From Dusk Follows Dawn

Perhaps it was the gentle heat of the early morning sun that had enticed the medic to venture outside again at this hour, her longing to feel the warmth of the day awakening on her skin. Perhaps it was the desperate yet ultimately hypothetical need to breathe, suffocated by her own morbid memories. Either way the sanctuary she'd found in the circle of Kakashi's sleeping embrace hadn't been enough to keep Rin in the hotel room as much as she did enjoy the man's affections as of late.

She loved him, was in love with him, more than she'd once dared to imagine, so much so just a fleeting glance his way, just one look at that lopsided smile, those lazy heavy eyes was enough to make her entire body ache. But right now space was paramount and unfortunately Kakashi did not fit into that gap. Not right now.

It had been yet another night of horrific nightmares that marred her subconscious, yet another night of jolting awake in a cold sweat struggling for air, clutching at shadows like she was drowning in the deep trenches of her own mind. Drowning in her fears that she would lose him just like she lost Satoshi-san, Obito, Sensei. That Kakashi too would perish by some terrible means, pushed into the icy talons of fate by her own touch.

The copy-nin had woken with her each time, attentive in his drowsy state to touch tenderly at her face, kiss away the tears, reassure her that reality was better than the archives of her head and coax her back to sleep which inevitably plunged her back into another gut wrenching dream and the process would repeat itself.

She was a curse amongst man, a Midas of her own kin, though instead of her fingertips turning her objects of desire to gold, they withered and died. It was always the case, Obito, Sensei... Satoshi-san. In her dreams it was Kakashi and she wasn't certain how much more she could take. But it was this place more than anything, this place and that dark cloud that hovered over her and weighed her down.

Forever optimistic, a cleanser of sorts with a smile so infectious it was difficult not to smile back in kind, Nohara Rin was praised for her plucky though somewhat timid demeanour. But even when standing tall she had never felt more afraid, surrounded by people and yet never felt so alone like she did here. But even now, knowing that she would finally step away from this disgusting little town for good, she knew it wasn't over. Her journey back to Konoha was just one more thing to dread. The nightmare, it seemed, would never truly end. It had become apparent in her mind in this early hour however, that Satoshi-san's death was in fact a blessing in disguise because at least there was nothing else tying her to this place anymore. The hold had been lifted and for that she felt could finally breathe. Free at last.

In spite of all of this, her morning hadn't been completely miserable as little rays of sunshine beamed through the parted curtains on the little presents hanging on the door. After somehow untangling herself from the copy-nin's lazy limbs she had stumbled upon two little flowers sticking out of a clasp adjoined to the scroll pouches on his flak vest. Very peculiar indeed, considering that Kakashi was definitely not a man of floral tendencies. He'd never given her a flower... ever. At first Rin had assumed that he had picked the flowers for her, but it hadn't taken long for the facts to dawn on her, a warm forgiving smile coupled with her find pulling at her mouth.

She was smiling now as she sat on her bench on the little garden at the back of the hotel. Again, just like the day before it was too early for guests to be browsing the bar for their morning meal, Rin herself settling for the coffee from the self service machine stationed there, a drink she'd long since extinguished. This was okay with her while she twizzled the little puff of lavender in her hand the quiet felt nice, to simply be here, to exist just as her with her own thoughts, to just be.

Such a thing was a rarity these days, time to one's self while stationed here was scarce but the times of being alone were crippled by that intense weight of crushing loneliness and homesickness, there had never been a happy medium, no in-between. But since moving back to Konoha, all that had changed, since falling in love with her best friend for the second time it became so clear that she wasn't so alone anymore and it was that thought that broadened the smile on her face.

The plant was dying, as plants do when plucked from their homely baskets, the tiny purple petals turning a rusty brown from the base of the puff. But she knew that this flower was for her and she couldn't help but be touched by the offering as she sang the silly little nostalgic tune in her head.

'I see a dinosaur, Where you see a dinosaur?, Over there over there, standing proud and still, There she is, there she is, My little Pterodactyl'

"I worry about you sometimes..."

That deep smooth and monotonous voice made Rin jump with a start as she spun her head around on the joints of her neck to stare wide eyed at the man that was giving her the strangest look while he peered around the door. Had she just been singing that silly tune in her head out loud? How embarrassing.

With stained cheeks (well at least she could only assume she was blushing as the skin on her face was hotter than hell fire) Rin bowed her head towards her puff of lavender before holding it up to Kakashi somewhat bashfully and waving it about in the air. He should know to whom she was referring. He was the one with the flowers in his pockets after all; there was no doubt in her mind that Kakashi had been subjected to the cute little monster known as Terra.

