A mission, a shower, and a lot of things that go unsaid. Sometimes everybody just needs to feel human, if only for a little while. GenKaka flashback.
(Originally published 2/20/2005)
Genma sure gets around. XD I actually consider this in continuity with /Dance/, not that it matters, since they have nothing to do with each other. For your reference, "Special Assassination and Tactical Squad" is roughly how 'Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai', ANBU for short, translates into English.
Hatake Kakashi is sixteen years old, the terror of the Special Assassination and Tactical Squad, and he has never reminded Genma more of a wolf than he does right now.
He has the target cornered, so Genma takes a moment to readjust his red-striped mask and springs silently up through the trees into a position to give Kakashi backup. Not that he thinks Kakashi is going to need it. The summoned dogs spring away from their positions where they'd bitten down firmly onto the man's extremities, and their master drops from a nearby branch and swings his katana all in one graceful motion, taking the man's head off with a single slice. He lands on his feet, raises his hand in a signal silently thanking Genma for covering him, then he and his dogs are springing away as fast as the wind again, off after the next target. Genma follows; he's trying to keep up enough to be useful if he's needed, but the reality is Kakashi doesn't actually need him here, and they both know it. Genma has come along more as a formality than anything, because ANBU don't like sending a man out without a shred of team support.
But they've worked together quite a bit over the years, so Genma knows that Kakashi the Copy Ninja is his own team of one, and he also knows that Kakashi can work faster if Genma just stays out of the way.
The dogs bound through the underbrush with as much quiet as any shinobi and Kakashi flits through the trees ahead of them, leading his pack on the chase. The ninjas protecting target number two are decent, but not good enough to avoid the noses of the beasts on their tail. They catch up to the group in another clearing and Kakashi, alpha male, takes his pack into the hunt, slicing his way through the opposition in a hurry to get to his real goal. Genma quickly circles around to put himself in the way of the target's escape route and watches as the dogs make quick, bloody work of the wounded enemy shinobi. Kakashi leaps up to swipe at the target with a kick that knocks him straight backwards into Genma's tree, then runs the man through. He holds his hand up automatically to tell the dogs to stop, but there's no need; the other ninja have all been killed already. Mission complete.
Smooth, quiet, and brutally efficient -- Kakashi is the epitome of everything ANBU stands for. Genma thinks Kakashi could easily find himself commanding the entire force someday. If, that is, Kakashi was any good at giving orders. Or working in a team. Which, as Genma can attest, he isn't particularly.
He hops down from his perch to join Kakashi, who has stopped to rest on a tree stump nearby, his breathing gradually relaxing along with the fading rush of adrenaline. He is wiping the blood off his katana with a stained and obviously well-used cloth, his pack huddled around him in sleepy contentment as they wait to be dismissed. One little dog is hanging off his shoulder, and he ruffles its fur in something Genma would call an affectionate gesture if it had been coming from anyone else but Kakashi, carefully sliding his now-semi-clean sword into the sheath on his back without jostling the creature. Genma takes his mask off, and Kakashi pushes his own back a bit to rest on the side of his head. Only then does he deign to turn his eyes on the other man.
"Good clean job. Though I'd expect nothing less from you," Genma says, because he would rather talk than just stand there while that blood-red Sharingan coolly scrutinizes him.
"Mm." Kakashi gives a noncommittal reply to the praise, glancing down again to look himself over for any unnoticed injuries. "You weren't hurt?"
"I'm fine. Hell, I barely even came out of cover the whole time. Felt more like your supervisor than your teammate," he says with a slightly awkward laugh.
"Just as well," Kakashi says, rising to pull the dog off of his back and perform the seals that will send the pack away again. This is one of the few things that allows Genma to believe the other young man is actually human -- despite his tendency to try to do the whole job by himself, or perhaps because of it, Kakashi always makes sure his teammates are taken care of on every mission. Even if he often sounds completely mechanical as he asks after them, he always does it, whether Genma has just come from the thick of battle surrounded by fifteen men or... Well, just supervising, as he's done tonight.
They work with other people sometimes. Genma has seen the way Kakashi gets when his teammates are hurt. It's not at all pretty, and there usually isn't much left of their opponents afterward.
