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11/24/2021 02:46 PM 

Greed

Summary:

Greed (noun) \ ˈgrēd \: A selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed or deserved.

 

 

Kakashi knows he doesn’t deserve Tenzo. But god, does he want.

 

 

 

Kakashi had been alone for a very long time.

At first, it had hurt. It hurt so much, Kakashi couldn’t even describe it. He didn’t understand, how could he? He was just a kid. All he knew was one day, his father was here with him and the next, he was gone. And suddenly, Kakashi realized that the brave face Sakumo put on at home couldn’t hold, no matter how much Kakashi tried to help. In the end, Kakashi wasn’t enough to keep his father alive. He just wasn’t enough to live for.

Kakashi wished he could say he didn’t hold a grudge. But after the death of Sakumo, he grew up into a sharp, sarcastic, and often bitter little boy. Despite his attitude, despite his clinging to sometimes inhumane rules and closing off his emotions, he managed to find himself a semblance of a new family.

That family was ripped away from him, piece by piece. Most of it was Kakashi’s own doing. He has nightmares, horrible flashes of boulders crashing around him, or blinding, screaming bolts of lightning. He would wake up dirty and stained, and spend hours at his sink until the water over his hands ran cold. He knew, somewhere in his mind, that the blood wasn’t there. But he could see it, he could feel it, it was as real as the eye in his left socket, real as the guilt churning through his stomach and making him sick. Both ruthless, endless reminders that he destroyed any good thing, any good person in his life.

When Kushina and Minato-sensei died, Kakashi knew. It solidified in his mind an idea he had long ago, standing over his father’s lifeless body. The idea that maybe Kakashi just wasn’t deserving of love. Maybe loving Kakashi was a death sentence. Maybe the only way to keep people safe was to keep them at a distance.

Being alone wasn’t so bad anymore, not if the alternative was more loss.

It wasn’t as difficult as it was when he was young, but then again, he supposed all things got easier with time and experience. A good Shinobi was an island, after all, and Kakashi had become a very good Shinobi. He wasn’t devoid of emotions, not completely. No matter how much he tried to convince himself and everyone around him that he was. His ruse seemed to work well on both his fellow ANBU shinobi, as well as on the other Jonin from his class, and even the Hokage. Some looked at him with contempt, others with pity, and others still with fear. Kakashi ignored every look.

There were moments, still, when Kakashi would feel his resolve slipping. Moments late at night, when he was alone with nothing but flashbacks and tears from Obito’s eye to keep him company. He missed the comforting love from his father, and the camaraderie from his team. He missed missions that didn’t end with him puking his guts out in a corner of the ANBU locker room as the faces of his targets—his victims—swam in front of his vision even when he closed his eyes. He missed things he never even had; was burning with the jealousy of missed opportunities to have close friends, his insides squirming with deep sadness and longing and guilt whenever he brushed off an invitation for dango with the other Jonin his age. Gai, as always, never gave up on him…and that always made Kakashi feel worse. He was kind, and well-meaning, and Kakashi really, really didn’t want him to die. He was aware, on some level, that he was being irrational. But the people he let love him kept dying, and he refused to have another friend’s death on his hands. But he desperately wanted all these things he’d been denied—wanted so badly it made him feel sick.

He threw himself deeper into work, sinking further and further into the depths of life in ANBU. This was his purpose now, everything for the better of the village. He’d become the perfect soldier, and then he wouldn’t need anybody else. It was the perfect plan. Everyone would be safe that way. It was only miserable late at night, when Kakashi was alone, unable to clean the red from his hands.

When he met a little boy called Kinoe, he was immediately intrigued. He was small, and young, and used a technique Kakashi had only heard legends about. If Danzo’s offer had not interested Kakashi before, it may be worth it only to know more about this boy. The assassination attempt orchestrated by Danzo ends Kakashi’s interest in joining Root, but not in Kinoe. Against his better judgement, Kakashi allowed the boy to flee the scene, merely reporting his existence to the Hokage.

When Kakashi and Kinoe meet for a third time, it is when Kakashi is near death from the technique of a clan he had never even heard of before. Kinoe spares his life, but immediately restrains Kakashi under the pretense of interrogation. The mission passes in a confusing blur for Kakashi, having spent most of it chasing a little girl who insisted on calling Kinoe “Tenzo”, and the second part of it fighting Orochimaru. He wasn’t sure whether or not he considered the mission a success, considering the fact that Orochimaru escaped. But the little girl was free, and Kinoe smiled, and that was enough success for Kakashi. This was the second time Kakashi lied on a mission report, and he did it with zero regrets.

The third and fourth time Kakashi encountered Kinoe were separated by years, and Kakashi takes a second to recognize him. He’s taller, his hair is longer, but his eyes are the same. Kakashi knows they are on different missions, serving different masters, but he suggests they work together all the same. He believes when he tells Kinoe that they are both allies under the village of Konoha, and trusts him as he would a member of his own organization.

