Kakashi expects pain, as he gulps in a breath and feeling returns to his arms and legs, slowly but surely.
Certainly, he had no dearth of cracked ribs and livid bruises when he had died. Pein had been a monstrous opponent. Not an enemy Kakashi particularly wanted to fight, but he was shinobi – he didn't have the luxury to choose. Not that he would have ever took the easy way out, not when the man destroyed his village, when he knew Sakura would be next, when Pein's victory meant Naruto's death. Saving Chouza's boy… well, it wasn't a bad way to go. He held no illusions that a single life saved would in any way counter those he ended
(those he failed)
but he had always hoped to die saving another - like Rin, like Minato-sensei and Kushina, like Obito.
And then, he had opened his eyes to the visage of a man long dead, who had been a constant presence through more than two decades' worth of nightmares. Hatake Sakumo had smiled at him, and beckoned him to take a seat. There, in front of the flickering campfire, Kakashi had made his peace with the man who had shaped so much of his life, his father.
It's not over for you yet, Kakashi-kun, Sakumo had said, as a farewell. And then his father was gone, the campfire was gone, he was gone –
- and he's alive again, and nothing hurts. Well. That was certainly a change.
It takes him a minute more to realize that, wherever he is now, it was not the ruins of Konoha in which he died. He's in a bed, in an apartment he vaguely remembers as his own (it's not as if he spent much time in it, anyways) and he's seeing the world with two eyes, neither of them the Sharingan.
He's in a child's body. His own child's body, in fact, and really, if he had always been that short, he understood all the coddling he got from Minato-sensei as a kid. It's a shock, a buzz under his skin as he realizes the ramifications of this – if he was really a kid, if he really was in the past –
Kakashi blinks, and the electric feeling disappears. No, this wasn't the time to get overly excited. He gets out of bed in a smooth motion, shrugs on his gear mechanically, and raises an eyebrow at the silver-haired brat who meets his gaze in the mirror. Ten? No, he had been small for his age, he knew. Twelve then, maybe thirteen. Definitely not after, because there was no dead boy's Sharingan whirling in his socket, because Obito was alive.
Which meant – Rin was alive Minato-sensei was alive Kushina was alive no stop – he was about to be late for training. He had ten minutes to get down to the training ground if he didn't want Obito to spend half of the day crowing triumphantly that perfect Kakashi really wasn't as perfect as everyone thought he was. He had ten minutes to get down to the training ground to see his team, his dead team, ghosts of the past who he hadn't seen for more than a decade.
Except, they weren't ghosts anymore. They were alive, and they were going to stay that way, even if Kakashi had to throw himself under that boulder.
The calendar brings dire news. The mission to Kannabi Bridge, if his memory holds true (and it should, because he had spent decades replaying that particular day of his life, wondering what he could have done, what if) was in a week. He had a week to figure out a plan to save Uchiha Obito - which really wasn't too difficult a task considered alone, because he wasn't an arrogant thirteen year old jonin anymore - and make sure the rest of his team stays alive. He would have to keep a close eye on Rin, make sure she never got sent on the mission on which she was taken. He would have to drop hints about the Kyuubi months, maybe years before the fact. Kakashi had always had a personal theory that someone had interfered during Naruto's birth, during the short period of time during which Kushina's seal was the weakest - but he had no evidence to corroborate the guess.
Without Obito's Sharingan, he would be without access to a large portion of the arsenal of techniques he had accumulated over the years. But really, he would be a poor shinobi if all of his abilities hinged upon a single eye. He had no desire to have another dead eye in his skull, even if it meant he would have to be creative with his actions. But, there was one thing he was sure about. They couldn't know. It was a selfish decision, because he never wanted those he loved to have that grave knowledge that they could die, they were going to die.
With this in mind, Kakashi makes his way to the training grounds. With luck, Obito wouldn't be there yet, because he really didn't know if he could hold it together, seeing all of Team Minato back together again.
Rin's already there, by the time Kakashi jumps down from the trees. She stares at him with a kind of disbelief, and that's when Kakashi realizes that something was wrong.
She looks horrible. Her face is deathly pale, with a slightly green tinge. Her eyes look sunken in, but what's in them - it's hope and fear at the same time, such an unlikely combination that Kakashi isn't sure what to do when Rin flings herself at him.
