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Kakashi woke up calm, rested, and hungry. He went to the sink and started the faucet, then tilted his head and turned it back off. Why did I… I didn’t dream of Rin, everything’s okay.

He dressed, locked up, and went out to wander the village.

Kakashi woke up calm and hungry, but feeling like he could have slept another few hours. He went to the sink and turned on the faucet but… no, everything’s okay.

He dressed, locked up, and took to the roofs to find some breakfast.

Kakashi woke up wondering why he couldn’t remember what he did yesterday. He looked around his apartment and his eyes caught on the sink, where he got the urge to wash his hands but—

He dressed, found a granola bar for breakfast, and lounged on his bed to read.

Something is wrong. Kakashi wakes up and doesn’t remember going to bed. Hell, he doesn’t remember most of what happened the past few weeks.

He doesn’t stop to lock up, just hits the roofs and heads for the Hokage Tower. The windows are open in Tsunade’s office, so he slips in.

“What is it, brat?” The Hokage didn’t even look up from her work.

“I need a mission.”

“Another time,” she waves him away. “Go enjoy the village. You don’t get to do that much, do you?”

Kakashi turns around to leave, more suspicious than when he arrived.

He wakes up back in his apartment and is certain he’s stuck in a genjutsu. He can’t remember anything, only that he’s calm and relaxed but also has the desperate urge to wash blood off his hand. He folds his hands together and mutters, “Kai,” but nothing changes.

Kakashi gets dressed and leaves. He has to figure this out somehow.

On his walk around the village, Gai catches his attention. “Rival! You owe me a challenge!”

Normally he would humor him, but… “Later, Gai, I promise,” Kakashi waves at him and grimaces apologetically. “I have a puzzle to figure out.”

“I shall find my own riddle to solve then! And if you solve yours first, I will—”

“That’s great. Hey, actually, before you leave,” Kakashi wanders closer to Gai and tries not to fidget, “could you do me a favor?”

“Anything for you, Esteemed—”

“Break the genjutsu I’m under,” he says, finally holding out a hand.

Gai looks down at his hand, then back up to his face, and then begins laughing. “Your sense of humor is so hip and cool,” he declares, and then turns and walks away.

Kakashi wakes up and groans. He can’t remember what happened yesterday, or any of the days before. He is sure he doesn’t have a concussion and anyway, hasn’t been out of the village recently enough to have gotten one.

Something niggles at his mind, that’s not right, but he gets up and focuses on the faucet. Why is he focussing on the…?

He goes out to wander.

It takes him most of the day to realize that he doesn’t recognize anyone in the village, even though they all smile and wave—and isn’t that odd in itself? Most people avoid him, either due to his reputation or Icha Icha. But today he almost seems popular. It’s unnerving and he’s not fond of having so many eyes on him.

“There’s a seal.”

Kakashi looks around for the voice, for whoever said that, but he is in a civilian district and no one is having a conversation about seals. He knows that voice but he can’t put a name to it.

“As we thought. Can you remove it?”

A different voice this time, one he’s still familiar with, and Kakashi looks around carefully but still can’t—

Kakashi wakes up calm and well rested, but it quickly fades. He’s still in bed and he hears voices murmuring around him, discussing a seal, vitals, genjutsu—

He looks down at his hand and sees blood. He rushes to the sink, pulls down his mask, and heaves. After, he rinses vomit down the drain and washes his hands for an hour.

He sits down on the floor and brings one knee up to his chest. The room has changed; he’s not in his apartment anymore, but a small windowless white room. He looks down at himself and finds his uniform gone, replaced by white hospital scrubs.

He can’t smell anything, can’t hear anything besides his pulse in his chest. The room is bright and too clean.

How did the blood get on his hand? How did he wash it off? There’s no sink in here.

“I need a little more time.”

Kakashi perks up at the sound, but there’s no one else here. He sighs; he’s been in solitary for long enough that he’s beginning to hallucinate. At least he’s not hungry.

“He might not have more time.”

“Then find a way to give him some!”


“I’ve got it. Careful, now, he could be aggressive coming out.”

Kakashi blinks and he’s in a cave, he’s in the white room, he’s in his apartment; back in the cave. It’s fuzzy, but he can focus on the pressure on his shoulders holding him down. He’s kneeling, his hands in his lap, and around him is a team of ANBU. His thighs ache. Where’s his shirt? Where’s his mask?

“Senpai? Are you with us?” Tenzō is on one knee in front of him, still behind the Cat mask.

“There may still be lingering effects,” Owl mutters. They’re turned to watch the rest of the cave; Kakashi’s grateful Owl is giving him the privacy they can. “If he can move, we should leave.”

Kakashi can’t find the energy to speak. He feels like he’s gone a week—or more, maybe—without proper sleep.

“Fox, how’s the removal coming?” Tenzō asks.

“Frustratingly fascinating,” comes the voice from behind him. Startled, Kakashi turns his head to look over his shoulder, but two fingers to his chin keep him facing forward. “Sorry, Hatake-san, but I had to remove my mask earlier. I can’t have you knowing, can I?”

But he does know. He knows that voice. And when they get back to Konoha, he’s going to corner Iruka and ask when he tested for tokujō and enlisted in ANBU.

“Can you do it on the road?” Owl asks.

“It’s still linked to this space,” Fox-Iruka responds. “Five minutes.”

Tenzō sighs. “We’ll give you what we can.”

Kakashi’s awareness is returning to him in bursts; he can feel the seal carved into his back and the fresh ink drawn over it. Of course Iruka would have made tokujō based on his fūinjutsu; and of course ANBU would have snatched him up as soon as possible after that.

“Hatake-san,” Fox mutters. His breath is inches from Kakashi’s shoulders. He fights the chill. “I’m going to release this now. Based on how the seal read, you may feel a discharge of chakra or your own may flare up.”

Kakashi nods. He glares at Tenzō and tries to tell him don’t let Iruka get hurt without moving. Tenzō, bless him, gives him a subtle nod back.

Iruka puts his palm in between Kakashi’s shoulder blades, then pulses his chakra and says, “Kai,” at the same time. He can feel the seal shatter across his chakra and he doesn’t hold back the wince. But there’s no discharge nor a flare, and so Kakashi is left breathing hard and remembering the weeks he spent in the genjutsu—weeks, days, hours… oh, hours in real time, though it felt like weeks.

He hears the shifting of porcelain behind him, and turns to see Fox packing up his ink and brush into a storage scroll. “Ir—Fox,” Kakashi says, and it’s the first thing he’s been able to say since he was sealed. Iruka looks over at him. “Thank you.”

Fox shakes his head. “Cat and Owl found you. I’m just here for the seal.”

“Still,” Kakashi turns to the others and nods. “Thanks.”

Tenzō hands him a shirt—one of Kakashi’s own, with a high neck he can pull all the way up and over his face. Kakashi dresses and stands, letting Tenzō lead the way out of the cave, Fox and Owl taking up positions at the back.