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In that moment he noticed that he couldn't let Iruka go. No matter what happened he would protect him with everything he had.
Everything else seemed like a blur, like it was someone else's life when Iruka was with him, holding him, filling him up, claiming him. He was Iruka's and that gave him strength. The knowledge that someone was waiting for him after he got home from a mission, to comfort him and kiss his pain away filled him with a beautiful warmth that he wouldn't trade for anything. Knowing that with Iruka he was safe.

But he only realised how dependant he was on Iruka - how much he needed his praise and warm embrace - when one day a few years later his partner was on a two week long educational camping trip with his students, leaving him to cope with his post-mission trauma alone.

---

Kakashi closed the door behind him and let out a long trembling sigh. Leaning against the door he crumbled down to the floor as the memories of his latest mission came back to him, shaking his slender figure. He took off his hitai-ate and mindlessly throwing it somewhere into his living room. The metal piece made a clanking sound as it hit something hard in the dark apartment, triggering a memory in his mind.
Flashes of dark blood splattering over him while his hand was submerged in a warmth that was slowly becoming cold. Memories of what he had done as the Hound making him writhe and squirm, crawling up into himself as the reality of his actions hit him like a brick to the chest. Killing never got easy. No amount of ruthless and harsh training could make it so. Not for Kakashi. He had been surrounded by death ever since he was a child, yet it still gnawed at him, at his sanity, at his heart and soul. It had left him wounded beyond repair and he had accepted that.
Time heals all wounds, except Kakashi's. They clung to his heart like mold, slowly feeding away at his memories and thoughts. Leaving him in nothing but darkness, where he felt loneliness crushing his body with slimey cold hands.
Not even ANBU training could adequately prepare a shinobi to become a soulless killer. No one would throw his soul away like that, unless it's already broken. And Kakashi, despite everything, still had his. It was scratched and ripped open but it was still there, deep inside of him waiting to be released, to be restored.
He cried silently that night, like the other nights before, waiting for Iruka to return. To hold and pet him and whisper sweet nothings into his ear. After some time he finally drifted off into a restless sleep.

