A/n: I promised some people that I would have this chapter out by the end of April, but that clearly didn't happen. On the bright side, at least I was close? I mean it's only a week over, yeah?

Oh, and guess what? 'The Hidden Prodigy' (that other time-travel fic I may or may not have mentioned) is up at long last! Gasp. And now the first three stories on my profile are all Kakashi-centric time-travels. I cannot fully express the giddiness I feel from this. XD


Kabushi found himself being led into a cell the moment he got his bearings. Naruto was nowhere to be seen, but Kabushi suspected the young blond was getting the same treatment. There was no doubt in Kabushi's mind that they were placed in separate cells as far away as each other as possible; it was the logical thing to do. Kabushi understood why, but he hated the idea of leaving his student to fend for himself.

Treason, the Anbu had said.

Treason: the betrayal of one's own country (or village, in this case) by acting against it – in an attempt to overthrow the Leader, or aid the enemy.

Kabushi hated that word. He knew the severity of the situation, especially considering they were in a ninja village where the safety of the village was everything to them. And he also knew how badly this looked for the two time-travellers.

He really should not have dragged Naruto into this. Being suspected of treason was a harsh enough, but it was especially worse with the way the Anbu had revealed their offence in front of the ones they cared most about, in that bland, uncaring tone, without a drop of remorse. Kabushi's stomach was already gnawing on itself, trying not to think about how his younger self must be reacting to this whole thing. The thought of how badly Naruto was affected only doubled that frantic state of turmoil into something that was overfilling his mind.

Kabushi didn't have the chance to glance over at his precious student to see the boy's reaction when they were viciously yanked away from the group. But Kabushi could guess at it, and was heart breaking; bad timing or not, Naruto shouldn't have had to been incriminated of treason in front of his own father of all people.

Naruto was just an innocent child (well, maybe not completely innocent consider he was a shinobi. But to Kabushi, Naruto would always be that loud, obnoxious twelve-year-old who tried to prank him the first second they met). The boy wasn't fit to be place under the gruesome grilling of the Torture and Interrogation Squad – especially after that devastating accusation.

The silver-haired man shuffled impatiently along the dusty holding cell. He wanted nothing more than to just get the interrogation over with, but waiting was part of the game. Because with every passing new second, doubt and worry grew a little more – not that Kabushi didn't have mountain full of anxiety plaguing his every thought already.

It was much, much later when an Anbu finally appeared before Kabushi, with nothing more than a sharp nod to direct the silver-haired time-traveller to the bars of the cell. Kabushi kept silent and held out his hands, recalling procedure. He tried to keep his posture relaxed even as the Anbu slapped on chakra-repressing cuffs with a sharp, stinging flick of the wrists.

"This way," the Anbu said succinctly, walking in front of the restrained man while a second presence followed them in rear.

Kabushi trailed dutifully, hoping at the very least 'good behaviour' counted for something to whatever decision they decided for his and Naruto's fates.

To be absolutely honest, Kabushi wasn't too worried for his own interrogation; he had plenty of practice – almost thirty years' worth of experience in the shinobi arts drilled into his mind. What Kabushi feared most was, again, Naruto. The blond had suffered through scorning for majority of his life for something he was burdened with the moment he was born, and yet he still enthusiastically devoted his life to protecting his village. Naruto was a loyal ninja through and through – more faithful and dedicated to Konoha than most could even imagine. Now, for this, for some stupid mistake Kabushi made (and it was Kabushi's fault, no matter how hard the boy would try to argue against it), Naruto would have to suffer yet again, in the hands of shinobi he'd already won the love and loyalty of in the future. The Jounin only hoped it wouldn't hurt Naruto's cheerful, optimistic mentality as much as he was imagining it would.

Because if that was the case, Kabushi didn't know if he could ever forgive himself for it.

Lost in his own thoughts, it wasn't long before Kabushi was lead into his designated interrogation room. It was an empty room, devoid of any furniture except for a desk and two stiff wooden chairs. There were wide, daunting, reflective walls that covered all three sides of the wall Kabushi wasn't facing, reflecting back his slouched, lonesome figure in the room. Anyone with any sense could tell immediately those reflective walls were one-way mirrors, showing every twitch he made to the unnamed amount of ninjas watching from the outside. It was a room designed for intimidation, boldly stating to Kabushi that nothing he did would be missed. But then again, it was also intimidation in a relatively non-threatening way, Kabushi had to admit, recalling all the other rooms in the building that housed the Intelligence Division that he could've been place in instead.

The silver-haired man tried to limit his worry, pushing a relaxed slouch into his posture, pretending like he didn't have the blaringly significant secret of 'time-travelling' to hide. He did well for the first twenty minutes, before his toes twitched nervously as his ever-running mind worried excessively about what was happening to Naruto while he was stuck in this cold, solitary room.

The Torture and Interrogation Team really knew how to do their job efficiently.

It was after those thoughts that the door to the room slide open. For a second Kabushi had expected the sight of a scarred face cover in a black bandanna, as was so characteristic of Ibiki Morino, the Head of the T and I unit. Who walked in, however, was not. Kabushi supposed it was to be expected, after speeding through quick mental math to note that Ibiki would've been merely fifteen at this time - not too much older than his younger self.

Yamanaka Inoichi on the other hand, was twenty-six at the current time, at the prime of his life.

