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And the Lake Will Run Red

my original chapter sans commentary can be found here at fanfiction.net:

Chapter 4: What Really Matters


            Mostly Kakashi-POV for this chapter. 

He read through the mission scroll quickly, and sighed.

"Can this be delayed?"

Tsunade raised her eyebrows. "Not with the current manpower shortage. I'm not exactly happy to send you out when you've only just been healed, but this one has been postponed long enough already and you're the most capable Jounin available." She leant her head on one hand, looking him over with the eye of a professional medic. "You aren't in top shape, but I've fixed you up enough so I'm quite sure you'll survive."

"There's... a problem within my team," Kakashi said quietly. "And I need to see to it immediately. One day, perhaps?" he ventured, knowing she had a soft spot for Naruto.


The Godaime frowned. "...A few hours, at most," she finally relented. "Be out of here by evening. Dismissed."

"Hai." Kakashi bowed shortly and left with a quick Shunshin.

There were several people he needed to speak to. 

Gai was quite easy to find, thankfully. Kakashi had intended to ask Jiraiya about the second Itachi and Kisame confrontation, at first, but the sage was out of the village. 

There was not much the other Jounin could tell him as he had only arrived on the scene rather late, but apparently the cause of the run-in was a simple case of bad luck. Naruto had been training inside his hotel room, accidentally released too much chakra... and thus attracted the attention of the two missing-nin who happened to be passing through the area.

            Typical Naruto-style bad luck. XD With just enough good luck to balance it out and make sure that things don't completely go to hell...

'It must have been a shock to see an alive Naruto,' Kakashi thought wryly. 'Well. At least they didn't manage to capture him.'

Sasuke's appearance at the same place, however, was not by chance. He had chased after Itachi after Aoba blurted out the news to the whole hospital room.

'Idiots. Both of them.'

He nodded his thanks to Gai and left to look for Sakura. Knowing her, she had probably been there when Naruto's Kage Bunshin went to visit Sasuke.

...And knowing the two boys, whatever she had to tell was definitely going to be very troubling. 

"I... I really don't know what was wrong with Sasuke-kun, but he just seemed so angry at Naruto – but they haven't even seen each other for weeks, and Naruto didn't even do anything to provoke him... And then Sasuke-kun just started attacking him in the hospital room – !" 

Kakashi really, really wanted to groan at the whole mess of a situation. Instead, he patted the distraught girl on the shoulder awkwardly, and waited for her to calm down.

"What did Naruto do?" He asked quietly.

"He... he seemed confused, and tried to stop Sasuke-kun, and then he got really mad too and started yelling about how he didn't want to fight Sasuke-kun, and..." She bit her lip. "I thought he was dead, but then he just... disappeared, into smoke... so he was a Kage Bunshin."

"Sensei... why is Sasuke-kun acting this way?" Sakura stared at him imploringly. "Is it because of... that seal on his neck?"

"No." His reply was flat. "I sealed that thing myself, so it can't have any effect on him unless he willingly draws on it."

There was a brief silence.

"I filed a report," Sakura began hesitantly. "Of what happened."

Kakashi glanced at her, slightly surprised. "I see."

"Um, was it the right thing to do?"

"It's best that there is a proper account of this incident, so there won't be any... ambiguity," he replied simply.

She nodded, and still looked miserable. Kakashi sighed.

"I'll deal with Sasuke," he spoke briskly. "Don't worry too much. Hopefully everything'll go back to normal soon."

He gave her a brief smile, and tried to be as reassuring as he could.

This is turning into one giant headache.

            I pity him. Really, I do. *wry smile* 

            Yet another brisk scene jump, over to Kakashi and Sasuke. It was hard to write this section, partly because I really, really dislike Sasuke, but there's a lot of stuff I want to show from the conversation between them, thus I had to write in some careful changes and details into all this. 

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out in the end, however. (:

"What were you thinking?" Kakashi asked, grim and angry, yet unnaturally calm.

Sasuke glared, struggling against the wires. "What is the meaning of this?" he hissed.

"If I didn't do this you'd run off," The man replied nonchalantly. "You aren't the type to sit still and hear me lecture."

The boy scoffed.

"So. What were you thinking?"

"What are you talking about?" he snarled back, insolent.

Kakashi's right hand flashed once with blindingly white electricity. He smiled brightly.


            Now that is how you intimidate someone with... vivid imagery. XDDDD

The boy glowered at him, trying to hide the sudden terror he had felt.


"Hn. It was just another one of his stupid clones. Coward."

