It all starts because, despite Ryouma's reputation and Kakashi's literary tastes, they don't spend all their time off together having sex.
The spirit may be willing, but the flesh has to get up at 0500 for training, and their tendency towards competitiveness has a tendency to carry over into the bedroom. So “one more round” becomes “best of three,” then “best of five,” and then they’re scrambling to come up with a reasonable explanation for when the lieutenant asks why they're both limping.
Sometimes, Kakashi reads from his books, which is fun, especially when Ryouma discovers that Kakashi does voices. And that he gets more flustered over the declarations of love than he does over the actual sex. Sometimes, Ryouma studies, which is… not fun, but necessary, and slightly less of a headache-inducing slog with Kakashi there, pointing out useful tricks like the “green” radical that’s in the kanji for “vein.”
Most of the time, when they’re both tired and just want each other’s company, they put in a movie.
Initially, this takes some calibration.
“Don’t you have anything that’s not pornographic?” Kakashi asks, leafing through Ryouma’s video collection.
“You read porn in public, every day,” Ryouma accuses, and shoos Kakashi away with a protective arm over his videos. “My room, my TV, my pick.” He pulls one off the shelf and tosses it at Kakashi. “Here. Daughter of a samurai goes after the yakuza clan that killed her father. Violence, lots of fake blood, nudity but no sex. Happy?”
Kakashi looks down at the cover. A sword-wielding woman in a torn kimono stands in front of an unnecessarily shirtless man, as the movie tagline announces that THE FLOWER THAT BLOOMS IN ADVERSITY… IS THE DEADLIEST OF THEM ALL.
He sighs. “It’ll do.”
“That is not remotely what arterial spray looks like,” Kakashi says.
Ryouma glares at him. At first, he was glad that Kakashi is also someone who talks during movies, but they're barely a third of the way through and Kakashi has already criticised the fight scenes (four times), the historical accuracy of the costumes (twice), and the villain's motivations… okay, Ryouma had to agree with him on that one. He has also, correctly, guessed both the third act plot twist and the ending.
Ryouma ran out of popcorn to throw at Kakashi two criticisms ago, and is seriously contemplating just tossing the bowl.
“Tell you what, you can pick the next one, okay?”
“This is what you picked?!” Ryouma demands, voice thick with horror.
On the screen, the sobbing twelve-year-old main character begs his beloved, loyal dog to hang on for just a little longer, please . She’s too heavy for him to carry and run at the same time; he’s still in enemy territory, but he refuses to leave her behind, not when she had followed him to battle and saved him from an Iwa blade in the back.
The dog whimpers through increasingly laboured breaths, as the slash on her side — fucking Iwa, did those bastards have no human decency at all — bleeds through the bandage he’s desperately pressing into her golden fur. She licks his wet face, weakly, and goes still.
The fact that Kakashi looks as horrified as Ryouma feels, is small consolation. “The video rental place said that this was a feel-good movie,” he says hoarsely, eye wide and glued to the TV. The hand he has clutched in Ryouma’s is bruisingly tight.
The dog lives in the end. So does the child. Eventually, Kakashi lets go of Ryouma’s hand.
“All right, new rule,” Ryouma says, later that night. “No movies with dogs, or kids.”
“Agreed,” Kakashi says, face muffled against Ryouma’s collarbone.
Action films are generally safe, and easy. Despite his complaints, Kakashi does find some comfort in the predictability of the plots. Ryouma just likes that the good guys always win, and the bad guys are always reassuringly irredeemable.
And while Ryouma has to admit that some (okay, a lot ) of the dialogue is pretty dumb, every once in a while, there’s a good one-liner that just lodges itself in his brain and stays there.
The problem with being known as the Weird Shit Team, is that everyone expects you to handle more weird shit. Like monsters; actual, terrorizing-the-countryside monsters.
(Ryouma, personally, wishes they could be known as the Hot Team instead, and be sent on missions where they could pose attractively for posters or something.)
The leader of the village most recently terrorized by this monster is Fukurou Misaki, a woman who must be well into her sixties, but stands as tall and straight as a well-honed blade. Her steel-grey hair is pulled back into a severe bun, and her steel-grey eyes are disapproving as she scrutinizes the four of them.
