Cycle of Hatred - mamunik00 (2024)

Chapter Text

Kakashi returned to Konoha late in the afternoon, after spending nearly a week on an S-rank mission in The Hidden Rain, Amegakure. Although the Fourth Ninja War had ended, conflicts still simmered around the borders of the five great nations. As a buffer state surrounded by three former enemy villages, Amegakure became a hotspot for disgruntled rogue ninjas opposed to the great nations' alliance. Despite losing his Sharingan, Kakashi was still the Fifth Hokage’s best choice to uncover the truth. His mission was a success, as evidenced by his detailed report and the fact that he returned unscathed.

"I'm relieved to see you back in one piece. The interrogation unit wants to see you, Kakashi," the Fifth Hokage mentioned as soon as his mission report was completed.

"Is it about Obito?" Kakashi guessed, noting the woman's demeanor. Having been away for almost a week, the investigation must have stalled in his absence. The Fifth Hokage sighed slightly before explaining further.

"He mentioned you several times. Upon examining his memories, a part of it repeatedly shows your image as if under a genjutsu," she said. A genjutsu? Kakashi had never heard Obito mention such a thing before and didn’t understand why Obito kept seeing his image repeatedly. However, he understood the part about his name being mentioned. No matter how events unfolded, the root of Obito’s hatred was triggered by him, no one else.

"The interrogation unit wants information from your side to compare. This includes your memories being examined."

"I understand," Kakashi replied. Interrogation by Ibiki and the Yamanaka clan's memory-probing jutsu was something no Konoha ninja would look forward to.

Kakashi knew a sinner like him couldn't avoid it forever...

The memories shared with the Yamanaka ninja were those of Obito crushed under the rocks and Rin being pierced through by the Chidori... Over and over again.

___________________________

“Hey,” a familiar, soft, cat-like footstep greeted him. Obito couldn’t recall how long it had been since he heard that sound. In the darkness and emptiness of his cell, time had no meaning. He learned about the outside world only by eavesdropping on the guards.

Kakashi had been on an important mission in another country. That was the gist of what Obito gathered. It was a dangerous and lengthy mission, and with the Jonin gone, no one had visited the prison for almost a week...

Yes… No one else would be willing to visit a war criminal like him. People still feared his presence, haunted by the image of a masked man calling himself Uchiha Madara. They were still tormented by the memories of the Akatsuki. The wounds from those days wouldn’t heal as long as he existed.

No one… except for the person standing in front of him.

No one else would call a war criminal a comrade. but it seemed this village was full of idiots. Besides Uzumaki Naruto, the silver-haired man in front of him also seemed so crazy.

Kakashi was here.

His former teammate still wore the Konoha uniform, but his forehead protector no longer covered his left eye. The Sharingan had been replaced by a pitch-dark one, the same one Obito had once envied as a child.

A faint smile, hidden behind a mask, appeared on Kakashi's face, a smile he always wore when visiting. Obito hated it, knowing it wasn’t a smile from his genuine feeling.

No one appreciated a smile that seemed so weary, exhausted. Obito clicked his tongue irritated and looked away, while Kakashi sat down and handed something through the bars.

Obito grew more frustrated upon opening the lunch box to find his favorite meal, complete with his favorite sweets, three-color dango skewers.

"I've told you before, I can survive without eating or drinking," he snapped, referencing the First Hokage's cells and the part of White Zetsu in his body that kept him alive without food or water since the Kannabi Bridge incident. Seeing the food only just reminded him of how far from human he had become, both in body and soul.

"It's village policy to treat prisoners humanely," Kakashi made a poor excuse, just as he always had for being late to missions with their team.

"Konoha must be very prosperous to serve such good-looking food to its prisoners," Obito retorted. He noticed a slight blush on the pale skin of the man before him.

"It’s just... ingredients left from the fridge."

"Heh, then you must have a lot of free time. I thought you’d be used to ration pills from the ANBU by now and wouldn’t know how to cook." Obito jabbed. Kakashi fell silent, looking slightly panicked, so Obito started eating without saying anything further. The taste was oddly familiar, like the times he and Rin sneaked into Kakashi's house and found that he had been living alone, cooking such fancy dishes since he was five.

No one told him that behind those remarkable skills was a boy who had lost everything and was consumed by loneliness.

"Have you... been watching me all this time?" Kakashi's deep voice broke the silence, making the Uchiha look up from the lunch box to see the dark eyes of his friend. He realized what had struck a chord with Kakashi.

