There is no cloud in sight.
The sky is blue; the sun is shining.
The indication of a sharp sting of a kunai meeting its mark rings through the air— a leaf falls to the ground, a drop of blood splattered against its translucent veins.
Obito chuckles darkly, breaths labored and muffled under his orange mask.
“You’ve improved, Kakashi. As expected of the Copy Ninja, or should I say, Kakashi of the Sharingan.” his voice veers off into a leering sneer towards the end of his words, and Kakashi furrows his brows at the sudden condescending tone so stark in contrast to Tobi’s happy-go-lucky persona.
His gloved fingers twitch as he languidly wipes off the blood from his blade, back straightening as Obito’s drawl comes to an end. As both ninjas stare at each other without so much as a single twitch visible in their stature, the only sounds in the vicinity remain their muffled pants, the only indication of their exhaustion. The faroff cries and spurts of blood from battles in the distance do little to mask the eerie silence in the forest, where the two have wandered off, too caught up in their rapid blows and exchanges of mindless flurries of kicks, punches, and jutsus to notice.
Briefly, Kakashi wonders if it was done on purpose.
“I can say the same for you, Akatsuki. But you won’t be able to take me down here.”
The Akatsuki member stands still, one hand clutching a kunai with a bloody tip, the other hand gripping a tree branch for balance. His legs seem to wobble a bit as a tremor runs up his spine violently.
He seems to drink in Kakashi’s words, voice, and every action into memory as his red eyes flicker back and forth from the jōnin’s place from below the tree. His blood-red eye curves into a cruel imitation of a smile beneath the circular hole of the orange black mask.
“Hmph. We’ll see about that, Kakashi.”
It’s no surprise that the Akatsuki member knows his name. The silver haired ninja rarely underestimates his enemies, and it would be of ill practice to think that such a large scale organization such as the Akatsuki plotting to steal all jinchūrikis wouldn’t be informed of all the front-line ninjas on war duty. Yet, there’s something oddly familiar about the way the man called ‘Tobi’ spits out his name, like it’s poison and something to savor all at once, but the silver haired man bites down his dancing nerves. His premonitions are usually wrong due to his pessimistic nature, unlike his usual predicament. He sucks in a sharp breath. Thinking about his finicky heart would lead to dwelling on murky, abandoned memories, and the last thing he needs is to be distracted by how familiar a voice sounds.
“Then do your worst, Tobi.”
Kakashi steels himself, left elbow drawn in defensively as Tobi barks out a peel of harsh laughter. His maniacal guffawing seemingly vanishes into thin air as the said man jumps from the tree, and before Kakashi’s eyes can adjust, a shadow falls over his scarred eye.
The jōnin relies on his reflexes to jerk his body back, but there’s something off about the way Tobi reappears right in front of him and just stands there, molten red eyes unblinking and unflinching.
The ex-ANBU ninja briefly considers slashing Tobi with his kunai but the thought of any sudden movements triggering the unpredictable Akatsuki member stops him.
Obito leans forward, both sharingan eyes boring into Kakashi’s own.
“I can do much more than my worst, Kakashi. Much more than you can ever dream of. I can reenact your worst nightmare.”
Kakashi narrows his eyes before Obito’s hand promptly reaches up towards his face. The orange mask falls to the ground as Kakashi’s breath catches in his throat, hands momentarily faltering before a head splitting ache sunders through his temple. A repressed memory sears through his head, a face marred with blood and lifeless vitality.
Obito knows Kakashi in and out.
Obito knows that revealing his half scarred face will give him a sliver of time, an opening as Kakashi would invariably widen his eyes, suck in his breath, and halt his movements. He’s seen Kakashi fight, he’s seen Kakashi scrunch his face in scorn and feigned hatred, and he’s seen Kakashi’s obsidian eyes startle and tell of fifty different emotions at once. He knows Kakashi more than anyone. A bitter taste lies flat on his tongue. Nobody knows Kakashi the same way as he does.
Or so he thinks. Kakashi has changed, more so than what can be seen with the Sharingan.
“Obito...” the jōnin’s voice cracks on the second syllable, a tidal wave of emotions, confusion, elation, surprise, anger—
“Obito.” This time, Kakashi’s voice is unwavering and harsh, specks of anger piercing through his shaky veil of feigned detachment. But then he falls silent; shoulders that were rapidly rising, almost like rising hackles of an injured hound, deflate just as quickly as they were inflated, and Kakashi’s face behind his mask flashes with indescribable pain. And then it’s gone.
Kakashi’s eyes tear themselves from Obito’s gleeful, malicious eyes. One of them is purple, black rings rippling throughout his cornea. A rinnegan.
He feels sick.
Obito smirks and lunges forward to prey off Kakashi’s dazed status. Oh, how he’s waited for this day. The feeling of revenge was delicious, an indescribable wave of heat flowing through his body like flames. Delight courses through his veins.
He deserved this.
The maskless man shakes his head in mock pity, “You let an enemy get in front of you, right up close and personal, and you didn’t try to slit his throat? You have changed for the worse. Soft and hesitant. How are you not dead yet?”
His hands latch onto Kakashi and his voice drops to a low hiss, discolored eyes narrowed into slits.
“Or maybe you were biding your time. You must prefer using your Chidori to pierce a hole through their heart,” Obito slides his left hand down Kakashi’s tense arm, relishing in the twitches where he touched, to jab an accusatory finger towards his chest, “like how you killed Rin.”
The former Konoha ninja can feel Kakashi shiver under his palm, hard flesh and mostly bones.
Something unpleasant unfurls in his stomach, and his vision is washed out in red.
“Look at me,” Obito growls, his words punctuated with his gloves digging deeper into Kakashi’s vest.
