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And the Lake Will Run Red

my original chapter sans commentary can be found here at fanfiction.net:
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6039929/3/

 

Chapter 3: The First Promise

 

 

Kakashi awoke abruptly. 

            Thus I also started the chapter abruptly. *amused*

The afternoon sun cheerfully jabbed him in both eyes and he immediately closed them again, turning slightly to the left. Keeping his Sharingan eye shut this time – the sudden light and chakra drain made him rather dazed – he opened his right eye, and blinked.

            I liked writing that "cheerfully jabbed him in both eyes" part. :3 The sun loves to do that, doesn't it?

Naruto was snoozing softly in a chair next to his bed.

            (and ain't he cuuuuuuuuuute. 8D)

He inhaled deeply and let out a heavy sigh of relief.

His student was alive.

Kakashi watched in amused anticipation as the blond head began to slip forward bit by bit, until it finally slid off the chair's back and suddenly nodded forward.

            ACCIDENTAL KI— pffffffft. As if! Nuh-uh, not gonna happen. (nowhere near now and definitely not as easily as this, at least. .__.)

Naruto's head stopped about five inches from his pillow. The boy's surprised exclamation was cut off halfway as blue eyes stared straight into dark grey.

            It'd still look cute, tho, if it were to actually happen. ^_^

Blink.

The chair leaned backwards at a rather precarious angle as Naruto shot back up. Rubbing at the back of his rather stiff and sore neck, he smiled sheepishly at Kakashi.

            Cue awkwardness! And flailing around the topic.

"Um... Hi?"

"..."

"You're finally awake," Naruto breathed, relief evident on his face. "Er..." he trailed off, looking hesitant.

"...Are you okay?"

It was a surprisingly difficult-to-answer question.

The silence between them was becoming awkward. Naruto squirmed uncomfortably and avoided Kakashi's unreadable gaze, scrabbling frantically in his mind for a distraction.

"Oh! – I should probably check on Sasuke. There was a run-in with Uchiha Itachi, and he got Tsukuyomi-ed," he explained, and added hurriedly, "He's alright now, I think. Kage Bunshin!" A second Naruto left the room, and there was silence once again.

            An action of significance – revealed at the end of the chapter, of course.

He grimaced. 'Come on, Kakashi-sensei, say something say something saysomethingalready – GAH! I'm going to go mad at this rate...'

"You tied your hitai-ate around your neck," Kakashi said suddenly.

            Which is another point of much significance, of course.

Naruto froze for a moment and blinked at him, startled, then stared at the floor.

"Um, yeah. I did."

"..."

"I'm sorry!" he blurted out.

Kakashi sighed. "Do explain, please..." His voice sounded strained.

"I was stupid," Naruto muttered bitterly. "I've been trying to modify Kage Bunshin into something that'd last longer 'cause it's real inconvenient sometimes when they dispel after one hit, y'know? And I managed to create this blood clone thing. It's like... well, it's actually made of a lot of chakra and leaves and blood. It can last for super long but it's still a really really sucky jutsu 'cause it's got all these stupid flaws, as well as the stupidly huge chakra drain and – "

            Panicked rambling.

"So it wasn't actually you on that lake."

"Um, yeah. Kind of."

"You – your clone – died, Naruto."

He winced again, shoulders dropping miserably. "I'm really so sorry..."

"Why were you there in the first place?"

"Oh um – I happened to be looking around and got curious when I found you three fighting two weird guys and I was worried so I hid and watched. I left a clone in the village 'cause everything's been so hectic after the invasion, yet Ero-sennin – you know, the Jiraiya guy – wanted to drag me off on some mission to find Tsunade-obaachan – she's the one who healed you earlier and – "

            Relieved rambling! Believe me, there's a difference... however small it is. XD

"Naruto, talk slower."

He looked sheepish. "Sorry..." At Kakashi's nod, he continued, "I thought I should help with stuff in the village too, so I used the Akai Bunshin."

'What a fitting name,' Kakashi thought grimly, and pushed the image of a bloodstained jacket out of his mind.

