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and time again

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It happens on November twelfth.

Kakashi has been looking everywhere for Rin and Obito—after school gets out but before dinner time because he can't break into the academy or their houses, which is kind of annoying, but what can you do?

Anyway, Kakashi is very innocently walking into a café (which, coincidentally, is Obito and Rin's favorite place to meet up. Which, coincidentally, belongs to Rin’s grandparents. Coincidentally, of course.) when he runs into them.

Not literally, because that would be a cliche, and Kakashi has no time for that, but he would've run into them had he been any less of a shinobi.

No, no, Minato and Orochimaru have taught him better than that, especially considering the way he first met Orochimaru.

Anyway.

He dodges.

“Oh! Kakashi!” Rin smiles. “I've never seen you here before. How've you been?”

Kakashi blinks back unbidden tears, looking between the girl and the Uchiha Kakashi absolutely adores the goggles, even if he won't say so just yet—standing beside her, and he curses Big Kakashi for the “oh haha your emotions are mine and my emotions are yours have fun” bullshit he puts Kakashi through.

It isn't my fault my emotions affect you! Big Kakashi says, and that is definitely a pout he feels.

“Oh,” Kakashi mumbles, “hello. Rin, Obito. Yeah, this—this is, uh, my first time here, actually . . . ”

“That's nice! My grandparents own the place, actually! Did you want some tea? Or—?” At Kakashi's nod, Rin continues, “What kind?”

Kakashi shakes his head. “I—it’s fine, don't worry about it, I can just—” 

Obito shoves Kakashi's shoulder lightly. “Just let her get you some tea, bastard,” the Uchiha says, before grinning. “Or are you just stalking us and have no excuse for being here?”

Kakashi bristles because that is exactly what he is doing, but he won’t actually tell them so. “I'll have you know I drink at least four cups of tea a day, so I don't need an excuse to be in a café, thank-you-very-much!"

Oh, really? Four cups? With the amount of sugar you put in them? God, you'll be dead by the time you're twelve at this rate, Big Kakashi bemoans.

Shut! Kakashi snaps.

So I’ve lost even the privilege of shut up, Big Kakashi says sadly. It’s just shut.

Obito blinks, once, twice, three times, and barks out a laugh. “Four cups? What are you, an old woman? Or do you have tea parties with stuffed animals, since you have no friends?”

Kakashi clenches his fists, rising to the bait—and Obito is clearly baiting him. “Stupid. I have at least five people and a few dozen snakes who would love to have tea parties with me!” 

Obito snorts, folding his arms behind his neck. “Alright! Make that seven people!" 

Rin laughs sweetly, nodding in agreement, and a longing that isn’t his swells up in his chest until he feels like he’s going to cry for the second time today.

But Kakashi just gapes, because—what just happened? Are they—

I think they're inviting you to have tea with them, Big Kakashi supplies helpfully.

“Wha—huh?”

Rin rolls her eyes, grabs Kakashi's wrist, and drags him to a table to sit, along with Obito. “Sit, I'll be back with tea . . . What kind?”

“Uh, Jasmine, if they have it. If not—”

“Nope! We have it! Be right back!” And she rushes off to a room behind a counter.

Kakashi sits. “Are you two always so . . . Hyper?” he asks, and when Obito only raises an amused eyebrow, he sighs resignedly, and pokes at Big Kakashi in his head.

Hey, you never told me how hyper these two are, he complains.

Big Kakashi laughs. You know, you're the same way. Just as hyper as them half the time.

Am not! Kakashi protests.

Oh?

I'm definitely not hyper! I'm just—just—ugh, never mind.

Big Kakashi laughs, and his happy feelings melt over onto Kakashi's own bitter emotions, calming him down. Hmph. You can’t even let me be bitter in peace, Kakashi says.

Bitter? I thought you were the one who dumped four spoonfuls of sugar into your tea.

Shut.

He ignores Obito, who hasn't stopped staring at him, silently, since the two sat down. It's a short, awkward silence until Rin comes back with two cups in hand. She sets them in front of the boys, holds a hand up, and runs back to the kitchen for a third cup.

She finally plops down in her own seat with a smile. “Okay! Finally back,” she informs them as she reaches forward to grab three of the little pink packets for herself, tossing another three over to Obito. “'s sugar,” she says at Kakashi's confused glance. 

“Oh. So that's, what, a spoon in each packet, right?” Kakashi asks.

“Mhm! Obito and I both like three of them in ours, but with some teas I prefer two,” Rin says brightly.

Kakashi nods, grabbing a . . . small handful of the little packets for himself, shoves his mask down, and tests the tea once in a while until he deems the tea sweet enough to drink.

You’re gonna die, Big Kakashi says sadly. That’s so unhealthy. Oh, gods, I can’t—I can’t even look.