The familiar shinobi strolled in, each step carefully timed and each gesture carefully calculated. It was almost amusing how movements intended for intimidation merely gave Kabushi comfort as he recognised it being so inherently Konoha- esque. It was something even Kabushi had been taught briefly during his Anbu years.

Kabushi sat up straighter, flashing a friendly grin from under his mask. "You must be my interrogator," Kabushi commented. If Kabushi were alone, the silver-haired man would've bravely pushed the limit of his interrogator and use all he'd learned from his whole shinobi life to twist the outcome to his liking (or at least as much as he could). But he wasn't alone; Naruto was with him, and Kabushi knew he had to tread with caution.

"Hatake Kabushi," the blond greeted.

Silver haired flopped to the side as the man tilted his head, letting his voice stretch with his usual drawl, "How unusual. We have the same name."

Kabushi was testing the waters.

"Amusing," Inoichi deadpanned. Green eyes stared blandly back at the silver-haired shinobi sitting before him. "Let's get straight to the point, why don't we?" Inoichi asked rhetorically, his gaze sharp as ever as they observed every gesture made in response. Kabushi held still, waiting for the man to continue, and Inoichi leaped straight into it. "What is your purpose in Konoha?"

Kabushi wasn't too certain about Inoichi's interrogation methods. By the time Kabushi had gotten to know the Intelligence Department, Ibiki had been in charge of the T and I unit. But if Inoichi had been the head before Ibiki, the younger man must have had been apprenticed under the blond for a while, so their methods couldn't've been too different. Kabushi considered the Yamanaka's attitude towards his cheeky words. If the silver-haired man was reading this right, Kabushi understood he and Naruto weren't under too much suspicion at the moment, considering the relative lack of hostility the blond was treating him with.

That, however, would likely change if Kabushi didn't cooperate with the man, or the man found something glaringly suspicious with Kabushi answers.

On a positive note, Kabushi and Naruto already had a reasonably worked out backstory ready. Their story wasn't as smooth and consistent as Kabushi had hoped for it to be, but under every-day conversation, it held relatively well. Under the pressured questions of interrogators, on the other hand, Kabushi could only hope they didn't delve too deep into it.

On the other hand, Kabushi supposed, he could always tell the truth and say that Naruto and himself were from the future. But Naruto would never admit it if Kabushi couldn't get in touch with the boy during the interrogation. The boy was a loudmouth, that was a fact, but under all that, Kabushi knew the kid would try his hardest for his sensei – and as per the latest order Kabushi had given, that was to hide the fact that they were from the future.

Besides that, Kabushi was no idiot. Between having inconsistent information or saying they were from the future, Kabushi knew which one sound more realistic, and frankly more sane. So honestly, blurting out the truth was no option. Not under these conditions where the stronger the Interrogation Squad were convined they were lying, the greater the 'Torture' part of their name came into play. Kabushi would be damned if he let another one of his mistakes harm his precious student once more.

The silver-haired man considered his words carefully before speaking. "My purpose? As I've mentioned to the Hokage before, I came here to find my brother. I hadn't known he was … gone already." Kabushi tilted his head to the side, letting his gaze stare on. He held silent for a moment before murmuring a soft, truthful, "I wish I came earlier," even though he knew he didn't have control over his travel here to this Konoha to begin with.

Inoichi seemed to accept that answer as he quickly fired another. "What are your intentions here?"

"Kakashi," the time-traveler answered unhesitantly. It was more than that, but the sake of young Kakashi was high on that list.

"Oh?"

Kabushi let his mind wander, remembering how utterly long it had taken him to get where his younger self was now. He had changed after Obito's death – for the better, some had said – but it truly wasn't; outwardly maybe, but inside Kabushi had been a mess of tangled emotions that had him wanting to cut and discard the unyielding knots instead of unweaving them back into its proper place. "Sakumo's death affected my nephew more you can imagine. I suppose it's a Hatake thing to keep our emotions to ourselves, but I can't leave Kakashi alone like that," Kabushi declared, conviction in his tone as he stared unflinchingly at the Yamanaka, "Narui always preached the importance of family, and it seems like he's absolutely right. Kakashi is getting better nowadays."

A blond eyebrow arched into a suspicious expression. "For Kakashi's sake, hm? You don't think we're ignorant of the fact that you've realised what happened to Sakumo by now, do you?" Inoichi asked in a low voice, leaning forwards into Kabushi's space, "I suppose I wouldn't blame you too much for despising the village that vilified your brother, Kakashi's father, into suicide."

The words stung personally at the time-traveller's heart, because Kabushi knew all too well how horribly the villagers had treated Sakumo. But Kabushi also knew he couldn't show Inoichi that. He treaded carefully, "I admit what had happened to my brother infuriates me, but it's not something I can argue against. According to shinobi rules, Sakumo had done something unforgivable …" The silver-haired man pursed his lips under his navy blue mask as haunting ghosts of voices he'd overheard twenty-so years ago echoed through the back of his mind, "so I can't blame them too harshly. Even so, I agree completely with Sakumo's decision for saving his comrades. There is more to devotion to Konoha – or any village - than blindly following set rules. Especially with the lives of important comrades on the line."

"'Any village'?" Inoichi pulled out from Kabushi's speech, twisting words to his liking, "And just how many villages have you been to as a traveller, Kabushi? You're twenty-five? Thirty? You must have spent a majority of your time in various countries – perhaps a lover or two who you've devoted yourself to. Who you're willing to lie for? Willing to trick a nephew you've never seen until now for, for their sake? Important people - important comrades - like them?"

