History Repeating [Kakami & Rin]
When they were kids, Rin had tried once to explain to Kakami about coincidences not being coincidences and history repeating itself and the weird circular patterns life seemed to take. He hadn't been speaking from experience, it was something his father had said and it had really interested him and so he'd wanted to know what the smartest girl he knew thought about it.
He'd never really found out; mostly because there wasn't much time to talk philosophy in the war, and Kakami didn't really talk very much back then anyway - but he'd known (they way he just knew things, sometimes) that Kakami had an opinion on it that he'd love to hear one day.
Which, if you'd asked him, would be part of the reason he hadn't stopped running ever since Tsurude had informed him that a medic needed to be sent to retrieve Kakami. She'd been sent on a top-flight stealth, infiltration and demolition mission and she was late reporting back. Their local spies had sent word of drastically increased enemy activity in the area in amongst other worrying news. Rin had known all of these things, and he'd been calm and patient and quietly sitting with his back steadied against his faith in her... up until the point at which he was informed her target had been a bridge. A huge concrete thing in Iwa country that Konoha, Suna and even Taki needed to be blown up to prevent the smuggling of gods-only-knew-what.
Bolting in a blur beneath high bamboo, Rin couldn't get that fact out of his head, didn't even appreciate how extreme his own reaction to the very idea was - all his attention was on the fact that Kakami had gone off on her own on the very clone of the mission that'd...
Obiko's watching out for her. Just keep running.
His hand shot out, clapping against a thick stalk of hollow bamboo and giving him the leverage to swing around and kick over a huge gap of open space - the blue sky pale and eggshell fragile above him for a long moment - before he hit the ground moving even faster towards where she had to be.
It was a very pretty day, Kakami thought idly as she crouched on the ground for a moment to catch her breath. She was trying to move as fast back home as she could, knowing she was late even for her spectacular record. Rin would probably be worried by now, even if it was just a little bit....with a heavy sigh, she stood and started moving.
This had all been tough - much tougher than she would have ever admitted. It wasn't just the stealth or the on the fly strategies or any other real technical aspect of the mission. It was just...
Bridges were built very similarly everywhere, if they didn't have a particular artistic significance. It had been a very plain, very practical bridge. Just like hundreds of bridges scattered around the entirety of the Countries, she was sure. It shouldn't have shaken her at all. But after recent events, after hearing about the truth behind the Sharingan...
Kakami caught the whiff of his scent before she heard Rin moving through the foliage. She stopped and crouched again, deciding to wait. So they'd sent him to come get her had they? She was sure she hadn't been gone long enough to get everyone that much worried about her but there certainly had seemed to be more enemy on her trail than she would have liked. The woman glanced at her bound hand, a bit self consciously. Well, it probably was good that Rin was the one coming.
Still racing through the striped shadows of the bamboo thickets, Rin was scanning visually for Kakami - praying she'd show herself if she could tell he was coming - and was ignoring the exhausted strain that was starting to present in his legs. He'd probably pushed himself too hard, too fast, too far, but he hadn't been able to ration his energy as neatly as he would normally do on a rescue.
Dried leaves, long and brittle, crushed under his feet as he moved through the underbrush as fast as he could - knowing each step took him further and further into dangerous territory and not giving much of a damn. His eyes flitted to and fro, his senses all extended for the possibility of her presence, and then he stopped dead in his tracks. A cluster of high knotted weeds around the base of a set of bamboo shoots fifty feet distant.
She was there.
And less than a moment later so was he. Breathing hard, heart hammering, and relief so clear in his brown eyes it drowned out everything else as he dropped down to his knees in front of her and managed to smile. She wasn't badly hurt. She wasn't dead somewhere. He'd found her.
"Fancy meeting you here," he sighed out, words strained a little by his breathlessness and in his relief unable to think of what else to say.
"Indeed." she responded, smile just a bit tight, eye scanning him over and senses alert. She knew Rin wouldn't let himself get followed - normally - but if he'd been in such a rush, she wasn't sure how careful he'd been in keeping quiet.
Her hand was in bad enough shape that she really didn't want to fight with it more than she had to, but there were still the dogs - only a seal away really. "Tsurude sent you?"