Obito and Rin are both openly gaping at him. He raises an eyebrow, sipping the tea slowly. He sets the mug down. “What’s up? You look like pervs, staring like that. Honestly.”

Rin holds back a smile, drinking her own tea. Obito has no such reservations, as he grins (again) and points at Kakashi. “I've never seen your face before! I thought you were, like, paranoid about people seeing you, and you go and take your mask off so casually in a public place like this!”

Kakashi sighs, his lips twitching up into a smile. “What's with everyone acting so surprised? It's not my fault you never eat or drink with me. Even sensei was shocked at seeing my face.” He shakes his head. “You're all—I don’t even know. All of you. Oh, yeah, dramatic. You’re all so dramatic about everything.”

Obito laughs, ignoring all of what Kakashi just said. “And what the hell’s with all the sugar? That's gotta be three or four times as much as us!”

“I only used,” Kakashi begins, grabbing his sugar packets to count them. “Eight spoons. That's practically nothing! I usually use, what, twelve? Thirteen? So—so, shush!”

“Oh my god, Obito, we've made friends with a sugar monster,” Rin groans.

Kakashi huffs. “Assholes.”

[ — ]

“Kakashi!” Minato calls, rushing through Kakashi’s front door—without knocking, as rude as that may be—just less than a week after Kakashi meets his teammates.

(They’ve been spending a lot of time together at the cafe, and Kakashi had even invited them over so that they could see how much sugar he really uses.

“Kakashi,” Obito had said. “Oh my gods.”

“What.”

“You’re gonna die.”)

“Um,” Kakashi says intelligently. “What? Why are you so—”

Minato grabs Kakashi’s hands, and Kakashi, both too tired and too amused—amused on Big Kakashi’s part, that is—to react, lets him. “I'm so sorry to blindside you with this, Kakashi, but I’ve been given two recent graduates to train alongside you. I wasn't told until this morning—you know, because they weren't sure if they'd graduate, so they didn’t tell me until—wait, I already said that, shit—ignore that, I didn’t mean to swear in front of you, fuck—gods damnit. Just ignore all of that. Okay, so, basically, we were both blindsided and now we have a team!” He finishes, finally, sounding vaguely confused at his own rambling.

Oh, wow, Big Kakashi says. I knew they graduated soon, just didn't think it was this soon.

Kakashi blinks. That’s seriously all you got out of that? They already told me they were graduating soon, you old geezer. I liked the part where he swore and then swore while trying to apologize better.

“That’s—okay,” Kakashi says, unsure of how he’s supposed to take this. Because he swears to all the gods, if his teammates are about to be delivered to him on a silver platter right after he already went through the trouble of finding them and having his tea choices ridiculed by them— “Uh, who are they? And when am I meeting them?” 

“Oh! Uchiha Obito and Nohara Rin! First team meeting, is, um, in a couple hours?”

It’s actually them, Big Kakashi says. Gods, and just days after we went to the trouble—

Shut, Kakashi says exasperatedly. I just said this.

Yeah, yeah, I know, Big Kakashi says.

What?” Kakashi asks Minato, turning his attention outward again. “A couple of hours—you know what? Never mind. I should have expected something like this.”

Big Kakashi laughs. Kakashi holds back a scowl, because that would be weird for the situation.

“Sorry! You, uh, wanna come with me to meet them at the academy? It's only like nine in the morning right now, but I think we're meeting at like . . . noon? Lunchtime? Yeah, that, and we’ll have to introduce ourselves, and then tomorrow we’ll do a test. Genin have to be tested.”

Kakashi frowns. “You never tested me when I became your apprentice.”

“Well, that's because I had no choice but to take you on,” Minato says in a teasing tone.

Wow, rude,” Kakashi says. “And here I thought you actually cared about me.”

Minato does nothing except laugh, and at this point, Kakashi can’t even say that he’s mad.

[ — ]

Minato looks at both of the new genin with a strange expression on his face.

Obito crinkles his nose, seemingly confused, and asks, “So, uh, are we just gonna sit here and not do anything? Or . . . ?”

Minato grins, suddenly. “Introduction time! Kakashi, you can go first!”

Kakashi shifts his feet awkwardly. “Um, uh, my name is Hatake Kakashi?”

“Say more,” Minato tells him.

“Like what? I’m socially awkward, sensei, you know this, I don't know how to do something like introduce myself, I’ll probably end up being so awkward and indecisive I’ll be all, ‘Oh, what do I like? Hmmm, nothing,’ and everyone else will have a much better introduction than me. Besides, everyone here knows me already,” Kakashi says, decidedly not complaining. Or pouting, definitely not, no.

Minato laughs. “Just say your likes, dislikes, and goals? Surely there's something you want to say.”