"Uh, s-sometimes I called her my little... pterodactyl..." she trailed off, sheepishly averting her gaze and pulling her lower lip into her mouth. The nickname for the girl had its origins in a mixture of two things, her name and her love of all things dinosaur. It was quite simple to put the two together.

"Well... I'm not sure if you can compare a five year old girl to a dinosaur, Rin. Although I do get the play on words," he drawled seemingly uninterested by the topic as a whole and parking himself on the arm of Rin's bench.

The brunette took the time to look him over, a little more unkempt than usual, Kakashi didn't look his usual organised yet dishevelled self and she was sure his clothes hung from him a little more than she recalled previously. Or perhaps she was just looking too hard, she wasn't sure. Needless to say, however, the dark circles under his eyes were definitely new. She thought for that fleeting moment to scold him for being up so early, it couldn't be any later than six in the morning, but she dismissed the idea as soon as it came.

"You look dreadful," she commented casually focusing her attention back to her small plume of fading purple flowers.

She heard him hum at her remark. "Yes, well, I've had about as much sleep as you," was his rather snarky reply.

Rin hummed in response as she began to pick at the tiny lavender flowers in her hand. "Sorry."

There was a moment of thick silence that dropped between them. She hated these moments of cold vulnerability, not knowing what to do or say, not knowing how he would react if she said anything at all. He was tired, as was she, and Rin simply couldn't shake the feeling that today was going to be harder to get through than it needed to be. Nerves were frayed on both sides given their lack of rest, a snippy tiff was inevitable.


She lifted her gaze from her flower though not enough to make eye contact despite the odd ring of concern that hung in Kakashi's voice. A tone she never liked to hear from him.

There was hesitation from his end as he regarded her for a second that seemed to last for hours until he finally broke that horrendous silence once more. "Talk to me... please?"

She sighed irritably, her head dropping back to its previous position. "There's nothing to talk about," she murmured with a dismissive shrug. It was clear he was asking about her restless night, not that Rin was in the mood to discuss it. She hadn't even bothered to write down the events like she had the day previous. What was the point? She knew what it meant. It was stupid, she was sure of it, more to do with the place rather than anything else. She was afraid of losing him... the man she loved who she could only hope felt the same about her. It was that simple. It was funny how one dealt with the death of a friend, it never failed to force one to realise one's own mortality... how easy it was to lose... to die.

She sensed him shift from his current position before she saw his feet step in front of her as he crouched and placed a hand on her knee.

She lifted her eyes only to get caught in Kakashi's gaze. His lone grey iris was dull, sleep deprived, sunken but brimming with a yearning that she felt she couldn't maintain the contact for long.

"You worry too much," she chuckled with a bow of her head and a slender hand over his.

She felt Kakashi squeeze her knee, if only slightly to which she responded with a squeeze of her own.

"It's my job to worry," he uttered, a sound so soft and drenched in concern it broke her heart as she removed her hand from his and used it to caress the side of his masked face. The moment Kakashi leaned into her touch, his overly tired eye fluttering closed at the contact as though he'd never felt the sensation before made her smile. It was moments like this that she felt herself sinking, falling so much deeper under his spell. By the Gods she loved him.

"Thank you, Kakashi," was all she whispered back.

Waking to find the bed was empty save for himself had forced Kakashi to jump from the mattress with a start. A quick look about their room, a concentrated listen for the shower; nothing. There was no doubt in his mind that she was still within hotel grounds, chances were that she was in the foyer or the restaurant.

Granted, perhaps she needed the space, her night was restless as was his as a consequence but that didn't quell the sting of resentment he felt for the second time during their stay here that she hadn't woken him or at least had the common decency about her to tell him she was leaving. Maybe she did and he'd been too out of it to register the conversation. The copy nin wouldn't hold it against her in any case, just a simple fleeting emotion he allowed to surface in a motivational bid to arrange is belongings for the trip home before he went in search of her.

Needless to say that he didn't have to look very far, the day was young yet, and Rin was one of only two people in the restaurant that morning. The young man behind the bar preparing the area for the day the first that he'd noticed and who was so gracious as to nod towards the double paned doors opposite.

It seemed the girl sitting there hadn't noticed him approach as she gazed down at the flower in her hand (which in turn prompted Kakashi to feel around his jacket pocket and confirm that flower was the one given to him by the young girl the day previous, how could he have forgotten about that?) and singing to herself.

The conversation that followed was a little awkward and clumsy mainly on his part. It wasn't as though he wasn't accustomed to going without sleep, insomnia was rife during times of mission faring, but that didn't mean he wouldn't become snippy from time to time as a result. He was only human after all.

