credit to the owner and creator
Chapter 3 - The Ninja on the Rooftopwritten by kakashi
The blackness was absolute. The only things able to emerge from it were nameless shadows with no substance, soundless and deadly.
The liquid dripping from the ceiling caressed his skin like the fingers of ghosts.
He turned his face upwards, opening his mouth.
When was the last time he had had sustenance? These deaths could give him life.
The blood of the innocent and the blood of the guilty tasted exactly the same. But it did not weigh the same. Whereas the blood of the guilty was light and could be washed off with time, the blood of the innocent was heavy and lingered forever. It clung to the soul and dragged it down until it was crushed by it.
Only those with no souls were the ones who could be victorious.
Not long and his would stop clinging onto him so stubbornly as well.
The darkness came at him with no warning, when he lost his grip on wakefulness.
A thousand needles, piercing deep, where it hurt the most.
A thousand knives, each cutting to the bone.
A thousand shadow clones ripping out pieces of his flesh.
To die would have been a blessing.
Why could he not forget his name and be forever done with it?
He attacked instantly.
Moving this fast turned his surroundings into a dizzying blur of color and light. Without the Sharingan, the tunnel vision was terrible - and yet, he recognized pink hair and a flash of green eyes right before his kunai reached her throat. Shock lacing through him, he dropped his weapon while pivoting his body to the side in midair, leaving himself wide open for a counterattack.
She defended herself. Lightning quick, Sakura struck three, four, five pressure points on his chest with her extended index fingers. Numbing pain blossomed outwards from where her chakra ripped into his vital organs as he was thrown backwards onto the sofa.
“Sensei!” Sakura cried, “oh no, oh no! What have I done!”
Remarkable, Kakashi thought as his heart stopped and his vision began to darken, just how good she had become. His match even? She had potential for the next Hokage.
Just as quickly as she had wielded deadly force, her hands transformed themselves into healing tools, sending strong bursts of chakra into his body. Mere moments after, the blood began pounding through his restored veins, air returned to his lungs. Death still did not want him.
“I just reacted, I did not… Sensei, I...”
He grabbed her hand and pressed it briefly.
“Drop the Sensei,” he whispered. Clearly, he had outlived that role. The honorifics had never sat well with him anyway.
“Sens… how… I am so, so…”
“It’s fine, Sakura,” he urged her, his voice gaining strength, “I almost killed you. I am sorry.”
“You were having a very bad dream,” she said and now he saw the tears glistening in her eyes with an upsurge of guilt, “I wanted to wake you up. And then… it happened too fast.”
Her lower lips was quivering as she bravely held back her tears. She must be so shocked. Now that he realized fully what had almost happened, his breath wanted to stop again.
There could be no doubt, he had to leave. This very moment.
It had never been remotely proper that he had come here, but his justified curiosity to see what game Tsunade was playing easily outweighed the meager sense of propriety he possessed. Now that he knew he was a threat to her like this, he had to make sure to remove himself from her vicinity.
Only, he did not want to leave. Her hands were still sending chakra into his body, even when it had to be clear to her that she had reversed all the damage and he was completely fine. It was so warm, so comforting, like soaking in a hot bath after a difficult mission, like being tucked in bed while it stormed outside, like… the embrace of a loved person after a very bad day.
“I made some coffee,” Sakura said in a small voice. She stopped applying chakra, regrettably, but this whole disaster must have cost her so much energy already, how could he be selfish and wish for more? He sat up quickly, noticing she threw him worried glances from the side as if she could not shake feeling guilty.
“Exactly what I need,” he said evenly and smiled at her, making sure his voice did not betray how much he himself was shaken.
Turning his face away, he took very small sips of the scaldingly hot coffee she served him in a large, blue mug and tried to focus his mind. It was around 5 pm, he guessed after checking the light outside, so he had slept for almost three hours, effectively wasting a lot of her precious time.
“I am ready,” he said after three more sips, putting down the mug and facing her. She must have realized how hard it was for him to let her perform Genjutsu, but his sensitivities were inconsequential in this situation.
“Sensei, I…,” she still looked much too spooked.
“Drop the Sensei,” he repeated, “and if I say I am ready, I am. Let’s get this done. I cannot stay here for much longer.”
She frowned, then nodded reluctantly. “No Genjutsu this time, I am not skilled enough. I will just ask you a few questions to find out what you remember and what you don’t remember to find a pattern.”
Not skilled enough? That was a lie. He had hardly felt anything when she had entered his mind the day before, which was scary enough. Sparing him the sensation a second time was done for his sake only and this realization just made it much clearer to him that he had no business here.
“What is the last thing you remember, Sensei?” she asked with her gentle voice, though obviously finding it difficult to look him into the eyes.