Tell them your likes are—

“Hatake Kakashi,” Kakashi starts, ignoring Big Kakashi and his antics. He’s decided that since Minato is so adamant on his introduction being proper, he’s going to word it up. “I like . . . sugar. And tea. Specifically together. I like, um, snakes, holy shit, snakes are awesome—”

Minato flicks Kakashi in the forehead. “Watch your language, kiddo.”

Obito snickers and Rin looks red in the face, like she’s trying desperately not to laugh.

Kakashi continues like Minato never interrupted in the first place. “—they could kill me and I wouldn't even know what happened, so cool—and I like soft things. Like blankets. They're cool too. Anyway. I dislike old geezers who try to tell me what to do and get all annoying about stupid things like sugar intake, like, come on, I don't have diabetes yet, do I? And . . . people who hate on my dad even though he literally saved all of his teammates—and his mission info was rotten! It's not like he wouldn't have failed even if he hadn't saved them, people are so stupid. And I dislike my bed, the couch is so much more comfortable . . . getting off track there, um. Okay, my goal is . . . ”

Kakashi goes silent, his eyebrows scrunching closer together by the second. “Wait. Do—do I even have a goal . . . ?” he mumbles.

Hmm, protecting your precious people? Saving the world? Ending the wars, or preventing them from happening in the first place? Achieving relative world peace? Big Kakashi suggests.

“Hmm. I don't know, my goal is a big mish-mash of little goals all combined. You know, just getting all the shit done. Saving the world maybe. Oh, fuck, that’s kind of a big goal,” Kakashi says, and then he panics a little and adds, “Not that I know about anything that would potentially destroy the world! That’s kind of big news . . . oh, hell, I’m getting—"

“Kakashi, language!” Minato repeats, exasperated.

Obito raises a bored eyebrow—he looks like a Nara, what the hell, would he stop with the eyebrow raising—and says, “What’s ‘all the shit’ supposed to be? Other than saving the world? Which, by the way, sounds kind of fucking impossible.”

Minato sighs heavily and flops down onto the ground so that he's sitting up but slumped over. A moment later, he lies down. “I think I’m going to take a nap while you curse yourself into oblivion.”

Kakashi looks Obito in the eye. “I have absolutely no fucking idea.”

Minato sighs again, and rolls over so that he’s not facing them any more. “You'll never stop cursing, will you? I’m a failure of a role model.”

Big Kakashi chuckles. Whatever you say, sensei.

And then Rin really does burst out laughing, and Obito does too, and Big Kakashi smiles inwardly at the sight of her and Obito laughing together. “Is something here amusing you?” he asks, pretending he doesn't want to sulk and eat ice cream as he contemplates life. Because his teammates are really adorable and he wants to squish them up in a hug. Or maybe that could be Big Kakashi. He’s not sure. Everything is weird because Big Kakashi has decided to feel things, and feeling things is always weird and icky and mushy.

Rin shakes her head quickly, unable to speak through the laughter. They both stop laughing, eventually, the giggles fading into wide smiles.

“Oh my god, okay,” Rin says, taking a deep breath. “I can introduce myself next, if that's fine.” When Minato nods, she continues, “Cool! My name is Nohara Rin. I like strawberries, and also Obito, ‘cause he’s my best friend, and I also really like cats. I dislike messes,” she glares at Obito, “because that's disgusting, but that's fine because I like cleaning, too. I don't like doing laundry, though. Oh! And my goal is to be an awesome medic-nin! Like, Head of Hospital, better than even Tsunade-hime—that kind of awesome!” She claps at the very end, eyes gleaming, and she’s practically bouncing in her seat.

Minato smiles—actually, when exactly did he get up? Kakashi doesn’t remember seeing him do that, and he eyes Minato suspiciously. “Thank you, Rin. That's a good—”

“Oh! I can introduce you to Tsunade, if you want, she could probably give you tips for being a medic, and if not her, I’m sure Orochimaru could give you some tips . . . ” Kakashi trails off, thinking about how Tsunade would react to meeting Rin. He's so wound up in his own thoughts that he doesn't notice the incredulous stares of Obito and Rin for at least a full minute.

When he does, though, he seems just about as confused as his teammates. “What? What's wrong?”

“You know two of Konoha’s strongest shinobi?” Rin asks incredulously.

Kakashi nods. “Yes? And . . . ? I actually know Jiraiya too. And also Minato-sensei, and also my dad is Konoha's White Fang, and—”

“Most people don't know even one of them!” Rin complains. “Totally not fair.”

“Well! Knowing me as you do, you'll know all of them soon!” Kakashi says excitedly. “We can have a tea party, all eight of us and the snakes, just like you guys suggested. Now! Obito, introduction!”

Obito straightens suddenly. “Okay! My name is Uchiha Obito! I like dango, and cats, and Rin, and I like being clean but it’s hard, ugh, and I also like those chairs that spin! Office chairs. Yeah. Those. And I hate people who think the mission is more important than the people doing the mission—”

“Me too!” Kakashi interrupts. Obito glances at him and grins, giving Kakashi a thumbs up.