He'd done what he could to reassure her by whatever means that he considered that was worrying her, possibly the funeral that was inevitably waiting for them back home, before he'd offered a hand to take her on one last scout of the small resort. She'd declined, as Kakashi suspected she would and here he was traversing the pretty streets alone after equipping himself with medicinal supplies. One can never be too careful and it was more a force of habit to stock up on such things when stepping foot back into the field. It was never predicted if trouble was standing in the path to home.

Kakashi took the time to have another look about the place, still in awe of the village's storybook beauty and still that little bit disappointed that his partner hated it here so much. He would get over it, there was no doubt about that. But still, surely there was nothing wrong with admiring the view if only for the last time.

It was at that point, on his way back to the hotel to finish up the preparations needed before travel back to Konoha that he heard a voice that sent a sharp chill shooting up his spine.

"Oh, Kakashi-kun," it called in that same terrifyingly flirtatious voice from only two days ago, which in turn caused him to stop in his tracks for a moment, his body prepared for flight yet turning on his heel and offering the woman the nicest yet most feigned smile he could muster.

"Ah-aha... morning, Hime-sama," he called back towards the little tea house with a habitual yet awkward rub to the back of his head. Somehow he'd managed to avoid the woman the day before, it seemed that today that he simply wasn't so lucky.

The strong aroma of fresh coffee permeated his senses the moment he'd walked through the door, but it was easy to see that Hime was indeed very house proud. Having confirmed that the shop wouldn't be open for business for at least a couple of hours (granted that it was still pretty early and the only shops open at this time were the chemist near the little clinic and the newsagents just down the way) Kakashi was somehow bribed into the back entrance of her shop.

Needless to say that this meeting was decidedly more pleasant than the first without the curious glances and the hand touching from before.

"You keep a lovely home, Hime-sama," Kakashi heard himself mutter as he took to leaning against a work surface in her small kitchenette as he watched her work her kettle. The words were quite empty, spoken only to show gratitude and typical politeness that was fundamental if one wanted to keep on the good side of strangers that willingly invited one into their home. Hime-sama was indeed very much a stranger to him. But despite the words holding next to no meaning they were by no means a lie.

"You're too kind, Kakashi-kun," the older woman responded with a smile shone at him from over her shoulder as she busied herself with cups.

He sighed thinking of all the places he could be other than here, not an ounce curious as to why she would invite him backstage but there had been something endearing and somewhat worrying in her tone, something Kakashi could only assume wasn't her usual trait when dealing with younger men. Glancing to his left and wincing a little at the sunlight that shone through into through the kitchen window, Kakashi spied a photograph, two photographs to be precise both framed ornately and placed alongside each other on the tiled cill.

One was undoubtedly of Hime and her husband, a stocky short man with short grey hair and a paunch that could give even the stoutest of Akimichi a run for their money. Both were smiling, happily as it seemed, it was always difficult to tell in photographs but it was the second one that caught Kakashi's eye.

A young man, no older than say eighteen stared back at him from his pretty decorative frame. Shaggy silver hair, heavy eyes though a piercing blue in colour, he grinned toothily at the camera as the copy nin reached to pluck it from its standing point curious about the youth's uncanny resemblance to himself.

"Startling likeness, don't you think?" he heard Hime chime from across the room. "Stick a mask on him and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference."

"Who is it?" Kakashi wondered aloud at first thinking that it could be an old photo of her husband whose name currently escaped him. Though it was apparent that the picture was seemingly newer than the one of the couple it sat next to.

"His name's Ushinatta..." a pause prompting Kakashi to lift his lone grey eye to the woman who was now smiling with a wistful longing in her usually bright eyes. "... my son. He'd be the same age as our Rin-chan... Were he still alive."

Kakashi sighed heavily at that his eyes closing in a state of disbelief. He just had to ask didn't he? The great Hatake Kakashi of the Sharingan. Master of a thousand jutsu's and unrivalled expert at sticking his huge clodhopping feet right in it. He felt his shoulders slump as he placed the picture carefully in the place where he'd found it.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Hime-sama," he offered with a courteous bow of his head only to be rewarded with a dismissive wave of the woman's hand and a chuckle as she handed him a rather decorative mug filled with the piping hot coffee he could smell all around him.

"Ah," she sighed wistfully as she gazed lovingly at the picture while cradling her own steaming mug in both hands. "He was a pretty little thing, my Ushi. Such a shame he had to go when he did. The ladies loved him, you know." With that she chuckled before sipping at her drink.