“I know we’re a poor village who couldn’t afford much,” she says, voice low and hard, “but given what we paid, I’d have thought we’d get more than just four men.”
Ryouma would be offended, but he knows that Fukurou-san lost her son recently. He’d been one of a band of thirty able-bodied men and women who’d gone after the monster, and not returned. Kakashi found what was left of them, on their way to the village.
“We’re members of Konoha’s elite,” Raidou says, with calm patience. “The Hokage wouldn’t have sent us unless he was confident in our success.”
Fukurou-san looks completely unmoved. “I hope so.” She sits back in her chair and turns her gaze to the window. “For your sakes.”
Ryouma casts a quick glance around the room, taking in the expressions of the villagers who had gathered to see who had been sent to eliminate the threat. Most of them look as unimpressed as Fukurou, though there are a smattering of faces that stare at the ninja with painful hope.
“This isn’t the first monster we’ve faced, ma’am,” Ryouma says, to them, if not to Fukurou. “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
They do, of course. And they get covered in disgusting bodily fluids, of course.
“So,” Kakashi says, conversationally, kneeling beside Ryouma on the bank of a stream, as they do their best to scrub blood and monster guts off their armour. “‘If it bleeds, we can kill it’?”
Ryouma feels his face heat behind his mask. “It’s a good line!” he says defensively. “Besides, you can’t tell me that your little trick with the lightning wasn’t copied directly from God of Lightning III. ”
“... shut up.”
The sad reality, Kakashi knows, is that movies are generally made by civilians with limited — if any — martial arts expertise. As a result, most of the fight scenes in action movies are just… bad.
Sometimes, Ryouma talks about a possible post-ninja career as a stuntman. Assuming he retires alive, with all his limbs and his sanity intact, of course, which they both know is unlikely. Still, he would do an infinitely better job than the people they’ve seen in the movies.
Occasionally, though, they find a gem.
“So they actually got a ninja to choreograph the fights in this one?” Ryouma asks, as he feeds the video into the slot and presses Play. “That’s unusual, isn’t it? Genin?”
“Chuunin,” Kakashi replies, making himself comfortable on Ryouma’s bed. “Hirose Kaito. He took severe damage to his coils during the War, and couldn’t mould chakra anymore, so he retired. He’s also the main character’s stunt double.”
“Nice. ” Ryouma lifts the popcorn bowl from Kakashi’s lap and places it on his chest, so he can rest his head on Kakashi’s thighs. “This should be good.”
It is good. The opening fight scene is beautifully shot and set in a sunlight-dappled forest that reminds Kakashi of the giant trees surrounding Konoha. The choreography is intricate and exciting, and even without his Sharingan activated, Kakashi can tell that Hirose must have almost been at jounin-level in his taijutsu.
It is also, unfortunately, incredibly awful, because while Hirose is nearly jounin-level in his taijutsu, the actor playing the main character would probably lose a fight with a motivated bunny rabbit.
“You can see the wire,” Kakashi says, disgusted, as the camera makes an insultingly obvious cut from Hirose in the forest to the other actor in a film studio. “And that’s not even a real tree.”
“I could throw a better punch than that when I was six, ” Ryouma says, equally disgusted, when a nameless henchman is launched backward by a hit that’s so far from connecting that you could fit a whole other person between them. He taps Kakashi’s knee. “ You could probably have done better right out of the womb.”
The climactic battle has the main character wreaking devastation in a snow-covered bamboo forest, wielding what’s probably supposed to be a kusarigama but just looks like a curved knife on a long chain. He — well, Hirose, on the wide shots — cuts a swathe through the villain’s minions, slicing through limbs, heads, and on a few occasions, entire torsos. Of course, the overall effect is ruined by frequent close-ups of the other actor grunting and making shouty faces (seriously, who hired this idiot?) but the visuals are still quite striking.
“Hey, didn’t the QM give you one of those?” Ryouma asks, watching Hirose swing the blade end of the kusarigama in a circle and bisect a man at the waist.