“Having a nightmare and almost cutting your throat after waking up,” he began, thinking she might never feel comfortable enough around him to address him more casually than as her teacher. “Oh, and suffering for it rightfully, though I’d have deserved much more. Before, I looked at Hokage Mountain with you. Before we went grocery shopping, before, I put on my clothes in that hospital. Before, you came to get me out. Before, I was… I was interrogated by Yamato. Before, I woke up in chains with Lady Tsunade in the room. Before…”
Blank. A mission? It would have had to be. He frowned, racking his brain for anything that made sense, coming up with absolutely nothing. It was like staring at a wall of very thick fog hiding what was behind it completely.
“Take your time,” Sakura said.
He remembered dying. But that had to be a dream? He looked at his hands, flexing his fingers. Did he remember all the jutsu he had previously known? He ran through them in his mind, it was a very long list.
“I do not remember losing my Sharingan,” he told her, though saying it out loud was strangely embarrassing.
“Do you remember the 4th Shinobi World War? You commanded the Third Division.”
Glimpses. Maybe. But his dreams were always so violent, how could he be sure these were real memories? He thought it more honest to shake his head.
“Be glad,” Sakura said quietly and sounded so sad, Kakashi instinctively took her hand to give some comfort. She tensed immediately at the contact of their skin so he dropped it, scolding himself for such pointless gestures that did not respect the necessary boundaries.
“Let’s try and find out the last thing you remember?” she suggested, forcing her mouth into a tight-lipped smile.
Was he making her this uncomfortable? She was probably afraid of him after he had attacked her, Kakashi thought with some trepidation, which made his resolve to leave grow once more.
“You don’t need to do this, Sakura,” he told her firmly, “I can go back. I know that you…”
“No,” she cut him off. “No, I trust you. I should know better than to touch a sleeping Jonin, especially one who...”
One who... what? He sighed. One who was so bad he let people come close enough to touch him in his sleep?
“How often do you have bad dreams?” she asked carefully. “It’s okay if you do not want to answer,” she quickly added.
“Then I won’t answer,” he said lightly and smiled again.
The hell he would tell her that he had never had any good dreams in his entire life, as far as he remembered. It would not help recover his memories and he knew she would react shocked and with sympathy - and she was already much too kind and nice to him as it were.
She frowned at him, but was looking at him more directly. He knew she was feisty by nature and not timid, so this was progress.
“Who is watching your dogs while you're gone?”
Dogs? Oh yes, his Ninken. “My… girlfriend?” That didn’t sound right, he thought as his lips formed the words. His dogs didn’t even need to be watched, all he ever did was summon them, they were fully self-sufficient.
“You have a girlfriend?” she sounded truly astonished.
“Wouldn't I have?” he asked back.
“Is it... Anko?”
Anko Mitarashi! He smiled fondly at the memories. Girlfriend was probably the wrong word, but they had had a very good time together. Ages ago.
“It is?” Sakura sounded incredulous and Kakashi lifted his eyebrows in amusement.
“Sakura,” he said, “I do not think that doctors usually take an interest in their patient’s private lives.”
She blushed crimson red and he instantly regretted embarrassing her. As if he was behaving like a normal patient. Sitting in a married woman’s living room when her husband wasn’t around.
“We saw you two together before the Chunin exams,” Sakura explained hastily, “I thought it would be good to see whether you remember.”
“Yes, I do remember. You were tiny, awkward squirts back then”, he laughed, “I am still surprised all of you passed!”
Thinking about Anko distracted him. How was she doing, he wondered? Another world war could only mean one thing... too many dead bodies. But from Sakura’s reaction, he could guess Anko was still alive, which was a relief.
“So you remember all that,” Sasuke said, sounding thoughtful. “Do you remember Sasuke joining Orochimaru?”
Of course he did.
“And you know where he is. So it’s not like you do not remember anything after the war. It’s just like… some things have been erased.”
“What did you see when you used Genjutsu?” Kakashi asked Sakura, thinking that dancing around the truth did nobody a favor, least himself.
“Seals,” she admitted.
Kakashi began ripping his clothes off as fast as he could.
“What are you doing?” Sakura squealed, but he could not pay attention to her sensitivities now. How stupid he was. Of course there would be seals, it was the first thing they used to check for after retrieving prisoners from their enemies. Juinjutsu was the go-to technique of whom they were up against, why had nobody thought of this before?
“You have to help me check for curse seals,” he urged her. “Use your chakra.”
“Curse…,” she gasped, “but Sensei, who would...?”
“Look for a strange mark,” he said, frantically starting to look himself, “anything that looks off.”