He woke up to a loud frantic knocking on his door. Slowly he got up to his feet, body feeling numb from the awkward position he had fallen asleep in. And as he stretched his aching limbs he felt it. Tenzou's chakra outside of his door. Why was the ANBU, his friend here, in front of his door? Kakashi unconsciously took a step back.
"Kakashi.", Tenzou shouted from the other side of the door. How did the brunette always manage to pick the worst time to visit Kakashi? It was a very annoying skill of his that had helped the ANBU on a few occasions to stop Kakashi from doing something reckless or desperate.
"Kakashi, open up I know you are in there.", Tenzou commanded and Kakashi shivered at his tone.
"What do you want?", he croaked, unceremoniously falling down onto his small dark couch. He didn't need Tenzou in that moment, he needed Iruka - more than anything.
"I haven't seen you in days and then I heard about your last mission ... Kakashi are you alone in there ... you are isolating yourself again, aren't you?", Tenzou said, his voice thick with worry. Kakashi didn't know what to say, his mouth was dry and his body ached all over. All he wanted was to curl up into a ball and drift away again so that he would wake in Iruka's arms.
"I'm fine.", his voice was raspy and choked as he lied to Tenzou. His kohai worried to much about him, cared to much. Kakashi wasn't worth his worry and neither was he worth Iruka's warmth and care. He didn't deserve it after all he had done, though he desperately needed it, longed for it like it was the glue that kept the pieces of broken body together.
"Don't lie to me, Senpai. You're in that headspace again. That shitty guilt-driven headspace of your's.", Tenzou sighed loud enough for Kakashi to be able to hear it through the door. "Please let me in ... let me help you.", the ANBU sounded desperate and Kakashi couldn't stop the frown forming on his face.
Fuck it.
"You can come in Tenzou.", he slurred the words as he unsealed the wards on his door with a flick of his wrist. Tenzou slowly opened the door and stepped in. The look on his face almost made Kakashi's heart break. Tenzou's big brown eyes were narrowed and brows deep with sorrow while his mouth was half open in shock.
Did he really look that bad?
"K-Kakashi ... fuck.", he said as he started towards the kitchen, leaving Kakashi a little confused and anxious in the living room. Shortly after Tenzou returned with a glass of what looked to be water and a wet towel.
"Drink.", he said plainly and gently pressed the edge of the glass to Kakashi's lips. The silver-haired jounin wriggled away with a low groan earning a stern glare from Tenzou.
"No, I'm not thristy.", he squabbled like a child and pulled his knees to his chest before hugging them tightly with his arms and averting Tenzou's glare.
"When was the last time you drank or ate something, then?", Tenzou asked seemingly annoyed with Kakashi's stubbornness.
"I don't know, don't remember.... Probably a few days ago.", he said, his voice muffled from his head pressing into his thighs in a desperate attempt to make Tenzou disappear from his vision and mind.
"Kakashi...", Tenzou started and gently put his hand on Kakashi's knee, making him twitch in surprise.
"... you need to take care of yourself. I'm not letting you fall back into that space again. I will help you out of there.", he starting strocking Kakashi's thigh with slow, gentle movements.
"I'm not- ... anywhere right now. I- just ... I'm waiting for Iruka, ok. I- can't do anything if he ... is not here.", Kakashi sobbed, feeling warm tears gathering in his eyes and wetting his trousers.
"K-Kakashi I- ... that's not-", he heard Tenzou swallow and take a breath before he spoke again.
"Why can't you do anything if he is not here, Kakashi?", the brunette said softly, his voice heavy with worry. A soft whine escaped the silver-haired jounin's mouth as suddenly the thought of Iruka not returning made him feel dizzy and cold.
"I just can't ... I'm not allowed to.", Kakashi cried silently, while Tenzou was still petting his thigh with loving, gentle strockes.
"Why not? ... Who isn't allowing you to eat, Kakashi?", Tenzou's hand made it's way over to Kakashi's masked cheek, softly brushing over it like he was made of fine porcelain. Kakashi leaned into the touch, raising his head. His watery eyes and red face must have looked pathetic - he must have looked pathetic and weak. And he tried to flee, tried to run from this, not wanting to let Tenzou see this display of fear and guilt on his face. Despite all of his efforts his body didn't move, like it was not his anymore, like he had lost control - again - as his mouth opened and he spoke those haunting words.
"The Hound."

Tenzou's hand stopped as the name pierced his ears, his soft features twitching slightly as if he was trying to suppress a growl or a whine. Kakashi was staring at him his masked face dark with fear and wet with salty half-dried tears.
"Do you remember that stress relief excercise we used to do after rough missions?", the young ANBU's face had softened again, but a hint of desperation and anger still clouded his umber eyes. Kakashi's mind stilled for a moment, making him recall that time again.

After a few moments he gave Tenzou a silent nod, letting some of the tension leave his aching muscles.
His kohai gave him an affectioned smile and continued drawing circles over Kakashi's cheek.
"We can try it if you want? Maybe it will help until Iruka comes back.", Tenzou smiled brightly.
Kakashi was reluctant. He doubted it's effectiveness as he hadn't needed it since he had been with Iruka. But he wanted the pain, longed for it as in that moment it was so tempting, making him dizzy and confused. If this was the only hope he had to pass the time before his man came back, then he would take it over sulking and crying any day.
"Ye-s, let's do it.", he answered weakly, not recognizing his own voice.
Tenzo smiled and cupped Kakashi's teary-eyed red face in his hands.
"Well, then get in position, Senpai.", Tenzou chuckled lightly and moved away from the sobbing, sniffling mass before him.

