The Jounin had only caught minor glimpses of the boy since his return—few in the midst of his horrendous agony on the battlefield, but he remembered seeing Sasuke rushing forward with Naruto at his side, he could hear the distant roar of battle with their collision, and then a sudden, yet faint tang on his lips, an urgent pressure to his jaw as though trying to force him to clamp down onto something. He’d faded so fast then—Had been so ready to leave himself to the oblivion he’d forsaken Obito to. Perhaps it had been a subconscious will to follow him into the dark, to hold his hand and guide him to a place where his madness would no longer plague him.
That pressure brought him back, that bitter taste of iron and then relief, a flush of pain wrought by shattered ribs, and grinding bones alleviating somewhat with the gentle touch that followed. That smell had followed and wafted against his unmasked face in a way he would not soon forget; it was the scent of a woman, her fingers beckoning him from the edge of oblivion and back onto tides of pain and semi-consciousness. A reminder or sorts—No, he was far from finished, far from done with life’s complicated game.
There was far too much to be done.
Kakashi felt his gaze fall, and his lone eyes took in the sight of her worrying fingers, divorced from her hair and wringing at her aside in mild discomfort, itching for something to hold and bend beneath their pressure.
“I think it’s been a long time coming,” Kakashi hadn’t been sure why his tone dipped, why the prospect of speaking to his former student gifted him with a certain sense of unease. There was no putting it off, no leap in time that would make the inevitable confrontation between the two that would make their speaking any easier. He sighed,
“I would. Very much.”
He’d stood, thoughtful for a while, a strangely contorted expression on his face. But in the end, his answer had been what she’d hoped.
“Good. I appreciate it. I think he really needs it…and I don’t know you well enough to be certain, but I think you might need it too.”
Karin turned from him and then pivoted on her heel to look him in the eye again, slightly flustered. She’d almost left without asking when and where they’d want to meet.
“So should we arrange the meeting now? Time, place, and all? I know this conversation needs to be just between the two of you, but do you think that later you could…fill me in afterwards, at least to some extent? I’d like to know how he fares.”
(credit for the nickname “Sasuke’s Thug Gang” goes to homochimaru)
One of the things I love the most about Team Taka is the way they are all naturals at acting like a street gang. I always enjoy the scenes where they gang up on some unfortunate victim the most, where they showcase their badassery. For no reason other than the fact that I love this about them, and being a Team Taka fan in general, let me discuss why they are so “thug”.
Inspired by homusubi
It may have been years since that pivotal point of her life had taken place, but that did not by any means meant that the memory had long escaped her. Far from it, in fact.
For what she had found at the battle-scarred grounds as a young girl still burned with great clarity.
Yet… no matter how much it bruised, wounded her, she still returned to this very spot every now and then.
All to gaze upon what had once been her village.
It was here that calloused fingers came to gently intertwine with her own, in the owner’s way of offering her what comfort he could at the moment. Itachi may not have said a single word since they had arrived here, but his mere presence, understanding and silent support had been more than enough.
And with their hands still connected, he lifted hers and brought it to his lips. A kiss was placed against her knuckles.
His chakra was calm and soothing, as it had always been.
“Let’s go home, Karin.”
So they did— and not once did he let go of her.
Crimson was smeared across the palm of his hand- a sight that had been occurring more and more frequently as of late, with the quantity of blood expelled increasing each time as well. Temples throbbing and his most recent attack abating to that of a dull ache, he wrinkled his nose at the picture of red dripping between the gaps of his fingers, gaze averting some before he then proceeded to wash his hands of it.
He had never had much of a preference for the colour, especially when it was in such a form.
And it was just when he was about to move away from the sink did the sound of gentle knocking upon his room’s door cut through the air. They sounded almost tentative.
Despite this, however, cautious as he was, it came as to no surprise that the very same shade he had rid of from his skin moments ago bled across dark eyes, and it was through the gap left between the wooden tiling and the door that Itachi spied the very same chakra that he had encountered not too long ago. It was her again; Karin. What on Earth could she possibly be here for?
“… Karin-san,” he said, voice clear enough to reach her. There was no need to lie, doing so would only prove to be a waste of time- she was a sensor, after all. She knew he was here, and just who he was.
“Is there something you need?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing.” This was forward, even for her; she was surprising herself. “You’re sick,” she said, as if it wasn’t obvious. He seemed much more haggard than the last time she’d seen him, with dark circles under his eyes.
Karin walked to the side of the door and slid down the wood that framed it, her back against the wall, and settled cross-legged, facing him. And for a few moments, Karin did nothing but stare, resting her chin against a balled fist and peering unblinkingly at him from beneath long lashes.
“I could travel with you and keep you alive for as long as you needed, so long as you do something for me in return. Tell me, why are you lying about everything?” It was an inference and not one she was even 50% certain of. But there was an asymmetry in this man - the cold she expected belied the warmth she now felt.
“A change? In Sasuke?” Iruka paused, eying the teen with a keen eye and a cocked head. “You’ll have to understand that what I’m comparing him to is the child from my classroom— the one that used to draw me pictures and bring me flowers. I never quite got used to the Sasuke that took over after the mishap with his clan. Of course, he was still Sasuke, and he still took the time to confide in me for a while, but… by the time he graduated, he’d closed off. He told me he was fine, and I didn’t want to press him. He wasn’t angry, he was just… distanced.” Eyes flicking from Sasuke’s aggressive form to Kakashi’s casual one, he hummed. “There’s been a change in him now from the Sasuke he was when he graduated, but I’m sure that there was a lot more to compare in his three-year absence. I’m missing half of the picture, but I’m beginning to get the pieces.”
Iruka’s eyes were fixed on Kakashi, now, and he watched the way the jounin offered an aggressive stance and an unbridled force. Neither of them held back, and the tension in the air was slowly, slowly fading. “I’ve noticed a change in him, though. He’s a lot more at ease, now. He shouldered the burden of Sasuke leaving as much as Naruto did, and nothing I could say would lessen that. Having Sasuke back has done him wonders. I can tell that he wants to fix things— this is his way of doing so, I suppose. I think that with time, Sasuke can learn to feel less burdened, too. You’ll have to help, but I’m sure that that wouldn’t be a problem— isn’t that so?”
“Oh, most definitely not.” She smirked. “I’ve had to keep him in line for a long time now.”
She watched the two of them at ease now, and neither was entirely comfortable - but their guards were down, and that was a start. Sasuke’s hand clenched and unclenched, and she noticed that he held it aloft. He had a nervous habit of grasping the hilt of his sword most of the time, and lately, Karin had observed him struggling to avoid it, especially when she was watching. He hadn’t looked over at her once since she and Iruka had arrived, yet she knew he was aware of her presence or he wouldn’t have tried so hard to avoid looking in her direction.
“What was he like…before the massacre of his family?” She’d always wondered.