"How did he die? If you don't mind me asking?"

"The Rot took him. Rin-chan was his carer up until the end." Her eyes, watery but still holding onto that crisp flirtatious joy shifted to him. "It's how I met her, you see." Hime delivered her last statement in nothing more than a knowing whisper as her eyes regained the fire he had seen the first time he'd met her.

"Ah, I see," he confirmed gingerly lifting the mug in his hand to masked lips, though lowering it again in a bid to change the subject. "Why am I here, Hime-sama? You say there was something you needed to discuss?" Vaguely he hoped the grisly death of her son wasn't the subject at hand.

"Not discuss as such, no," she responded blandly setting down her cup to which Kakashi did the same as she rummaged through a drawer at her rear and produced a rather tattered looking book from its depths.

Kakashi frowned at it before lifting his gaze questioningly to the woman in front of him.

"It's a scrap book. Rin-chan and Ushi made it together during his time in the hospital," she confirmed motioning the book towards him which eventually encouraged the copy nin to take it from her. "I'm not sure if you've ever been to that place..." the older woman shuddered visibly. "So cold and unforgiving."

Kakashi didn't respond as such, but he could relate to the sterile atmosphere of the place as he leafed lazily though the book. There were snippets from newspapers, pictures of animals of all kinds; dogs, cats, reptiles the list was endless but a page he paused on was one filled with photographs, all of them of this young boy with a young Rin. Most were taken seemingly by her given the strange angles and the fact that her arm stretched towards the image. She looked so young still, her hair only a touch longer than when he'd last seen her all those years ago, her eyes shone with life, her skin aglow with energy. Beautiful. But it was at that point that he closed the scrapbook suddenly feeling like he was imposing on someone else's memories, a place he had no right to be.

"Is there a reason you're showing this to me?" Kakashi asked flatly lifting the book a little and offering it back to Hime.

"Hm? No no, I would like you to give it to Rin-chan, if that's okay with you, Kakashi-kun." She shrugged happily. "You know, as a memento. Ushi liked her a lot and he think he'd like her to have it."

The copy nin's mouth turned down in a frown, not quite understanding why the woman would want to give up her son's memories and yet it seemed she sensed his concerns as she stepped towards him and placed a single hand on the cover of the large black book.

"They're her memories, Kakashi-kun. Not mine," she smiled. "Sometimes it's nice to remember those we've lost, hm?"

"Toothbrushes." A quick glance into the bathroom. "Check. Hairbrush." A fleeting look at the dresser. "Check."

Countless times had she gone through the list in her head before she even realised that Kakashi had returned from his shopping trip. It was the latching of the door that caught her attention as she crouched in front of her pack glancing back at the man stood behind her.

"Find anything nice?" she chirped before her eyes settled on the black object he held out to her to which her brows furrowed in mild confusion.

"It seems everyone here sees me as a messenger boy, ne, Rin?"

There was something about Kakashi's tone and stance that Rin found a little off-putting in spite of the smile he hid behind that mask of his. Reluctantly she got to her feet and stepped towards him watching as he relaxed his outstretched arm a little before reaching out to her again.

"From Hime-sama," he nodded just as she folded her fingers around the battered book and gently slid it out of her team leader's hand.

Examining the cover, devoid of print other than the company seal that made it in the corner Rin's confusion didn't lift until she opened it to the first page to reveal a myriad of clippings which flooded her mind as to why Hime-sama would want her to have such a thing.

"I remember this..." she murmured wistfully feeling the faint beginnings of a fond smile tug at one corner of her mouth as she slowly turned and made her way over to one of the beds. Flicking through the book was akin to travelling back in time, and the nostalgia she could feel radiating from this simple scrapbook was one of the best feelings she'd had since stepping through the gates, aside from Kakashi's kiss on the first day and falling asleep in his arms the night previous of course. But still, this felt nice, so nice.

She turned another page, the animal page. How long had it taken her to collect all those pictures? Most of them were ripped straight out of magazines she'd either bought for the boy or taken straight from the foyer of the hospital itself. It had been their little project, just something to ease the boredom... and his fear of the inevitable. He didn't want to die, but then again, who did?

Rin grimaced at that thought though it quickly vanished when she turned the next page to reveal the multitude of little photographs she'd taken of the pair of them with the cheap little camera she'd bought from the chemist nearby. She lost herself in those pictures, the boy's toothy smile, how young and tragically good looking he was, how young and girlish she looked. She'd known from the start that getting attached to him was a bad move, and yet somehow he'd gotten under her skin and she'd allowed it anyway. Needless to say that the day he died had almost torn her in two and the ache in her chest from her first loss of countless others never truly left. A constant scar on her heart that would never fully heal, a collection amongst the others.