“Good! I also don’t like self-righteous bastards who only think of themselves and think everyone else is less than them just because their ego is the size of the moon! Andalsostuffyclanheadswhoalwaysaskyouwhenyou’regoingtoactivateyourSharingan.”

“I used to know someone like that,” Kakashi says, and shudders dramatically. “Minus the—the clan head part, I guess.”

Are you talking about me? Big Kakashi asks. Because I’ve changed.

Obito snorts. “Yeah, they're the worst, anyway, my goal is to be the best Hokage ever! Yeah!”

“That’s awesome! You can definitely do it!” Kakashi says.

Obito laughs, shaking his head. “You're so different from how you were in the academy!”

Kakashi crosses his arms. “Am not.”

“Yeah, he really has changed. He just suddenly started to be a lot less stiff a couple months ago, it came as a huge shocker,” Minato agrees, acting as though Kakashi hadn’t just said anything.

Rin hums, interested. “Did something happen?” she asks Kakashi.

“I'm the same! Just less stupid, or something,” he shrugs.

Obito sits forward. “Well, actually, you—”

“So, tomorrow we’ll be having a test because guess what?” Kakashi asks hurriedly. “You aren't officially genin yet! Or well, you are, but if you don't pass the test then you won't have a jōnin-sensei! Good fucking luck, Minato-sensei’s ruthless with that kinda stuff. See ya!”

Kakashi fucking gets outta there. (He shunshins away, and away, and away, and awa—)

Minato grabs his collar before he even manages to stand up.

“Speaking of tomorrow's test, Kakashi,” Minato says slowly, a guilty smile appearing on his face. “You'll be joining them! Fun, right?”

A brief moment of exasperation from Big Kakashi, and Kakashi is making a face and shaking his head. “You're awful, sensei, and you're uninvited from my tea party.”

“What?” Minato gasps, sounding scandalized, and then he puts on a sad face and shakes his head. “If that’s the way it has to be . . . ”

“I hate you,” Kakashi says petulantly from where he’s still hanging by his collar. “You are awful. I’m never inviting you to another tea party.”

Obito whistles. “That’s pretty serious, sensei. I’d let him off the hook if I was you,” he advises.

“Yeah,” Rin agrees, “otherwise you won't be able to wish me a happy birthday at our tea party slash birthday party tomorrow night! And I'm sure you wouldn't want to miss that, right, sensei?"

Minato laughs nervously. “Eh . . . But if I let him off the hook, you guys won't be able to do the test together! He's a chūnin, so that would be good for you two, to have his help, right?”

Rin and Obito glance at Kakashi contemplatively.

Kakashi gapes. “You're not—you aren't seriously going to side with him, are you? I thought we were friends! Mean!”

The genin laugh at Kakashi, sweetly, if that's even possible.

[ — ]

Thinking back on the last hour as he attempts to remove the ropes binding his wrists (which are covered in seals, because Minato is a demon), Kakashi realizes he may have set himself up for this.

He glares at Rin and Obito, who are giggling like toddlers beside him while Minato lectures them on teamwork in front of them.

Sensei,” Kakashi interrupts. “We worked together, why are you lecturing us?”

Minato puts his hands on his hips. “Because you're all idiots.”

“Hey!” The genin (and Kakashi, not that he'll admit to it) cry out dramatically.

“And—” Minato starts, immediately being interrupted by Kakashi again.

“Why am I tied up anyway?! I got a bell!” He complains, tugging at the ropes again, and he should really stop because it's burning his arms, but he's nothing if not as stubborn as a mule.

“Because you were the most annoying!” Minato says cheerily, despite the words being said.

Kakashi groans. “I hate you, and I hate Rin, and I hate Obito, and I hate the voice in my head,” he tells them, with all the seriousness a child his age can muster.

“Voice in your head?” Obito asks.

“Yeah,” Kakashi says, smiling smugly. “The one who tells me what to do.”

Big Kakashi is cackling in his head.

Obito rolls his eyes. “You’re so stupid.”

“You’re the stupid one,” Kakashi says, eyeing the ropes with disdain.

“Am not,” Obito says.

“I’ll take it back if you cut me free from these ropes,” Kakashi offers. “Please?”

Obito shakes his head. “Not a chance. I’d rather be stupid than cut you free. You know what? Minato-sensei, do you have any more ropes? I could help tie him up some more.”

Kakashi futilely tries to kick Obito in the side.

“Children, children, don't fight,” Minato says.

“When I get out of these ropes, I'm gonna—I’m gonna—” Kakashi flails in search of a Thing to do to Obito.

Prank him! Big Kakashi suggests.

“I'm gonna prank the shit outta you!” Kakashi yells.

Rin snorts. “You'd resort to pranking Obito for not untying you?”