"Yeah, you're pretty late even for you and word came back that there's a small army out here," Rin murmured back, his hand going out automatically toward her - to touch her, hold her, make sure she was there. He held it still partway through the motion though, closed his eyes and centered himself. Mission. He was a jounin of Konoha and so was she, he had to act like it and force down any other impulses. When his eyes opened again, they were focused and clear - the ever-present emotion in them pushed away as best he'd ever been able to manage it.
He moved his hand the rest of the way, taking her pulse at her neck and scanning her for injuries. Her hand was bandaged, the wound hidden from view; and her leg wasn't holding her weight properly.
Concern flickered quickly behind his eyes. Her pulse was telling him how close to a fatigued crash she was and he reluctantly but swiftly drew his hand back and snatched a soldier pill out his pocket. "Any other injuries besides your hand and your leg?" he asked, passing her the medicine into her gloved palm.
"No." Kakami answered, before quickly popping the pill into her mouth. It was a bit of a relief, to see him get serious although she never would have told him so. Kakami slowly shifted, easing some more weight off her leg, trying to keep alert as she spoke to him.
"How long did it take you to find me?" Kakami had a good idea of where she was and how far it was from the village, but it would useful to have a second view in case she had miscalculated or gone further than she'd meant in order to avoid the majority of her trackers.
"Twenty-six hours, running top speed," he answered, watching her carefully and spotting the signs of exhaustion in different parts of her anatomy. He didn't even feel his own tired legs any longer, and his breathing was settling fast. "It was a straight line run, I didn't run into any trouble, or sense anybody."
He watched her dark eye for a moment, then glanced carefully around. All was still except for them. "Do we have five minutes for me to fix your leg?"
She only paused momentarily, making sure one more time that she couldn't smell or hear or sense anything, before nodding. "Yes."
Kakami moved from a crouch to sitting as carefully and quickly as she could. Focusing on any potential enemies, focusing on Rin fixing her leg helped keep the thoughts she'd been having for days at bay. She was glad it had been a solo mission - if another person had been here it would have been just plain eerie and Kakami would have been even more on edge than she was at the moment.
Rin moved with her, shifting to kneel beside her in the leaf litter and reaching out to pull the heavy navy cloth of her uniform away from the bloodied wound. It was an ugly cut, long and partially serrated. His hands flicked through a dozen seals and his eyes closed as he put them over the injury and started weaving his chakra into hers to heal the wound. He was largely defenceless when he did this, all his mind concentrating on cellular level divisions of cells, regrowth of tissue and veins and even pores in skin; but Rin was never hesitant and he wasn't afraid. Kakami could watch his back while he healed her - it had always been how they were.
After the five minutes were up, the hum of green chakra around his hands died and he finally opened his eyes to the real world. Her leg was healed, not even a scar, and a smile traced his face as he saw that and looked back up to her face.
"It's healed now," he said, low voice quiet still. He offered he a small smile, something he'd always done when he fixed a wound - no matter when or where. "Sorry about... just before. I guess it was stupid to be so worried. I just... the mission specs were too familiar and I was worried." His eyes flitted back down to her leg. "You were alone this time."
The effect of staying alert, of focusing on her wounds faded suddenly and sharply. Kakami felt her teeth clamp down, just a bit more tightly than they should have, before she quickly and quietly stood. "I know."
Suddenly she wasn't just thinking of Obiko...or rather she was, but not of the girl dying. It was of the girl insisting that they go and rescue the unfortunate boy who'd been captured and brought an uncomfortable rolling in Kakami's stomach and chest. It would probably always be her darkest, best kept secret - that she would have left him to torture all those years ago if it had only been her choice. If Obiko hadn't said what she had and done what she'd done.
"We need to get moving." she said softly, hoping the slight roughness of her tone could be covered by her attempt to not be heard by anyone save for him.
Rin wasn't fooled, and he felt an uneasy twist in his stomach as he stood beside her. He'd touched on the wrong thing, even if it was the only thing and he knew she had to have been thinking that too when she took the mission. Bridges. History repeating. He still needed to ask her about that.
He wanted to ask her if she was really okay.
But he held his tongue, professional. Professional. When they got home there would be time. He nodded once to her, knowing that by now she'd have metabolised that soldier pill well enough to get moving at speed again, and the two of them took off in a pair of blurs. Bounding up into the heights of the bamboo, where they could leave no trail and promise a fight from the high ground should it come to that. Full attention of both of them upon their surroundings and the possibility of attack and interception - Konoha ninja to their cores, and ready to prove it if they had to.