"Ushinatta, wasn't it?" came the smooth voice to her right, startling the medic out of her daydream. She turned to look at him, eyeing Kakashi over with wide surprised eyes before her expression softened and she nodded to confirm.

"Hime-sama tell you that?"

"Mm-hm. He looks a little like me, don't you think?"

"A little, he had a better sense of humour than you though,"

"Oh, gee thanks, Rin."

With a girlish giggle at Kakashi's expense she turned back to the book, a long slender finger tracing the edges of one of the pictures a little torn and tattered by age as she recalled her time with this boy in her mind's eye. A sigh passed her lips unsure if Kakashi wanted to hear the story but her mouth prepared to tell it regardless.

"He was my first patient," she said softly, not bothering to see if Kakashi was listening but sensing his gaze upon her anyway. "I'd only been here a matter of weeks before I was assigned Ushinatta as my sole burden. Before him I just made rounds and changed catheters and drip feeds. He was a fun kid, always laughing and making jokes. The nurses thought he was brilliant, heh, we all did. Just a very cute and charming teenager. Everyone had time for Ushi, he was so like his mother it was uncanny." She shrugged with a small chuckle.

"The doctors gave him six months to live on admission. I managed to keep him alive for two years..." She could feel her lips trembling at this point as she briskly raised her head with a sharp nasal inhale and shifted her gaze to the window. "It was horrible..."

She felt Kakashi's hand on her shoulder then prompting her to swallow the tears and shift her dark eyes to his face, though masked was strained with empathy. "I'm sorry, Rin," he said.

She nodded, albeit with a smile as she took in a shaky breath and closed the book on her lap before running her fingers back over the course cover. So touched was she to have this book in her possession, so touched that the mother of her first patient would want her to have something so precious to her son and his memory. She would treasure it always, a fond reminder of a boy who loved life and taught her so much in the short time she knew him.

"Thank you, Kakashi," she whispered to which she received a firm squeeze of her shoulder, an eye creasing smile and a single nod.

There was a chill in the air, reminiscent of the first day of stepping back though Machenich gates. Yet this chill was fresh, crisp and oh so inviting as the breeze floated though the streets and cooled her skin.

It was finally happing, she was finally going home. Her thoughts skimmed over events that were to come, but skim was all they did as her attention focused solely on smelling that glorious Konoha air, letting it fill her lungs with its earthy scent. Oh she couldn't wait. There was a good four days of travel ahead of them at the very least and that was if the pair really got their foot down and made a move for it. And there would be no luxurious wooden houses to sleep in on the road this time due to the absence of the ever so magnificent Yamato. Rin couldn't help the pout pulling at her mouth at this thought. It wasn't so much the house that he could make just ... grow out of the ground, but the man was quite easy on the eyes too, not that she would ever tell Kakashi about that of course.

"How're you feeling?" came the concerned murmur to the side of her coupled with a soft bump of his shoulder into hers.

"Better, much better," Rin chirped as she turned to look up at the taller Jounin with a smile that was far from feigned.

Kakashi returned the smile, though hidden behind the cloth on his face save for the gentle crease of his eye. "Good."

Turning back to her path she eyed over the two walking not so far in front. A mother and child by the looks of things, the day was still relatively early and Rin figured absently that the woman must be taking the little one to school. And then her heart leapt into her throat when she overheard the little discussion the pair were having.

"But, mom, he's so stupid and he said mean things to that other boy."

"That's not an excuse to club him over the head with a pail though is it really?"

"He deserved it though..."

"Maybe he did but you shouldn't do things like that. Try talking next time, hm? Come on, stop messing around we're running late as it is."

There was no doubt in her mind that she knew those people and Rin would never quite understand why she did what she did next and there was every chance that Kakashi thought her completely crazy for doing it. But there were amends to be made and if she was going to do it she was going to do it now in the loudest possible why. Doubling over and planting her hands on her knees, sensing the copy nin next to her halt in his tracks Rin took in the deepest breath she could before bellowing, "I SEE A DINOSAUR!"

The young girl acted instantly pulling away from her mother's hand sharply before spinning on her heel and running straight towards Rin who now welcomed the youngster with open outstretched arms. "I'm a pterodactyl!" the girl cried as she all but fell into Rin's chest, the medic immediately wrapping both arms around her.

"That's not how the song goes, silly-billy," Rin chuckled getting to her feet and bringing the young girl up with her, cradling her in her arms just like she used to.

