Kakashi has never been one to brag.
(Originally published 3/2/2005)
Ahh, a short one this time. wince Oh well. Set after the Chuunin exams but before a certain person leaves, spoilers for Kakashi Gaiden. I promise I'll write something more interesting soon. n.n;;
Even a genius can falter. Even a genius can fail. Even a genius can fall.
Kakashi knows this all too well.
He knows that no matter how smart you are, or how talented, there's always somebody better than you, and there's always that one situation that you won't be able to get yourself out of.
It's not that he's a pessimist, or just making assumptions. Kakashi thinks of himself as a realist. He knows what he knows because he's seen it so many times before. Cold hard facts.
They called his father a genius. His father failed a mission, brought his friends back home but killed a hundred others, and was shunned for it. His father's life ended in disgrace. No amount of genius could have saved him from having to make that fatal decision, the one that would have destroyed him no matter what -- the choice between country, or comrades.
They called the Fourth a genius, and after all, he /was /Hokage. What happened between him and the demon fox should not be dishonored by calling it a failure, but it left Kakashi just as alone all the same.
They called Sarutobi a genius. Illustrious Third Hokage, protege of the First and Second, memorizer of so many jutsus it makes even the Copy Ninja's head spin to contemplate their numbers. The Third had faced Orochimaru, and if he had managed to save his village -- by a thread, Kakashi suspects -- it left him no less dead at the end of it.
They called Orochimaru a genius, or used to, back when anyone spoke of him in tones other than hushed, wary whispers. He faced the Third, and is now in hiding somewhere, nursing a shattered body and useless arms, his vessel perhaps broken beyond repair.
They called that young boy of the Sand a genius -- one among many other, less pleasant names Kakashi has heard floating around -- and Rock Lee, Gai's genius of hard work, still penetrated his defense, did serious damage if not truly delivering defeat.
And that Rock Lee. Few would call /him /a genius, but Kakashi thinks the title is warranted -- and even opening five Gates was not enough strength for him to defeat his opponent in the Chuunin matches. Indeed, his genius backfired against him, and it is his own fault as much as Gaara's that he is now confined to the hospital.
They called Kakashi himself a genius. And of course, the magnitude of his own failures over the years goes without saying. He doesn't need words for them, because they will always be right there, a heavy black weariness hiding in his eyes for as long as he lives.
No, he knows better than to believe in that elusive idea called 'genius'. Anyone who sets themselves above others in such a way, he thinks, is only making it easier for those others to knock them down. Making arrogant assumptions, underestimating one's opponent; these are practices that in the world of the shinobi can all too easily prove fatal. In Kakashi's experience, /overestimating /one's enemies is a much wiser practice. It would be all too easy to become complacent, to rest securely on the foundation of Copy Ninja Kakashi, the expert veteran, trained by the most powerful men in Konoha; but he will never let himself because he knows that the day he does is the day he is going to die, and he might end up taking a hundred people with him too.
It's something he would like to pass on to his young unit. He hopes they see it in the way he works with calm competence, plans for every single outcome he can think of, from the good to the disastrous.
He thinks they are learning. Which is good, because he'd hate to have to try to explain it all out loud to them. Flat-out handing them such a truth, as though he were the all-knowing master of the universe imparting his wisdom, wouldn't feel like teaching so much as arrogance. A boast about his superior experience in matters that will, inevitably, take them long years to understand.
And Kakashi has never been one to brag.