Chapter 54: Rin


Obito was a boy with a very large heart.

Though, if he had to list the things he liked most, he could manage to dwindle it down into roughly four things. First were the pranks that he played; not because of the chaos it caused, but because at the end of the day it always drew a smile on people's faces (now if only the stuffy Uchiha clan would work out those stiff lip muscles as well). Second was his dream of becoming the best shinobi ever; with strength like that he could save everyone and no one would ever suffer from being orphaned like was. Third was that sweet, kind brunette called Rin, but don't anyone ever dare tell her that. And finally, fourth was Hatake Kakashi, because despite how the silver-haired boy acted, he was the sort of friend who kind of grew on you after a while until it was unthinkable to be without him.

Obito had initially approached Kakashi that first day of class because, frankly, it was bad-ass to wear a mask in such hot weather. How did he breathe in that thing?

It'd certainly been a good conversation starter, though Obito was pretty sure he'd annoyed Kakashi that day with his constant nagging – to the point where Kakashi had eventually looked away and refused to face him for the remainder of class.

Then, Obito came back for a second round the next day.

He didn't know why Kakashi never pushed him away.

Obito stuck with the other boy throughout the week. Don't get him wrong, Obito could tell he managed to irritate Kakashi – Obito never claimed not to be annoying. But Kakashi had been patient, and when he looked at him, he looked and saw Obito for Obito, and it was more than he could say for anyone else he'd met.

Obito couldn't let him go.

Obito had always seen it, that calculative glimmer in the eyes of people around him when they realised he was an Uchiha. It was a blessing to be hail as one from such a prestigious family, and it was also a curse because people always had expectations from him. And yet the moment he failed to meet those preconceived assumptions, they would turn their backs on him, as though he didn't matter as a person of his own.

Obito could name a number of 'friends' he'd lost due to that.

He hadn't had much hope in Kakashi initially, to be honest, the way Kakashi had looked at him so critically, eyes burning on his appearance and every movement. But the silver-haired boy soon proved him wrong.

He'd seen Obito's clumsy jutsu, and Obito's failing assignments, and he'd unexpectedly accepted it all.

Unlike him, Kakashi was smart; he saw the way Kakashi would stare at their worksheet, roll his eyes at the contents, and proceed to fill in every answer correctly. He'd been on Kakashi's lecturing end of how to properly hold his stance, and how to fix up his sloppy hand seals. He'd seen every last one of Kakashi's perfect results, and it never helped the terrified wonder in his heart why Kakashi never walked away from him in disappointment.

Perhaps it was part of Kakashi's oddness and eccentricity, because gods Obito knew Kakashi had a lot of those. There were times when Kakashi held a far-away gaze that made Obito's breath catch, and he'd find himself babbling mouthfuls of nonsense just to draw his attention away from that unseen horror. There were times when Kakashi would stare at the students in their class and seem as though there were words he wanted to relay to them but would never manage to in the end. There were times Kakashi acted too mature and forlorn for his age, that even Minato would look over with his brows pinched together. Then there were times Kakashi would get this mischievous twinkle in his eyes and Obito would scramble to stay on his good side least he suffer from Kakashi's unusual sense of humour.

Kakashi was always a bit on the stoic side as well, majority of the time. He was calm and collected and Obito sorely suspected that other than Kakashi's adoration for Minato (and hopefully himself as well?), Kakashi cared for little else. Even of the friends Obito had tried to introduce Kakashi to, the boy hadn't really spent much time with (other than maybe Gai, but Obito was actively trying to ignore all thoughts of that kid).

So, it was a real surprise when the love of Obito's life suddenly came up to him and started a conversation revolving around the topic of Kakashi, of all people.

It began unexpectedly.

Obito's eyes widened at the sight of Rin approaching him after class one day, face unwillingly heating up. He never forgot the gentle smile she'd graced him the first day they met, or the fact she'd kept Obito on her mind when she took an extra copy of the Academy entrance papers because she'd known he would be late.

"Hi Obito, do you have a moment?" Rin called out in her sweet, tender tones.

