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This House is Haunted

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I was sitting in my room, dark and grey and crying. /Someone in my life I fear was at the point of dying.


Obito wakes from what has to be the most disturbing dream he ever dreamt and finds himself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. His head hurts; his face is oddly numb, his body an unresponsive mass. He can feel the uncomfortably hard mattress and scratchy sheet on his skin though, which (he is almost certain about this) means that his nervous system is not irreparably damaged.

Or maybe it doesn't mean anything at all (if only he hadn't daydreamed his way through most of the anatomy lessons in the academy), because no matter how much he tries to move nothing happens. And yet he is breathing and blinking. None of this makes sense. In his dream (it must have been a dream) one half of his body was crushed beneath rocks, reduced to contourless pulp and bone fragments. Now his field of vision is just as it was then, but at the end of the dream he was completely blind because he gave his remaining eye to Kakashi.

It`s absurd, but the memories feel so real.

(The sickening crunch when the first rock strikes his body, Rin blinking away tears as she spreads his upper and lower lid with her index finger and thumb, her trembling hand clutching his, the feeling of peace when he tells them to leave him. Most of all he remembers dying.)

The ceiling is camouflaged in shades of grey, every once in a while his eyelid flickers of its own volition. Then, suddenly one arm comes up and brushes over his face. Against his palm he feels the bandages, his fingertips meet his brow, skin on skin. He has no control, but he can feel.

He can see.

And, he realizes, as something in the room rustles softly during one of the silent spaces between his breaths, he can hear. His head turns – for the first time since he awoke his body actually does something he wants it to do – and he sees Rin, but the smile of relief and joy he knows he is smiling never reaches his face.

Rin is in a chair next to the bed. She is rubbing her eyes. He can feel his lips moving, forming words he himself cannot decipher when they are mumbled into the grey little room. Her name makes it out mostly un-mangled by his corrupt lips, but the voice he hears is not his.

Rin leans towards him (?). "Kakashi," she says gently (feeding his fear). "How do you feel?"

"Better," Kakashi croaks. "What." He swallows painfully. "Happened?"

She isn't meeting his –Kakashi's - eye now. "You were running a fever. Infection." She looks up and even in the semi-darkness Obito can see the anguish in her eyes. He wants to reach out and take her hand, but (of course) Kakashi doesn't move; he watches her silently until she goes on. "I thought you were going to –" She breaks off, catches herself. "It would have been my fault."

Obito wants to comfort her, tell her that this is ridiculous, that she's the best medic he knows (Kakashi would chime in at that point to roll his eyes –eye- eyes - and say that she is the only medic Obito knows), but there is nothing he can do, nothing he can make Kakashi do. And Kakashi turns to the ceiling again.

Obito remembers now.

I will become your eye in order to see the future…

I wish I had more time with everyone…

He understands. He did die. Somehow, his last wishes were granted. He'll never know if this is a reward, or some form of ironic punishment, but he doesn't care either way.

Because he gets to be with them a little longer...

 

A cold wind blew right up my spine; it was the break of dawn. /A little voice way deep inside told me she was gone.


Kakashi is kneeling on the floor of his apartment, where he stumbled and collapsed after he had made it to the hospital. After they'd been told.

They'd seen the smoke, of course. Not to mention that the mission had been aborted because of what had been reported as an unforeseen attack on Konohagakure by the nine-tailed fox. When they had arrived at the gates of the village, they had been told that the fourth Hokage had defeated the monster, sacrificing his own life in the process, but none of that had been real until they'd fought through fire, smoke and clouds of ashes and got to the hospital – or what was left of it.

Obito took one look at the half burned sign over the entrance, the deep cracks in the plaster of the front wall which made him think of a gigantic egg from which all his fears were about to hatch, and he knew that no good news awaited them inside, he hadn't even processed the death of their teacher yet. He wasn't ready for this.

Kakashi wouldn't stop running towards the place as if it held salvation, however. The village was in such a state of destruction that it was barely possible to tell where the roads had been anymore. Kakashi climbed over heaps of rubble and leapt across ominous clefts (almost like claw marks) in the ground, without a moment's hesitation he pushed through the double doors.

