Title: Strong at the Broken Places
Summary: Kakashi ponders the loss of innocence and the possibility of strength in vulnerability.
Pairing: Mild KakaHina
Source: My Journal
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Kishimoto
Author's note: Would somebody mind reviewing this for my sake? It would be greatly appreciated. Please be honest. Thanks.
Kakashi knew that look. He'd seen it before, far too many times on far too many faces that were far too young. He'd seen that look on everyone but himself. Perhaps, that made it easier to detect on those around him. Often, the qualities found lacking in oneself become glaringly obvious in other people.
He remembered when he was a boy, standing in front of the mirror. The mission had ended and he was alone at home. And in the glass, he read his face like a map: the split lip that lay in the south and to the west, a trail of blood that carried him north over a bruised cheek before he finally reached two dark eyes. Eyes that absorbed everything and revealed nothing, not even to himself. Here were the eyes of a true shinobi.
And then there was Rin a few years afterwards, a medic-nin who learned the healing arts in the hope that she could save life instead of taking it away. She'd been naive back then,
he thought, watching her impassively. In her eyes there was a battle more fierce than the one that had passed earlier. A battle where guilt and sadness waged against conscience and that innate aversion to taking the life of another.
And then there was Obito within whom the same battle had raged. Loud, boisterous Obito who had fallen into a disturbing silence before he excused himself and after a little while returned with red eyes, damp skin and the faint smell of vomit on his breath.
And then there was Yondaime who had watched both his students cope. Who comforted them. Who had the same look in his eyes that held both understanding and remembrance of a time when he had felt the same, but Yondaime was a veteran and for him that battle had long since ended and left in its wake a dull resignation. It would only be a matter of time before Rin and Obito would have the same.
Kakashi had his first before either of his teammates. It had been easier than he thought; natural, reflexive. And as he stood over the body, there were no tears, there was no sickness, only blood and silence. Any turmoil within him seemed far away, a war in the distance of which he would have no part. And that same day he found himself standing in front of the mirror, watching himself with eyes so dark, they were like the battlefield after sunset, bodies strewn across the earth bathed in dying crimson light until they were swallowed by the night.
Obito had asked him what his first was like. Kakashi responded simply, "It had to be done." And that was the end of it.
And, now in the hospital, after his own team had been through a particularly challenging mission, he saw that look in her pale eyes as she watched him from her seat. A trembling smile crossed a face that was bruised and dirty. She stood and bowed. "Kakashi-san," she said quietly.
She watched a while longer before taking her seat again. "H-how is Naruto?"
"He pushed himself too hard...as usual, but he'll recover." He watched Hinata out of the corner of his eye. "And how are you?", he asked with a mixture of dispassion and concern, unique only to him.
"I'm fine," she paused. "It's Kiba and Shino, really. T-they got the...the worst of it." Hinata bowed her head and a lock of her long dark hair slid over her shoulder. She drew it back. "Tsunade-sama is speaking to Kurenai right now."Someone like her should have cried
, he thought to himself, but she only sat there silently and waited. It was hard to imagine Hinata as a killer. Shinobi concealed their vulnerability from the world. They hid it beneath a facade of seemingly impenetrable strength, but this one, a girl of seventeen years, made no attempt to create such a facade. Her vulnerability was there for all to see, which made it all the more surprising, when this blushing, stuttering shy young creature turned that softness into trembling resolve.
Shinobi young weren't like other children, that much was obvious. To him, moments such as this were some kind of twisted coming of age where youth lost their innocence, not to the secret, awkward trysts spurred by curiosity and desire, but to steel and blood and death.
And still, sitting here with Hinata, he wondered if those white eyes would one day darken with the same dull resignation as she made her next kill and the next and the next.
When Kurenai and Tsunade came out of the room, Kakashi and Hinata stood. "They'll pull through, Hinata. Thanks to you," said Tsunade. "Had you not stopped him in time, it could have turned out much worse."
Hinata nodded and stared at the ground. "Thank you Tsunade-sama."
Kurenai placed an arm around her shoulder. "I'm taking you home. You need rest. Tsunade-sama. Kakashi."
Kakashi and Tsunade watched the two women leave. "She's never killed anyone before. You try to do everything you can to protect these children," Tsunade said to herself as she turned to leave.
The copy-nin returned to his seat. In the past, he would have said it had to be done and left it at that. He was correct. Killing was a necessity, but seeing someone with such gentless laid dangerously bare in a world as brutal as theirs did take a certain kind of strength and a unique, perhaps even foolish, type of courage.
A long time ago Naruto said she was strange. He was right.