Grey-blue eyes narrowed slightly. "I will not use Kakashi like that. I am loyal to Konoha," Kabushi said simply, letting a bit of metallic hardness slip into his tone.

The blond crossed his arms, a smirk on his face, smug like he'd caught the Hatake. "But rules and orders are different things, and you deliberately disobeyed direct orders from the one you claim to plead absolute loyalty to. Tell me, what did you hope to gain by leaving your post?"

Kabushi paused and let himself ponder the question. This one wasn't hard to answer. "Assuagement," the man finally said.

For a second, Inoichi looked thoughtful before the expression morphed into contemplation. "Oh, you weren't leaving to leak information on our defensive strategy to the enemy?"

"I was told nothing but my own mission and what little that the Hokage told Minato-san while I was there. If I really was planning to leak information, all I would have been able to convey is incomplete and incompetent data." Kabushi's tone told clearly how useless he thought such information would be.

"Not a leak, huh?" the man repeated in disbelief, "So you say. But then what exactly? Can you account for your suspicious behaviour?"

"I panicked," Kabushi murmured, giving his interrogator a half-smile, stretching falsely across his face in a way that looked like he was pained by the confession. "I knew Kakashi was only just promoted, and I woried. I'm sure Kakashi is more than capable, but after being too late for my brother, I felt paranoid – I couldn't let that happen again; I don't want to ever be too late to help my last living relative ever again."

"And why was Narui with you as well?" The blond continued stoically, baring no concern to the Hatake's open discomfort.

"Because he knew how much Kakashi and Team Minato meant to me."

The man gave a calculative hum before tipping his head in a sharp nod. At once the door behind him open and two Anbus filed in silently, ending the interrogation so abruptly that it was most likely planned; it was a good way to throw the captive off balance before they got too comfortable. The two pulled Kabushi upwards by his cuffs, dragging him away as Inoichi sat unconcernedly, relaxed in his chair. Kabushi was halfway out the door when Inoichi's soft voice carried out from his spot. "I wonder if you're curious whether your student's responses mirror your own?" the blond said in a foreboding tone. Kabushi didn't know how much truth there was in that tone, or if it was mere psychological intimidation. But either way, he knew it was only a matter of time before they tried their intense methods on Naruto as well, if they hadn't already.

Kabushi hoped everything would go well.


Sitting in the cell was dreadfully dull. There was only so long Kabushi could drown himself in apprehension before the feeling eventually numbed into a throbbing pain that he could finally manageably ignore. It was a few days since his interrogation with the Yanamaka, and Inoichi clearly had no thoughts of letting Kabushi nor Naruto out anytime soon. The Hatake's days were spent in silence with no company other than the clank of metal bowls as they were deposited in front of him on occasional intervals.

So, Kabushi was left with nothing to do but sit and think, and reconsider the idea of actually being in his past like he had originally assumed – or at the very least reconsidered the idea of a linear timeline.

Days ago, back in front of the Konoha Gates, Kabushi had been too happy seeing Obito walking home on his own two feet to think about anything other than the exuberant rush of happiness that was warming his whole body. Now, Kabushi had the time to run a hand under his headband and feel the long jagged scar than ran down his left eye.

It was still there. However that didn't make sense because this time around, Obito was still alive and young Kakashi shouldn't have this damned scar. Which meant that Kabushi, the older version of him, shouldn't have it either … right?

How did this time-traveling business work?

Kabushi still had his Sharingan, and so did Obito. There shouldn't be three copies of the same eye. As much as Kabushi hated the conclusion that was slowing inching its way into his mind, the facts couldn't deny it.

This wasn't his past any longer.

Kabushi was interfering with – was bettering - the future of a different Kakashi, a different Obito, a different Minato and Rin, and a different Konoha. …or perhaps they hadn't been different until the point where Kabushi and Nauri appeared into their lives and split the time line into two diverging futures?

Kabushi didn't know.

In any case, perhaps it was a good thing they weren't actually in their past. Kabushi didn't know if he could wrap his brain around the inconceivably confusing idea of time-travel paradoxes, but if this had been their past, then logically with it changed, there was the case that young Kakashi wouldn't have done the same things he'd done in the future and thus ultimately not taken Naruto to the rock, and therefore wouldn't have time-travelled in the first place.

What that meant to his current time-travelled body, Kabushi wasn't too certain, but he had an inkling that he and Naruto would've disappeared from this "past" already if a linear time line had been the case – and that would've been a distressing turn of events since they hadn't even gotten around to helping with the other major crises that were expected to occur.

But, even knowing all this, there was still a small creeping of jealousy that was clutching around Kabushi's heart at the unfairness of the whole thing – loathing the idea that whatever he or Naruto changed in this "past" would not affect their future at all. But Kabushi knew to suppress it, no matter how much it ached. It was woefully unfair, but a different Kakashi was still a Kakashi, a different Obito was still an Obito, and a different Konoha was still Konoha – at least that was what the time-traveller insistently reminded himself.

At the very least when Naruto and him returned back home – if they could … or even would (because who would willingly leave someplace where their precious people were still alive and happy?) – they would have an abundance of memories to last them; which was much, much more than what they had before this whole business began.