“Yeah! I'll get Kushina-nee-san to help me,” he threatens, sparing a glance to Minato, who pales at the words.

“Oh no. Kakashi. Please. Anything but that. Anyone but her. Please. Never—never say that again, I'm begging you.”

Big Kakashi laughs, and Kakashi himself can't help but grin.

Oh, the possibilities . . .

[ Extra ]

Kakashi is a fucking bastard, really, he knows. He also knows he should definitely be productive with his time and not do silly pranks on people, but—

Well.

That doesn't stop him from letting Chikara sleep in Minato’s bathroom with two bottles of sake. And it doesn't stop him from putting hot sauce in Minato's toothpaste, or itch powder on his hairbrush. (Kushina claimed she doesn't use Minato's hairbrush, but he tries to tame his own hair every morning.)

And it certainly doesn't scare him away from sneaking extra sugar into Minato's tea when they're having tea together. 

Minato hasn't reacted yet in the week he's been pranking him.

Ugh.

Chapter Text

“You have to come,” Rin orders. She’s got her no-nonsense face on.

Kakashi crosses his arms. This is the ultimate battle of willpower. “No. I have to train more. If you’d chosen a different day to have a tea party maybe I could’ve gone! But I’m doing training with dad tomorrow and I can’t go, so there.”

Rin gives him a dubious look. “You could come after training.”

“We train late into the night,” Kakashi says.

“You could come before training,” she says, unimpressed. “Your dad’s going. You know that, right?”

Running out of excuses, mini-me? Big Kakashi asks. You should just go. I can talk while you’re there.

But you said it’s serious! I should be alone so I can take notes and—

You know I can just retell you after the fact, right? We can put this off for another day, Big Kakashi says.

No. Okay. Fine. Let’s do it today. Kakashi huffs outwardly and reluctantly says, “Okay, fine. I guess I’ll go. After training. We can just start early.”

“You didn’t really have much of a choice,” Rin informs him. “I was gonna drag you there whether you wanted to or not.” Kakashi laughs nervously. He is intimately acquainted with Rin’s grip strength—her favorite method of getting people to go places is to drag them there by the shoulders—and he doesn’t really want to go through it again because his shoulders are still sore from the last time she did this. Rin starts suddenly and Kakashi looks at her questioningly. “Oh. Actually—you know those kids you hang out with sometimes? The ones Jiraiya brought to Konoha?”

“Mean,” Kakashi says. He stops to consider her question. “Well—I do hang out with them but I don’t actually know them all that well. They stick together and mostly I’m doing stuff like showing them around and supervising them in the training grounds.”

“You? Supervise them?” Rin asks skeptically. “Aren’t they all older than you?”

Kakashi rolls his eyes. “It’s because they’re new and don’t trust any other people to be around them. Jiraiya’s always busy so I was the next choice. Also they’re only genin. I’m chūnin,” he says self-importantly.

Woah, there. Inflated ego alert, Big Kakashi says. He’s amused. Kakashi tells him to stop leaking his emotions all over the place.

Rin laughs. “Okay there, mister fancy chūnin. Do you think you know them well enough to ask them to the tea party?”

Kakashi has to think about it for a moment. Does he? He talks with them and he’s had dinner with them once or twice but he doesn’t know whether it’d be weird to ask them. They know Jiraiya best, though, so— “Jiraiya can ask them. He’s invited, right?”

“That old geezer?” Rin makes a face. “ . . . Fine. Only because you like him for some reason.”

“He’s working on it! I just caught him not spying in the women’s bath before. It’s either because Tsunade’s getting more violent now or because he actually has students again and he doesn’t wanna be a pervert in front of them,” Kakashi says. “I’ll ask him to ask them later.”

“You can’t just do it now?” Rin says. Kakashi knows what she’s doing. She is bending his will so it fits hers. Kakashi will not let her win, not in a million years, not ever. “Come on. Training’s over and we don’t even meet up with Obito in the hospital for another few hours!”

Oh, yes. Obito had landed himself in the hospital for a broken arm during training because Kakashi had forgotten to go easy and Obito had been distracted that day. Obito had laughed it off at the time and overplayed his clumsiness, saying it’d been just a dumb mistake, but Kakashi has his doubts. He’s used to seeing less-than-genuine smiles on people and he’ll eat his mask if Obito’s had been completely real that day. And also—smiling through a broken arm? Really? Not even Kakashi would do that and he smiles through a lot of shit. For example, yesterday he’d stubbed his toe and he’d had to keep laughing because Rin had told a joke.

Kakashi takes a glance at Minato. He’s over by himself on the opposite edge of the training ground scribbling something down on one of his many notebooks. He’s using pen, as all sealmasters do, and he looks ultra-concentrated. Kakashi wonders what he could be doing.

“Please?” Rin asks, crowding a little closer to him. Kakashi glares at her. “Pretty please? Look, Minato-sensei’s not even doing anything. We have free time!”