"Rin -" He says, chokes out, really, because this hadn't happened. Kakashi would have remembered this.
"Kakashi, I'm so sorry," she whispers, her voice barely a rasp. "I - I'm so sorry. I made you -" Her voice cracks, and Kakashi's heart turns to ice. She can't be referring to what he thinks she is, because she couldn't remember.
"Rin," he says again, and ignores the wetness on his shoulder even though he knows his thirteen year old self would have freaked out by now, startled by the sudden physical contact and - sheer emotion of the moment, perhaps. But he isn't thirteen years old, and maybe, Rin isn't either.
Rin seems to realize what she's doing, because she lets out a small hysterical giggle. "Ah - Kakashi-kun, I - That was nothing, please forget about it -"
"Don't be sorry," he says. "The Sanbi wasn't your fault."
And then, everything just - stops. Even the birds seem to halt in their songs in that moment, as Rin's eyes widen in horror and she stammers, "K-Kakashi, you remember -"
Kakashi swallows. Tries to look away, because he can't meet her eyes. "...I remember," he says. "You - You had the Sanbi sealed in you, and you -"
"I leaped onto your Chidori," Rin says, her voice small. And then repeats, steel-like, "I leaped onto your Chidori. Kakashi, it wasn't your fault, if I hadn't had the seal on me, I would have done it myself, but it wouldn't let me -"
"I know, Rin," he says, mouth dry. "I know. But Rin... how are you here?"
"I don't know," she says. "I... died. That's the last thing I remember. But... Kakashi, how -"
"I died too." For an instant, he wants to laugh. This was ridiculous, this was hilarious, really. Because he had wished so hard to protect his precious people from the knowledge of the future, and it was just his luck, huh? There would be no halcyon days for Hatake Kakashi.
"You died?" Rin repeats. "A-Ah, I mean, I know that everyone dies, but... Kakashi, you -"
"It was against a man named Pein," Kakashi says. "He had multiple bodies, which he controlled at the same time. The village was destroyed, and he was coming after my student - Minato-sensei's son. I fought him, but it wasn't enough."
"Sensei's son?" Rin exclaims. "With Kushina?"
"Yeah. His name is Naruto... Exactly the kind of name you would expect from Kushina's kid, huh?" He grins weakly behind his mask. "...It was chakra exhaustion in the end. I guess I should have listened to you more, huh?"
Rin blinks, and then her mouth drops open. "Kakashi, you idiot!" She shouts, and it's as if nothing had changed. "I told you to stop using your flashy techniques and to cover up your eye when you didn't need to use it! That's not what Obito meant when he said he wanted to see the future with you and -"
She stops, and her hand drops to her side from where she had been planning to smack him. "Obito," she says again. "Do you think he -"
Kakashi blinks. "I - I don't know. It would make sense, if we're here, then..." Hope feels light in his chest. If Obito came back in time as well, then he would be the boy that Kakashi remembered - the one who saw Kakashi as a friend, not an enemy, who remembered the White Fang.
Her expression turns fierce. "It's been too long since I've seen my best friend, Kakashi ! What are we waiting for?" Rin grabs his hand, and pulls. "We're going to his apartment - maybe he's still asleep." Or, he already woke up, and is freaking out because the last thing he remembers is a violent death, she doesn't say, but Kakashi hears it anyways.
Obito's apartment is located in the outskirts of the Uchiha Compound. He had been enough of a black sheep that the majority of the Uchiha didn't want him in close proximity with the other Uchiha children, who were easily influenced by his deviant ways. They had blamed his differences on his mother's status as an outsider and his father's reputation for being different, for why else would he choose to marry someone outside of the clan? The only Uchiha that Obito had any extensive contact with was his cousin Uchiha Mikoto, who had always had a soft spot for him and frequently asked him to babysit for her.
All this, Kakashi would find out after Obito's death. Uchiha Mikoto had spoken to him at Obito's funeral, with a kindness and understanding that he did not expect from one of Obito's kinsmen. What other scraps of knowledge had been gained from years in ANBU on the same team as one ANBU Weasel, also known as Uchiha Itachi. The boy had fond memories of his distant cousin, and sometimes (under the influence of too much morphine, perhaps) had shared some of them.
