thick-skinned anomaly. "Sir..."

"Don't treat me like a child, Kakashi. And I knew it was compromised. I don't do anything important on that desktop for precisely that reason, and a good amount of the data is falsified."

"If you knew - "

"Several of the hackers in charge of my security contributed to the system you see before you. At least two of them are Orochimaru's men. I couldn't show I knew this without forcing some sort of confrontation, and no one is ready for that yet."

Kakashi winces slightly, typing petering out. "So did I just fu - fubar everything?"

"Not at all. Word will get around that you're my guard. If you hadn't found what you did, it would be suspicious. I now have a secure computer for completely justifiable reasons."

"...I hadn't realized things had gotten this bad. How many of the hackers are supporting you?"

"Not counting you, eight."

"Out of - I guess it'd be fourteen with Hakkai dead."

"Eighteen. You don't know most of them."

Kakashi whistles under his breath. "Straight half-and-half. And none of your supporters could find this without rousing suspicion?"

"There's no one in the hackers with your skill anymore. You're a dying breed, Kakashi. I can't do anything about the fact that of the top three, two aren't my men. I need Ginji to keep an eye on them for me. Not reporting the flaws in my system has gotten him an in."

Kakashi nods and directs his attention anew to the strings of numbers and letters flaring on the screen. Assassination attempts, yes - but he hadn't expected such deeply rooted betrayal to already be in play. No, he simply hadn't expected the organized manner of it - "Oh. This isn't a half-cocked coup, weak factions trying for power. It's thorough, coherent - cohesive, even."

"Bingo," Namikaze says simply. "Why the surprise? You didn't think Ibiki was over-exaggerating, did you?"

"If anything, he didn't impress the situation enough."

"Or you didn't listen."

"That too, maybe. This isn't my LEAF."

"Yeah? Well, I'm obviously required to claim it." A beat. "This is Namikaze Minato's LEAF. This is what this organization is under my leadership. I've done a great job so far, I must say. Really overhauled the system."

In the silence that lingers for the rest of the afternoon, they both know that Minato is in the slow-building process of failing as the director of LEAF.