… and, well, it was better than nothing.


"He's good," was the first thing that came out of the Yamanaka's mouth when secretary ushered the man into the Hokage's office.

"I beg your pardon?"

Inoichi paused abruptly before dropping his head. "Apologies, Hokage-sama," the man corrected, realising in his haste he had not greeted his Village Leader.

The old man, however, merely shook his head. "No, proceed with your report."

With a low bow, Inoichi continued as requested. "Kabushi, I mean," the blond specified. "He's a cunning and experienced shinobi."

"Is that so?" Hiruzen steepled his fingers in front of his contemplating face, elbows resting on his wooden desk. His mind wandered over the events that had led to their two travellers' imprisonment.

When the mission had first started, Hiruzen has susKabushi found himself being led into a cell the moment he got his bearings. Naruto was nowhere to be seen, but Kabushi suspected the young blond was getting the same treatment. There was no doubt in Kabushi's mind that they were placed in separate cells as far away as each other as possible; it was the logical thing to do. Kabushi understood why, but he hated the idea of leaving his student to fend for himself.

Treason, the Anbu had said.

Treason: the betrayal of one's own country (or village, in this case) by acting against it – in an attempt to overthrow the Leader, or aid the enemy.

Kabushi hated that word. He knew the severity of the situation, especially considering they were in a ninja village where the safety of the village was everything to them. And he also knew how badly this looked for the two time-travellers.

He really should not have dragged Naruto into this. Being suspected of treason was a harsh enough, but it was especially worse with the way the Anbu had revealed their offence in front of the ones they cared most about, in that bland, uncaring tone, without a drop of remorse. Kabushi's stomach was already gnawing on itself, trying not to think about how his younger self must be reacting to this whole thing. The thought of how badly Naruto was affected only doubled that frantic state of turmoil into something that was overfilling his mind.

Kabushi didn't have the chance to glance over at his precious student to see the boy's reaction when they were viciously yanked away from the group. But Kabushi could guess at it, and was heart breaking; bad timing or not, Naruto shouldn't have had to been incriminated of treason in front of his own father of all people.

Naruto was just an innocent child (well, maybe not completely innocent consider he was a shinobi. But to Kabushi, Naruto would always be that loud, obnoxious twelve-year-old who tried to prank him the first second they met). The boy wasn't fit to be place under the gruesome grilling of the Torture and Interrogation Squad – especially after that devastating accusation.

The silver-haired man shuffled impatiently along the dusty holding cell. He wanted nothing more than to just get the interrogation over with, but waiting was part of the game. Because with every passing new second, doubt and worry grew a little more – not that Kabushi didn't have mountain full of anxiety plaguing his every thought already.

It was much, much later when an Anbu finally appeared before Kabushi, with nothing more than a sharp nod to direct the silver-haired time-traveller to the bars of the cell. Kabushi kept silent and held out his hands, recalling procedure. He tried to keep his posture relaxed even as the Anbu slapped on chakra-repressing cuffs with a sharp, stinging flick of the wrists.

"This way," the Anbu said succinctly, walking in front of the restrained man while a second presence followed them in rear.

Kabushi trailed dutifully, hoping at the very least 'good behaviour' counted for something to whatever decision they decided for his and Naruto's fates.

To be absolutely honest, Kabushi wasn't too worried for his own interrogation; he had plenty of practice – almost thirty years' worth of experience in the shinobi arts drilled into his mind. What Kabushi feared most was, again, Naruto. The blond had suffered through scorning for majority of his life for something he was burdened with the moment he was born, and yet he still enthusiastically devoted his life to protecting his village. Naruto was a loyal ninja through and through – more faithful and dedicated to Konoha than most could even imagine. Now, for this, for some stupid mistake Kabushi made (and it was Kabushi's fault, no matter how hard the boy would try to argue against it), Naruto would have to suffer yet again, in the hands of shinobi he'd already won the love and loyalty of in the future. The Jounin only hoped it wouldn't hurt Naruto's cheerful, optimistic mentality as much as he was imagining it would.

Because if that was the case, Kabushi didn't know if he could ever forgive himself for it.

Lost in his own thoughts, it wasn't long before Kabushi was lead into his designated interrogation room. It was an empty room, devoid of any furniture except for a desk and two stiff wooden chairs. There were wide, daunting, reflective walls that covered all three sides of the wall Kabushi wasn't facing, reflecting back his slouched, lonesome figure in the room. Anyone with any sense could tell immediately those reflective walls were one-way mirrors, showing every twitch he made to the unnamed amount of ninjas watching from the outside. It was a room designed for intimidation, boldly stating to Kabushi that nothing he did would be missed. But then again, it was also intimidation in a relatively non-threatening way, Kabushi had to admit, recalling all the other rooms in the building that housed the Intelligence Division that he could've been place in instead.

The silver-haired man tried to limit his worry, pushing a relaxed slouch into his posture, pretending like he didn't have the blaringly significant secret of 'time-travelling' to hide. He did well for the first twenty minutes, before his toes twitched nervously as his ever-running mind worried excessively about what was happening to Naruto while he was stuck in this cold, solitary room.

The Torture and Interrogation Team really knew how to do their job efficiently.