"Y-yes, Rin?" he asked, trying not to sound like an idiot. If it didn't work, Rin didn't show it. But then again, the girl was wonderful like that.

"You're friends with Kakashi, right?"

Obitio blinked. Of all the issues he fantasized talking to Rin about, Kakashi was never on that list. Also, he didn't even know Rin knew Kakashi in the first place. On the other hand, why wouldn't Rin? The girl was so observant and smart, and Kakashi was in their class together.

"Kakashi's my best friend. Did you want something with him?"

Rin gave a nod, and then proceeded with a conversation that Obito was wholly unprepared for. "I think I used to see Kakashi around my neighbourhood when I was younger," Rin began, "I've tried getting his attention in class whenever he looks over, but he tears his eyes away so quickly. Do you think he's too shy to talk to me?"

Obito snorted at the thought. "Kakashi? Shy?" Kakashi was many things, and shy was no where on that list.

Rin shrugged, uncertain. "Maybe he thinks I won't like it? I never invited him to play when I saw him around as a kid-"

"What? Why not?" Obito gasped, like it was a sin to fail to fully appreciate Kakashi. "It's not fair I never saw him around. We could've been childhood friends!" he whined. It was a shame Obito didn't know Kakashi also spied on him as a child as well. It was only because of the Uchiha walls and guards that Kakashi hadn't dared wander close enough for Obito to notice him doing so.

Rin tiled her head in confusion. "Aren't you technically already?"

"Even better childhood friends from an even younger age," Obito declared, and then muttered something about Gai that he hoped Rin didn't catch, least she considered him petty. "It's Kakashi," he explained like that was a reason of itself.

Rin accepted it agreeably. "Well, it wasn't that I didn't want to play with him, but my father always told me not to … something about still feeling too young to hand me over to some guy so easily, or something," she murmured, then couldn't help herself as she giggled into her hands at Obito's face.

"Wait what -?"

Rin waved her hands in a defensive, and possibly even calming, manner. Most likely calming, considering bewilderment stretched onto Obito's face. "No, no! That was just my father being ridiculous," she uttered, embarrassed, face rosy red. If it weren't for the fact Obito was still futilely trying to envision his best friend with the description Rin was painting for him, he would've gushed at the sight. "And I never even knew what he was talking about until I was older. I'm sure Kakashi never meant it like that. Apparently he ends up near my house a lot because he gets lost easily, or so I've heard."

"Kakashi? Lost?" Obito echoed, because that was yet another thing he'd never known before.

Seeing Rin's clueless smile, something squirmed uncomfortably in Obito's chest. The only problem was that he didn't know why. He swallowed quickly, pressing a grin on his face. "That's silly. You're worrying over nothing. Kakashi isn't shy, and doesn't get bothered by small things like not being invited, and doesn't get lost. I should know."

Rin blinked at him, nodding at his words. "Okay then, you know him best."

"Of course I do."

A frown creased between Rin's brows at his firm tone, and suddenly Obito felt horrible that he made her feel even the slightest bit awkward. "I- I mean, I just didn't want you get the wrong idea about Kakashi. He's awesome, you know? A-and you're awesome too. And uh, awesome is cool, so-" Obito's voice faltered, because he honestly had no idea where he was going with this.

"Boys," Rin sighed, shaking her head. "Just tell Kakashi I don't mind if he comes by to say 'hi', please?" she said, thanking the goggled boy and graciously leaving before he could make more of a mess of himself.

Obito groaned into his hands and wondered when he would be able to learn to talk properly with Rin.

-THP-

Obito's eyes were narrowed in contemplation before Kakashi arrived. Kakashi didn't know what the boy was thinking about, but the fact that his eyes revolved intermittently on Rin was quite the hint. Obito jolted the moment Kakashi dropped down on the chair beside him, eyes wide and frantic as though he'd been caught doing something he wasn't supposed to.

"Should I be worried?" Kakashi wondered flatly.

Obito fumbled for an answer. "It's – er, Rin …" The kid fluttered around, "I mean, er. What do you think about her? Do you think Rin is cute?" he finally pieced out, sounding hesitant but equally curious.