He wanted this to hurt, wanted to feel low for what he had done on his last mission. Even though he longed for Iruka's warmth and care, a part of him wanted to be punished.
Tenzou was waiting at the door while Kakashi took off the dirty bloodstained uniform, that he was still wearing, leaving on only the tight grey trousers.
In a slow motion he fell down to his knees and put his hands on his thighs, palms up.
"Safeword?", Tenzou said, still standing at the door behind him.
"Red is stop, green is more.", Kakashi answered sheepishly and let his mind go blank, let the Hound take his place.
"Good, are you ready?", he could feel Tenzou behind, molding chakra and heard the creaking of wood. Kakashi shook his head silently and braced himself for the first hit, but nothing happened. Instead the brunette appeared in front of him, holding a long smooth wooden cane. Kakashi kept his head low, waiting for an order or a command from the role-playing Tenzou. It usual always went the same way, Tenzou playing a higher ranking shinobi and Kakashi playing himself or that other part of himself, the Hound or Wolf. But this time it felt different, Tenzou felt different. The air was much too shallow, too peaceful for this kind of punishment.
"Hound.", Tenzou interrupted his thoughts.
"Yes, Kinoe-sama.", Kakashi said quietly. They always used his ANBU name in these situations to distance themselves from their real selves and let the scene unfold more naturally.
"How did you fail me this time?", Kinoe said and stomped the cane on the floor once. Kakashi swallowed and tried to gather his thoughts, the underlying fact that he was going to get punished no matter what he said hung heavily in the back of his mind.
"I killed five innocent children today, Kinoe-sama.", he said almost in a whisper.
"And do you know what you deserve for killing those innocent young lives?", Kinoe said, his voice full of anticipation and anger. Kakashi gave him a tiny nod as an answer which didn't seem to satisfy the other though.
"Say it.", he commanded, pressing the cane under Kakashi's chin, lifting his head up so they made eye-contact. The silver-haired jounin trembled under Kinoe's meanacing gaze and tried to speak with a mouth drier than the deserts of Suna.
"Punishment. I deserve punishment.", he gasped and watched Kinoe's grimace turn into a smirk. Tenzou was playing his role so well, Kakashi couldn't find even a hint of the real Tenzou in Kinoe and he was thankful for it. Knowing that only Kinoe was allowed to hurt him like that.
"Yes and punishment you will get.", the other said and started circling Kakashi, the tip of the cane tracing around his neck, making him breath heavily for a few seconds as the tension in his body kept growing in anticipation of the first hit. There was a warm, tingly feeling in his groin but he ignored it.
He would usually get hard from the teasing and build-up but getting off wasn't the main goal in that scene, at least for him it was merely a side-effect that occurred occasionally.
Suddenly Kinoe stopped behind him, the tip of the cane resting between his shoulder blades. For a brief moment the cold smooth touch of the cane disappeared before he felt it turn accompanied by a sharp stinging pain across his left shoulder blade.
"Shit.", he whispered as he tried his best no to stumble forward.
"Count for me, Hound.", Kinoe said, grabbing a few strands of Kakashi's dirty silver hair and pulling his head back so far it hurt.
"One.", he croaked, forcing his eyes open despite the pain.
"Good, you will get two for each child you killed.", Kinoe said and hit him again. This time on the right shoulder blade.
"Two.", Kakashi whispered and let himself be taken over by the pain that was drowning out everything else, even his guilt and shame.

---

The sounds of his students laughing and playing with kunai filled the air around Iruka as he finished storing all of their camping equipment in storage scrolls. He had managed to cramp everything that the twenty children and him had needed on their little trip, into five scrolls that he put into the pockets of his flak jacket.
It had been a fun, yet exhausting little adventure. Iruka had taught the kids how to set up a camp and place wards to keep them undetected. They had also learned how to prepare food without a fire and how to clean dirty water with an easy Suiton jutsu. It was basic survival training they would eventually need on missions, but it was for kids after all so they had played hide and seek and tag or competitive kunai throwing in addition to the more serious exercises.
After all that work - that felt more like babysitting six year-olds - Iruka just wanted to go home and cuddle with Kakashi until he fell asleep.