“Yes,” Kakashi replies. Not that he’s done much with his kyoketsu-shoge beyond nudging it out of the way when he’s sweeping under his bed. He’d give it back to Morita, except that Morita hates him for his — legitimate — complaints about the ANBU uniform’s lack of shoulder protection. And pockets.
On the screen, Hirose flings out the weighted end of the kusarigama, hooks the chain around his opponent’s leg, and hauls the man over his head, to land impaled on the blade. Kakashi whistles quietly behind his mask.
Ryouma looks up at him, eyes wide and shining. “Can you do that?”
Admittedly, it has been over a decade since Kakashi has studied the kusarigama, but he’s pretty sure that the movie producers have taken some significant artistic liberties with the use of this one.
Still, a bladed weapon is a bladed weapon, and just being on a chain doesn’t make it difficult.
He shrugs. “Probably.”
“Hmm,” Ryouma murmurs. He glances at the TV, then back at Kakashi. “Want to find out?”
Kakashi considers it. On the one hand, it is getting late, and messing around with a weapon that neither of them are terribly familiar with would probably not be good rookie behaviour.
On the other hand, the QM did want him to practice using the kyoketsu-shoge. So really, this could be considered training.
“Training Field Nine should be free.”
Ryouma’s face lights up in a grin. “Race you.”
With the perfect clarity of hindsight, Kakashi remembers that the reason he doesn’t use his kyoketsu-shoge is not just because he prefers to be a close-range fighter. He’s worked hard to compensate for his lack of depth perception, but ranged weapons are generally less predictable and more difficult for him to control.
As he and Ryouma limp their way to the lieutenant’s house — on the basis that Genma would ask more questions than Toshirou-sensei, but be less inclined to add them to his List of Stupid — Kakashi deducts a hundred points for dumbassery, and makes a mental note to add the kyoketsu-shoge to his weapons training regimen.
“Explain,” Genma says, with the forced calm of a man who’s still calculating how long and loud he ought to be yelling.
For a moment, Kakashi contemplates saying that they’d injured themselves having athletic sex, if only to make Ryouma stop looking so guilty (even though Kakashi had told Ryouma that it wasn’t his fault, as Kakashi had gotten to the training field first and then called dibs on being Hirose).
“We were watching a movie,” he says instead. “Betrayal Begets Blood.”
Genma blinks. “Betrayal Begets — oh, the kusarigama fight at the end? Wait, that’s how you got hurt?”
Ryouma, whose head had snapped up at Genma’s revelation that he might share their dubious taste in films, ducks back down again. “Sorry, Lieutenant,” he says quietly.
“We won’t do it again,” Kakashi adds.
The glare Genma levels at him clearly says, You shouldn’t have done it in the first place. Kakashi bows his head as well, trying to look as contrite as he can.
“Good,” Genma says, still sounding stern, but Kakashi can feel his chakra warming as he prepares it for healing. “Of course, you’ll both be on time for training, every day, for the rest of the month.”
“Yes, Lieutenant,” Ryouma says, with the earnest fervour of someone who’s planning to wake up at 0400 every morning just so he can drag Kakashi out of bed by 0430.
Kakashi sighs. “Yes, Lieutenant.”
“You know,” Genma says, a few days later, during the mandatory post-training stretch. “If you guys like Hirose Kaito’s work, you should check out Dance of the Twin Daggers. It’s set during the Warring States Era, and it’s got a great storyline and gorgeous cinematography.”
Ryouma looks thoughtful. “I don’t think I’ve seen that one.”
“I have,” Raidou says, as he folds himself over one outstretched leg. “It’s good. The ending’s kind of sad, though.”
“I have it at home,” Genma continues, handing juice boxes to each member of his team. “You’re all welcome to come over and watch it. I’ll even provide snacks.”
Raidou grins. “Sounds fun.”
“I’m in,” Ryouma chimes in.
Kakashi looks sharply at Ryouma, who looks expectantly back. Raidou and Genma have their eyes on him too, but their expression is more warily curious.
Well. Genma does have a bigger TV, fewer neighbours, and better snacks.
Genma’s couch fits two occupants comfortably, three at a squeeze. With four people, Genma sits sandwiched between Raidou and Ryouma, while Kakashi claims the floor by Ryouma's feet.