The pill might have been fueling her body, but Kakami's spirit desperately wanted to get home. She wanted to sit with the puppies and go with Miako to poke around the garden she was still enthused with. To forget the bridges and abandonment and everything that had happened - both now and in the past. Rin matched her, stride for stride and Kakami realized how long it had been since this - the two of them moving as only high level ninja could.
If the situation had been any different, she might have smiled to herself. For now, she settled for a set face and continued to move.
Before a kunai whistled through the air, right through the space between them. Kakami instantly feinted to the side and Rin to the other, the whipping of an explosion tag that had been tied to the handle barely registering above her subconscious. Her hand went to her own pouch, pulling out her own blade, as the ground impacted whipping leaves and rocks past her. And there was barely time to even realize that, before she was blocking a tanto headed for her chest and pushing a foot into an unprotected midsection.
She didn't think they'd find her so fast after the last time.
Hollow clunks of steel chased Rin down to earth, a stream of kunai embedding themselves in the bamboo behind him as he dropped to catch Kakami's back. His hand shot out and snatched one, the last one, mid-air and he hit the ground armed and lethal without the split-second's concern of grabbing his own weapons. Another barrage of kunai and then a katana swiping for his chest, Rin sidestepped and pivoted in on his heel - stabbing the kunai back into an eye and snatching the katana just in time to parry a massive blow by another Iwa nin's blades.
The world condensed to flashes of steel and movements faster than the mind could follow. A sudden clanging halt as the huge nin opposite him caught his swing and forced back against him with his strength and weight pressing blade to blade and pushing the smaller medic back. Rin could hear Kakami's side of the fight, the strangled sounds of men hitting the ground, and with a quiet snarl he pulled back, all his strength and speed instead going into a dodge down to the hilt-grasping hand of the other man and slashing it open and then off at the cost of catching a shallow cut to his shoulder.
Freed for an instant he found Kakami's back, ready to defend against the dozen ninja who'd suddenly appeared, but it was then that they began to fall back. In a moment the remaining forces had formed a ring around the two Konoha nins. There were at least twelve of them, not counting the dead and the dismembered who lay still or squirming upon the dirt.
One of them, his own face masked in tan cloth, signalled to the others to hold where they were. His eyes were pale, Rin noticed, like glass, and they were full of cold fury.
"The infamous Hatake Kakami," he remarked, looking at Kakami in a way that nearly had Rin go for his throat right then and there. "What an honour it will be when we bring your corpse back home."
Kakami didn't bother with an answer - she had no wish to draw this out longer than she had too. Her burned hand was starting to throb painfully under its bandages, even as she gripped the tanto of her first attacker with it. The soldier pill would only hold out for so long and Kakami would not be leaving Rin the responsibility of getting them both back whole.
She didn't step towards them, but she did stare directly at the leader - his expression was hardly new to her. In all honesty, he probably had a good reason for it, after the bridge and then the long, bloody chase she'd led him and his men on. Rin's presence next to her - his scent mixed with blood, the slight increase in his breath from the activity - sealed it. Kakami had tried to avoid using the Sharingan lately, too unsure of its stability, but she was tired, and filled with old hurts and guilt.
Her hand came up in a smooth, fast motion that bared her stolen eye. Kakami could feel the chakra rush to it, focus on the pale-eyed man and then push into his mind, invading and shutting down whatever it needed to, in order to trap him as firmly as possible. The man gave a jerk, his weapon falling as he fell to his knees, mouth stretched wide into a horrified scream. Kakami pushed harder - she wasn't the genjutsu expert, perhaps, that Kureno was, but she knew more than enough to make it real. And shutting down the leader would be the quickest way out of here, the fastest way home.
He'd felt it coming before the scream, Rin knew the build-up to a genjutsu in anyone's chakra - never mind Kakami's, but he hadn't been prepared for the fear that stabbed in his chest when Kakami broke into their enemy's mind and tore him apart. It was a reaction because of what he'd been through - of his well-earned terror of genjutsu, and he made sure he didn't outwardly flinch, but he couldn't watch it happen. His eyes went to the others, all of whom were staring in terror and horror at what had become of their commander.