After the students had cleaned the campsite they made their way home, jumping through the trees. It was probably a ten minute jump through the thick oak trees, covered in lush green leaves.
When they had reached the main gate to the village, Iruka gave them all a short feedback on how they had done on their first mission camping trip and then let them leave with the wave of his hand and a soft smile on his face. They scattered in different directions, laughing and talking, and Iruka let out a long tired sigh. Finally.
Even though he was quite exhausted he still ran home, jumping over rooftops and hastily greeting his fellow Konoha shinobi that crossed his path with a smile. He stopped on the rooftop of his apartment building. Something was off. A bad feeling rose in his stomach which he could even taste in his mouth. He jumped down landing directly in front of his and Kakashi's apartment door. Muffled groaning and panting noises came from within their flat and suddenly he heard a thrashing sound followed by a low scream. Fear and anger arose in him and he almost punched the door open.

"Eleven."

"K-Kakashi-", Iruka growled as he saw his boyfriend, pressed onto the wall with his hands bound over his low hanging head, blood running down his pale thin chest like thick red paint on a blank canvas. Next to Kakashi, the ANBU, Tenzou was slowly backing away from him with his eyes wide open and a bloody wooden cane in his hand.

"I-Iruka, it's ok. We- ... it's just a scene. It's just stress relief, ok. ... He is fine. Kakashi is fine.", he barely registered Tenzou's pleading voice over his own heart beating loud and angry into his ears. Faster than he could think Iruka was pining Tenzou to the ground, delivering a hard punch to the brunette's tanned face.
"How dare you ... Why would you do that to him.", the last part sounded more like a choked whining growl.
"I'm sorry, Iruka, but he gave me consent. This is something we used to do after really bad missions ... as a form of stress relief.... I-I'm sorry.", Tenzou tried to explain, but Iruka punched him again.
"What kind of sick shit did you to do!", he growled, tears filling his eyes and dropping down on the ANBU.
"Iruka, please listen to me. Kakashi is fine, he is alive. If you calm down I can release him from the ties and I will leave.", Tenzou argued softly and made no move to get Iruka off of him.
He tried to gather his thoughts, calm his mind and body. After taking a few long breaths he got off the ANBU and leaned into the corner of the room, avoiding to look at Kakashi.
"I'm sorry that I punched you, Tenzou.", Iruka apologised. He was too exhausted to think, to voice his desperation at the sight in front of him. In Iruka's mind Kakashi looked half-dead and he almost broke down as he, after gathering enough courage, walked over and gently touched Kakashi's face - it was so hot and red - to stroke his cheek. What sick form of stress relief did the ANBU participate in? They had done this before, probably multiple times. How was Kakashi ok with this? Did he want this? To hang unconscious like a bleeding corpse from the wall in a display of utter failure. Was this punishment he had needed? Even if he had wanted to be beat up like this, Iruka could never do that to him. He hated seeing him like this. Hated the thought of losing him.
"Kakashi?", he whined silently. How could something like this take place in his apartment - their apartment.
"He can't hear you, Iruka.... He is in subspace.", Tenzou said, standing again, his standard shinobi uniform covered in little blood splatters - most likely Kakashi's.
"Well how do I get him back, Tenzou.", Iruka sobbed. He couldn't hold back his tears anymore as they ran down his sun-tanned cheeks and over his scar.
Tenzou put on a forced smile and let the cane melt back into his hand.
"He will come back on his own, Iruka.", Tenzou carefully laid a hand on the teacher's shoulder in an act of reasurance. Iruka's arm twitched at the contact but let Tenzou stay.
"When does he usually come back?", Iruka asked, voice heavy with worry.
Tenzou shrugged.
"Sometimes it's just a few minutes, sometimes hours.", Iruka swallowed hard. Hours? He could stay like this for hours, he would bleed out and die.
As if Tenzou had read his thoughts he rubbed Iruka's back in a soothing motion and spoke.
"He needs you now. Aftercare is very important and I don't think you want me to touch him - judging by those punches earlier.", Tenzou gave him an understanding smile and went on to explain Kakashi's aftercare routine in great detail after they had untied his hands and laid his limp body down onto the bed.
"Please don't be mad at him for it, Iruka. I found him in a really bad mental state and I think he just wanted some relief from his pain until you came back.", Tenzou said as he slowly walked towards the door. "If you need to be mad at someone, let that person be me. I suggested it after all.", Tenzou gave him another forced smile and left.