In the dim light cast by the glow of the screen, and hidden behind his knee, Ryouma's hand slips down and rests on Kakashi's head, long fingers carding through the hair at Kakashi's temple.
Kakashi smiles, feeling warm, and leans more heavily against Ryouma's leg.
Dance of the Twin Daggers is a story about passion, duty, and the heartbreak of a love that almost manages to overcome all obstacles.
Kakashi, who prefers movie endings that feature less crying over corpses, takes solace in the fact that at least these actors have put some effort into looking like they’re actual members of an elite warrior clan.
“We should watch the Five Rings Cycle next time,” Ryouma says, once the credits start rolling.
From the other end of the couch, Raidou stretches, and sighs. “I’m not doing anything next Saturday night.”
‘Next Saturday night’ ends up being the ‘next two Saturday nights,’ because the Five Rings Cycle is nine hours long. Ryouma mouths along to every stirring, heroic speech. Kakashi complains about the fakeness of the blood until he is popcorn-pelted into silent, sulky submission.
Afterwards, as they clean up Genma’s living room, Raidou says, “Have you guys seen Five Fingers of Death? ”
Five Fingers of Death begins on the eve of a battle, on the wind-swept steppes of Earth Country. The young protagonist sneaks into the enemy camp, unlaces the gloves covering the eponymous fingers, and deals quiet, efficient death to everyone he touches.
The movie ends with the same protagonist, controlled by unknown, nefarious forces, clasping his bare hands around the throat of his horrified love interest.
In the silence afterwards, Raidou says, a little sheepishly, “I forgot about that part.”
“Is there a sequel?” Kakashi asks.
“Probably not,” Genma says, brow furrowed in thought. “If I remember correctly, they were making a sequel, but then the Third War started and the film studio was destroyed.”
“Fucking Iwa,” Ryouma snarls.
The other three grumble their agreement.
The next movie they watch is Villains, which is about a group of villains who team up to fight worse villains. It’s a little heavy on the symbolism, but the action sequences are decent, and the characterization is compelling. It’s just —
“Why are there so many murdered women?” Raidou asks disapprovingly.
“Jiraiya-san said that a lot of writers like to kill off women to provide plot momentum for the male characters,” Kakashi says, sounding distracted as he digs through the bowl of assorted nuts — probably for almonds, Genma thinks; he’s noticed that Kakashi’s partial. “He never approved; said it was a cheat for talentless hacks who couldn’t plot their way out of a bento box.”
“Ah,” Raidou says, with the same slightly bewildered look that they all still got whenever Kakashi talks about legendary heroes as if they’re his eccentric relatives. “Duly noted.”
In an attempt to provide some variety to their usual action film fare, Genma suggests a personal favourite, Dream.
The rookies fall asleep halfway through.
The Shinzo trilogy is better received; during one particularly sophisticated fight scene, Kakashi even uncovers his Sharingan.
“With supervision,” he promises hastily, when he catches Genma's glare.
It’s when Ryouma starts bringing food to movie night, that Genma realizes that their movie nights might be evolving into a tradition.
“You feed us enough when we’re on duty, we should pull our own weight when we’re off,” Ryouma says, when Genma asks, and walks right past him to unload the snacks — not terribly healthy, but it’s not like Ryouma needs to worry about burning calories — onto the dinner table.
Raidou, not to be outdone, shows up on the following week with what looks like half of the ANBU cafeteria’s offerings, in stacked plastic containers.
The movie night after that, Kakashi, who clearly needs to one-up everyone in everything, brings a four-tiered black lacquer bento box, beautifully wrapped in leaf-patterned furoshiki, courtesy of the Hokage’s housekeeper.
Ryouma declares him a cheat.
Kakashi replies that he was making use of all available resources.
Raidou and Genma steal choice morsels off both their plates until they stop bickering in order to protect their food.
They make an effort to keep a regular movie night schedule, but three of the four of them do have family responsibilities, and once Ryouma starts his formal medic training, he sometimes has classes that carry long into the evening.
And, of course, they have missions.
It’s amazing how slowly time passes when you’ve got shit-all to do except wait for time to pass.