Rin didn't hesitate once he saw that. He sped fast and vicious into their ranks, killing two of them before they realized he'd moved with precise slices of the katana in his hand. The others gathered their wits and their fury then, setting upon Rin and Kakami with a fevered assault. Rin's katana was shattered blocking the swing of a mace, and then it all became blood and fists and kunai. With a viciousness he'd never be suspected of summoning, Rin fell into a tumble of taijutsu moves that punched a nose into a brain, broke a rib into a heart, fractured every body he could reach with the precision and calculation of a medic bent on killing. He was injured, he could feel it, but he didn't let it stop him - nothing could.
Until he looked back to Kakami, fleetingly caught her eye, and saw something utterly alien in her face - in her eye. In the sharingan eye. And if knowing that had been genjutsu scared him before, seeing Kakami's eye like that did worse.
And then the moment was gone, both of them spinning back into battle, fighting to get home together no matter what.
Kakami didn't cover the Sharingan as they fought - too many of the enemy nin flinched at it, left openings that she could stab or strike into. Fear could be a powerful weapon and Kakami used it, always aware that her time to hold out shrunk the longer they were pinned down. As always, she saw everything a split second before it handed - where a katana would stab, a fist would land. And then, almost suddenly, it was just her and Rin, blood-spattered but alive and running, leaving behind the dead and the wounded.
She didn't bother to keep the tanto and let it fall before pulling down her headband again to conserve as much energy as possible as they moved to get away to somewhere safe. It was a good while before they stopped to take a breath, near a small stream that would allow them to wade through, washing some of the blood off and muddling their scent to confuse any further trackers - at least Kakami hoped so.
"You need to look at that." she nodded to his shoulder briefly, putting her bandaged hand into the water, hoping it would cool down enough to lessen the pain somewhat.
Breathing unevenly, Rin nodded and followed her deeper into the water. His shoulder had taken a slash, he could feel it bleeding freely down the inside of his uniform over his chest and down his arm. But it was the least of their worries, he'd taken a bad kick to his ribs and there wasn't time to fix them; and Kakami's hand was worrying him. "It's not deep," he told her, reaching under his shirt and vest to touch his ribs and wincing sharply. They needed taped.
The two of them pushed on down stream, and Rin finally had the chance to eye Kakami for injuries. Her hand was the only prominent one, and he realized he needed her to be able to use it.
"Kakami, let me see your hand," he murmured, taking it gently in his under the water and lifting it out. He felt that little twinge in his heart, holding her hand in his even like this, but he didn't let it show. Unwrapping the bandages as they moved, he realized she'd been burned when the last of the cloth stuck persistently and painfully to the skin.
A frown, a look of real worry at the pain this was going to cause. "Let me fix it."
Her lips thinned a bit under her mask, wanting badly to argue. Kakami knew he'd rather and even though his injuries were worrying her, she needed her hand. It had been pushed rather far, as it was, and if they were attacked again Kakami needed to be able to use it.
A tight nod was given. "All right." She gave permission and then let him soak the bandage in the water so it wouldn't pull at the skin badly. She was silent, mentally weighing how difficult it would be to convince him to at least stop the bleeding of his shoulder and ease whatever else was wrong - at least enough for them to get home.
"Thank you," he said quietly, peeling away the last of the fabric and looking down at a mess of second degree burns all across his lover's palm. Not deep enough to cause nerve damage but harsh enough to cause a horrible amount of pain for those nerves to feel. How Kakami could deal with that in a fight would've been beyond most medics, but Rin knew she was the purest of ninja - able to detach from whatever she had to in order to see things done.
It still hurt to see her hand like this though, and Rin set his own palm to glimmering with green chakra, healing and soothing, as he pressed it to her own - hovering a few millimeters above the swollen red flesh and burn-scarred skin. His feet kept moving beside hers, but again his concentration slipped away from everything but the wound as he worked to heal it. It was simple and swift, but Rin needed to do it perfectly, needed Kakami's hand to be like it had been - and after two minutes it was, though the skin was pink and tender as he lifted his hand away.
The bamboo forest was quiet around them, and the sunlight was still in stripes of shadow and light that fell across their reflections in the water as they clambered out up stream. Rin reached down, wincing despite himself, and searched in a soaked pocket of his combats for a roll of tape. "Kakami... can you tape my ribs? Two are broken." He was losing strength on his left side, and he needed that to reach up and heal his right shoulder's wound as well. Geez, what a mess.
