Pairing: Eventual Kakashi/Iruka
Rating: PG (This chapter)
Warnings: Depiction of character death in an alternate, future timeline.
Summary: What difference can one man make? After Madara’s final attack, Kakashi finds a time-travel scroll. Now he’s team seven’s sensei again. This time, he’s going to do things differently. Time travel fic.
Word Count: 3,000+ (This chapter)
Author Notes: Based on this prompt for the KakaIru Fest, (check it out for great prompts!) I have asked and received permission to post it separately from the fest.
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4
Chapter Notes: Sorry about the wait, everyone! Kakashi is a tough nut to crack and while I knew how I wanted this chapter to play out, it still took awhile to get it where I wanted it to be emotionally.
Kakashi took his time meandering to the training grounds. It was a fine morning with the sounds of birds chirping, the air sweet with cherry-tree blossoms. The last few weeks had kept him busy; Team Seven had been successful in finding his hidden locations within a few hours the last three days out of four.
All in all, Kakashi had been good at arriving on time – more or less – and thought he was due for a break. Let the kids spend awhile wandering around trying to find someone who wasn't there. It would teach them critical thinking.
But it seemed the fates would not allow him a peaceful morning. Kakashi was Jounin – he had been Hokage in another lifetime. So he was instantly aware, as he walked from the populous village and towards the direction of the memorial stone, that he was being followed.
Kakashi let it go on for a block or two, feigning unconcern as he slowly moved from a more populated area a place where he'd have room to maneuver – to act. When he reached the outskirts of the training grounds, he stopped and carefully tucked his book away. He did not bother to glance back as he asked, "Why aren't you with your teammates?"
"Tch." Sasuke stepped out from behind the trunk of a tree, arms crossed over his chest and what looked to be a thin manila file in one hand. "I don't need them. I found this." And with a flick of his wrist he tossed the file onto the ground between them.
Kakashi did not bend to pick it up. He saw at a glance what it was: every shinobi in the village had a double-set of files. The first was under lock and key at the records office – non-critical information, mostly; including clan names, blood type, number and rank of missions and other meaningless trivia. These were kept under watch by a group of bureaucratic chuunin and genin… which meant that any shinobi of skill could get his hands on a file. They were practically public.
The second set of files, with top secret or sensitive information was kept under direct supervision of the Hokage and a strike-team of ANBU.
Sasuke has purloined the first, the non-critical file.
But judging by the smirk tugging at Sasuke's lips, he thought he discovered a great secret. "You have the sharingan," he said, smugly. "Teach me how to develop mine."
Kakashi looked mildly at him, every muscle in his body deceptively loose, as if he didn't care. Inwardly, he was scanning the surrounding area for chakra signatures – wondering if there were to be any witnesses if he snapped the little fool's neck. "No."
Sasuke stepped forward, putting himself unthinkingly in Kakashi's easy reach. It would be so easy for him to end this now…
"You have it, though" the boy pressed. "You have the sharingan, but you're not an Uchiha. Show it to me."
"Return to your teammates, Sasuke." Kakashi said, his voice like steel. "That is an order."
Sasuke's arrogant mask cracked – his smirk faltered and Kakashi clearly caught a flash of frustration as the boy's hands went into fists at his sides. "You give extra training to the idiot and Sakura. I can—I will learn quickly, do whatever is asked!"
It was the most Kakashi had ever heard Sasuke say – short of when he had gone insane, and he was shocked for a moment into silence.
Sasuke went on, "You've taught Sakura to water-walk and… I am an Uchiha! Why do you ignore me? It's not fair!"
"Fair," Kakashi repeated, the word bitter on his tongue. Since when was life, especially the life of a shinobi, fair? Was it fair when Obito died? That Minato-sensei gave his life without ever knowing his son? Was it fair that Kakashi's future star-pupil abandoned the village only to come back to see it destroyed? What was fair?
Perhaps that was why Kakashi pushed his headband up.
The Sharingan recorded everything and never forgot. When he opened Obito's eye to look at Sasuke, he was treated to a double-image. Sasuke, older, taller, as he was during the final moments of the battle – just before he had faced Naruto for the last time: blood of his former friends on his hands, more streaming down his mangekyou sharingan eyes. Laughing… laughing and utterly inane.