Kakashi doesn’t respond, turning his head away. A sign of defeat. Of resignation. A new wave of fury inflamed the Akatsuki member’s chest, and his eyes twist into impossibly narrower slits of renewed anger. Kakashi is still refusing to meet Obito’s face. His entire body is limp in Obito’s hands, and Obito grips the jōnin’s shoulders tighter, needing Kakashi to give a reaction, any reaction other than this.
“So what. I thought Kakashi of the stolen Sharingan would put up more of a fight. Is your reputation just scraps from adoring fans who overestimate your abilities?”
But Obito’s next words die out when Kakashi moves to close his eyes.
Shinobi never close their eyes in front of an enemy. They never turn their neck and bare out that vulnerable flesh, exposing their veins and skin when they’re face to face with the enemy.
Kakashi, of all people, should never be baring such a vital point like that, least of all to him. Obito feels his thoughts and emotions twist themselves into inscrutable turmoil.
“Ha! You’re willing to let your little team die? What a waste, you really don’t have a heart, afterall. Killing Rin must have been a piece of cake for you.” Kakashi’s shoulders stiffen, and his heart seizes with pain. Kakashi didn’t deserve that. But Obito can see his pure, lovely Rin falling from traitorous Kakashi’s bloodied hands, and he can see his former teammates falling, crashing to the ground.
A sick part of his heart had clung to the hopes that he could save the last member of Team Minato, that Kakashi could repent and then be safe with Obito, with Madara and the Akatsuki. If Obito could, he would have cut that sentiment out of his heart a long time ago. But he couldn’t.
As if sensing Obito’s thoughts, Kakashi clenches his jaw and twitches to meet Obito’s eyes head-on, a flame bright and alive in Kakashi’s mismatched eyes.
Just a brief second— if Obito had been shaking with rage, he would have dismissed it as his own trembling.
But Obito is strangely calm. Even that small reaction soothes his roaring anger. But Kakashi’s lips slowly open, and Obito’s thin veil of calm flies away.
“I failed them. I was defeated by a superior enemy, and I am dying in line of battle. I have served my purpose. I couldn’t protect those kids anyway, just like how I couldn’t protect Rin,” Kakashi’s eyes momentarily flicker with life, and Obito desperately wants to shake Kakashi so those raw emotions can tumble out even more— but Kakashi’s monotone voice and the careless, lazy way he mumbles those words dissolve his rational thoughts. So Obito resorts to emotion.
“So you’re giving up. Your life is in my hands now, but you’re too pathetic for me to even want your poor excuse of a life. Instead, I want—”
“Just kill me.”
Obito flinches, not expecting something so brusque and empty to fall out of the silver ninja’s mouth.
How dare he.
The Akatsuki member stretches his lips into an empty sneer. “What about little Naruto and your little team of the Haruno and Uchiha children?” Kakashi shrugs, distance and resignation settling over his eyes and shoulders like a blanket— and this look. Obito recognizes this look. This is ANBU Kakashi, no, this is Kakashi right after his father’s death.
Obito sneers with heightened malice, voice teetering high, words rambling off his tongue like hot rocks.
“Some kind of sensei you are, abandoning your students and village just like that. You promised to protect your village—”
“I failed, Obito. I failed to protect you and Rin, I failed to protect the village. They don’t need me anymore; they can take care of themselves.”
There’s an explosion off in the distance. Obito’s head jerks towards the sound in irritation before realizing. That’s right— they were in the middle of the war.
They were in the middle of the war and Kakashi wanted to die by his hand. The delight at seeing Kakashi’s shock just minutes before morphs into unadulterated desperation.
“Kakashi.” Obito’s face is alight with pleading, every bit the Obito Kakashi knows from childhood.
The same eyes, the same clenched jaw, the same eyebrows angled downward— Kakashi is not prepared for the visceral, emotional vulnerability on this Obito’s face. This was so different from what he expected, what he imagined— his resolve almost dissolves into thin air.
“Obito.” It’s the umpeenth time Kakashi had wanted to cry out that name ever since Rin’s death.
Rin’s death. Kakashi’s resolve rebuilds itself. If there was anyone who was going to kill Kakashi, it had to be Obito.
“Obito, you must kill me. Failure should not be rewarded, I had my chance.” Obito looks at him with eyes that swirl with a magnitude of disappointment, rage, sorrow, and something more. Kakashi wants nothing more than to melt under that gaze, to bow at Obito’s feet and murmur how sorry he was for breaking the promise to protect Rin, how sorry he was for being the only alive member of Team Minato, of being unworthy of the Sharingan until his voice gave out.
But he meets Obito’s stare with shame, anger, and disappointment in his own eyes, and sees Obito’s eyes soften the moment Kakashi inhales a shaky breath.
Kakashi never said please. Prideful, arrogant Kakashi. The genius at birth, the natural-born leader. The ANBU hound. Something dark and sinister coils in Obito’s chest. He liked hearing Kakashi’s aloof voice cave into that tiny, pleading whisper.
And immediately Obito remembers everything that happened in his life, the anguish between being split between his desire to kill Kakashi right where he stands while his heart clambered for the idea of Kakashi being safe in his arms, safe away from the frontlines, so that they could be in blissful happiness together in the shadows of the Infinite Tsukuyomi.
“No.” His voice is clear, and sharp. Obito hears his own voice come out more stronger than he anticipated, and he draws all his attention and focus into fostering a facade of confidence.
“No,” Obito murmurs again, “you are the loser of this fight, Kakashi, and I get to decide the spoils and your fate.”
Obito roughly pulls the jōnin into his arms and marvels at the warmth spreading through his heart where Kakashi’s arm brushed against his chest. He puts his lips near Kakashi’s ear and relishes in the shiver.
“You will never escape me again.”