She nodded again, this time in a more relaxed manner. When he handed her the tape she took it and waited for his vest to be unzipped and taken off first. Kakami wasn't a medic but she'd had enough experience to patch up battle wounds in a way that lasted until they saw proper treatment. She was quiet, very quiet, as she bound up his chest, realizing it had been years since she'd had to do this for him.
That, and the ugly bruise that stretched across his skin made her chest tighten slightly, almost as if it was from habit. Kakami didn't like the look of his shoulder, but she didn't press it as she finished and tore the last of the tape off. And she still said nothing, but stood with his shirt and vest over one shoulder, waiting for him to heal his other wound.
Kakami felt tongue tied - she felt reminiscent in both good and bad ways. Fighting a battle for one's life might not be the best way to spend time with your lover, but she hadn't seen Rin fight in a long time and he'd gotten better. Much better and much faster. She almost wanted to comment on it, clumsily offer a compliment but it didn't feel right. Not right now - maybe later, when they were safe in his living room or in the kitchen.
However, seeing blood and bruises on his skin made her remember that she hated that sight with a choking passion and that she wished he didn't have to go out and get hurt like this. It reminded her of how he had gotten better, and how in part it made her sad that he'd had to get better. A faint memory, of him telling her what his life might have been, hit hard and she bit the inside of her cheek.
"I'm sorry." she said, rather suddenly and strangely.
Rin paused, his hand reaching up over his bandaged chest towards his seeping shoulder, and he looked up at her, brown hair flicking a little into his eyes.
He couldn't help himself. In that moment, the way she was looking at him, the tension he could see in her expression and the sadness that seemed strange to her just in her eye... all of it put him painfully in love with her and unable to hide it.
Remembering himself, he tore his eyes downward, looking at her feet and finished putting his hand to the blood slicked gash on his shoulder - beginning to heal it best he could manage. "I'm alright, Kakami. Don't be sorry," he said softly, hoping what he knew had just shown in his face didn't echo in his voice at all just then. His eyes slipped closed as he concentrated on his jutsu, his shoulder twinging visibly as he worked for just a moment.
Kakami was silent until he finished and handed him his clothes as he required. She wanted to say more, but didn't know how and it gnawed at her even as she tried to slip back into the familiar ninja that killed and followed orders with steel precision. It wasn't as easy to do anymore and she wanted to believe it was a good thing, a better thing but it still bothered her.
She was still quiet as they made their way down the stream until it turned into a wider, stronger river and the current made it more difficult to wade. They could have walked atop it, but Kakami wanted to save as much chakra as she could. He'd been going very fast and that possibly meant that the twenty-six hours he'd managed could turn into something like twenty eight or thirty.
Another four hours had them a small stretch past the border when they paused to make a small temporary camp. The awkward, feeling like she needed to speak feeling returned to Kakami, but still left her without any words to relieve it.
The darkness of evening had begun to turn, and with it a chill came into the air - becoming so much more noticeable once they finally paused for a rest. Rin expertly sparked a fire, smokeless and shielded from view to most, the heat from it directed towards the base of a huge tree Kakami was sitting with her back against.
She was going to need to sleep, and Rin was going to make sure she didn't lose her body heat while she did. He managed to find a ration bar in his vest, shook the water that'd clung to it away, and offered it to her. The soldier pill would burn out completely some time soon now, she needed to eat if she could. "Hey, you should eat," he said quietly, his voice muted and overlaid with the rising crackle of the small fire. There was something hesitant in the way she'd been looking at him (or not looking at him) ever since that moment at the river, and that was why Rin didn't just go and sit next to her as he always would have before. Between that and the change to the sharingan he'd seen he wasn't sure what to do or to say either, he was only sure that he should wait for her to give a sign.
Kakami took the offered bar without protest, glancing at him for only a moment before dropping her eyes back to the small fire he'd made. There was a hesitance now marking his movements, feeding off of hers. It wasn't entirely unfamiliar.
"Thanks." she said quietly, before pulling down her mask and eating slowly - or at least slowly enough that she could still be seen without difficulty. A way to get him to relax - as much as one could in this situation - perhaps. Or it just might have been a way to focus on something else - bite, chew, chew - that was better than thinking about anything else.