It was after those thoughts that the door to the room slide open. For a second Kabushi had expected the sight of a scarred face cover in a black bandanna, as was so characteristic of Ibiki Morino, the Head of the T and I unit. Who walked in, however, was not. Kabushi supposed it was to be expected, after speeding through quick mental math to note that Ibiki would've been merely fifteen at this time - not too much older than his younger self.

Yamanaka Inoichi on the other hand, was twenty-six at the current time, at the prime of his life.

The familiar shinobi strolled in, each step carefully timed and each gesture carefully calculated. It was almost amusing how movements intended for intimidation merely gave Kabushi comfort as he recognised it being so inherently Konoha- esque. It was something even Kabushi had been taught briefly during his Anbu years.

Kabushi sat up straighter, flashing a friendly grin from under his mask. "You must be my interrogator," Kabushi commented. If Kabushi were alone, the silver-haired man would've bravely pushed the limit of his interrogator and use all he'd learned from his whole shinobi life to twist the outcome to his liking (or at least as much as he could). But he wasn't alone; Naruto was with him, and Kabushi knew he had to tread with caution.

"Hatake Kabushi," the blond greeted.

Silver haired flopped to the side as the man tilted his head, letting his voice stretch with his usual drawl, "How unusual. We have the same name."

Kabushi was testing the waters.

"Amusing," Inoichi deadpanned. Green eyes stared blandly back at the silver-haired shinobi sitting before him. "Let's get straight to the point, why don't we?" Inoichi asked rhetorically, his gaze sharp as ever as they observed every gesture made in response. Kabushi held still, waiting for the man to continue, and Inoichi leaped straight into it. "What is your purpose in Konoha?"

Kabushi wasn't too certain about Inoichi's interrogation methods. By the time Kabushi had gotten to know the Intelligence Department, Ibiki had been in charge of the T and I unit. But if Inoichi had been the head before Ibiki, the younger man must have had been apprenticed under the blond for a while, so their methods couldn't've been too different. Kabushi considered the Yamanaka's attitude towards his cheeky words. If the silver-haired man was reading this right, Kabushi understood he and Naruto weren't under too much suspicion at the moment, considering the relative lack of hostility the blond was treating him with.

That, however, would likely change if Kabushi didn't cooperate with the man, or the man found something glaringly suspicious with Kabushi answers.

On a positive note, Kabushi and Naruto already had a reasonably worked out backstory ready. Their story wasn't as smooth and consistent as Kabushi had hoped for it to be, but under every-day conversation, it held relatively well. Under the pressured questions of interrogators, on the other hand, Kabushi could only hope they didn't delve too deep into it.

On the other hand, Kabushi supposed, he could always tell the truth and say that Naruto and himself were from the future. But Naruto would never admit it if Kabushi couldn't get in touch with the boy during the interrogation. The boy was a loudmouth, that was a fact, but under all that, Kabushi knew the kid would try his hardest for his sensei – and as per the latest order Kabushi had given, that was to hide the fact that they were from the future.

Besides that, Kabushi was no idiot. Between having inconsistent information or saying they were from the future, Kabushi knew which one sound more realistic, and frankly more sane. So honestly, blurting out the truth was no option. Not under these conditions where the stronger the Interrogation Squad were convined they were lying, the greater the 'Torture' part of their name came into play. Kabushi would be damned if he let another one of his mistakes harm his precious student once more.

The silver-haired man considered his words carefully before speaking. "My purpose? As I've mentioned to the Hokage before, I came here to find my brother. I hadn't known he was … gone already." Kabushi tilted his head to the side, letting his gaze stare on. He held silent for a moment before murmuring a soft, truthful, "I wish I came earlier," even though he knew he didn't have control over his travel here to this Konoha to begin with.

Inoichi seemed to accept that answer as he quickly fired another. "What are your intentions here?"

"Kakashi," the time-traveler answered unhesitantly. It was more than that, but the sake of young Kakashi was high on that list.

"Oh?"

Kabushi let his mind wander, remembering how utterly long it had taken him to get where his younger self was now. He had changed after Obito's death – for the better, some had said – but it truly wasn't; outwardly maybe, but inside Kabushi had been a mess of tangled emotions that had him wanting to cut and discard the unyielding knots instead of unweaving them back into its proper place. "Sakumo's death affected my nephew more you can imagine. I suppose it's a Hatake thing to keep our emotions to ourselves, but I can't leave Kakashi alone like that," Kabushi declared, conviction in his tone as he stared unflinchingly at the Yamanaka, "Narui always preached the importance of family, and it seems like he's absolutely right. Kakashi is getting better nowadays."

A blond eyebrow arched into a suspicious expression. "For Kakashi's sake, hm? You don't think we're ignorant of the fact that you've realised what happened to Sakumo by now, do you?" Inoichi asked in a low voice, leaning forwards into Kabushi's space, "I suppose I wouldn't blame you too much for despising the village that vilified your brother, Kakashi's father, into suicide."

The words stung personally at the time-traveller's heart, because Kabushi knew all too well how horribly the villagers had treated Sakumo. But Kabushi also knew he couldn't show Inoichi that. He treaded carefully, "I admit what had happened to my brother infuriates me, but it's not something I can argue against. According to shinobi rules, Sakumo had done something unforgivable …" The silver-haired man pursed his lips under his navy blue mask as haunting ghosts of voices he'd overheard twenty-so years ago echoed through the back of his mind, "so I can't blame them too harshly. Even so, I agree completely with Sakumo's decision for saving his comrades. There is more to devotion to Konoha – or any village - than blindly following set rules. Especially with the lives of important comrades on the line."