He is grateful for it, though, because if it wasn't for little quirks like that, he could almost be convinced he is working with a robot... Or perhaps an unfathomable wolf spirit, ancient and cold and far removed from all human ways, would make for a better comparison.
Kakashi pulls his mask back over his face and stands waiting for Genma with his arms crossed over his chest, an obvious signal that he's ready to go. Genma tugs his own mask back into its proper place, and not being able to entirely suppress his natural sense of humor, gives the other ninja a jaunty salute. Kakashi's gaze is intense; even hidden behind the black slits of the mask, Genma can feel the way those eyes narrow in irritation as they watch him.
He smirks behind his own mask, and hops up into a tree. "So let's get going. Lead the way."
And Kakashi does. As usual.
They make their way back to Konoha and it's some absurdly early hour of the morning by the time they get there, so there will be several hours to kill before they have to go in and make their report to Sandaime-sama. Genma stifles a yawn as they trudge past the gates of the village, then put on some speed again and make their way quickly and secretly (they're ANBU, after all, they have a reputation to maintain) around to the small compound on the other side of Konoha's administrative building where the Special Assassination and Tactical Squad makes its headquarters. Time to get cleaned up and head home for a bit. Genma idly entertains the thought of stopping by Hayate's bedroom window, waking him up and saying hello, just to be an ass.
But it would be nice to hang out with a familiar face for a while. The longer he does this ANBU work, the dirtier he feels. Sure, the pay is good, but it's nothing like being a Chuunin was, not even much like being a Jounin.
He sort of misses being an honorable, respected warrior, rather than one of the village boogeymen, someone who has to slink around and hide from his own fellow townspeople for fear of scaring them whenever he goes out in uniform. But he guesses somebody's gotta do the job.
Still, for his own part, Genma's getting out of the place as soon as his contract is up and his little nest egg for the future is established. Though he doesn't mind the protecting Konoha part, the main reason he came into the Squad is still a mercenary one, and he has no desire to keep doing this job any longer than he's required to. Kakashi, on the other hand -- Kakashi seems made for the place. Genma wouldn't be surprised if Kakashi stays with them for the rest of his life.
ANBU tend to live rather short lives.
They strip down together in the dressing room and go to the communal shower to wash off; there's nothing either of them hasn't seen before, so it's not a big deal. Genma remembers being surprised, a long time ago, when he first saw the various scars and slash marks scattered over Kakashi's pale skin, though he doesn't really know why -- perhaps he'd been expecting someone as powerful and unearthly as Copy Ninja Kakashi to be left without a scratch even by the hard life of a shinobi. But by now, the marks are familiar terrain to Genma's eyes.
And to his hands, but he tries not to think about that too much.
Genma steps into the water first; Kakashi pulls his mask off reluctantly a split second before he follows -- Genma has seen his bare face before, but he doesn't think Kakashi is really comfortable around anyone when he doesn't have that bit of cloth to hide his expression -- and stands with his back to the other man, just resting there soaking for the moment and letting the warm spray carry away some of the grime and the blood spatters in his silver hair.
Genma washes himself, and watches Kakashi. Kakashi just keeps standing there.
"...Kakashi?" he ventures after a while. No answer.
Genma steps over to gently lay a hand on Kakashi's shoulder, and Kakashi flinches a little, and Genma lets out a mental sigh. So it's gonna be one of those nights.
This is the other thing that reminds Genma that Kakashi is human: despite his best efforts to be anything but, Kakashi is sixteen and screwed up and really, when it gets right down to it, kind of fragile. And despite his better judgement, Genma can't help wanting to take care of the kid in those rare moments when he's too tired to keep up the act of the perfect living weapon.
Genma wonders how long it's been since Kakashi last let anybody touch him with affection. The last time they did this was something like seven months ago.
He guesses, therefore, that it's probably been seven months.
"What's the matter?" he murmurs. Given that it's Kakashi, he doesn't really expect an answer -- hell, there might not be an answer, or at least any that could be put into words -- but he has to start somewhere.
Predictably, Kakashi shrugs a little. But unpredictably, a moment later, he speaks.
"I was thinking, I might... get out of this business," he murmurs, a little haltingly.
"Huh? You mean... out of ANBU?"