There was no sudden spike of sakki that always indicated anger from a shinobi, as Kakashi merely narrowed his eye.

And yet the air itself seemed to freeze.

"You didn't know that until you killed him, did you?" Kakashi asked, a dangerous, deceptive lightness in his voice.

            Because Kakashi is damn scary, y'know, when he wants to be. *grins wiiiidely* 

Naruto stared at the ceiling, fidgeted, turned on his side and stared at the wall, fidgeted, turned on his other side and stared at the other wall, then fidgeted some more. 

He couldn't sleep, dammit!

            Exactly how I feel sometimes. I can fidget all around my huge bed and still fail to get some sleep, even when I know I have to get up hell early the next day.

There was just one question crashing around his mind, tearing through any semblance of peace and self-control he tried to maintain.

Kinda like how Sasuke tears through stuff with that goddamed Chidori—

He snorted at the analogy.

            As did I.

Shifting again in frustration, his gaze landed on his team photo.

He felt inexplicably angry – furious, even. There was a mad urge to claw at something, to kick and punch and pummel right into the ground and shout that one question of Why?

A headache was building, relentless even as he rubbed crossly at it, trying to relax with no success. His forehead felt strangely hot, and there seemed to be an oppressive heat bearing down on him, never mind the fact that the window was open to the cool night air.

            Another Significant Point. Why was it so frustratingly hot? (that's a HUGE hint.)

He struggled violently against nothing, only to end up horribly tangled in his thin blanket.


Kicking away the twisted bedsheets, he stomped out of bed and changed into his usual clothing.

Might as well go and cool my head off somewhere or I'd end up like that bastard.

He shivered a little as he pulled on a black t-shirt, which was weird because he rarely – if at all – felt cold. He tied his hitai-ate loosely around his neck, then paused. Pressing cool fingers against his throat, he closed his eyes for a moment and remembered the feel of metal, cold and hard and deadly sharp—

Frowning, Naruto stuffed his arms into the sleeves of his jacket and zipped it all the way up, which felt a little better.

            He's... still not okay yet.

            It's an important change for me to suddenly jump over to Naruto for a while. Basically, it's to show how and why he ended up overhearing them later on. (: 

Sasuke stared forward in stony silence. 

"Hmm... You used lethal force against a fellow shinobi of Konoha," Kakashi noted mildly. "You know Chidori is never meant to be used on your comrades—"

"He's a weak coward," the boy snapped. "I told him to fight me and he refused. Tch. And he doesn't even have the guts to face me in person."

Despite his derision, there was still that bit of anger and jealousy which smouldered in his eyes.

Kakashi sighed. 'Superiority complex, inferiority complex. And with that sheer arrogance and hate...'

"Sasuke. Quit seeking revenge."

He spoke bluntly, tone suddenly serious again. "In this line of work, I've seen a lot of things. I've seen how bad people like you can get." He carefully observed the boy, noting the disbelieving narrowing of eyes and the tension in his shoulders.

"In the end, people who tasted revenge weren't satisfied with what they got. It ended in tragedy," he added quietly, hoping it would sway the fuming Uchiha.

'I don't think he understands,' Kakashi thought grimly. 'He can't see anything other than that goal of his, and he doesn't want to, either.'

"You're only going to hurt and suffer more. And even if you are successful in your revenge, all you'll be left with... is emptiness."

            I think there's a lot going on internally with Kakashi at this point, but we don't really get to see it in canon. So I expanded it with some ideas of my own, because I think there has to be a reason Kakashi said what he said, but Sasuke still didn't listen. The dialogue is rather significantly different, which is why I wrote it in so much detail.

Let's just say that writing Sasuke is never fun... unless he's being terrified by a very pretty – er, deadly, that is – Chidori.

(sidenote: 'Significant' things usually have to do with the future plot. Excuse me if I use the word rather often – hey, free hints, don't complain! ^^;; basically, it's kinda a keyword from now on.)

—The concept of emptiness was probably difficult for someone like Sasuke to understand, he realised with a wry grimace. It was something he himself had been forced to comprehend after his father's death – because what was the value and worth of one's own beliefs and morals when they could be so easily trampled on and heartlessly condemned by everyone else, in the face of the rules? Every shinobi rule existed for a very good reason and Kakashi had felt lost when he saw how powerless he was against them – how powerless his own father had been.

(It didn't make sense, because Hatake Sakumo had been a great shinobi, right? His father had made the right choices, hadn't he? —Then why was he still wrong?)