“But couldn’t they also be…”
“Just look!” he bellowed. Of course they could be hidden, only activating when the one applying the seal wanted it activated, but he did not want to think of that possibility right now.
Her shaking hands danced over his skin. Not fast enough. Not fast enough! He would have to do it himself.
Gritting his teeth, feeling such a repulsion he thought he might have to throw up, he stormed into the direction of where he guessed the bathroom was.
Her heart pounding very fast, her hands knotted in her lap, Sakura stared at the door he had slammed shut behind himself with such force, it might as well have shattered all the glass in her apartment.
Obviously, taking home a lethal ninja had been the mistake she had briefly thought it was. He was… very unstable. Tsunade must have known this. So why had she let her do it with hardly any resistance?
Slowly, Sakura pushed herself up and went to the kitchen on shaking legs. Feeling bitter at not counting much in the greater scheme of things wouldn’t help at all, she knew that. She took out her favorite glass with the silly smiling cats from the cabinet, opened the fridge and looked for the lemonade she had made a few days ago.
It was much too sour and she scrunched her face up as a reaction.
There were no marks on Kakashi Sensei’s body, at least not on the part she had gotten to see and… she briefly shuddered at the thought, but that was probably just the lemonade… touch. And indeed, no marks, not even on his upper arm. Just warm, slightly tanned, impeccable skin.
So that red tattoo she had noticed in the hospital, it was a seal like she had suspected. One that only activated under special circumstances. But it was not Juinjutsu, which was done against the will of the wearer most of the time. It was Fūinjutsu, she was quite certain. But what was it sealing in? And why was it disguised as a black ops mark? Kakashi had not seen surprised to see that tattoo in the hospital, so he knew he had it. Maybe he had just forgotten what it was for. Or he knew it and could not speak about it?
Sakura stiffened when she heard him open the bathroom door. His soft footsteps crossed the living room. Then, a window was opened swiftly and… silence.
Jumping into action, she raced into the living room herself - which was empty. A gentle wind was blowing through the open window, bringing with it the faint scent of cherry blossoms.
Tsunade would rip her head off. Or much worse.
Hastily, Sakura climbed out on the ledge, very briefly feeling dizziness wash over her before she sternly reminded herself she was a trained ninja who most certainly felt no vertigo. Gingerly, she climbed upwards to see whether she could at least guess where he had gone… and found Kakashi sitting at the top, smoking a cigarette he must have had among his belongings, one leg dangling, the other tucked up for him to rest his chin on, looking in her direction with an unreadable expression behind his mask.
“Oh,” she said, feeling very glad he had not left. He had put his sleeveless shirt back on was wearing his trousers all properly.
“I have… never been up here,” she said, awkwardly pulling herself up next to him.
Kakashi said nothing, just moved over a little and turned his head away to look towards Hokage Mountain. He was tense, she could see it, tense and unhappy. In the light of the slowly setting sun, he looked very young, barely older than her and for a very brief moment, she found herself transported back to those days, the days before the Chunin exams. It had been so… carefree, at least for her, before they had met Orochimaru in the forest for the first time, before the mess with Sasuke and Orochimaru’s Cursed Seal of Heaven. But she realized it had never been carefree for this man.
At almost forty years of age, and after serving in two Shinobi world wars, a Jonin should no longer have to go on so many active missions. They should be able to proctor exams, occasionally teach chunins and otherwise enjoy life with their families. What sad fate that circumstances did not allow such well-deserved leisure.
Sakura did remember being curious about Kakashi’s life when they had been under his tutelage. But he was a very private man, not sharing even the tiniest bit of information. For a while, Naruto had put a lot of energy into uncovering his face, but to no avail. It had been in the course of this that they had seen him going into an ice cream place with Anko. She remembered how much that had excited her. She wanted her Sensei to be happy!
Ah… Sakura understood why Kakashi Sensei’s mind had suddenly veered off in such a strange direction. Anko! As one of Orochimaru’s students, she also wore the Cursed Seal of Heaven.
“Do you want to go see Anko-san?” she asked him, thinking she had to encourage this. If his missions were anything like Sasuke’s, he stayed away for months.
He said nothing, not giving any indication he had even heard her.
“Would she not be waiting?” she added. Too nosy, dammit! she scolded herself, he had already made it clear he did not want to talk about his relationships, what was she thinking?
“Most definitely not,” he replied curtly.
Oh? What did that mean? She looked at him to see whether he looked regretful, but he did not. They had broken up? It had never been anything… more than a fling? Why was she so… curious?
“You do not have to make me feel better,” he told her with a sigh. “You have already done much more than you should.”
“But Sensei, there is no curse seal, am I right?”