"'Any village'?" Inoichi pulled out from Kabushi's speech, twisting words to his liking, "And just how many villages have you been to as a traveller, Kabushi? You're twenty-five? Thirty? You must have spent a majority of your time in various countries – perhaps a lover or two who you've devoted yourself to. Who you're willing to lie for? Willing to trick a nephew you've never seen until now for, for their sake? Important people - important comrades - like them?"

Grey-blue eyes narrowed slightly. "I will not use Kakashi like that. I am loyal to Konoha," Kabushi said simply, letting a bit of metallic hardness slip into his tone.

The blond crossed his arms, a smirk on his face, smug like he'd caught the Hatake. "But rules and orders are different things, and you deliberately disobeyed direct orders from the one you claim to plead absolute loyalty to. Tell me, what did you hope to gain by leaving your post?"

Kabushi paused and let himself ponder the question. This one wasn't hard to answer. "Assuagement," the man finally said.

For a second, Inoichi looked thoughtful before the expression morphed into contemplation. "Oh, you weren't leaving to leak information on our defensive strategy to the enemy?"

"I was told nothing but my own mission and what little that the Hokage told Minato-san while I was there. If I really was planning to leak information, all I would have been able to convey is incomplete and incompetent data." Kabushi's tone told clearly how useless he thought such information would be.

"Not a leak, huh?" the man repeated in disbelief, "So you say. But then what exactly? Can you account for your suspicious behaviour?"

"I panicked," Kabushi murmured, giving his interrogator a half-smile, stretching falsely across his face in a way that looked like he was pained by the confession. "I knew Kakashi was only just promoted, and I woried. I'm sure Kakashi is more than capable, but after being too late for my brother, I felt paranoid – I couldn't let that happen again; I don't want to ever be too late to help my last living relative ever again."

"And why was Narui with you as well?" The blond continued stoically, baring no concern to the Hatake's open discomfort.

"Because he knew how much Kakashi and Team Minato meant to me."

The man gave a calculative hum before tipping his head in a sharp nod. At once the door behind him open and two Anbus filed in silently, ending the interrogation so abruptly that it was most likely planned; it was a good way to throw the captive off balance before they got too comfortable. The two pulled Kabushi upwards by his cuffs, dragging him away as Inoichi sat unconcernedly, relaxed in his chair. Kabushi was halfway out the door when Inoichi's soft voice carried out from his spot. "I wonder if you're curious whether your student's responses mirror your own?" the blond said in a foreboding tone. Kabushi didn't know how much truth there was in that tone, or if it was mere psychological intimidation. But either way, he knew it was only a matter of time before they tried their intense methods on Naruto as well, if they hadn't already.

Kabushi hoped everything would go well.


Sitting in the cell was dreadfully dull. There was only so long Kabushi could drown himself in apprehension before the feeling eventually numbed into a throbbing pain that he could finally manageably ignore. It was a few days since his interrogation with the Yanamaka, and Inoichi clearly had no thoughts of letting Kabushi nor Naruto out anytime soon. The Hatake's days were spent in silence with no company other than the clank of metal bowls as they were deposited in front of him on occasional intervals.

So, Kabushi was left with nothing to do but sit and think, and reconsider the idea of actually being in his past like he had originally assumed – or at the very least reconsidered the idea of a linear timeline.

Days ago, back in front of the Konoha Gates, Kabushi had been too happy seeing Obito walking home on his own two feet to think about anything other than the exuberant rush of happiness that was warming his whole body. Now, Kabushi had the time to run a hand under his headband and feel the long jagged scar than ran down his left eye.

It was still there. However that didn't make sense because this time around, Obito was still alive and young Kakashi shouldn't have this damned scar. Which meant that Kabushi, the older version of him, shouldn't have it either … right?

How did this time-traveling business work?

Kabushi still had his Sharingan, and so did Obito. There shouldn't be three copies of the same eye. As much as Kabushi hated the conclusion that was slowing inching its way into his mind, the facts couldn't deny it.

This wasn't his past any longer.

Kabushi was interfering with – was bettering - the future of a different Kakashi, a different Obito, a different Minato and Rin, and a different Konoha. …or perhaps they hadn't been different until the point where Kabushi and Nauri appeared into their lives and split the time line into two diverging futures?

Kabushi didn't know.

In any case, perhaps it was a good thing they weren't actually in their past. Kabushi didn't know if he could wrap his brain around the inconceivably confusing idea of time-travel paradoxes, but if this had been their past, then logically with it changed, there was the case that young Kakashi wouldn't have done the same things he'd done in the future and thus ultimately not taken Naruto to the rock, and therefore wouldn't have time-travelled in the first place.

What that meant to his current time-travelled body, Kabushi wasn't too certain, but he had an inkling that he and Naruto would've disappeared from this "past" already if a linear time line had been the case – and that would've been a distressing turn of events since they hadn't even gotten around to helping with the other major crises that were expected to occur.

But, even knowing all this, there was still a small creeping of jealousy that was clutching around Kabushi's heart at the unfairness of the whole thing – loathing the idea that whatever he or Naruto changed in this "past" would not affect their future at all. But Kabushi knew to suppress it, no matter how much it ached. It was woefully unfair, but a different Kakashi was still a Kakashi, a different Obito was still an Obito, and a different Konoha was still Konoha – at least that was what the time-traveller insistently reminded himself.