Kakashi narrowed his eyes. He could sense no one around within easy hearing distance. A minor effort of will and he could flash step behind the boy, one hand over Sasuke's mouth to cover any scream. Kakashi's other hand could grab a kunai from his weapon pouch, draw it across his neck. It would be over in less than a minute and there were any number of Earth jutsu's he knew of that would handle the cleanup, cover the scent of blood. He could—
Sasuke let out a ragged breath and the sound brought Kakashi back into himself. He was still standing in the field, weapons put away and hands clean of blood.
And he was emitting killing intent – dark and cold.
Sasuke's eyes were fixed on him and so wide the whites were showing. He tried to take a step back, but his legs buckled in terror and he fell back, gasping as if he couldn't breathe.
In a flash Kakashi recovered his sharingan and clamped down on the killing intent - it was harder than it should have been – and after it was gone he felt as if he had been hollowed out to nothing but a shell.
"That," Kakashi heard himself say, "is the Sharingan."
He turned and strode away, leaving the boy sitting there stunned on the ground. It was a retreat, although he wasn't sure that Sasuke would see it that way. What Kakashi had almost done, on a whim and in full daylight, and the pleasure he would have taken in doing it… alarmed him.
Kakashi's hands were shaking and Kakashi slipped them into his pocket, hoping no one would see.
In the old days, before he had accidentally trained a sociopath, become Hokage to a broken village and come back to try it all over again, Kakashi would have retreated to the solitude of his apartment. It was small and rather sterile, but an adequate hideaway. He had spent weeks at a time there in the past, pulling his spirit back together after particularly hard ANBU missions.
Now, however, his apartment felt too tiny – too quiet. The lack of noise reminded him of the days of silence following Madara and Sasuke's final attack. There just hadn't been enough people left to make noise.
He had been a loner practically all of his life and for the first time Kakashi needed the sound of people to feel comforted. It was odd, and strange for him.
He picked a restaurant at random, barely glancing up at the name and sitting himself down at the end of the bar – waving away the owner when he came to take his order. He wasn't here to eat: he was here to think.
Kakashi slouched, chin in his hand with his other lightly drumming upon the top of the bar. He had been a chuunin since he was six years old. Killing was a fact of life – he had done enough of it while in ANBU, and had never taken any pleasure in it. Occasionally, there were slight stirrings remorse. But never pleasure.
It would have felt very good to kill Sasuke. Too good.
Kakashi had put down monsters before, but never had he felt personal vindication for it.
There was a quiet murmur to the side of him as the owner welcomed a new customer and asked what he would be eating.
"Just the usual, Teuchi," said a familiar voice and Kakashi jerked his head up to see Iruka take his seat at the bar only a seat down. The Chuunin carried with him a thick stack of papers and offered a smile as he met Kakashi's gaze.
"Hello Kakashi-sensei," he said politely. "I've never seen you here before."
"Iruka-sensei," replied, not bothering to acknowledge the unsaid question, and went back to his thoughts.
The ramen shop owner returned a few minutes later with a steaming bowl and set it before Iruka. The chuunin ate quickly, his free hand grading what looked to be simple tests. And even though Kakashi had been sitting there first he somehow felt that he was intruding.
Iruka spoke just as he decided to leave.
"You have that look on your face."
Kakashi's turned to him, eyebrow lifted. "I was not aware you could see under my mask, sensei."
The chuunin didn't even glance up from the paperwork. "I don't need to see your face to know you have that look. It's one I've worn myself. What happened?"
For a moment, Kakashi wasn't sure if he could even answer. He hadn't known Iruka well in the previous timeline, aside from his association from Naruto. Even then, he was under the impression that the man could hardly stand him – probably as a result from the disastrous chuunin exam. And by the time Kakashi had become hokage, Iruka was another name on the memorial stone.
The Iruka of old had never smiled at him, would certainly not take up conversation in public. Kakashi had come back in time to make changes, but this was... unexpected.
"How do you know something has happened?" Ask a question with a question. It was the easiest way to keep control in a conversation.
"You're here and not with your team," Iruka said simply. "Naruto would have told me if you had a habit of not showing up for team training."
Kakashi nearly smiled at the irony, then tipped his head in acknowledgment. "Have you ever failed a student because you knew he would never be ready?"
Iruka snorted. "Are you kidding? I failed Naruto three times... but this isn't about him, is it." The chuunin looked up for the first time, his dark eyes searching. Kakashi didn't answer, and after a moment Iruka went back at his grading, his expression troubled. "Children are like an unstained sheet of paper, Kakashi-sensei," he said, quietly. "It is our job to make marks, and erase others... if we can."