He knew, he had seen, things he shouldn't have. He saw his friend sinking into darkness just like he did after Rin's death, undertaking dangerous missions for the ANBU without rest, seemingly trying to destroy himself slowly.

He had always seen.

"You just happened to cross paths with my plans," Obito lied, and Kakashi believed him without hesitation.

"How was the interrogation unit?" the Jonin asked, his voice steady but with a hint of concern in those eyes.

"Ibiki is as stern as ever. Didn’t they call you yesterday?" Obito asked back, his eyes widening slightly in surprise.

"You... knew?"

Obito watched Kakashi’s reaction before answering truthfully, "I overheard the guards talking."

"Ah... the ANBU these days are so careless," Kakashi muttered.

Kakashi had been summoned by the interrogation unit immediately after returning from his mission. He came to the prison looking like he hadn't rested. His silver hair reflected the dim light, disheveled, his face and body bore signs of exhaustion. Yet, he still brought a meticulously prepared lunch box.

Obito felt a mix of anger and a stabbing pain in his chest. He didn't know why these emotions surged.

Maybe it was the weary smile, or the bruises on Kakashi's arms and legs, or the mud-stained uniform. Or perhaps it was because, despite everything, Kakashi still came to see him, a war criminal who didn't deserve any attention from anyone.

A criminal who should have died at Kakashi's hand in the war.

"Hey, Kakashi," Obito called out, breaking the silence.

The Jonin turned to look at him, his white eye wide with confusion when he saw Obito's bitter smile.

"If a verdict is reached, take the Sharingan again... this time," Obito said.

"O-Obito," The cold grip of guilt wrapped around Kakashi, making his heart beat slower, his throat tighten. He was at a loss for words as he unwittingly considered Obito’s request.

Just the thought of failing to protect his last teammate and Obito being sentenced to death made the hollow in his heart widen, threatening to tear him apart.

"...This isn’t going to end with your death," Kakashi argued, his voice trembling.

Obito chuckled bitterly, seeing his own pathetic reflection in Kakashi’s eyes. "I know my death won't atone for everything."

"That's not what I meant."

Kakashi's rough hands, hardened by a lifetime of ninjutsu, tried to reach through the bars but were stopped by a chakra-detected barrier.

Perhaps this was hinting that his bloodstained hands didn't deserve to touch the man before him.

Kakashi gave up, taking a deep breath like a beast gasping for air, swallowing before speaking. "The world still has much to learn.” His dark eyes softened with anguish as he looked at his former teammate.

“Live to atone for everything... I will do the same."

Obito shivered, wondering what more Kakashi had to atone for, but found no answer. The silence was broken by the arrival of another visitor.

"Oh, Kakashi-sensei! Did you come to see Obito too?" Uzumaki Naruto’s arrival was like the first sun of spring.

"Uh, yes," Kakashi responded softly but didn't continue. The blonde, bright as Konoha's yellow flash turned and greeted the prisoner casually, "Yo, Obito! You look much better without being tied up."

Obito was speechless. Kakashi noticed the change in his former student's body. "Y-your arm?"

"Oh, this? Granny Tsunade made me a prosthetic! Cool, huh?" Naruto proudly showed his bandaged right arm, moving it freely. “Kakashi-sensei always disappears on missions. I’ve had this arm for a while now. Granny said it’s made from the cells of the First Hokage on Obito’s right side," Naruto explained, then turned back to the prisoner.

"Thanks to you, I don’t have to practice eating ramen with my left hand anymore!"

For some reason, Naruto’s cheerful demeanor eased Kakashi’s heavy heart. The young Jonin watched his student chat with Obito, a faint smile appearing on his weary face again. "That's good."

"I didn’t do anything..." Obito's pale face flushed slightly as he talked to the boy in front of him. Kakashi saw his old friend, looking at the world with the same eyes he had before becoming who he was.

"Eh~ By the way, I didn't expect you to be here at this time, Kakashi-sensei. I thought you were on a mission somewhere. Aren’t you busy avoiding Granny’s pressure about taking the position?" Kakashi's eyes widened as the blonde boy began. He did like the boy's habit of chattering non-stop, but the Jonin didn't think Naruto would bring up that topic in a place like this.

"Now, now... No decision has been made yet, so don’t spill the beans, Naruto," Kakashi warned, hoping Obito wouldn't pay attention, but things never went as planned.

"A position? Hokage?" Obito's eyes widened with eagerness Kakashi had never seen before. Kakashi wasn’t sure what to make of that reaction, but Naruto quickly nodded.