At the very least when Naruto and him returned back home – if they could … or even would (because who would willingly leave someplace where their precious people were still alive and happy?) – they would have an abundance of memories to last them; which was much, much more than what they had before this whole business began.

… and, well, it was better than nothing.


"He's good," was the first thing that came out of the Yamanaka's mouth when secretary ushered the man into the Hokage's office.

"I beg your pardon?"

Inoichi paused abruptly before dropping his head. "Apologies, Hokage-sama," the man corrected, realising in his haste he had not greeted his Village Leader.

The old man, however, merely shook his head. "No, proceed with your report."

With a low bow, Inoichi continued as requested. "Kabushi, I mean," the blond specified. "He's a cunning and experienced shinobi."

"Is that so?" Hiruzen steepled his fingers in front of his contemplating face, elbows resting on his wooden desk. His mind wandered over the events that had led to their two travellers' imprisonment.

When the mission had first started, Hiruzen has suspected something would happen. How could he not when the day before Kabushi stormed into his office with a face full of crazed desperation? That something came in the form of Kabushi and Narui abandoning their posts and fleeing towards the direction of Grass Village – where an important mission had been taking place.

And yet, after reported of this, Hiruzen still had no idea what the Hatake and his student's intentions were. The Hokage knew the two were no fools; they had to have known they were still being watched by Anbu - and especially so after that unusual pleading request Kabushi had shown (and been denied of) earlier. But despite that, they gave in to whatever urges that had inspired them, and hastily rushed off without a second thought.

So, when Kabushi was caught, the Hokage gave orders to lead them to a new post - one so daring close to where Kabushi needed to go, Hiruzen was certain the man would be crazy enough to take the chance, given his previous attitude towards the fact.

And yet, the man did nothing. This time, Kabushi and Narui had focused their whole energy into his orders instead, desperately working themselves to the bones, the Anbu in charge of watching them had recounted. For two days, the two travellers diligently completed their assigned tasks, ignoring and resisting the temptation the Hokage tried baiting them with.

As for the mission in Grass, both Minato and young Kakashi had completed their respective missions successfully. There had been minor problems, but they accomplished through them all the same.

This fact didn't help Kabushi's case, because the Hokage couldn't stop the idea that perhaps if Kabushi had made his way to Kusa like he had wanted to, the outcome of the mission would've been different (or at least that was the impression the Hokage had) – and what other sort of different was there other than the mission being marked as a failure instead of a success?

How much did Konoha really know about Kabushi or Narui?

As the Hokage was pondering this to himself, Inoichi was continuing his report without fail, recounting the separate interviews he had with both captives. "Narui was straight forward," the man started immediately, "and stubborn. He said what he knew, and refused to touch on the topics he didn't want to speak about, no matter what we threatened him with." The blond gave a short pause as he switched to the other man. "Kabushi on the other hand… On the surface, we obtain no additional facts of interest from Kabushi, but I could tell he was calculating the smoothness and speed he was answering my questions with. Quite professionally too."

The Hokage gave an acknowledging hum, a finger tapping on his lit pipe as he considered this. But Inoichi wasn't finished yet. "But it wasn't until I dismissed him that I realised."

The words caught the Hokage's attention. The old man leaned forwards, eyes fixed on his shinobi. "Recognised what, exactly?" he asked carefully, mind already running, ready to merge the new findings to come up with new explanations to explain the mysteries that were his new guests.

"Narui didn't quite have it yet," Inoichi said, "but Kabushi … there was a distinctive pattern in his pauses and the way he squirmed around my questions. I almost didn't notice because of how familiar it was; his technique – not completely, because I'm sure some of it was his own style developed over the years – but the base structure of it was exactly the same as those taught to our shinobi in Konoha." The blond paused for a second, before finishing confidently, even over the confusion in his voice, "and if I'm certain about anything, the man was instinctively using them."

The blond's declaration drew more unanswered questions, and added what seemed like even more unnecessary confusion to the unfinished riddle that shrouded over the two travellers. Yet there was a slight niggling sensation, ever-fleeting whenever he tried to grasp at it, at the back of the Hokage's mind, that was desperately trying to get his attention.

Inoichi continued on, "If you wish for me to continue interrogation them, I'm afraid working at Kabushi might be harder than we expected. It would be a lot easier to try to crack the boy first." Even as stoically as the blond said those words, there was an apologetic undertone to them that the Hokage could definitely pick out. If Konoha was known for anything, it was the kindness they looked after and brought up their children, and Narui, while under suspicion, had still been accepted as a member- as child - of Konoha.

Hiruzen shook his head. "Narui is a shinobi," the man said clearly, "The moment he accepted his headband, he accepted all of the dangers that path entailed." Not that the idea pleased the Hokage any more than it did for the blond. The old man pondered his choices on how to proceed. A little while later, Hiruzen took a slow puff of his pipe in a way that almost seemed like he was stalling for time as the old man stared to the side at the large pane windows in the Hokage office. Hiruzen sighed softly to himself before turning determinately towards his shinobi. "Inoichi, I give you permission to use your mind jutsu," he said.

The Head Interrogator in front of the old man paused for a mere second. "If that is your command."