"I know, but I am the pterodactyl, aren't I, Rin-san?" with that said Terra curled her fingers to mimic claws and emitted a rather sorry sounding growl which only served to make the brunette laugh before glancing towards the mother and extending a hand to her.

"Yumi-chan, is it too late to apologise for being... well... me?" Rin laughed nervously at her own offer as the blonde simply gazed at her completely bewildered, chances were that Kakashi had a very similar expression on his face as he was now choosing to stand at a fair distance behind her.

It had taken some time but he had actually been right about her outburst in the locker rooms the day prior, she hadn't given Yumi any chance to fight her corner and that simply hadn't been fair. Rin wasn't about to issue out excuses (though she could think of plenty) for her behaviour. All she wanted, this time, was to part with her close friend of over a decade on good terms. This could be the last time she ever saw her again as chances were that she had no intentions of ever returning to Konoha given the fact that she had given up her position as a kunoichi. This was Rin's last chance to make amends... and at last it seemed that the blonde nurse wanted to accept it.

Yumi didn't simply step towards her, she ran closing the distance a little quicker than Rin had anticipated forcing her to take a precautionary step back as the younger woman flung her arms around her neck.

"Mom! She nearly dropped me!" Terra complained

"Shut up and hug me," Yumi demanded as she buried her head into the hollow of her friend's shoulder which rewarded her with a soft pat on the head from the young girl and a tight embrace from Rin.

Well... this was awkward.

Kakashi stood there, watching the three girls in front of him hugging in the middle of the street and the copy nin had no idea where to put himself. A quick scan of the street showed that no passerby was remotely interested in the happenings unfolding on the sunlit path but that didn't make it any less painful to be around. Public displays of affection just weren't his thing and he guessed that he should be thankful that he wasn't being asked to join in.

It was then that he noticed a pair of blue eyes on him, not from young Terra like he had originally thought but form her mother, Yumi as he held on to Rin like her life depended on it.

"Thank you," she mouthed to him, as though he had been responsible for this little meet up when in fact he hadn't really done anything at all, all a matter of coincidence and he lifted his hand in a questioning matter to convey this. It didn't matter though, as he witnessed her close her eyes again. It was just good to see something positive unfurling because chances were that if nothing had been said to organise this silly rift, Rin would have been regretting it for the rest of her life. It was good to see that this certainly wouldn't be the case.

Five days travel, five tiring days it had taken to lead them closer and closer to that one place she knew she belonged and yet closer to that one event that would finalise the mission she had not long returned from. How she dreaded it. Would she be able to hold her head up with the sheer weight of her shame boring down on her mind? Or would she break for a second time? She didn't know, didn't want to think about it and it took great efforts not to. Kakashi was a good distraction for the most part, he had a knack of pulling her attention away from such things, be that via conversation or just something nice to look at. But he helped either way, whether he was aware of it or not.

A visit to the Hokage's office had confirmed that both Yamato and Sakura had returned two days prior and had organised funeral arrangements for Satoshi to be performed the following day. One days rest... that was all Naruto-sama was allowing them. One day. The panic had begun setting in, she needed more time to come to terms with this and as the pair left the Tower it was Kakashi that had broached the subject.

"Is everything okay?" Was all he asked, his tone was a simple flat drone but it still made Rin halt in her tracks at the base of the stone steps and turn to face him with an apprehensive smile.

"Sure, why shouldn't it be?" she shrugged. A blatant lie and by the way Kakashi tilted his head to one side and arched a silver brow her way it was clear that he could see straight through it.

It took a moment, but eventually Rin looked away with a heavy sigh rubbing at her shoulder as though protecting herself from the none existent chill. "I just..." she started dragging her lower lip into her mouth before finding the will to continue and finding a particular spot at her feet intensely interesting. "...I want it to be over."

With that she sensed the copy nin descend the steps feeling his shoulder brush against hers as he stepped in line with her. Hesitantly she glanced up, her eyes meeting with that one lone grey iris that gazed back lazily through long silver lashes. He motioned with a small movement of his head for her to follow as he stepped away towards the village proper, an action she followed without hesitation.

Not a word was spoken as they traversed through the streets; not a word was needed, there was nothing either of them could say to ease the tension, but for her just being with him was enough. He was the fire in her furnace after all and were it not for him Rin doubted that she would have survived these past few days as well as she had done.

Her feet and the odd glimpse of Kakashi's bound ankles were far more interesting than the path she was treading as they traversed supposedly towards her apartment. At least that was the route she assumed they were taking with that thick silence floating in the space between them. But the space didn't last for all that long when the medic felt the faint distinctive brushing of cool metal against the back of her hand which in turn prompted her to shift her focus to that point.