Briefly, Kakashi wondered what he had seen in his gaze – what had troubled Iruka, so. But asking would only draw more attention to it and besides, this conversation was edging too close to the truth for his comfort.
"Thank you, sensei. I'll remember that," he said, and stood to leave.
For the first time since he had traveled back in time, he felt the weight of years on his shoulders. It felt, in that moment, Kakashi carried with him the burden of the whole village.
"Kakashi-sensei," Iruka said. "This may seem forward, but… if you ever need to talk. I'm here."
Kakashi hardly knew what to say to that, so he said nothing at all; simply inclining his head at the other man before he left.
Kakashi had never really had the opportunity to explore what remained of the Uchiha compound – certainly never while it had been filled with the powerful, secretive clan. And he had never bothered after Itachi had slaughtered them all.
As he walked up to the compound, and easily over twenty-foot walls which had once been jealously guarded, He was struck anew by how many buildings there were – all empty, wasted space rotting in the wind. It would be too much to expect a small family to do the upkeep, much less one orphaned boy.
It was almost like a small village in of itself, and as Kakashi meandered along, he wondered about the wisdom of allowing Sasuke to stay here, alone, with only the ghosts of his past for company.
He himself had wanted to stay in the old Hatake residence after his father had died, but Minato-sensei wouldn't hear of it. He'd packed up Kakashi and-
His line of thought skidded to a halt as he sensed a slight spark of chakra coming directly from behind him. Kakashi half turned, raising a kunai in an almost lazy arc and struck three shuriken out of the air.
He turned fully around to see his attacker: Sasuke stood twenty feet away, arrogant in his stance, but his pale face ashen – obviously still frightened from his last encounter. He should be.
"What are you doing here?" Sasuke asked.
Kakashi waved his hand, airily. "Jounin-sensei's prerogative."
The boy's face remained blank, but he shifted his weight slightly – a non-verbal tell showing how uneasy he was. "The request is already in, and I refuse to take it back."
"Take what back?" Kakashi asked, and then watched in dark amusement as Sasuke's eyes widened, and he looked around, as if seeking an escape. Of course, there was none.
"The request for transfer, to learn under a new sensei." To his credit, Sasuke raised his chin in another show of arrogance despite the fact he was so afraid. "One who will actually teach me."
Kakashi went quiet for a moment, staring down at the boy. "It won't be approved." Which was the truth, for a number of reasons. Chief among them that Sasuke was assigned to Kakashi due to his sharingan knowledge. Secondly because he had tried the same thing when he was ten and Minato-sensei refused to recommend him for the Jounin exam. Sensei's were more or less given free reign in training their students. It was only in extreme cases (read: Orochimaru's human experiments) that such a request might be considered.
Sasuke clenched his fists. "I was told that the Sandaime would look into it."
Where it would be denied, but Kakashi didn't bother to say that.
This... complicated things, somewhat. Left a paper-trail. If the last Uchiha turned up dead, there would be more questions than usual.
"Children are like an unstained sheet of paper, Kakashi-sensei. It is our job to make marks, and erase others... if we can."
Iruka's words from earlier came back to him, unheeded and unexpected. It gave Kakashi another pause.
"Answer a question, Sasuke." Kakashi said, quietly. "Why do you want to be a shinobi?"
The boy jerked, surprised. "Why?" he asked, and looked around the empty houses in disbelief. As if were all of the answer he needed. He too, was silent for a moment, lips pressed into an angry line. Then said, "So no other families go through what I did."
That answer surprised him. He'd expected something along the lines of: "To avenge my kin. To wipe away the memory of my clan so that it is purified and so that no one will look down at us again..." or some of his other, more mad ravings he'd done towards the end.
Kakashi frowned under his mask, feeling a small shred of doubt take shape in his brain. It seemed those were opinions which had formed in him over time.
Sasuke was still staring at him, his expression that of someone bracing himself to be laughed at. He had no idea he had just saved his own life.
Kakashi simply shrugged. "Your request for transfer will be denied," he repeated again. "But if you are willing to learn – if you want to prove yourself to me, then arrive in the training grounds with your team, tomorrow." He turned to leave.
"Will you teach me the sharingan?" Sasuke asked.
"No." Kakashi said simply, over his shoulder as he walked away. "But if you pay close attention, you may earn something better." Respect. Teamwork. But he didn't say any of that out loud.
Those things, the last Uchiha would have to learn for himself.
And Kakashi would teach him that. Or kill him trying.
Next time: Kakashi may be training his students in new ways, but Team 7 still have surprises in store...