Are You Man or Ghost?
Conversations at the Memorial Stone


AN: lady_ganesh requested "What does Kakashi tell Obito about Naruto?", with thanks to shewhoflies for inspiration!

Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto, not making money off this.

It was only five years after the Kyuubi burned through their ranks, after they were left scrambling for resources, after Minato-sensei—

Kakashi managed a single peek at the child and the perfect gold of that hair curdled his stomach.

"He looks fine," Kakashi reassured Minato-sensei. The boy had been alone and playing with a kunai and gouging lines in the floor, Kakashi remembered doing much the same himself at that age.

He didn't know what to tell Obito.

"...and then the eraser fell on my head." Kakashi muttered, peering at the stone. "You probably would have laughed."

The pretty girl, the brooding genius, and the deadlast. Sarutobi really was trying to tell him something maybe.

But winced and shook his head, "Or he would've made you cry." The laundry-list of pranks the boy pulled off was both impressive and absurd. If Minato's son just tried at school he might actually have gotten somewhere. The fact that his genius sensei's son was deadlast galled him to no end.

He couldn't bring himself to tell his sensei of that fact, just mumbled that he'd passed the little blond genin.

"...He's nothing like you," Kakashi concluded, disappointed. Naruto just skimmed by old ladies with nary a hello and shouting every which way and being brashly overconfident. It was all Kakashi could do to tone him down, like nothing Kakashi said could shake him, like nothing Kakashi did could make him cry.

(Kakashi still could barely look at the blond's face. The hair alone shocked him, every time.)

Naruto was rarely late, and didn't have a family who insisted he develop a bloodline, and never made excuses. I will be better next time! roared the boy's stance, shoulders, and clenched fist, roared whenever he wasn't fastest at their D-rank, whenever Sasuke beat him down during sparring. I will beat you!

Naruto had been the one tied to the log, so Kakashi didn't know if Naruto would push his teammate away from a boulder.

I'm gonna smash your face in! Naruto had yelled, and Kakashi knew that Obito would never say such a thing.

"...he asked if shinobi could be more than tools." Kakashi didn't know what to make of this, even now. Still could not believe that Naruto compelled a high-rank missing-nin into fighting for them (and dying for them) with only a few words.

"I think you would have cheered for him."

He'd managed to look at Naruto during that trip. Felt both relieved and pained that sensei didn't pass on his features. He found the color of Minato-sensei's eyes on another person's face, a blending of a little of Minato and a lot of someone else.


Kushina-senpai's eyes looking like they're trying to look strong, a quiet echo of desperation and loneliness deep in it's puddles.

"I watched him use a technique that he saw performed twice." Kakashi mumbled. "Probably sensei's influence."

It's not like Naruto had the sharingan.

A small tendril of pride curled through him, and he stamped it out because he had no right to be proud. Naruto was his soldier, competing in a mock-war for the honor of Konoha. Nothing more.

"Tell sensei to be proud of him, Obito."

"He's nothing like you," Kakashi repeated, to himself more than to Obito. His student had failed to bring back his wayward teammate. Had both eyes intact.

"He's nothing like you," he repeated, to himself more than to Minato. Naruto had the fading scars of a hole in his chest.

Bandaged from top to toe.

But alive.

Naruto was alive.

"He's nothing like you."

Jiraiya looked at him from the corner of his eye. "I'm going to be taking Naruto on a training trip."

Kakashi nodded, dripping ghosts. "Aa. That would be best."


AN: I'm not exactly sure what I was doing with this. But it felt complete. =\