You should do it, Big Kakashi advises. Better to know now than later.

“Oh, fine,” Kakashi says. He only gives in because of Big Kakashi. It’s totally not Rin’s puppy eyes. Of course not. How silly would that be, to be taken down by a pair of eyes? “Let’s go. Minato-sensei!”

Minato answers without looking up from his notebook. He’s almost near the end of it. Kakashi hopes he has a spare tucked away somewhere or he’ll probably be miserable for the rest of the day. “Yeah?”

“You’re coming to the tea party tomorrow, right?” Rin asks, butting in before Kakashi can get a word in. “Also Kakashi and I are going off to ask Jiraiya and he’ll ask those kids from Ame!”

“They have names, you know,” Kakashi hisses under his breath.

“Those kids from Ame who have names!” Rin corrects, smiling innocently at Kakashi. He gently thumps her on the head and she steps on his foot—the foot with the stubbed toe—in retaliation. Kakashi gives her a look that promises revenge. She sticks her tongue out at him.

“Go ahead,” Minato says. He’s on a new notebook but Kakashi isn’t impressed because he’s already been exposed to Minato and his scary fast writing. Rin looks like her eyes will fall out of her head if she opens them any wider, though. Big Kakashi chuckles in his head. “Make sure to visit Obito, okay? I have a meeting tonight and will be there until pretty late.”

“Okay!” Kakashi calls. He turns to Rin. “Do you actually have any idea of where Jiraiya is?”

Rin laughs, rubbing the back of her neck with her hand. “Uh . . . I mean, he’s probably at the baths, right?”

Kakashi sighs. “I mean, probably. I guess. We’ll check there first. If he’s not peeping, though, he’s either training the Ame kids or he’s at home writing. Where do you wanna check if he’s not at the baths?”

Rin makes a big show of considering but ultimately just asks, “Which one’s closer?”

“The training grounds, I think,” Kakashi answers.

They comb the area around the public baths with sharp eyes. Rin takes the outside of the women’s bath side, and Kakashi actually goes in and looks around in the men’s bath to see if Jiraiya’s trying to peek through any holes in the walls that may exist. He doesn’t see anyone, though, and he isn’t skilled enough to recognize a henge. He guesses there’s probably quite a bit wrong with the plan. He hopes Rin has more luck than he has so far.

“Aha! Gotcha! GET OUT OF THAT TREE, you old pervert!”

Kakashi hears a loud thump and doesn’t wince because he has absolutely no sympathy for perverts who peek at women. Can’t he write his books without violating others’ privacy?

I can’t believe you’re slandering Jiraiya-sama, Big Kakashi groans. What have I become?

You call him Jiraiya-sama? Kakashi asks. He is extremely unimpressed. Why?

His books are the greatest literature in the elemental nations! I will sing his praises ‘til the day I—

Oh, stuff it, geezer, Kakashi snaps. He can’t believe his future self is a pervert who—who buys Jiraiya’s book! That’s absolutely disgusting. I’m not talking to you from now on.

Nooooo, Big Kakashi cries. I take it back. I love you, mini-me! Don’t desert me like this.

I have no mercy for perverts, Kakashi says, racing out of the baths and toward the sounds of Jiraiya and Rin having a yelling match.

“You were spying on the women again! You’re nothing but a nasty peeker! Kakashi told me you’d started to improve for the better but I guess you want to prove him wrong, huh?” Rin says. She’s beating him over the head with his own manuscript. “Pervert!”

Jiraiya’s got his arms up over his face. “No! I swear, this isn’t what it—”

Kakashi rolls his eyes and comes up to put his hand on Rin’s shoulder. “We can beat him up later. First we have to ask the questions, right?”

Jiraiya pales. “You—you two’ve been in T&I lately, haven’t you?”

“What do you mean?” Rin asks, tilting her head. “We haven’t been anywhere near T&I.” She unrolls the manuscript and rerolls it tighter than before. “Now, back to the questions—”

“No, Rin!” Kakashi says, forcefully grabbing the stack of papers from her hand. “We are not beating him up! We have to ask him if he’ll come to the tea party and then we have to ask him to ask Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko to come! If you keep hitting him he’ll never agree to come and he won’t even want to ask them.”

Jiraiya, now that he isn’t being assaulted by the most deadly weapon known to shinobi, sits up, rubbing his forehead with one hand and snatches his manuscript back. “Is that it? Rin, you didn’t have to scare me like that! Ask questions first, hit later? That’s a T&I saying!”

“Oh, is it?” Rin giggles. “Hey, Kakashi, wouldn’t it be cool to go into T&I?”

“Uh . . . T&I scares me,” Kakashi says, hoping that’ll be enough to dissuade her from what he fears is a newly-forming goal.