Kakami didn't know what to say. He hadn't brought up the genjutsu and she was fairly sure he wouldn't. A part of her wanted to apologize for doing it in front of him, especially like that, but the words stuck in her throat. The other part wasn't sorry at all, she'd done what she'd done because she'd needed to. A battle perhaps, between Kakami the Girlfriend and Kakami the Ninja and she wasn't sure she looked forward to trying to reconcile them more and more often, which was why she was still not steadily looking at him.
It did relax Rin a little, that she was eating (and at a normal pace too) and resting, even if she still wasn't...
He shook his head a little and pushed his doubts aside, shifting to sit next to her with the security of the smooth tree's trunk at his back. His shoulder stung now, but the blood had all been washed away in the river; he calmly suppressed a wince as he shifted to afford his broken ribs an easier resting spot. He couldn't heal his own bones and have enough energy to make the run home with Kakami, so he'd have to wait until they got back - luckily the breaks weren't dangerous, just painful, and a small price to pay for the battle.
Rin sighed quietly, still uneasy. Kakami was right next to him and she felt oddly far away. He couldn't help himself, finally, and let his eyes drift down to her newly healed hand as he asked... "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." she said, almost as soon as the question had ended. It was a bit too fast but Kakami ignored it for the moment. Her eyes caught onto his shoulder, the one that was hurt and where it would have been mostly blood-stained save for the water.
"Are you?" her question was almost hesitant. Not so much if his shoulder felt alright or if his ribs were making it too difficult to move and breath but just...other things. She almost felt like she was asking for him to be okay with what had happened earlier, even though she knew that a good part of him probably wasn't. Her hand roughly crumpled what was left of the ration bar packaging.
"Sure," he answered softly, his finger moving just slightly were his hand rested on his leg - wanting to touch her hand but refraining. It wasn't the whole truth though, and Kakami had been with him long enough to know, so he closed his eyes and leaned back a little - letting his head rest against the solid mass of the tree. "I uhm... I hadn't seen the Mangekyou before," he murmured, not opening his eyes, just feeling her next to him and the fire's warmth. Kakami wasn't fine, he could feel it in the tenseness in her frame even though they were barely touching shoulder to shoulder... and he could hear it in the way she scrunched the covering of the ration bar. And in her silence. "Is it always like that?"
Kakami was quiet before she answered, debating on whether she should point out that they both knew he wasn't really okay...but then again neither was she.
"It depends, I suppose." she finally answered softly. It did a bit, depended on what she was doing and feeling when she did it. The Mangekyou was still on the odd side of being controllable and Kakami had too many questions that she herself couldn't answer. "I haven't used it with genjutsu...for a while now."
"I see," Rin replied, even though he didn't yet. Not really. His mind moved to Sachiko and the things she'd said to him when he'd examined her eyes for her... to the fear she'd had about what her eyes might inevitably turn into. He opened his own eyes, pushing away from the trunk just enough so he could look at Kakami's face. She looked tired and uneasy, very different to how she'd usually been in the field, and she still wasn't looking at him.
That sealed it, if anything could. Rin reached his hand out and touched hers. "We never really talked about it... after that one time," he said quietly, looking at her with more tentativeness than he'd have cared to show. That one time having been when she walked out on him in the hospital, and they'd both hurt each other for want of knowing what else to do.
Kakami couldn't help the slight tensing of her body at what he said - she stared at the crumpled wrapper that laid silently in one hand, knowing what he was getting at. A part of her knew that they needed to talk about it while the other didn't want to approach it again.
"I know." her voice had fallen to barely audible, but the hand that was under his stayed still. She wasn't pulling away and even dared to study his hand on hers, staring hard at the back of it, of the wrist it was connected to.
Rin's eyes fell to their hands too, and it hit him suddenly - out of the blue and all over again - that the hand she was staring at had performed the operation that put Obiko's eye into her body. The thought that that was what she was remembering, and why she wasn't looking at him, made him draw his hand back. "Sorry," he said quickly, meaning it. "Sorry... I shouldn't have brought it up." Which was true, he shouldn't have. Truly shouldn't have.
"No, I just..." Kakami paused and took a breath, her head leaning back to glance above for a minute. "I mean someone has to bring it up sometime, right?"