He was tapping the backs of his fingers against hers, an action that brought a coy smile to her lips as she responded with the curling of her pinky around his. A little play was all that was needed to bring her back to the real world, if only for a little while but it was what he did next that took the brunette completely by surprise.

There was no subtlety, no coyness in his movements as he grasped her hand and twined his calloused digits with hers which in turn caused the fiercest blush to erupt on her cheeks before Kakashi then crammed both their hands in his pants pocket which caused Rin to stumble a little his way.

She slapped her free hand against his arm to regain her balance and emitted a gasp in sheer surprise, looking up at him with shocked wide eyes to be rewarded with a soft chuckle which was so typical of him.

Rin felt her expression soften once more aglow with her previous smile hooking her balancing hand around the crook of his elbow, slender fingers catching on the fabric of his navy shirt. She fell back into pace with him as she rested her cheek against his shoulder. Yeah, nothing mattered anymore when Kakashi was there, only him and her and the gentle caress of his thumb ghosting over her knuckles in his pocket.

"Will you stay tonight?" she asked eventually not daring to glance upwards but instead just basked in his warmth as they walked. She felt his hand close around hers giving it a reassuring squeeze which pressed her knuckles against the working muscle of his thigh.

"Of course I will," came his response, so soft and soothing because nothing mattered when Kakashi was there to chase away the shadows. Nothing ever mattered when he was there with her.

It had been little over an hour since Rin had retired to her room as Kakashi took up residence on the sofa bed in the lounge. He'd slept in the same bed before, a little while ago but being a creature of habit the Jounin knew he would find it difficult to sleep in this still rather strange room. But with the second of his two new books to keep him company it didn't really matter and the light from the table lamp next to him was more than enough light he needed to remain focused on the print and the story it told.

He turned a page, his attention drifting away from the happenings within the book for only a second when he sensed a presence behind him which in turn caused him to pause and shift his gaze a little to his left. When the presence didn't shift after a moment he turned his head towards the bedroom door behind him, slinging an arm over the back of the sofa of which he was occupying.

Rin stood there in the doorway leaning against the frame as she stared with a desirable interest at the floor, seeming hesitant to take another step forward clutching a pillow in her arms. Upon noticing Kakashi looking her way she straightened herself and after another few seconds of seemingly gathering herself she padded over to the left side of his bed.

The silver-haired Jounin simply looked at her expectantly as she threw her pillow against the back the sofa, pulled the covers back and slunk her way underneath. Her actions were somewhat reminiscent of the night he'd joined her in her single bed at the hotel in Machenich though by the way she beat at her pillow it seemed she was harbouring a little tension. Not that this was surprising in any sense.

"Rin?" he mused eventually just as she slumped back into the bed and rolled towards him, sliding a single arm over his stomach. She didn't respond but he could tell quite evidently by her heavy breaths that were more akin to frustrated sighs that she was feeling the burn of the mission itself coupled with the following day as he recalled her words from outside the Tower. 'I want it to be over' she'd said. It was with that thought in mind that Kakashi snapped the book closed and placed it carefully on the floor beside the makeshift bed.

"It's going to be alright, you know?" he murmured turning his body towards her if only slightly and causing her to readjust her position to rest her head in the hollow of his neck so he could drape his arm around her shoulders.

"I know," she responded in nothing more than a whisper, her hold around his stomach tightening a little causing the fingers against his hip to pull against his shirt. "I just think I might sleep better if you hold me... only for a while..."

Kakashi chuckled at this, reaching to turn off the little lamp on the table above his head before shuffling his body down the mattress and allowing the medic to make herself comfortable against him.

"Stay as long as you want, Rin. I don't mind."

"Thank you..." she hesitated as she gave him just one final squeeze with her arm. "... for everything."

"Anytime, you know that," he hummed eventually as he rested his chin on the top of her head. It was nice to know that he was a source of comfort for her but that was something Rin had always managed to bring to the surface. She made him feel wanted, needed as had the request that he spend the night as he walked her home that evening. There had been no plan to stay, only to walk her home, ensure she was okay and had everything she needed before departing himself. But she wanted him there and he could only hope that this occurrence was one of many, not just to give her peace of mind in the darkest times, but to be a constant presence in her life... because she wanted him there.

One could only hope...

The ceremony was small, with only a few attendees that include the team sent to Lightning to collect the remains of the man being laid to rest. Naruto had played his part well and the few that did attend had already paid their respects to Satoshi and had left leaving only Kakashi and Rin behind, the latter that seemed very reluctant to leave her standing point near the pedestal holding the body of her dead friend and captain.