"It is," Hiruzen nodded in finality. "These two clearly are not willing to divulge any more information willingly. Narui may crack eventually if given more time to work on him, but…" But Hiruzen didn't want to break the cheerful blond into a mess of shattered shards. The boy would heal in due time, but Hiruzen would never forgive himself if whatever information they had learned in the meantime lead nowhere but towards their innocence. Forcing their way into Narui and Kabushi's minds were a violation of privacy, that was for certain, but it was better than letting them suffer in the capable hands of the Torture and Interrogation Squad for months more (and Hiruzen was certain it would take that long, taking into account how tight-lipped the two were).

"I understand," Inoichi bowed, "When shall I perform my jutsu?"

"Immediately."


Kabushi didn't know how many days had passed since he'd been forced to sit in the ever-dimly lit cell he was held in. His mental clock told him it was likely starting on the fourth day, but without a window or natural sunlight, it was merely guesswork on his part.

Kabushi didn't even know if he could speculate how much longer they would keep him and Naruto in these cells. It was clearly not over yet. Kabushi was starting to ponder if perhaps telling them the truth, no matter how much more illogical it sounded than the lies he had planned, was the only way the T and I unit would let them go. Kabushi didn't want to spend any longer imprisoned in the dark, without a clue as to how Naruto was doing. And not to mention, they, with all their knowledge of the future (or should Kabushi be calling it a "likely" future now since things weren't completely the same anymore?), could get nothing done locked up, after all.

Kabushi eyes suddenly darted towards the entrance of the holding cell, hearing vibrating echoes of footsteps shuffling towards him. The man steeled himself, realising he was going to be led to yet another interrogation. The time-traveller raised his head to look up from the sitting position he was in to meet the eyes of the new arrival, only to freeze momentarily when his grey-blue eye was greeted with bright sunshine blond hair instead of the expected cold ceramic mask.

Instinctively, from his ingrained habits, Kabushi leaped up from his seat to military attention.

Cerulean eyes bore steadily on him. "Kabushi," Minato greeted softly, a tired drag in his tone.

"Minato-san," Kabushi said. The time-traveller discreetly shifted his weight, moving to stand into a less strict posture, trying to ignore the sense of unease building inside as his former sensei kept quiet. "Why are you here?" Kabushi finally asked.

The blond never let go of his gaze on the Hatake, his eyes silently begging the Hatake to obey. "Kabushi," the man began, "I don't know why you're doing this, but please work with Inoichi," he said without any preamble.

Kabushi blinked. "I am."

Blond eyebrows deepened into an almost irritated frown. "No you're not. Why else do you think they're still insisting to keep you locked up? Do not underestimate our interrogation squad. I know you two would never do anything against this village, I know it. But you and Narui are hiding something and surely if it isn't anything harmful to Konoha, can't you tell us?"

"I would never harm the village."

"I know. I don't want to see you like this." Minato stared expectingly at the other man, but Kabushi continued refusing to speak of it.

The blond sigh, resisting to urge to run a hand anxiously through his hair in exasperation. Instead, the man switched tracks, "Do you know how much this whole thing has been affecting Kakashi? He's shutting himself off from everyone, much like how he was when his father first died. He feels betrayed by you – by family, yet again."

Kabushi clenched his fists by his sides, feeling guilt crawl up his stomach. Minato would never know how much his words actually weighed down on Kabushi, never realising that Kabushi knew exactly how little Kakashi must be feeling.

"And they're not just interrogating you. Narui's in this too, trying to keeping back whatever it is you're trying to keep a secret. The poor boy will be scarred if you abandon him to our head interrogator so long. Don't do this to Narui!"

Kabushi knew that too. Kabushi had already been dreading leaving Naruto all alone for so long, and Minato pointing out the obvious didn't make it any better. "Don't you dare threaten about my student to get to me," Kabushi hiss, stress making him spill his anger more visibly than he had intended. Something about having his father figure looking down on him with such disappointment pained Kabushi a hundred burning needles worse than anything Inoichi could ever possibly do.

Minato's spine stiffened before the man softened his posture into something placating. "I'm not," Minato murmured out gently. Lines creased the man's face as the blond leaned forwards, almost looming over Kabushi despite being separated by the iron bars of the cell. It was a gesture that one would think was frightening, but with the two, Minato's stance eclipsing over Kabushi was more one of comfort, like standing protectively over an agitated child. "Please, Kabushi. I'm worried for him. I'm worried for Kakashi. I'm worried for you. Just tell them everything, please." Hands tightened by Minato's sides as if unsure of what to do, as the man stared pleadingly into the cell. "What is there to lose?" the blond as rhetorically, watching the Hatake stare past him in a distanced gaze, "It's not like things can get any worse."

And those were probably not the best words to use, for at that exact moment, a scream echoed through the air. Angry red chakra curled, lashing into the corridors, the cell, and everything around, like a toxic flood. The chakra howled out, bursting with violent anger, whipping through the building like nine tails of the Kyuubi himself.

It was thick and ominous, strangling and chocking the breaths out of the two of them like a thick air of mustard gas. It was evil, and oh-so familiar, Kabushi couldn't hold back his shudder. And Kabushi wasn't the only one; both men recognised it immediately.

"Kushina?" Minato whispered out loud, more to himself than anything thing else, fear engulfing his tone.

No, Kabushi thought to himself. It wasn't, but Minato was close. And honestly, "I think things just got worse," he muttered. Much, much worse.