He took a few long deep breaths in and out to calm himself a little. In truth he wasn't mad at anyone, he didn't know what he felt. Was it worry? Guilt of leaving him alone and coming back late? Shame of not knowing or understanding his partner's methods to relief his pain? Or was it self-loathing for being an awful boyfriend?
Quickly he stopped his racing thoughts that were choking him. Kakashi needed him right now, needed his care and sweet words to ease him back into reality - as Tenzou had said.
With a swift movement he stood up from the bed and paced into the kitchen.
"Firstly, water.", he read aloud from the notes he had written on Kakashi's aftercare that Tenzou had explained to him. It filled an entire small page and he quickly read the second task before folding and putting it into his pocket.
"Secondly, wash him and clean his wounds.", with a tall glass of water in hand he ran into the bathroom to turn the tap on and fill the tub with warm water. While the tub was slowly being filled he went to Kakashi and sat back down next to him on the bed, gently stroking his cheek.
"Here, drink, Kakashi.", Tenzou had told him that it was important to give Kakashi clear commands and use his name to make him feel safe and make his subdrop as soft as possible.
Kakashi hummed softly and let Iruka put the glass to his lips. After he had emptied the entire thing without a word, Iruka took off his pants that were already down by his knees and then his underwear, leaving his alabaster body completely naked, painted with red lines of blood that Iruka had trouble looking at. But he would do it. He would do anything for Kakashi.
So after gently caressing his body for a few minutes, Iruka picked him up - Kakashi nuzzled himself into Iruka's chest - and carried him into the bathroom where the bathtub was already overflowing. He silently cursed and turned off the tap then sat Kakashi down into the tub while the jounin made a few soft noises as he was lowered down into the warm water.
"Good boy, Kakashi.", he praised him, - that was also important according to Tenzou - which he loved doing anyway.
The water quickly turned a redish shade as Kakashi's blood mixed in with it. Iruka settled down in the tub behind him and started washing his hair. It took four rounds of shampoo to get the blood, sweat and grime - most likely from his last mission - out of his silver locks. After that he cleaned the wounds on his back and chest, drawing soft groans from Kakashi as he slowly eased back into reality again. Iruka showered him with praise while rubbing the last specks of blood from his pale skin.
"You did so well Kakashi, can you step out of the tub for me, sweetheart?", Iruka slowly helped him stand and let him test his balance. Kakashi's eyes were open but still narrowed and tired as he held onto Iruka for support to step out of the tub. Iruka wrapped a big clean warm towel around his lover and rubbed him dry, smiling at the soft humming noises coming from Kakashi. He gently ran his hand down his boyfriends pale back over his new and old wounds. Iruka knew that the latest injuries wouldn't leave scars and a part of him was grateful for that. Scars were obtained in battle and came with being a shinobi, but those scars would remind Iruka of how he had failed Kakashi, how he had not been able to be there for him when Kakashi had needed him most. He quickly pushed that thought away and brought his attention back to his love.
After he had put ointment on the wounds and bandaged them in the bathroom he placed a few gentle kisses on Kakashi's back and neck, earning soft hums and moans from his lover.
"Let's get you into some clothes, sweetheart.", Iruka said softly, Kakashi's back resting against his chest.
"Mhm.", Kakashi hummed and slowly turned around, nuzzling into Iruka's chest.
"Do you want me to carry you to the bedroom, Kakashi?", Iruka pulled him closer until he felt the other's cheek on his shoulder and his slow, steady breath on his neck. He had never seen Kakashi like this before, so vulnerable and needy - more than when he was with Iruka and he wanted to take care of him, keep him safe and close.
Kakashi hummed a happy tune in response and wrapped his still weak hands around Iruka's neck. He smiled and placed a few soft kisses on Kakashi's cheek and neck, before reaching under him and lifting him up by his butt. Kakashi wrapped his legs around Iruka as if he was holding on for dear life and let himself be carried over to the bedroom, where Iruka gently dropped him onto the bed. He dressed his partner and dried his damp silver hair with a towel, making it look even messier than usual. He smiled and chuckled at the sight of the silver strands standing up like spikes. Kakashi made a confused noise and looked at him through curtains of silver.
"Oh, honey it's nothing. You just like so cute, like a big silver hedgehog.", Iruka smiled affectionately watching Kakashi's face contort into a lovely smirk.
"Now, my lovely little hedgehog, please lift your legs so I can dress you.", Iruka said in a sing-song while unfolding Kakashi's underwear.
After he had dressed Kakashi in a fresh pair of pyjamas he laid him down on the bed and tucked him in, before dressing himself and rolling under the blankets himself. He put an arm around Kakashi, who nestled closer into Iruka's hold, letting him stroke his soft silver hair.
"Are you comfortable, sweetheart?", Iruka said against a forest of silver.
"Mhm, Iruka...", Kakashi murmured into his chest. "Please don't leave me again.", the jounin said, a hint of desperation in his tone that made Iruka shiver for a second. He knew that Kakashi needed him like a bycicle needed wheels or a story needed a beginning and an end.
"I promise I won't leave you again.", he said, placing a soft kiss on Kakashi's forehead, even though he knew that he wouldn't be able to keep that promise though he desperately wanted to.