It hit Kakashi back then how much of Obito he hadn't known. All he had ever seen was the hyperactive, perpetually late idiot who had always been a step or two behind everyone else. Not a boy whose only friends were Rin and the four year old Itachi, who would spend hours training with out-of-date manuals begged off of a sympathetic neighbor. Not the young man who had probably helped every old person in the village at some point or another, whether it was hefting groceries or leading a half-blind old granny across the street. That, Kakashi had only found out after dozens of elders, civilian and retired shinobi alike, showed up stone faced and stiff-lipped to Obito 's funeral.
This was the Obito who had died for him, for Hatake Kakashi who had never accomplished anything more in his life than be a weapon. Was it any wonder that Kakashi had a complex?
"I think he's inside," Rin says, peering through a small gap in the curtains that obscured much of Obito's sole window. "I don't see him though. Do you think he's alright?"
"He's Obito," Kakashi says. He hopes that's enough.
She knocks on the door once, twice, three times. There's no answer. "Try again?" Kakashi asks.
Still nothing. "Maybe he's coming to the door," Rin says weakly. "...Kakashi, what are we going to say?"
"What do you mean?"
"Obito died... and now he's alive again. I think. We're all alive again, and I - I just got used to the fact that he was really gone. Do you think he remembers... what it's like? To be dead, I mean." Rin's rambling, but it's understandable. She's young, maybe half of Kakashi's real age, and even he is about three minutes away from having a mental fit.
"Probably not," he says. "I mean, you don't - and what I remember... probably isn't normal." Kakashi feels Rin's questioning gaze on his back, and sighs. "It was my father."
"Oh," she says weakly. "Did you see - us?"
Kakashi doesn't answer, and maybe that was answer enough for Rin, because she doesn't probe anymore. "I can't believe it," Rin says suddenly. "All of this - it feels so crazy. Do you think anyone else went back to the past after they died? I mean, they probably wouldn't tell anyone if they did. But - I mean - why us? We're not... the legendary Sannin, or anything like that. Obito died when he was thirteen. The only thing special about me is that I was a jinchuruki before I died. Why -"
The door opens, and for an instant, Kakashi cannot comprehend what's standing in the doorway. It was Obito and it wasn't, a man/beast/abomination in a child's body, eyes dark with a knowledge that no person could possess. The chakra signature itself was massive, possibly even bijuu level, and that wasn't possible, because -
Kakashi blinks, and it's Obito standing in the doorway, eyes wide behind orange goggles. There's something odd about him, a kind of hunger in his body language as he looks upon them. "...Rin? Kakashi? What are you two doing here?" He says, and again, there's something off. Kakashi can't put a finger on it, but it seems obvious to him that Obito is hiding something big. But they all were, weren't they?
"Obito," Kakashi says with a sigh, "it's okay. We remember too." Rin nods tearfully next to him.
Obito's expression turns blank. He says nothing for a long while, and then - "Come in," he says brusquely, a strange tone in his voice.
His apartment is darkened and cramped, which is understandable. Obito closes the door behind them with a click. Kakashi says nothing, because for all his flippancy earlier, he doesn't know what to say to Obito, not really. Finally, he starts. "I know you remember dying, Obito. Rin and I - we both died too. And then we woke up here."
He doesn't know what he expects Obito to do. Scream in anger, perhaps? Demand explanations? Curse him, for not protecting Rin? But the Uchiha's eyes darken with a hatred that Kakashi never knew he possessed. "You died too then, Kakashi?" He asks, deceptively calm.
At Kakashi's nod, Obito scowls. "...Then even my sacrifice wasn't enough, then." And then, before Kakashi could reassure him that no, he had made it out of the cave with Rin, it was much later - the Uchiha asks, "Was Kaguya defeated?"
"...Kaguya?" Rin asks, confusion obvious in her voice. "Obito, what are you talking about?"
"Rin," Obito says blankly, as if really seeing her for the first time. "Rin. I - I'll explain everything. But..." His voice cracks a little. "Later. Please."
