Written By: SilentAnonymity
Dedicated to thisloser
Chapter 1: Borrowed
After rediscovering and reading thisloser's work, this is what happened, a product of reading a lot of angsty KakaGai...
thisloser can be found here: u/1943834/thisloser
Sunlight filtered through the grimy window of the small apartment, dust flecks floated freely in the air and through the rays that glinted off the silver hair of the man sleeping below. Eyes opened slowly, blinking away fuzziness and sleep from view. Covers were cast aside as the man made his way across the room.
The water was cold. Icy. Wake up it whispered. Every morning, he got up to the hours that were counted in his sleep, programmed, but he also woke up to the reality that he did wake up and would continue to for an indefinite amount of time, the sooner he would not, the better. It was hard to remember- believe that he was alive when he couldn't- can't remember the last time he felt like he was.
Then again, had he ever?
If it were earlier in his life, there would be a mirror or two in the dingy, neglected apartment. One by the door that would say you can't afford to make a mistake. One in the washroom that would be silent until it started to scream at him. The horrible, gut-wrenching, echoing screams that had never taken place in reality, but resounded continuously in his mind.
Not all of them were his.
He glanced to his right, outside of the shower at the tiled bathroom floor. Various stains of red faded with time, some old enough to be the shade of rust, stared curiously back at him. There was one that was not quite dry yet. He looked down at his right hand, hastily bandaged and throbbing from the cuts that were hidden underneath.
His uniform was still in a heap in the corner, its blood-soaked presence reminded him of the night previous. He pushed the thought away.
He pulled on a new uniform, hid his eye under the headband, his face beneath his mask. He walked past the trash bin to the door, but he couldn't help but let his eye wander; and it landed on his reflection in the shard of glass.
He stopped at the door as the screams filled his head, threatening to escape from his mouth. He bit his tongue to keep them quiet.
The world around him spun, blurring, darkening his vision.
He watched the figure enter the apartment, slowly, dazedly. He heard a crash. On the tiled floor were countless shards of silver. Red dripped from the man's hand and from his uniform.
The water was numbingly cold. It bit into the fully clothed figure as red danced with transparent and drained away, leaving nothing but the scent of iron. The figure stood motionless there for a very long time. The man looked exactly like him, but he had never seen or met this stranger before. Who was he?
Through the door walked in another, this new intruder was cautious, concerned. He recognised his face, it was Gai. He questioned the man if he was alright, but received no answer. There was a tentative questioning of, Kakashi? The man's name was Kakashi.
Gai took a look around the room and saw the mirror, shattered on the ground. He made a face. Was it pity? No, Gai wouldn't pity this Kakashi character. He bent over to pick up the mess and toss it in the bin. He noticed the deep cuts in the still motionless Kakashi's hand.
Kakashi… he started, but the stranger cut him off. It's nothing.
A look on Gai's face showed that he had seen this stranger like this before. First, he undid the headband that was wrapped around this Kakashi person's head; then he slowly undid the green vest and continued until the stranger was wearing nothing but his mask and underclothes. The other did nothing to protest. Gai left the washroom and waited. Meanwhile, the stranger sat down on the floor, still under the spray of the shower, eyes staring at something far beyond the floor of the bathroom. He let the screams fill his head.
It had been two hours before Gai dared to check on the man, who had finally fallen asleep, huddled in the corner of the cold tiles as ice spilled relentlessly from the shower. No, not fallen asleep. Gai knew better than to think that he was in a state as peaceful as sleeping. Gai switched the water off.
His mind had undoubtedly shut down again from the stress.
He carried the semi conscious figure across the apartment and set him down on the bed. He replaced the mask with a surgical one, the kind medics used. Gai had never seen what was under the mask, regardless of the opportunities that he had, it was a sort of unspoken courtesy that he abided by. He continued with his routine, covering appropriate areas with towels when he switched the leftover wet clothes for dry ones.
Gai looked at the hand again. He was no medic, but the cuts were starting to bleed red again. A couple layers of gauze signaled the near end of Gai's routine.
The stranger's face began to contort in anguish as he lay on the bed. Though Gai could not hear it, torrents of yells and screams engulfed the man, corroding him, forcing his eyes to open as he continued to lay unconscious with his eyes closed on the bed. Gai sat and watched him sadly, and was concerned when an eerie laugh punctuated the various tortured sounds that filled the room. It was only until the pained gasps that escaped the stranger's lips subsided and the erratic breathing evened and he was sure that Kakashi had finally fallen asleep that Gai left the apartment.
He staggered in through the door, not even bothering to close it, he didn't really care. No one would have the sense to walk right into his apartment. Even in this state he was still lethal, probably more so than usual.
He walked deeper into the room. He rounded the corner and found himself in his own bloodstained bathroom. The mission he had just returned from was the kind where the objective wasn't to retrieve, escort, or protect, it was to kill. He had spent the last three weeks tailing, observing, and murdering countless enemies and when he returned to find himself in the bathroom, the sound of splintering bones and the scent of iron was still glaringly fresh in his senses.
He had kept his gaze downward throughout his journey through the apartment, up until he saw the cool, reflective ceramic of his washroom sink did his resolve waver and his head turned up to look at the mirror. The screams began. He felt them burning deeper into his skin than the dried blood would ever stain; he felt them escape from their imprisonment from the padded room in the back of his mind and out into his conscience. The screams were all familiar to him, but not all of them were his.
He wanted it to stop.