Inside his senses were instantly overwhelmed by the onslaught of impressions. There were wounded everywhere; slumped on waiting-benches, lying on stained futons on the floor. Gasping for breath, whimpering, some sobbing even. Medics were wading through this sea of misery, barking orders, murmuring lies meant for comfort and calling sharply for help.

The ever-present smell of smoke was only faintly lingering in the air; it was easily overpowered by the battling scents of blood and disinfectant.

Obito wanted nothing more than a sign of Rin. Her presence, the sight of her among the bustling medics, or the sound of her voice would be enough to cut through this chaos like the steadiest surgeon's scalpel.

Kakashi was searching frantically, scanning the room for her, finally running after a brunette medic (it could not have been her anyway, because she was a taller than their teammate and her hair was slightly too long). He grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around almost violently and flinched when he saw her face.

"What are you doing?" She shrieked, slapping his hand away so hard Kakashi's fingers stung despite the glove. "I'm sorry, I thought…" Apparently, at this point Kakashi realized that now that he was already keeping her from doing her work, he might as well use the chance. "Have you seen Rin? She's a medical ninja, she should be here," he blurted out. The medic's expression had shifted from anger and annoyance to sadness and pity the moment Kakashi spoke Rin's name, and Obito knew. He wanted to run from the hospital with his hands clamped over his ears like a child, just so he wouldn't have to hear it.

"I'm sorry," she said. "Rin-chan was one of the first." Obito felt like he was listening to nothing but white noise, while Kakashi just stood, eyes fixed on the medic's sorrowful face. Finally, "Are you sure?" The tremor in Kakashi's voice was barely audible.

"Yes, there was a fire. It was where she lived. She kept going in to help. I'm sorry." Tenderly, she touched his arm. "I really am sorry, ANBU-san, but I have to get back to work now."

When Kakashi arrived at his own apartment, he found everything as he had left it, except for his team photo. It had fallen off his nightstand, the glass broken. What would have been a bad omen was now only a painful reminder. Obito wanted to pick it up; Kakashi simply let himself fall onto his knees – into the broken glass – beside it.

Kakashi slumps forward, gathering shards of glass only to crush them in his fists. He makes no sound, and Obito can feel his despair turning into something else. Something fierce and focused.

Rage.

"This is your fault," he tells Kakashi. "You promised you'd protect her! That was the only thing I asked of you!" He imagines his voice rising to a scream, ripping the dreaded silence that surrounds them to shreds. "You should have been here! You should have died with them at least!"

Kakashi collapses onto all fours – as if he had heard Obito after all (which is ridiculous, since Obito has spent the better part of the last few months trying to keep Kakashi from joining ANBU and leaving Rin behind - to no avail).

Kakashi is shaking, his fingers clawing at the floor. "I'm sorry, Obito, I'm so sorry. I couldn't keep my promise…" All of his anger rushes out of Obito at that, leaving only pain. This should be the end, Obito thinks. Sensei and Rin are gone. There's no one left.

Only Kakashi, who even while he is crying hardly makes a sound.

Grey light is creeping into the room, stealthily like a predator sneaking up on his prey. When the ghostly light reaches Kakashi, Obito sees the glint of his (their) tears on the floor. Like dew.

Here they are now, both of them alone.

It's the dawn of a new day.

 

This is where we climbed the tower, this is where she fell.


After the memorial service for the fourth Hokage and the other victims of the Kyuubi Kakashi goes to Rin's place. He stands in front of the blackened rubble that used to be her apartment complex. There really is nothing left of her. No, that's not true, Obito thinks. I'm still here. Without her this would not have been possible. He doesn't know anymore, whether he can still be grateful for that. But he knows he should be. They should be.

Kakashi stands motionless for a while, and not for the first time Obito wishes he could read Kakashi's mind. But he has been as successful in that endeavor as he has been in trying to make Kakashi hear him. They share the same experiences, the same body, and yet they are completely cut off from each other. All Obito can do is watch. It just seems so unfair.