Without waiting for a reply - though the look on Obito's face suggested that he wouldn't know how to deal with it, even if he got one - the boy turns toward Kakashi, his eyes intense in a way that Kakashi had only seen in the caves near Kannabi Bridge. "Did Naruto manage to take her down? I assume for our sakes that this isn't part of Kaguya's Infinite Tsukuyomi," he says dryly, but Kakashi -
Kakashi just doesn't understand.
"Obito, you - you know about Naruto?" He stammers, which is the only thing he manages to take in. Kakashi ignores the dozens of other questions that bounce in his head - Who is Kaguya? Infinite Tsukuyomi? How did Obito - and thinks, Then, Obito's eye... He really did see everything.
The thought makes his mouth dry. He doesn't know what to do with the revelation, because that would mean -
"Kakashi?" Obito eyes him oddly. "Of course I know about Naruto. How could I possibly forget about the brat and his ridiculous talks?"
None of that made sense to Kakashi, in any way. "His... talks?" He repeats. "Obito, I don't -"
That's when Rin slams her hands on both of their mouths. "It seems clear to me," she says, deceptively sweetly, "that there are some misunderstandings going on here. If there's one thing I know, it's that lack of proper communication kills. If people just said what they mean, things would be a lot easier, right? Obito." Rin had not taken Kakashi's revelation of Obito's true feelings for her well. Obito flushes a faint red.
"Obito, what's the last thing you remember?" Kakashi asks.
The Uchiha looks reluctant to speak. Haltingly, he says, "We were in Kaguya's pocket dimension - you, me, and that team of yours. Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke. I... took a hit for you." His lips twist in a sardonic grin. "Again. The last thing I remember is... seeing you, Rin, and giving Kakashi my Sharingan." He squints at Kakashi. "...You did get those, right?"
Kakashi blinks, unsure of what to say. "...I did get your Sharingan. Your single Sharingan, after you were crushed by a boulder."
"That... was when we were thirteen, Kakashi," Obito says slowly, black eyes roving over Kakashi as if looking for signs of severe brain damage - which, if Kakashi had to say, was far more likely to be evident on Obito than him. "...It's been almost two decades."
"But - Obito - " Rin manages, with some difficulty. "You died when we were thirteen."
"No, Rin," Obito says, tilting his head so his eyes lie in shadow. "...No, I didn't."
He doesn't know what to do with the revelation. Kakashi had walked into Obito's apartment, expecting a tearful reunion with the boy who had sacrificed everything for him - the boy who he had failed, at every turn. "Obito, you survived?" He asks weakly, trying to understand.
The Uchiha frowns deeply. "We've... went through this, remember?" If the circumstances were any less dire, Kakashi would laugh at the blank tone in Obito's voice. "What the hell, Kakashi? You said the last thing you remember was dying. How do you not remember anything about Kaguya?"
"I died when the leader of the Akatsuki destroyed the village," he reveals, even though he doubts that it would make any more sense to Obito. "...Who is Kaguya?"
"... The leader of the Akatsuki?" Obito repeats, his eyes narrowed. "But I didn't - "
He pauses. "Ah, I understand. It was Nagato, wasn't it?"
"Nagato. Pein. He killed you."
"Pein," Kakashi growls. "...Yes, it was Pein. But Obito," he asks, trying not to wonder just how exactly Obito knew so much about a future he had never lived to see (or did he?) "You didn't answer my question. Who's Kaguya? And... Obito, if you survived, then -"
Obito shakes his head. "...Kaguya... she's not that important right now," he says curtly. "But the short of it is, I survived Kannabi Bridge. I... know Rin died. I never came back to the village, and spent the last two decades of my life... well, I would say 'different.' Other people would say 'insane'" He grins at that, a tad weakly. "I'm a lot better now."
Kakashi stares for a full minute before he puts a hand to the bridge of his nose, and sighs. "Obito, you're serious?"
The Uchiha nods, and. Actually, he really shouldn't be surprised anymore, should he.
"Obito, but half of your body had been crushed. Even if Tsunade-sama had been on hand to treat you..." Rin says slowly, always the logical one.
"No, it wasn't Tsunade," the Uchiha mutters, expression dark. "It was someone a lot worse."
Someone knocks on the door, the sharp taps jolting all three members of the team out of a spell. The three of them swing to stare at the small gap of the window - and the slight bit of spiky blonde hair that is visible through it.
"Sensei," Obito says, eyes wide.