Raidou’s hospital room is silent. Its other occupant was discharged a few hours ago — to his family, not the morgue, which was good. The double-paned windows block out almost all the noise from the outside.
He would try to sleep, but his pain meds have had him dozing off all day, and now he’s wide awake with nothing to look at except the rectangle of moonlight moving slowly across the floor. The only reading material in the hospital room is a gardening magazine that a previous occupant left behind. Raidou read it, and learned that apparently, a trick to getting blue hydrangeas is to bury a rusty nail near the roots.
His moms came by earlier. Ume fussed, despite Raidou doing his best to reassure her that he’d only had a minor disagreement with a brick wall (summary: Raidou survived; the wall did not). His joke of, “You should see the other guy” didn’t go over well either, when she learned that he'd fractured a few ribs and wrenched his shoulder badly enough to possibly have nerve damage. Shun made him promise to behave for the medics.
Which Raidou did, despite the fact that Kimura-sensei (why did it always have to be Kimura-sensei?) definitely has a thing against taijutsu fighters. His go at healing Raidou’s ribs was more pleasant than Raidou had endured with the Wolf Gods, but not by much.
Three chakra signatures flare right outside his door, like sparks in the night, undimmed by the hospital’s ubiquitous chakra dampers: ANBU.
Raidou drops his head back onto his pillow. “If this is a jailbreak,” he says, as the door slides open, “I’m afraid I’ll have to decline. I’m supposed to be on my best behaviour.”
To his lack of surprise, Genma walks in, followed by Kakashi and Ryouma. Who is carrying a TV in his arms.
“Sorry to disappoint, Taichou, but we’re just visiting,” Genma says. He’s carrying a large paper box, emblazoned with the logo for Shiranui’s Bakery.
“I see.” Raidou raises his good hand and points at the TV. “And is that an approved visitor?”
“We got permission,” Ryouma says, with enough smugness in his grin that Raidou suspects shirtlessness might have been involved. “Kakashi was very persuasive.”
Raidou blinks again. And looks at Kakashi.
Kakashi just shrugs. “It’s Saturday night,” he says, simply.
Oh, Raidou thinks, as something in his chest goes warm and tight at the same time.
Genma assigns the rookies the task of setting up the TV, and sits on the edge of Raidou’s bed to unpack the baked goods he brought. The bedside table is quickly covered in plates of soft cream roll cakes, flaky curry pastries, and delicate red bean mochi.
While the rookies argue over placement and positioning, Raidou asks quietly, “What did Hatake do?”
“He bribed the medic in charge of this ward,” Genma murmurs, a smile hovering at the corners of his mouth. “He promised to give her twenty minutes for his appointment next week if she’d give him two hours with the TV tonight.”
Raidou’s shock must show on his face, because Genma's smile deepens, crinkling in the soft gold of his eyes.
“It's Saturday night,” he says, and hands Raidou a plate.
The warmth in Raidou’s chest swells, as if a miniature sun has taken up residence behind his ribcage.
His team, he thinks, feeling exasperated and proud and helplessly fond. His team.
The movie they watch is called Ninja Hurricane. Genma got it from Ginta, who got it from a jounin who’d come back from a mission to the Land of Iron.
“This feels like anti-ninja propaganda,” Raidou says suspiciously, as a group of supposedly elite, silent assassins clatters its way across the tiled roofs of the target's home.
“The Land of Iron is samurai country,” Genma says, with a faint grimace.
Ryouma just looks bewildered. “Why would you yell the name of your attack?”
“Why are we even watching this?” Kakashi asks, glaring accusingly at Genma.
Genma's response is forestalled as the film cuts to the protagonist, a former ninja who has turned away from the brutal life of his brethren. The man takes a deep breath, then flips onto his hands and starts a series of upside down push-ups, as the camera pans lovingly up his straining, well-muscled shoulders to a truly magnificent set of abs.
“Apparently, for the visuals,” Genma says, dryly.
Ryouma gives the man on the screen a critical once-over. “I bet they’re painted on,” he says dismissively. “Ours are better.”
“I hope everyone dies at the end,” Kakashi mutters.
Disappointingly, they do not.
But there is a sequel.
Genma buys a bigger couch.