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Early Morning Reminiscing

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Scars were the result of many things. Of fun and love, of hardships and of loss.

Of surviving, always of surviving.

The day before had passed in a blur, almost imagined. Blurry eyes barely pierced the surface of reality, his mind suspended in a state of dissociation and the only thing keeping him relatively grounded was the touch of raised flesh that spanned against his nose and cheeks. He wasn’t the only one, this time being a somber time for most, but he wasn’t sure if he was happy or not to not be alone in his feelings.  

He’d been sure to request the next day off months in advance. No matter how much older he’d gotten, October 10th was never easier to handle than the year before.

He awoke at his normal time, 6am, always too early, but he allowed himself the small comfort of staying in bed. Fingers curled around the edge of the blanket pulled up to his nose, absentmindedly skimming across the scar he’d been gifted when he was younger. Flashes of bright orange and blue danced behind eyelids held shut too tight, memories of scorching heat almost tangible enough to burn him some 15 years later. Blood curdling screams still rang deep in his ear and he bit his lip to hold back a sob, the small part of him in the present trying to convince himself he was shaking from the mid autumn chill sweeping gently passed half drawn curtains.

He wrenched his eyes open in an attempt to draw him back to the here and now, rapidly blinking his eyes to rid them of the tears that threatened to spill. He took comfort in the dark, knowing that when the sun began to rise, its fiery light would remind him all too much of what he tried desperately to forget.

He thought it rather pathetic that almost two decades later he was still on the verge of tears when thinking about that day. Fighting, death and destruction were all too commonplace in a world such as their own. He had his own fair share of scars besides the one. Small nicks and scrapes on his hands, a constant reminder of the fact that he woke up everyday to teach preteens how to be anything but, how to fight, how to kill. Even some keloids from tricky missions of his own or one scar long and gnarled whose phantom pain reminded him that trust in others can unfortunately be a fickle thing.

Be it from shuriken or kunai, fire or lightning, having scars was as natural as breathing to all shinobi and while it wasn't uncommon to remember the stories attached to them, you weren’t supposed to dwell. You weren’t supposed to shed tears until there were no more to shed years after events had passed. You were supposed to move on.  

He could deal with the physical scars, he thinks. Once the pain of receiving them wears off, they’re easy to forget about until he caught a glimpse of them in a mirror or his fingers grazed over them just so while he washed. And even still, there was no shortage of scars marring the skin of those walking around the village so it was almost easy to become disillusioned to the importance of them. Instead of focusing on the addition of another notch made on skin, most people focused on the fact that they were fortunate enough to return to the village with those marks in the first place, another scar used to commemorate the fact that they had fought hard enough to live at least one more day.

It was the emotional scars that he hated most. The existence of the scar that spans the length of tan cheeks served more as a reminder of the things held inside his head, inside his heart. Loss is another thing all too common but losing loved ones leaves an ache that seems to never fade.

Scars formed from almost losing loved ones do the same, he thinks, as a mop of golden hair and a smile too bright for this world flashes in his eyes.

An arm slides around his waist, pulling him back into a warm embrace, fingers curling around the fabric of his shirt. He startles just so, having forgotten that he wasn’t alone, the warmth of the others' presence masked by thoughts too heavy for so early in the morning.

“You’re thinking too loud.” Kakashi whispers, chapped lips dragging lazily against Iruka's neck before giving warm skin a quick peck.

“Sorry.” he murmurs, releasing a breath he didn't realize he was holding. It's only then that he takes notice of the tension in his muscles and releases them as best he can with a small sigh.

Kakashi's voice is groggy with sleep when he asks, "Do you want to talk about what’s on your mind?" Iruka slides his fingers between the ones resting on his stomach and squeezes hard, allows the touch of smooth skin to ground him.

"Not much, really." He knows Kakashi would see the evasion for what it is but wouldn't push too much. "Just… scars."

Kakashi breathes a heavy, knowing sigh, tickling the hairs at the nape of Iruka's neck. “Yeah… I get what you mean.” he says and leaves it at that.

Iruka knew Kakashi would see underneath the underneath, knew he didn’t need to elaborate any further. Kakashi carried more scars than anyone else he knew. Iruka hated it, hated knowing that the man he loved most in the world understood how he felt and then some, but right now he tried to take a small bit of comfort in at least remembering he wasn’t alone.