In that blank emptiness he had floundered for something to place his trust in, to believe in and to follow, something he would not fail and would in turn never fail him either. His father had failed, because he chose to be human and follow his emotions, his own sense of right and wrong. Perhaps the rules would not let him down.

And so he had dutifully followed every rule and he had tried, very hard, to be the model shinobi. Until Obito came along, with his infuriating tardiness and his idealistic beliefs and just – everything completely opposite to himself. His first ever friend then died for him and showed him that comrades were important and you're supposed to protect them, dammit.

Obito had saved him from being crushed to death, and saved him from that void he didn't even realise he was trapped in.

Kakashi exhaled heavily, pulling himself out of the never-ending memories, and asked quietly, "What are you trying to attain from attacking him, Sasuke? He isn't Itachi."

            Which is the POINT, dammit Sasuke! D:

Sasuke stared at him with an emotion which was somewhere between shock at hearing that name, and an endless, burning fury. "Naruto is your teammate, whose life you have saved and he has saved your life in turn." Kakashi's calm stare intensified. "Are you really willing to harm or even kill him just to prove to yourself that you are the stronger one?"

The dark-haired boy averted his eyes for a moment, scowling uncertainly at the tree branch.

"I'm telling you again: give up on revenge. You will gain nothing and lose everything if you keep seeking it so blindly."

But Sasuke snapped his head up again and glared back, refusing to accept reason, refusing to look past his goal and simply refusing to listen.

(Who was the real childish one in Team Seven? ...Kakashi suddenly wondered if Naruto was perhaps the most mature of the three, where it mattered.

Where it truly mattered.)

            ...which explains the chapter title, of course. I'm always careful about titles. They always have to sound cool, of COURSE! ...and give just enough hint of what the chapter's about, to get people interested. ^_^

"What the hell do you know?" The boy yelled, hate etched into his features. "Don't talk to me like you understand!"

"Calm down," Kakashi replied, sombre.

Sasuke suddenly sneered, a mad glint in his eyes. "What if I were to... Kill the person you love most?" He smirked and continued in a vicious hiss, "Then... how far would you stray from what you've just said? I can make you feel the pain... And then you would understand... my hatred."

            By this point in the anime and the manga, I was ready to stab him. With anything that was on hand – even my 0.38mm pen. (but it's a nice pen! D: ah, such a waste.)

'He's becoming more and more like Itachi – and Orochimaru,' Kakashi suddenly realised, then immediately squashed the thought. 'No. Not yet, he's still young and he doesn't... doesn't see what really matters. But... I have to do something about this...'

"Hmm... that'd work, I'm sure," he noted blandly. "But not for me. Because you see, no such person exists."

Sasuke glared again, furious.

"All of them..." Kakashi smiled a very blithe smile, eye closing into a curve.

"...have already been killed."

            *HEARTCLENCH* T_T 

Naruto's hand gripped the bark tightly. He had barely managed to hide his sharp intake of breath, but to his relief no one had noticed him. 

'How...?' He shook, just a little, pressing his shoulder against the tree he was hiding behind. 'How can you say that so calmly with your usual smile, sensei? Just – just how many deaths have you suffered? You've never told anyone, have you, Kakashi-sensei...'

He could not tear his eyes away, could not because in that one moment Hatake Kakashi left his carefully-hidden emotions vulnerable, he felt the pain and sorrow.

It made him feel stupidstupidstupidstupid because it was just plain embarrassing and silly to be so sentimental—

And it made his heart hurt, dammit.


That revelation seemed to have shaken the stubborn Uchiha a little and Kakashi felt faintly satisfied, even though his jaw hurt from the amount of force he used to clench it shut, and keep himself under control. 

"I've lived in a long and hard era," He told the boy, maintaining a calm, level stare. "I do understand how terrible true pain and loss are."

"Well!" his tone was forcibly cheerful. "We aren't the lucky ones, that's for sure... but we aren't the worst off, either." Sasuke looked rather bewildered.

"Both you and I have found precious companions, hmm?" Kakashi smiled briefly to himself, and the choked feeling in his throat relented, allowing himself to relax a little.

"..." Sasuke frowned, still sullen.

"You should understand, from your own loss... Chidori is a power that was given to you because you found things that are important. I taught it to you so you could protect your comrades. That power is not something to be used for revenge, or against your friends," He insisted, because it was more important that Sasuke would ever know.

"I'm sure you yourself do know what it should be used for." And from the frustrated half-snarl he gave as he clenched his fists, the boy did know.

Kakashi released the wire, and added shortly, "Think hard on whether you can or cannot hold true to what I've said."

He left.