"Yep, yep! Master Kakashi is going to be the Sixth Hokage— Mm!” The Jonin tried to stop him, not daring to look back at his former teammate's reaction. Deep down, Hatake Kakashi admitted he was afraid.

Because becoming Hokage was Obito's dream. It was the dream of both his teacher and his students. A dream of honor that demanded immense perseverance. It wouldn't be a graceful matter if the one to become the Sixth Hokage—the one who would step on many people's dreams—was him.

A failure who abandoned his comrades... A friend who couldn’t keep his promises, a teacher who couldn’t be a reliable guide for his students, a student who left a trail of failures for his teacher.

Even if many agreed that he was suitable, Obito would likely be the one who opposed it.
Because he had always wronged him.

"I knew it." The gentle response from Obito, lacking any hatred, made Kakashi's eyes widen as he turned to look. He saw a shimmering light in those eyes, like stars in the dark of night. A faint smile appeared on the handsome face typical of Uchiha men. "I heard the guards talking too."

A strange feeling surged repeatedly in Kakashi’s chest, rendering him speechless. Naruto, once freed from his teacher's hold, continued talking non-stop.

"Well, it's not exactly a village secret. Everyone in Konoha knows. No, everyone in the five great nations knows by now! When we were in that dimension, Obito himself said that sensei should be the Sixth, didn’t he? As for me, I can wait to be the Seventh. If I became Hokage now, I'd be buried under paperwork—Ow!" Kakashi, exasperated, used the spine of the book he always carried to tap the boy's forehead.

"You sure talk a lot," Naruto pouted slightly at the reprimand.

"Ah, well, it's exciting! What should I call you now, Sensei Hokage Kakashi? Lord Hokage Kakashi-sensei?"

"Just call me the same."

The sight of the Jonin teacher and his student bantering made him laugh softly. Obito almost forgot how long it had been since he felt this way. He saw a reflection of his twelve-year-old self, arguing with that genius one of his teammates, Kakashi, who excelled in everything and made him envious.

Because of this blonde boy in the prophecy, Uzumaki Naruto, he never doubted who pulled Kakashi out of the darkness... Kakashi, who had been shattered and stuck in a blood-soaked hell just like him, was now moving forward with a golden light guiding him.

He no longer needed his Sharingan to foresee the future.

“…I probably won’t be at your ceremony, but congratulations in advance, Lord Sixth.” Obito said sincerely. Naruto, who was listening, chuckled lightly, while Kakashi, standing still and unsure, blushed under his mask.

“Please, don't call me that... seriously,” Kakashi replied, feeling a mix of embarrassment and endearment from his old teammate’s words. Kakashi now looked so endearing with a slight blush on his face, a sight Obito had never experienced before. He stared at Kakashi for a while until Naruto’s voice broke his thoughts.

"Why won’t you be at the ceremony? Aren’t you getting out soon, Obito?"

"No… What makes you think that? I started the war, you know," Obito replied bitterly. He had given up hope, willing to die with the title of "The Traitor of Konoha" since he decided to help Naruto and Sasuke seal Kaguya.

"Well, I heard the granny talking with Shikamaru about something... but they aren't going to keep you locked up forever. Sasuke got out, didn’t he?" Maybe Naruto's cheerfulness was partly due to Sasuke's pardon, something Obito felt deeply, as what happened to Sasuke was also part of his sins.

"My sins are much heavier," Obito admitted bitterly, unable to look at Kakashi. Naruto frowned.

"Giving up on getting out? Don’t you have dreams left?"

"That dream... Kakashi has it now, as the Sixth Hokage."

"You can't just replace one for the other. You need to become Hokage yourself, Obito."

He chuckled bitterly, knowing it was impossible. Hokage wasn't a position for a pathetic villain like him.

Naruto eventually left after a long chat, and silence enveloped Kakashi and him again. Kakashi's gaze was still gentle and weary as before. Obito felt a bit frustrated, knowing Kakashi had just returned from a mission and probably hadn't rested properly, yet still came to visit him, just like back in the day when he stood by his and Rin's graves from dawn till dusk. Their classmates looked at the man with sympathy, and all they could do was understand that Kakashi had lost so much.

Obito wanted to tell Kakashi to rest, but Kakashi broke the silence first.

"He sees you as his biggest rival for Hokage, you know. Don’t disappoint him."

"Come on, you know it's impossible—"

"It's never too late for your dream, believe me, Obito."

If you want me to believe that, don't smile at me with such painful eyes, Hatake Kakashi….

Cycle of Hatred - mamunik00 (2024)

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