It was hard, to clamp down on that first impulse to run or turn away or shut up. If it had been anything but this, she might have. No matter how much it hurt or what it brought up, Kakami knew you couldn't run forever. She knew exactly what she'd done to that nin, exactly what had been done to her. If she couldn't control it, bad things could potentially happen. Her hand came up, rubbing at her face but carefully, almost unknowingly avoiding her covered eye.
Rin was quiet, watching her and the things she didn't know she did with worry in his eyes that he tried hard to clear. This wasn't the time, maybe it wasn't even his right to bring this up (despite what he'd said, and what he felt) but if Kakami would help him learn more about this evolution to her sharingan then he'd eventually be able to help her learn more too - especially about how to deal with it. Her first months after the transplant had required both of their full efforts to make sense of the long-term effects of the eye on her body... maybe that was where to start here, now that Kakami was accepting that they should.
"Right," he agreed quietly. "I just... I'm sorry I don't know anything, Kakami." He'd tried to get access to Itae's records, and failed - not that there had been much time in between all the missions Tsurude kept sending him on. He sighed a little, going back to lean against the tree beside her - closer this time, despite himself - and shifted to settle his ribs and shoulder. "Sachiko tried to talk to me about it... has she spoken to you?"
Another pause, shorter this time as Kakami shook her head. "No, not really." There had been something alluded too but never explicitly stated - Kakami wouldn't be surprised if Sachiko had only a little more than herself to go on.
"I suppose I should try to ask her again." the woman mused, but she sounded a tad unsure. Sometimes it really was just easier to deal with scrolls and records, where information was dryly set down without the need see the hurt it could cause. "If anyone knows something, she might."
"Take your time with it," Rin advised, not wanting to push either of them - especially not after last time. "But I think it's a good idea." He paused, listening to the fire and to Kakami breathe for a little while, trying to work out how to mire their way through something as complicated and significant and strange as this. A chill passed through him at the memory of that strange three-spiked swirl in Kakami's eye, the feeling of sick dread he'd felt for just that second - almost as if it wasn't Kakami looking at him... not Obiko either...
He closed his eyes to clear that thought away. It was ridiculous, it was stupid, he couldn't think that. He was just easily spooked by genjutsu, and found it hard to deal with the sharingan at the best of times. His own prejudices and weaknesses weren't what mattered here, they never would be.
"Sachiko was worried about you," he admitted quietly, picturing her on the darkness of his eyelids. "She's afraid of the Mangekyou, and worried about what it could do to you. She said something was happening to Itae's eyes because of it. Some sort of degradation." He didn't ask her if she'd noticed the same, if she had she'd say.
Kakami became very still for a few moments, as she focused on thinking. Degradation? She bit the inside of her cheek - only briefly - and then dared a glance at him.
She wanted to ask if it could have just been attributed to some genetic weakness in Itae and Sachiko's family, but didn't - if Rin knew, then he would have told her. Sachiko, from what was said, seemed to think that it was Mangekyou related and if that was so...
Then she had a right to be worried about her former sensei.
"I guess I should be having regular checkups again then." It a was soft, almost anti-climatic way of admitting that something could be wrong - even if it was just her own lack of knowledge for what could be happening.
He was quiet for a moment, agreeing. The forest around them was empty and quiet, and the fire was the loudest thing. "Yeah, I think so," he said, trying to sound anything but heavy about it. "It's nothing definite, Kakami. And even if there was something wrong there are ways to fix that." He'd find or make ways to fix that, and get all the help he had to.
He reached up and slipped off his forehead protector, undoing the knot and smoothing out the cloth tails. He had to put it back on and re-tie it just a little looser. That done, he let his head thump back against the tree and gave Kakami a small smile. "Why don't you get some rest? I'll keep watch."
There was a short pause, before she slowly nodded and then relaxed back against the tree.
Kakami was fairly certain this was not the end of the conversation, but at least they had gotten somewhere without stabbing at each others' wounds. For now, that was more than satisfactory.
Maybe being his girlfriend and his patient wouldn't be so hard in the future. And with that hopeful thought, Kakami closed her eye and finally let her body fully relax.
Night deepened as Kakami slept, and Rin kept a wary watch for both of them - all alone in the dark. He'd wake her up in a few hours, but until then he'd be thinking of the ways they'd both changed and grown, the ways the same events played out a different way.
He thought of the way she'd looked at him by the river, and sighed quietly. And then there was the way things changed completely.