On Kakashi's part, the jounin-turned-boy could only suppose this was a best friend thing, confessing their crushes to each other. Even twenty years of experiences did not prepare him for the topic of love talks amongst friends. Never mind the fact that she was one topic he'd rather do without.

"Hmm," Kakashi hummed, for a lack of better words.

He hadn't been actively avoiding Rin, but Kakashi tried to stay out of her way the best he could.

When he was younger, prior to attending the Academy, he'd stood outside Rin's house before, keeping watch over the whole of her family as atonement of his actions in his future's past. The truth was, unlike Obito, Rin wasn't sheltered inside a prestigious clan district, and Kakashi could've engaged with her any time he wished - yet he couldn't force himself to do so.

A dying Obito had made Kakashi promise to protect Rin as his last and only wish, and Kakashi had failed him miserably. If anything, he'd personally done the opposite and ended her precious life with his own two hands. Hiding outside her house was the closest thing he could manage, unable to stomach the thought of getting any closer

If he was being honest, Kakashi didn't try to think about her too much. He thought on Rin's safety, but never of Rin herself. The pain and guilt between interacting with people he hadn't managed to save the first time around, and the person he'd killed personally (accidentally, involuntarily, but killed all the same), were on two vastly different levels.

"I suppose so," Kakashi murmured out, staring off to the side.

"You're not even looking at her," Obito countered, sounding considerably frustrated.

"I –" can't, Kakashi wanted to say, but what kind of excuse was that? Was he going to spend his whole life avoiding the thought of Rin? Logically he knew it was inadvisable, and even more so if he was planning on keeping up his friendship with Obito.

Kakashi pulled his heavy eyes over at her, well aware of Obito burning holes into him and his more-than-unusual actions.

He saw Rin talking to her friends with laughter on her lips. There was a bubble of fondness as he recalled all the kindness the love of Obito's life had showered towards her teammates despite Kakashi and Obito's constant bickering. He could remember her thoughtfulness, her tender smiles, the warmth of her medical jutsu, her strength amidst battle, her death -

– mouth pressing tightly together in a morbid smile, trying not to give in to the wet hacking coughs, while the stench of scorching, blistering flesh sizzled in the air from the chidori torn through her delicate chest.

Kakashi looked away, paying no heed to the abruptness of his actions. He pressed a hand across his face, trying to physically scrub the image away. Kakashi pulled his eyes down immediately, trying to stop future images from overlapping and ruining her precious appearance.

– blood dribbling off the corners of her pink lips, eyes hollowed unseeingly at him while her lungs struggling to work through the hole, and thick blood scalded down Kakashi's arm. "K-Kakashi-" she'd sputtered out at him, as her knees gave out.

Kakashi didn't want to remember it all again.

Had she realised, Kakashi wondered, that his Sharingan had been active? The image had been burned clearly for him to remember for all eternity afterwards.

"Kakashi?" Obito called softly from his side, staring between Kakashi and Rin in growing uncertainty. The boy grasped as his next words hesitantly. "Are you - do you…" The Uchiha trailed off in confusion, or maybe he just didn't want to word his worst fears.

Kakashi didn't want Obito to falsely misunderstand he hated her.

"She's compassionate and persevering," he said, meaning every word; even to the infuriatingly obstinate and irascible teammate that Kakashi had once been, she never gave up hope. She did her best to pull the team together and keep them together, no matter how arduous the task. Team Minato would never had been the same without her. "She possesses a heart that everyone should look up to."

Kakashi took a breath, fingers twitching in a need for movement. He tapped at the untouched sheet on their table, directing Obito's attention towards it. "Anyways, worksheet," Kakashi continued, pulling away from that wretched topic.

Obito stared at him for a second longer before slowly dipping his head into a nod. "Ah, right, worksheet," he agreed in a voice miles away.


a/n: The long over-due Rin chapter, at last. What's this about missing emotional trauma, hmm, Cute Kirby? Why yes I still remember that review. I remember everyone's reviews ... well, majority of them :D