Kakashi gives the faintest of nods, and slowly, almost self-consciously, reaches around to hug himself about the waist. Genma watches him silently for a moment, and wonders what the hell is going on inside his head. Even in his darker moods, Kakashi can be so unfathomable.
"Why?" Genma asks, gently and reasonably, stepping forward to ease Kakashi into his embrace with a careful touch. "Seems like it suits you." Kakashi doesn't push away, but he doesn't help either, just standing there rigid. Genma wraps his arms around Kakashi's arms, and rests his head against a pale shoulder, his chest touching with Kakashi's back. The other young man's skin is pleasantly warm and damp, and his posture slowly begins to relax a little as Genma settles in place.
Kakashi, he can see from his current vantage point, is staring vaguely off at the far wall with an utterly blank expression. "Maybe too much," he murmurs in reply.
"You think?" Genma says softly, encouragingly, and just stands there with the young ninja in his arms and the warm water pounding against them. If Kakashi's actually willing to talk for once, damned if Genma's going to be the one to make him change his mind.
"...I didn't wanna come home tonight." As usual, he can't glean much in the way of emotion from Kakashi's voice. Genma leans back a bit to watch the one dark eye that he can see from where he's standing. "Rather've stayed out on another mission." The rest of Kakashi's face is still determinedly neutral, but there's something very weary and frightened in that mismatched gaze.
"And that scares you?" Genma ventures gently.
Kakashi looks down at the water running into the shower drain, and doesn't speak again for a long moment.
"...No," he murmurs finally, and there is a note of realization, a sudden dawning horror in his quiet voice. "No... it doesn't."
Genma is stunned briefly, and he certainly doesn't know what to say to that. So he just hugs Kakashi a little tighter.
This may be a mistake, however, as he realizes he is now brushing himself against Kakashi's rear, and there are certain things one can't entirely help when one is comforting a naked, wet, very beautiful 16-year-old boy. Especially when one is only three years older and rather the promiscuous sort.
"Sorry," he mutters, trying to keep the automatic smirk out of his voice because it's really not funny, and he curses himself sixteen ways an idiot because now Kakashi's sure to stop talking again. "...Reflex."
If Kakashi was in a better mood, he would probably make some bantering remark about Genma's 'reflexes' toward every man or woman he'd ever met. But Kakashi just stands there. And is silent, as predicted.
Genma sighs. He is about to move away, but the second his arms lift their weight slightly from around Kakashi the other has grabbed them, squeezing a little painfully as he pulls them back against his body.
"Don't... Stay," Kakashi murmurs, very quietly, and Genma is astonished to hear his voice shaking a little. "I... don't mind."
Genma presses his lips into a thin line, but doesn't move. He has never liked this part. For Genma, sex is a fun thing, or it's supposed to be. For Kakashi, sex seems to be about affirming his existence or something similarly scary and cliched-sounding. Or maybe, this time, it's that he just can't bear the thought of being alone tonight.
Kakashi turns around in his arms, and Genma cups the young man's chin in one hand, leans over to kiss him, and supposes he can at least understand that.
Genma has vague thoughts of making it over to the bench with the towels sitting on it, but it never happens. They couple together right there on the floor of the shower with the hot water still pounding down on them, washing all evidence of their -- well, calling it lovemaking would be a cruel joke on them both -- down the drain as it has doubtless done for many similar encounters in the past.
When they are finished, Kakashi just lies there next to him with a listless expression, and Genma gets the impression he would be clinging if he had a shred of energy to spare. Genma stretches an arm around him, and lies there and seriously considers the merits of spending all night sleeping under a stream of hot water, before rising with a reluctant sigh to turn the shower off.
As if Genma had flipped a switch on him as well as the water, Kakashi gets up, shaking out his soaking-wet hair a little and walking over to start toweling himself off. Genma follows, and he glances over at the other young man as they dry themselves. Kakashi is looking down at the bench with his usual non-expression.
Genma curses himself for a fool, and says, "You should come back to my place. Stay the night."
He already knows the answer to his offer. Kakashi takes the towel off his damp hair and reaches for his mask, bunching it up and pulling it on. "That's okay," he murmurs as he adjusts it over his face. "Wouldn't want to impose."
After the mask, he goes for his underwear.
Genma turns away to the lockers, starts to rummage around for his own clothes, and wonders how it's possible for a man to become a wolf.