The burning sensation grew stronger and in a fleeting act of desperation, he sent his right fist straight through that shocked- pained- terrified reflection of a stranger standing in his washroom. The burning in his veins threatened to boil him alive, and though he already felt like ashes within, he kept his pace slow, his movements detached. Years of training kept him numb. He blindly stretched his hand out and when his fingers brushed against the cool metal surface of the knob, he turned it with all his might, hoping that somehow, the iciness of the water would penetrate deep enough inside him to stop the burning, stop the screaming.
He stood as the numbing streams battered down on his scorching conscience, he felt himself slipping in and out of reality. He braced himself against the cold tile and sank downward, fuzzily watching the red dance in swirls.
He was back in front of the mirror again; whole and reflecting the utmost reality of himself. The silver-haired figure with the mask and mismatched eyes that stood in the room was not Hatake Kakashi.
Begin with the eye. You stole it.
There was not one shinobi who had never heard of the name "Sharingan no Kakashi." Everyone knew the masked man, but that was just it. Sharingan Kakashi, the Copy Ninja. He was famous because of a borrowed eye. He had become renowned from a mistake that he had made in childhood. He was skilled because of the death of his best friend. His name was not his own. He borrowed- stole Obito's eye and everyone congratulated him for it. His power was not his. No, his power belonged to Obito.
Follow with the mask. You can't live without it.
Kakashi wore a mask, that was plain to see. Many tried to see what was under it, to no avail. While everyone went about their musings as to why the man wore such a mask, it was all Kakashi could do to keep his mind from wandering back to the expression his father had made. Murdered, brutally. His father had come home to find his wife a mess of green and blue fabric mixed with red- so much red, and wide, staring eyes on the floor of the living room and his four year old son in the hallway, hands clapped over his mouth, smothering the indiscernible sounds of horror that had attempted to escape. Kakashi's own hands had replaced his mother's over his mouth as he watched her fight and lose against the two intruders. Then his father had turned to him, you look so much you're your mother, he had said. And though Kakashi was still a child, he knew that his father was assaulted every time he set eyes on his son's exposed face and he did well to remember that fact. Because now, Kakashi wore a mask, not for mystique, but for the reason that it was all the much easier to keep sounds of horror from escaping in his rare moments of weakness and also, because his damn father wouldn't set eyes on his own son unless he was wearing it. For that, he could say that because the reassuring pressure of the ever-present mask, that reminded him of his mother, kept his ability to stay calm, his rationality was not his. No, his rationality was his mother's.
Return to the hair. You were never your own.
You look so much like your father was something Kakashi had heard in the earlier years of his life. He already knew what the truth was. He looked nothing like his father, apart from the hair. Kakashi's silver hair was the symbol of Hatake descent. Throughout the years, the Hatake name had appeared numerous times as prodigies, heroes; his father being no exception, and neither himself. It was only because of this remarkable heritage that Kakashi was born a prodigy. His genius was not his. No, his intelligence was his father's.
You're still standing here. Why aren't you dead?
Everyone who had come in contact with Kakashi knew how strong he was; the strength of the boy who grew up on the battlefield. Physical strength was never his forte, he tired easily, but they weren't concerned with that. They were awed at his astounding ability to move on. People who were important dying left and right, they saw the bodies, they whispered about it as he passed them in the streets, about loss, about what had kept him alive for so long. Surely, to Kakashi, his strength to move on was his, right? As surely as his eye is stolen, his rationality a loan, and his intelligence the luck of the draw, his strength, was not his. When one loses everything that would miss him after he dies, there remains nothing but the wait, the constant repetition of thoughts, the creative methods, the back-to-back missions, anything, anything, that would make death loom a little nearer. Kakashi had been in that pit far too long and for far too many times he could remember. Every mission was a chance to drown himself in the bloodshed, hoping that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't return. But he did and every time he did return, he would practically drown himself in water, illness probably. He would have been dead, along with all the little things he had selfishly hoarded from people far greater than he, if it weren't for the man who continually lent Kakashi's own life to himself. Gai was the only reason that Kakashi hadn't followed in his genius father's footsteps. He had come close to it, and every time would be stopped by Gai. Every time he thought about it, Gai would notice and babble on about rivalries and springtime and youth. Hell, Kakashi was his eternal rival because deep down, no matter how much he denied it, Gai knew that without this rivalry, Kakashi had absolutely nothing that he couldn't take to the grave, something that would keep him grounded. He wasn't as strong as people thought he was. No, his strength was Gai's.
Kakashi laughed bitterly at the irony of his life in correlation to his name. Kakashi. Scarecrow. Hatake. Field. The sheer irony of it all was mush too dramatic to bear.
Scarecrows were useless without a crop to defend. He had lost his too. He lost each of his students to the Legendary Sannin. Scarecrows were absolutely nothing in and of themselves. Old and useless things that people could spare were used to construct scarecrows, scarecrows are nothing special. Kakashi was just lucky to grow up around people who could spare some of their greatness. An effective scarecrow was appreciated, but the cause of the success wasn't because of the scarecrow, but because of the elements given to it. There was absolutely nothing frightening about hay tied to a cross.
If you take away the mask, the eye, the silver hair, the skill, the intelligence, the strength, the rationality, what would you have left? Who was Kakashi really? No one, nothing but another scarecrow, expendable, useless. In a way, there never was a real Hatake Kakashi. The only thing that kept him from gouging out his eye, ripping out his hair, removing his mask, killing himself, was the constant thought that...
He was already dead.
He was just living a borrowed life.
He was on the edge now, his feet teetering from the prospect of the opportunity his current location could bring. The screams still echoed around him. They urged him, guided him. He felt a nudge from behind him. Taking in a deep breath, he stepped forward.
And he was tumbling through a black, blissfully unknowing abyss.
Gai exits the apartment.
Kakashi kicked the bin angrily into the corner and leaves the apartment.