---

A few hours later Kakashi woke up to the smell of burned food. Iruka was cooking again. He heard the teacher curse and hiss before a loud thump echoed through the apartment followed by more cursing.
A long tired sigh escaped his lips as he stretched his sore limbs, to find that his back and chest hurt a lot more than usual. He pulled his shirt up to reveal a pattern of bandages wrapped around his upper body and with that came back the memories from that morning, sending a shiver down his spine. Iruka had seen him while he was in subspace, hadn't he? He had done the aftercare, cleaned him, washed him, bandaged him up and brought him to bed. Iruka had definitely seen him in that state. Kakashi swallowed hard. The thought of possibly having traumatised his mate sent shivers down his spine. He couldn't recall everything that had happened - a side effect of his subspace experience - but the sound of the cane hitting his chest while Tenzou's muffled voice echoed in the background and the splashing of water while Iruka whispered something to him.

He cursed himself for his impatience and weak state of mind. How could he let himself sink into that void again? Just because Iruka wasn't there? Just because he was alone and broken? Iruka would always come back for him, always.

But he would lie if he said that Tenzou hadn't helped him, hadn't put him back together like all the other times before he had met Iruka. He had been so deep in that dark place that he had desperately longed for punishment to take away the pain that was gnawing at his heart and soul and to direct it elsewhere. It had helped, a lot, but he could never ask Iruka to do that to him and frankly he didn't want to. Iruka's way of fixing him was the polar of Tenzou's. He showered him with love and affection that he didn't think he deserved, but that made him feel safe. His partner had, in his warm embrace given him a place to cry and vent to and it felt like that was all he had ever needed.