He sighed again. “You are right, I could not find anything either. But the mere thought triggered a very deep seated fear in me. Don’t you think it’s something to explore further?”
A fear? He had never had a curse seal though, or did he? Should she ask him about the tattoo?
“The only seal I am sure you have is…” she pointed at his arm.
He glanced at the spot where it had been visible and nodded in agreement. There it was again, she was certain: He knew exactly what that mark meant and how he had gotten it.
“Besides, Orochimaru is dead,” Sakura ventured on.
“He is not,” Kakashi Sensei said with such authority she stared at him in surprise.
“Just forget all this,” he added with a small smile, “we will do our best to keep danger away from the village so that everybody here can live the lives they deserve.”
“What danger, Sensei?” she blurted out. It had not escaped her notice how worried Tsunade looked lately. So it was something concrete! But of course… it would be classified.
“I told you to forget it,” Kakashi said. “Can you break the seals?”
“I know you can,” he said and looked straight at her, the intensity of his eyes giving her a little start. “You tend to understate your talents, but you have grown very powerful over the years. Your defense before…”
His eyes dropped to her hands and for a brief moment, she felt like pulling them away, thinking he might grab them otherwise, but he just looked, making her blush all over.
“... I wish I still had my Sharingan,” he sighed.
“You keep saying that,” Sakura said with a frown, “but Sensei, you are by no means the worse Shinobi without it.”
Kakashi laughed. “It gives me relief to see that goodness remains in this world and I may tell myself that I had a little part in it.”
“A large part!” she retorted, blushing even more deeply when he looked up, seemingly surprised.
“It is true, Sensei,” she stammered, “I always wanted to become as strong and righteous as you.”
“As me?” he snorted. “I remember you being focused on one person, which in the end turned out to be exactly what you needed to become strong.”
“Oh, you mean Sasuke?”
It was true, Sakura mused, she had been extremely obsessed with Sasuke for many, many years, but that did not mean her Sensei had not left an equally important impression.
“Whom else could I mean,” he chuckled. “Though I remember telling you many times that being predictable is not a good trait for a Shinobi.”
Was he talking about her getting married to her childhood crush? Kakashi stubbed out the cigarette and flicked it off the roof. She frowned.
“Sorry,” he said, noticing it. “I’ll go get it.”
“N… no,” Sakura hurried to say, still feeling a bit precarious this high up and rather glad he was next to her, certainly capable of catching her should she fall. “It’s alright.”
“Will you remove the seals?” he asked again, sounding more urgent.
There were so many things that could go wrong, she didn’t even know where to begin thinking about the risks.
“Yes,” she said before she could start thinking about them.
Her answer seemed to be exactly what he had needed to hear. Now truly smiling for the first time after being shocked awake by her touch, he sprang up. His hair looked aflame for a short moment as the last ray of sunshine sneaking in from behind the mountain lit it up in its red-golden light.
“S… sit down,” she squeaked in horror, imagining all kinds of horrible scenarios of him falling down and dying, but that was just silly. He was capable of walking across roofs on his little fingers with no danger to himself.
“You are so out of shape,” he said viciously and pulled her up by the hands before she could prevent it. Vertigo overcame her and in panic, she grabbed onto what was near - him, throwing her hands around his midriff, instantly feeling… safe.
“Come on,” he said into her ear, his arms tightening around her in turn for a brief moment, “Haruno, I taught you better, didn’t I?”
And he pushed her away from himself with force, making her fall backwards, her heart in her throat for a short, heartstopping moment… grabbing her hand and pulling her along as he began running, her feet slipping, then finding traction, racing across the rooftops, faster and faster, making her feel… so alive.
She laughed breathlessly as her body remembered everything and her chakra focused more and more effortlessly on the soles of her feet.
He was testing her limits, gradually upping his speed. She did not think she could ever be as fast as him, but she would push herself to go faster, just to make him smile at her all pleased.
He jumped, she followed his lead. Another jump, further, more forceful, and she tried to land as featherlight and soundless as him, not like a ton of bricks, which would only scare the inhabitants of Konoha who were probably cooking dinner below them.
Sakura threw him a look from the side. No, he was mistaken if he thought she had only ever noticed Sasuke. There was no other Shinobi that compared to Hatake Kakashi. It wasn’t only his immense skills and fabled talent. It was the whole package. The mystery. The devotion. The fierce loyalty.
But she had been a girl back then, not capable of anything but shallow crushes. Now she was that no longer. And as they slowed down, returned to the rooftop of her apartment, her cheeks red from the wind and the exhilaration she felt, she wondered.
How different would her life be, had she met Hatake Kakashi for the first time as an adult? #KakaSaku #うちは春野 #Sakura #Naruto #Sasuke