"I had to gather enough blood in a container, soak leaves in them, and then use chakra like I'm forming a Kage Bunshin. The blood and leaves are both linked to living beings, so they help to make the clone more... real, I guess." He half-shrugged.

"Does an Akai Bunshin possess the same qualities as your usual Kage Bunshin?"

"Uh... Appearance, personality and stuff, you mean? Yeah – and I also received the memories of that clone after it dispelled." He frowned slightly. "Apparently, that clone will last until every bit of chakra in it is gone, and it won't dispel even if it is, um, you know... killed."

Naruto watched his teacher carefully. Was he treading on sensitive ground again? Kakashi had been really, really upset – understatement of the year – when he had supposedly died...

The jounin closed his eyes, then opened them again, staring straight at him.

"So. That means even if you were there personally, you would have done the same?"

"..." He grit his teeth and looked down. 'Damn it. He's not going to like the answer.'

"Well?" Kakashi pressed, his tone laced with a strange anger.

            ...and I can only say, D:

Naruto's head snapped up, blue eyes fierce in their defiant glare.

"Yes. I would."


"Why the fucking hell would you be so ready to throw your life away?"

The boy's defiance seemed to crumble at Kakashi furious snarl.

"If it was me at that point of time, I would still jump in to help you. There's no way in hell I'd just stand by and watch when you're in danger of getting killed!" He scowled, still quite fierce.

"Though... if I face such a situation again, I probably won't do exactly what I did..." Naruto paused, then added hurriedly, "And I'll definitely try not to die."

"...Naruto." Kakashi spoke, abrupt. "Promise me you will not do something like that ever again." His single grey eye looked pained.

"Please."

Naruto cringed. He was sure Kakashi never pleaded. Never.

'I... I really hurt him, didn't I...'

"I promise," he whispered, trying to fight the stinging in his eyes, refusing to let the sudden tears spill.

Aside from that night when he learnt of the Kyuubi in him and Iruka defended him from Mizuki, he had not cried since he was five, dammit!

"Promise me you won't die before I do," Kakashi continued hollowly. "Promise me you won't die for me either."

Naruto opened his mouth to protest, but it stuck in his throat. "I..."

"Sensei... I..."

There was a growing horror in Kakashi's eye as he hesitated, at a loss for words.

"Promise me."

'Kakashi-sensei, I really...'

"...I can't."

The man gave a single shudder, eye wide in disbelief.

"I can't promise you something like that, sensei, but I swear I'll try my best and become stronger and stop being such an idiot and stop doing stupid things like that and just – I'm really really so sorry!"

Naruto gripped his hair with shaking hands, eyes imploring and desperate.

Kakashi sighed quietly.

"...All right."

The boy immediately relaxed, breaking into a huge, relieved smile, and was about to exclaim something before—

            Before Life announces, primly, that it is never this easy.

He froze suddenly, smile slipping off his face. There was the strangest look in his eyes as he said, slowly, "Ah, I was just wondering... can the Sharingan distinguish between Kage Bunshin and the original person?"

He stopped, re-ran the sentence in his head, and mentally kicked himself. 'Wrong thing to say, idiot...'

"No, it cannot." Kakashi's reply was deliberately calm.

            [Spoiler for after chapter 5!] A Significant Point regarding Naruto vs Sasuke.

"I see. That means we have a biiit of a problem."

He raised a silver eyebrow.

Naruto grinned widely, but his eyes were open and they blazed a furious blue.

"Because, you see, Sasuke just used Chidori on me..." his expression twisted into a snarl as he jabbed his thumb at his jacket.

"...Right here."

Naruto was pointing directly at his heart.

            Ouch. 


A bird tapped at the window. Kakashi was distracted for a moment, and when he turned his head back, the boy was already gone.

 'Damn it...'

But he had a mission to do, and he could only hope that nothing too disastrous would happen while he was out of the village.

'As Naruto would say, this sucks.'

            *wry* Indeed.