“Great! That’s even more reason to join,” Rin says brightly, clapping her hands together. “Okay! You’re coming to the tea party though, right, Jiraiya?”

Jiraiya snorts, tucking his papers away into his back pocket. “If you two are the ones asking, I don’t see why not. I think it’d be good for Konan’s group to get out and interact with others too. By now they know the layout of Konoha pretty well but they don’t know any of the shinobi here. Who else is going?”

Hmph. You all are treating my personal hero with such disrespect, Big Kakashi complains.

Remember my warning to never talk to you again? He can’t be your personal hero if you only look up to him for being a pervert, Kakashi says exasperatedly.

Hey! Jiraiya-sama was a great war hero in the future. Big Kakashi grows uncharacteristically serious. You don’t know the half of what he’s done, but trust me. He is a hero beyond what anyone ever thought he would be.

Kakashi tries not to fidget. Okay. Let’s just listen to Rin though. You’re making it sound like he dies, or something.

Big Kakashi is silent but Kakashi can sense the unease rolling off him in waves.

“Well, Obito can’t come because he’s in the hospital but we’re going to have another tea party when he gets out, which should be in a few days,” Rin says. “Otherwise, it’s me, Kakashi, Minato-sensei, you, Kushina-nee, Tsunade, Orochimaru, Sakumo-san, and hopefully the Ame kids! Let’s go ask them right now, okay?”

“Ah, well . . . they’re all off in Training Ground 44 right now. I assigned them there to get some extra training. It’s no place for a fresh genin like you. I’ll go ask them by myself, okay?” Jiraiya offers. Kakashi can tell he’s probably trying his best to be nice.

“That’s cool,” Kakashi says, eager to get home and shower all the sweat and dirt from training off himself. It hadn’t bothered him as much before, but the air feels different now. More tense. It’s just Kakashi—nobody else feels the tenseness, probably, because it’s literally all in Kakashi’s head. “I hope they say yes. Grovel if you have to, Jiraiya!”

Jiraiya ruffles his hair good-naturedly, picking himself up off the floor and ambling off toward the training grounds. In Kakashi’s opinion, he’s going at a pretty slow pace, and Rin seems to share the thought because she cups her hands over her mouth and shouts, “GET A MOVE ON, PERV!”

Jiraiya waves a hand over his shoulder. “Yeah, yeah!” He doesn’t even have to try for his voice to carry. Kakashi wishes he was that good at yelling.

“Well, we should probably get home now. Remember! My house at eighteen hundred. And you better bring Chikara. I know Orochimaru let you keep him and they haven’t taken him back yet,” Rin orders him. Kakashi smiles. The fondness in his chest is real but it isn’t all his, and he’s happy Big Kakashi is starting to feel less somber and serious and more relaxed. He promises Rin he’ll get Chikara and the two go on their separate ways; Rin to stock up on tea and Kakashi to go home and take that long-awaited shower.

[ — ]

Chikara bumps his head against Kakashi’s arm. Kakashi takes it as a sign to stop pouring sugar into his tea and just drink it already. He does so with great reluctance. At least Chikara looks somewhat proud of him. Or, well, as proud as he can look while he’s this drunk. Tsunade has been sneaking him sake under the table since she got here.

“Tsunade, please,” Sakumo sighs. “You know we’ve had to start hiding our shampoo, right? He won’t touch conditioner but if you leave shampoo out after he’s had a drink he goes nuts.”

Tsunade snickers. “Stop using shampoo then.” She pours some sake in her tea. Gross. Who in their right minds would do this?

“We can't just stop using shampoo!” Sakumo splutters.

“We could,” Kakashi says, “but it wouldn't be very fun. Can you imagine having an itchy head your entire life just because of a snake?” He shakes his head.

Rin laughs, glancing at Kakashi for a moment before turning back to her conversation with Nagato and Konan. Yahiko is in the bathroom, Kakashi thinks. He's pretty sure he's here at least.

Kakashi is about to start talking to his dad and the sannin again, but then Big Kakashi speaks.

Hey, he says. Kakashi raises a mental eyebrow. About what I said earlier. Well, I've decided we're going to talk about it now.

Kakashi has to physically stop himself from whining out loud. So he does it in his head instead. Awwww, come on. I’m having fun here!

This is important, mini-me. Big Kakashi seems to hold his breath for a moment, in preparation for something. So, we're gonna have to get to saving the world now. And you can start with Danzō's top-secret child snatching organization, ROOT.

His WHAT, Kakashi asks. He hopes nobody saw him flinch. A quick scan of the room shows everything is normal but Rin is looking at him a little funny. That’s okay—Rin is more used to his antics than other people. She probably thinks he’s just twitchy or something. I think you’re gonna have to run that one by me again.

Danzō the councilman, Big Kakashi announces, like he’s the answer to the universe. What do you know about him?