The copy nin had kept a respectable distance while he waited for the girl to finish with whatever was going through her head, though he figured if Obito's memorial ceremony was anything to go by he would be waiting for a while.

With a shallow sigh Kakashi pointed his gaze skyward. The clouds were closing in, pregnant with rain and rolling with the distant sound of thunder in the morning sky. Not particularly wanting to hurry Rin's thought process along Kakashi still took the time to step towards her and hoped he would catch her attention enough for to see that she couldn't stand out here forever. The times he'd had to remind himself of the same thing when visiting the cenotaph were uncountable same as the amount of times he'd been caught in the rain while unable to leave Obito's memory out in the cold.

"Rin, it's going to rain," was all he said in a hushed voice noting her blank dull eyes as they stared solemnly at the site before her. There was no spark of life, no glimmer of recognition just a simple nod of acknowledgement that he had spoken at all as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other. It was then that Kakashi noticed she was holding something in her hands, cradling it in fact; the small black velvet box that contained the engagement ring Satoshi had offered her during her stint in Machenich.

Kakashi frowned at it more in curiosity than anything else. He couldn't recall seeing it again after the night she'd spend struggling over her grief in the hospital office. But it was the sound of her flat voice that caught his attention again.

"I prayed this day would never come. I knew it would... eventually. But I prayed to the God's that it wouldn't." She bowed her head towards the box in her hands, her fingers smoothing over the velvet as her brows furrowed and her breath hitched. She was trying so hard not to cry.

"I understand, Rin," he responded somewhat coolly. There wasn't much more he could say to that but he figured that she needed to get it off her chest regardless.

There was a moment of silence, not awkward, just quiet as the girl next to him took her shaky breathes seemingly in an attempt to gather her thoughts. It was within these moments that she lifted her head suddenly and turned towards him though without lifting her gaze to his.

"Will you wait for me? Two minutes?" she requested softly.

"Of course," he nodded only once.

Rin nodded in return, her expression still blank and somewhat volatile before she turned back and walked slowly towards the pedestal as Kakashi merely stood and watched her go.

The pedestal, a long table that housed the coffin on top, was filled with flowers. Bouquets and wreathes of all colours, it looked nice in a sad kind of way. Funerals were never nice to attend and yet Kakashi didn't know of any ninja that hadn't. Death was a part of life, a lesson learned from a young age, but that didn't mean that it was easy to accept under any circumstance. No one knew what lay ahead after their time in the world had passed and most feared it understandably so. But still his own heart weighed heavy at these ceremonies whether he knew the deceased or not, the atmosphere rubbed off on him as it would do anyone. But mostly his heart went out to Rin who had seemingly been the only person here who had really known this man at all which was saddening in its own right.

It had been as she had expected it; empty. Satoshi had no family, no clan of which he had been brought into the world, and most if not all his friends had long perished in the last major shinobi war. All he'd had was her and Yumi-chan and his work. The latter of which had eventually killed him.

She strolled over to the pedestal and stopped mere inches away from it and took one of the many roses offered to mourners from the metal vase to her right. Twirling it in her fingers, the ring encased in its little box in her other hand by her side she mulled over what she should say, if anything. She hadn't prepared a eulogy, hadn't seen much of a point seeing as no one here knew him well enough to appreciate it other than herself.

Eventually she lifted her head towards the heavens feeling the faint mist of rainfall on her face before focusing again on the resting place of her beloved Satoshi-san.

"Ne, Satoshi-san. Fitting weather don't you think?" she uttered punctuating her statement with a chuckle as she reached out and placed the rose in her hand on top if the ebony coffin. "You always told me you liked the rain though. Perhaps the God's know this now."

She bowed her head once more, her eyes burning as she chewed on her lips in a desperate bid not to shed tears, but she was failing as the sight of the little box in her hands began to blur out of focus. "At least you're not suffering anymore, that has to be something good, right?" she laughed again, her lips trembling as the tears began to fall lifting her hands clasped around the box before carefully placing it next to her chosen rose.

"I'm so sorry..." she started, her voice little more than breath while bracing herself against the coffin with both hands. "... I wanted to be her, you know... I wanted to..." She shook her head swallowing the sob that was about to erupt from her throat. "... I'm sorry I couldn't be the person you wanted me to be..."

That was it, it was over. The nightmare, the dread. All of it had dissipated with the flow of those last words that passed her lips. All that was left now was to get through the mourning process and find the strength she needed to simply turn around and walk away.