He stood up on weak legs and with a growling stomach. He really hadn't eating anything in a long time. He took a few trembling steps and suddenly his vision turned black, his hands desperately searching for something to hold on to, before he fell down onto his knees.
"Iruka-", he wanted to shout but it came out as nothing but a whisper.
'Ruka help me, his mind was fuzzy and he couldn't feel his legs anymore, while his hand held onto the bed with the last of his strength. He didn't know if his eyes were open but all he saw was black and stars dancing around his vision. He was so cold all over, couldn't feel himself breathing or his heart beating anymore.
He registered a faint noise other than the ringing in his ears and suddenly he was laying on the floor while something sweet and powdery filled his mouth and his mind came back just enough to swallow it down.
"Kakashi - ... -an you hear me- Kakashi."
Iruka?
Slowly his vision came back, though a little blurry he could see Iruka standing over him, could feel him holding his hand.
"Drink, sweatheart.", he heard Iruka say as his head was gently moved and he felt a glass press against his dry lips. Slowly he opened his mouth and greedily drank the cold water that was given to him.
"Well done, Kakashi. Now you need to eat something.", Iruka said softly as he moved a ration bar towards his mouth. Kakashi hungrily ate four bars before Iruka helped him sit up, leaning against the bed.
"Welcome home.", Kakashi said weakly, a soft smile forming on his face.
"Yeah- I have missed you so much, Kakashi-", Iruka sobbed before pulling Kakashi into a hug. "Don't you ever do this again.", he cried into Kakashi's shoulder. "I thought you had died ... twice, today.", Kakashi felt warm tears soaking his shirt and put his hands around the teacher, gently rubbing his neck.
"It's ok, I'm fine, Iruka. I'm fine ...", Kakashi whispered into his ear, too weak to cry or to move.
He was home. Finally he was back at home.

---

A few years passed while their relationship flourished. They spent almost every free minute of their day together, talking, cuddling, cooking (well until Iruka would eventually burn or break something; he really couldn't navigate a kitchen). Kakashi had been reasigned, leaving the ANBU and managing a team of gen-nin, which he was reluctant about at first but at his third try it worked out and team seven was created - Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruna. Naruto was the son of his former sensei and a hyperactive kid with something to prove to everyone. Sasuke was one of the Uchiha that had come to Konoha to escape the civil war that had split the big Land of Ome (Eyes) in two, in possession of a Doujutsu just like the one Kakashi had ... acquired. Sakura was an average girl with a real talent for chakra control and medical ninjutsu. Somehow the Sandaime had thought that they would make a great team and while they did missions together Kakashi slowly began to understand why.

When his young teammates were twelve years old the three sanin took interest in their abilities and took them in as their students, leaving Kakashi without a team, again. After a few months of B-class missions that bored him more than not having a mission at all, the Sandaime assigned him an escort mission to the Land of Ome. It was rated as a S-class because the hokage had secret documents for him to deliver. So to cover his true mission he was to escort a pair of farmers to the infamous Land of Ome, where those with Doujutsu reigned over ordinary folk like dictators or monarchs. The document Kakashi was to deliver contained a collaboration agreement between the Hyuga clan, the biggest clan after the Uchiha in the Land of Ome, and Konoha. This was to ensure a military relationship between the two for the Hyuga clan's upcoming war against the Uchiha, who had taken control over most of the land, which violated the peace agreement the clans of Ome had signed ten years ago. The Hyuga had, at that point, convinced most of the clans of their land to join their cause, like the Chinoike, the Shion and the Yome clan.(*1) War was only months away and Kakashi was to ensure that the Hyuga clan had Konoha's support.