Um, nothing. Next to nothing. I know he was on the Sandaime’s genin team and Senju Tobirama was his sensei, Kakashi answers.

Good, good. Any more and he’d likely kill you, if he was aware you had that kind of dirt on him.

Dirt? Kakashi asks. Surely not everything about the man could be dirt. His sleeping habits? His eating habits? If even those are top-secret . . .

That’s right. Most everything he does is highly illegal. Shimura Danzō is a corrupt, evil man who kidnaps children both clanless and part of clans if they show even a spark of potential beyond the normal. And only a few people know about this: those in ROOT, the organization that trains those stolen children, you and I, and . . . and the Sandaime, Big Kakashi says.

Kakashi’s mouth goes dry. It’s a lot of information to take in and Big Kakashi doesn’t even sound like he’s done. You know, this is all going a little fast. Can’t we talk about this later?

No, Big Kakashi tells him firmly. Everyone’s distracted. This is a good time to tell you. I’ll repeat information later but right now is a good time. You’re more alert since we’re around other people.

Speaking of other people, Minato-sensei’s just asked him to pass the sugar. Kakashi reaches out, swearing mentally—mini-me, watch your language!—when he sees his hands are shaking. Minato doesn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, though, because he only nods and thanks Kakashi.

“Kakashi?” Rin asks from across the table. Kakashi looks over to her, panicking for a second because he thinks she’s noticed his weird sort of minor freakout. “Do you want some more tea?”

Kakashi once again has to physically stop himself from slumping over in relief. In the background of his mind, Big Kakashi has started rattling off a list of names of kids who were taken by Danzō. It’s hard to focus so Kakashi nods without speaking and watches, trying to get Big Kakashi to shut up, while Rin hurries over and pours him some more tea.

“Thanks,” he says flatly.

Rin gives him a slightly worried look before shaking her head and saying, “You’re welcome. And try to hold back on the sugar this time, okay?”

Kakashi nods.

—and in the future, Aburame Torune, Yamanaka Fū, Sai, Shin, among others. Am I going too fast for you?

Yes! Kakashi hisses. I can barely concentrate. What is wrong with you? We should have had this in a private place. I can’t focus on anything and I have to be actually mentally present at this tea party! Rin put it together and it means a lot to her and I want to respect that and join in.

Rin will live as long as you save the world. Big Kakashi, who’s usually flippant and lazy, sounds genuinely distressed. Maybe if talking about ROOT stresses him out so much, he shouldn’t do it. Simple as that. If we don’t get things done, though, she won’t be there! I told you she d—

“Kakashi, your tea’s gonna get cold if you just keep staring at it like that,” Tsunade jokes, elbowing him in the side. He rubs the spot she hit him and grumbles something about drunk old ladies. “You aren’t even gonna put sugar in it? Where’s the Kakashi I know?” Tsunade absently pours another dish of sake for Chikara, who flickers his tongue greedily.

—ies and so does Obito and don’t even get me started on what happened to Obito—

“—hope Obito gets out of the hospital soon—”

—the actual end of the world, mini-me, you don’t know how bad it was and we have to take care of things if we want it to work out! Danzō’s just the first—

“You okay, Kakashi? Maybe you should eat. I know I wore you out during training,” Sakumo says sympathetically.

—not to mention Akatsuki later down the line, and I haven’t even told you all about that. We might even have to travel to—

“—Kushina! Not you too? Tsunade’s bad enough as it is. Get that sake away from Ch—”

—and you’re gonna have to—

STOP! Kakashi screams. He kicks back from the table, hard, so much so that his chair falls flat on its back. Silence falls over the room and everyone’s head simultaneously turns toward him.

“Kakashi?” Minato asks hesitantly. It’s too much for him to handle right now.

It's too much, he can't even tell if these feelings are his or Big Kakashi's—it just won't stop. There’s anxiety filling him to the brim, a clamor of voices even though he knows everyone, even Big Kakashi, has stopped talking. Before he realizes it, he's running. And when he gets home, the first thing he does is lock himself in his bedroom and throw the comforters over his head.

He can hear the front door slam against the wall, and his dad yelling for him, and all he can think is that he just needs Big Kakashi to calm down and repeat what he's saying.

So he lies there in his bed curled up in a tight ball and meditates, relaxes, ignores Sakumo knocking on the door and calling to him and giving up five minutes later, until he finds himself face-to-face with Big Kakashi.

Kakashi gives the man the most acid glare he’s capable of. “Now. Repeat everything you just told to me and say sorry for ruining the tea party too!”

Chapter Text

so uhhhh hi! listen. this fic is uhhhhhhhhh well it’s officially discontinued. ofc there’s always a CHance i’ll continue it someday but, like, it’s super unlikely and seriously don’t get your hopes up. all the fics i worked on w my ex have been stressing me out wayyy too much to continue LMAo so! don’t get pissed my dudes! have a fun life! and stuff!