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Altered Perceptions

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"No, please, you can't make me…!"

Kakashi forced himself to take several deep breaths before moving, furiously scrubbing the tears from Obito's eye as he did so. He'd been warned once already by Tsunade to get his act together, or she'd have ANBU escort him from the hospital—from Iruka.

"I don't want to go back, don't make me go back."

Kakashi's eyes locked with his lover's, the man's keening whine stripping all the air from his lungs, and making it almost impossible to breathe. He quickly gripped the hospital bed, fisting the sheets between his fingers as his sight refocused on the restraints binding Iruka's wrists.

"I just want to go home, please let me go home."

Tsunade said it was a jutsu—one of the Yamanaka confirming her suspicions—and that Iruka's mind was salvageable. According to them both, the jutsu was used to alter Iruka's perception of reality, convincing him he was a mentally unstable civilian; a man locked away in some obscure institution, forced to endure primitive medical procedures in order to make him 'healthy' again.

"Don't leave me…"

Kakashi released his trembling grip from the bed, interlacing their fingers together. For several minutes he could do nothing more than listen to the younger man's hysterical mumblings, each sobbed plea tightening the knot in his stomach.

"…please don't leave me."

He tightened his hold on Iruka's hand momentarily, then lent down and gently brushed his lips against the young sensei's forehead. The small gesture reminded him Iruka was not lost. That he had to believe in his Hokage's healing abilities, believe Iruka would survive.

It was with a small jolt that Kakashi realized if he didn't believe, his heart would break.