---

He meet up with the farmers at the main gate to the village. They were a pair elderly accompanied by three goats and an old dog. Kakashi sighed under his mask as he mentally prepared himself for a very long and slow walk towards Ome.
He introduced himself and gave the old dog a head rub - he reminded him a little of bull. Their names were Haruki und Yuro and from the tone of their voices and the way they talked, Kakashi guessed them to be at least eighty years old.
It was late morning when they started their journey to Ome and Kakashi figured that it would take them at least two days to reach the southern border of the Land of Fire and then another half a day to reach their village.
He took out his favourite book, Icha Icha Violence and read while they walked down the stone path towards the southern border. Yuro, the old woman tried to talk to him, asking him all kinds of questions, like how much money does a shinobi make or why do you cover almost your entire face. Kakashi wasn't in the mood to talk though so he gave her short answer, mostly just a yes or no or sometimes a shrug.
"Are you reading one of those porn books.", Yuro asked, throwing Kakashi off a little and he looked up from his book for the first time in three hours, blushing under his mask.
"It's a romance novel, Yuro-san.", he tried to hide the awkwardness in his voice.
"Is that Icha Icha Violence?", Haruki, the old man had joined in on their conversation. It sounded more like of a rhetorical question so Kakashi didn't give him an answer, keeping nose deep in the book.
"What page are you at, Kakashi-kun.", the old man moved closer, smirking, trying to sneak a peak at the page number. He couldn't hide his blush as it now reached over the masked part of his face.
"Leave him be, Haruki. I don't mind him reading porn as long as he is quiet, unlike you when you read those novels.",  Yuro threw her husband a stern glare and Kakashi almost choked on air.
"Jeez Yuro, you are oversharing again.", the old man said and threw her an equally as stern glare.
"At least he doesn't get hard from reading that filfth.", the old woman spat and Kakashi was full on sweating now, his face red as a tomato and the hand that was holding his favourite book was shaking a little.
"Maybe he just has a nifty little ninja technique to hide his erection.", Haruki spat back and Kakashi choked on his own silva. After a few loud coughs he closed his book, whiped the tears and sweat off of the small unmasked part of his face and put the old, used copy of his favourite book back into his hip-pouch.
"Look you have ruined his mood, Yuro. Just let the boy read his porn.", the old man said and patted Kakashi on the shoulder, who gave him a very forced smile, his face still red.
"It's fine, Haruki-san. I've already read it a hundred times." and I'm definitely not going to finish my hundred and first time with you two around, he sighed and put his hands back into his pockets, listening to the pair arguing about how much of a pervert him and Haruki apparently were, while the goats had their own fight going on and the old dog walked silently besides them.
This is going to be a long two days, he thought and put on his most relaxed and bored face.

---

After two nights of camping and a half day foot march over a small mountain they had finally reached the village. He wished them good luck with their farm and hoped that the war would spare their poor little village as he made himself on his way to the rendezvous point. It was an abandoned hut in the middle of nowhere, enclosed by forests and lakes. He entered it with caution, using his hightened sense of smell to sniff out any traps or enemies. He really didn't like the ominous feeling that surrounded the hut, but went in further until he met a pair of glowing white eyes and, out of reflex moved his hitai-ate up to expose his sharingan.
"Are you Hyuga Neji?", he said loudly, watching every move of the dark figure.
"If you are Hatake Kakashi, then yes.", the young man said, judging from his voice he could not be older than fifthteen. Kakashi gave him a nod and performed the handsign combination for a henge without activating it - that was the identification code the villages had agreed upon. The young Hyuga stepped into the light and mimicked him, pretending to perform a henge no jutsu.
"Do you have the document.", the teenage boy said, his tone as flat as Sakura's chest. Kakashi shook his head and reached into one of the smaller pockets on his flak jacket. He handed the Hyuga the scrolls and watched as the young shinobi examined it with his Byakugan. The teenager bowed in approval and stored the scroll away in his shozoku.
"If that's all, then I will be on my way, Hatake-san.", the young Hyuga said.
"Yes and I hope for a good cooperation between our countries and a very short war if there has to be one.", Kakashi announced and put his hands back into his pockets.
"Yes I hope so too.", the Hyuga replied and bowed. Kakashi returned the gesture and turned around to leave.
"Hatake-san, if that Sharingan should compromise you in any way, know that I will rip it out of your skull without hesitation.", the young Hyuga declared sternly, shouting after him and Kakashi felt a cold shiver running down his spine.
"I know, Neji-kun.", he replied and jumped up into the trees, heading north.

A month later the war broke out and almost every shinobi in Konoha was sent to aid the Hyuga and the smaller clans in their fight against the biggest clan in all of the six great nations, the Uchiha.