Behind them, someone clears their throat, and Kakashi whips around, his hand instinctively twitching for the shuriken in the bag he usually wears strapped to his leg. There is nothing there today; of course, he did not bring weapons to the ceremony.

"I'm sorry, I should have known better than to sneak up on a jounin," the Third says. He is wearing the full gear again. (Obito remembers the impromptu party they had when sensei told Rin and Kakashi that he would be the next Hokage; the way Minato-sensei grinned when he answered Rin's question about what the Third would be doing when he was out of a job. "He'll be enjoying his retirement; I hear he's been looking forward to it for a decade, at least.") Now, Obito can't help but notice how old the Hokage looks.

"Sandaime-sama." Kakashi bows respectfully. "What can I do for you?"

"Actually, Kakashi, I just want to talk to you." He smiles a little bemused and a lot sadly. "Will you walk with me?"

Kakashi nods and falls into step beside the old-new leader of their village. Doused in inappropriately bright sunlight, the streets of Konoha are beginning to lose their nightmarish atmosphere, although they are still a long way from looking like they used to. Maybe they never will again.

It's only been a couple of days, but people have already started to rebuild. A lot of the debris has been cleared away, and most of the village looks like a construction site. In the distance the Hokage tower still stands, even if it's just barely. A hastily constructed scaffold is all that's keeping it from giving in to gravity. Konoha's proud landmark, the home of its most powerful resident is… listing to one side.

(Unlike Kakashi, Obito has no great desire to stare at the tower, trying to imagine every morbid detail of what transpired there on that day. He would like to see the baby, though. See whether he looks like his dad and tell him that he has two ʻbig brothersʼ he can count on.)

For a talk this is awfully quiet, Obito thinks. The Third is leading the way, slowly, away from the village centre towards the fields. They're going to the cenotaph, Obito realizes. The next few days will be dedicated to the fallen; there will be small individual ceremonies in which their names will be carved into the stone. To immortalize them. Posthumously.

Jiraiya will do the honors for his last student; Kakashi will be the one to put Rin's name on the stone. It's the last thing he can do for her, and it won't make up for all the things he didn't do.

Obito is more than a little surprised when they walk past the monument, and if Kakashi's minute hesitation is anything to go by, so is he.

Sandaime steers them towards the three posts in the training field, which,  like the cenotaph,  show no sign of damage. He walks up to the post in the middle, smiling fondly. Kakashi watches silently as the old man pats the wood like one would a loyal dog. "I tied up Jiraiya here." He shakes his head. "I used to think he was the single most hopelessly chaotic and unruly ninja in the whole history of Konoha. I'd like to tell you that time has proven me wrong about Jiraiya, but, well, you know him."

Kakashi snorts. Involuntarily, Obito thinks. It's the first sign of anything other than silent despair from him since the attack. Sandaime is searching his eye like a man staring into a muddy pond, looking for that flicker of life (in Obito's experience old people do this sort of thing a lot). It's unnerving.

"I have something for you," Sandaime says out of the blue. "I found them in the Hokage office." He slips one hand into his pocket; something jingles faintly. "They belonged to your sensei, I think he would have wanted you to have them." He holds out the two little bells.

Kakashi begins to reach for them, but he slows and stops mid-motion, as if he had somehow run out of time. "They're for teaching," he says. It sounds almost like a question to Obito.

"They can be." There's graveness in the Hokage's manner now. The kindly old man is gone.

"Hokage-sama, I don't—"

The Third holds up a hand; Kakashi instantly shuts up.

"Kakashi," he says. "I'm too old a man to tell you that the future is nothing but brightness, we both have seen too much to believe that. But there is a future, Minato and Rin both gave their lives to make sure of that. Don't you think you owe it to them to give it a chance at least?"

Obito can almost feel Kakashi's inner conflict. He definitely feels the sting, as Kakashi bites his lip. There is something else, though. A new kind of feeling, like a complex knot deep inside of him loosening just a little bit. Hesitantly, Kakashi extends his hand again.

Obito has never touched the bells and, of course, the fingers closing around the fragile metal now are Kakashi's.

Just like always, he thinks. Just like back then.