When Kinoe draws a blade against him, Kakashi defends himself on instinct. But this is too much, this can’t be happening again. He can’t be fighting a comrade again. He tells Kinoe to abandon his mission, that missions that call upon someone to kill a comrade were never worth it. And I would know. He didn’t expect Kinoe to bring up Rin. No one brought up Rin, not to Kakashi’s face. Sure, people loved to talk about it to everyone else. But people never even said her name when Kakashi was around, they were afraid of what Kakashi would do. As it turned out, guilt would churn in Kakashi’s stomach like it always did…and then, Kakashi would get angry. So angry, he’d forget even where he was.

When he came back to his senses, Kinoe was at the mercy of Kakashi and his chidori. And Kakashi gave mercy, electing instead to restrain Kinoe and take him back to the Hokage. Kinoe was two assassination attempts in, and Kakashi was pretty sure Danzo wasn’t gonna let him stop trying anytime soon. Kakashi was just wondering how Danzo managed to keep his position of power when he kept ordering Konoha soldiers and officials dead, when he was distracted by a very large snake swallowing his prisoner. Kakashi kills the snake and rescues Kinoe, but the resulting poisonous vapors render him incapacitated and weak. Some level of consciousness registers the fact that Kinoe half-drags half-carries him to a safe area and administers some kind of antidote, but then Kakashi is unconscious.

He wakes to find a note from Kinoe, hastily scrawled on fabric and pinned to the wall with a kunai. He reads the note quickly, his heartbeat pounding loudly in his ears. Kinoe abandoned his mission for Kakashi. He was going to report back to Danzo empty handed, and who knows what would happen to him then. Kakashi shouldn’t care. This boy was an obstacle every time Kakashi saw him. But he was also a friend, an ally of Konoha, and possibly the last person on Earth who could ever use wood style.

The Hokage wouldn’t give a damn about the first two, but he might care enough about wood style to do something.

Kakashi was right, the Hokage cared enough about Hashirama’s lost techniques to send an ANBU operative with a message to Danzo. But the time for messages was over. Kakashi wasn’t ever going to try to understand why someone like Danzo was allowed so much influence, he didn’t have the time nor the patience. What he did have was the skill and the balls to go into Root and get Kinoe his damn self.

Later, after he stole inside one of the most dangerous organizations in Konoha on an illegal, unsanctioned rescue mission for some boy he barely knew and almost killed three times, Kakashi would question what exactly it was that drew him to Kinoe. Sometime, after he introduced Tenzo to his ANBU comrades under his new code name, after he welcomed Tenzo to his ANBU team, after Tenzo called him “senpai” for the first of many times, Kakashi would question why Tenzo wasn’t turning tail and running the other way from him.

It wasn’t until after a late night together, after Tenzo witnessed him crying, and shaking, and scrubbing invisible blood off his hands, after Tenzo’s quiet voice and gentle hands brought Kakashi back to reality, Kakashi started to wonder if this was the love he had been desperately missing for almost his entire life.

The next nightmare, alongside the falling boulders and screaming flashes of lightning, featured bloodsoaked long brown hair and a cracked Konoha faceplate.

Kakashi would not allow Tenzo to end up that way.

He knew what happened to people he let get close, to people he loved. It didn’t matter how strong he was, or how capable they were. They would get hurt, and then they would be gone, and Kakashi would have to get used to being alone all over again. He needed to stop this while Tenzo was still okay.

The thought of pushing Tenzo back out hurt Kakashi more than he’d thought it would. He’d gotten a taste of the love and connections he’d missed so much, and he wasn’t ready to see it go. He’d never wanted anything more than Tenzo, the burning want for things he could not have that he’d felt since childhood was reaching new temperatures in his gut. He closed his eyes, letting the image of Tenzo’s pale and lifeless body motivate him. This was to save his life.

The shift back was gradual, Kakashi was too weak for it not to be. He started with talking a little less, making his words a little more curt. He cut back his out of mission time with Tenzo down until it was nothing at all. He pretended he didn’t notice the hurt and worry on Tenzo’s face every time he was brushed off or ignored. Pretended that none of this was bothering him. After all, Kakashi pretending to be okay was the longest and most successful con in the history of Konoha.

But, with how well Kakashi knew Tenzo, he should have expected him to not play along.

“Senpai?”

Kakashi tensed where he stood, slowly setting down the kunai he had reflexively drawn in his surprise. He’d never expected Tenzo to make a surprise window entrance into his apartment, but Tenzo was always exceeding his expectations.

“What?” Kakashi’s voice was flat and emotionless. His voice usually was, nowadays, when talking with Tenzo. It was a far cry from when Tenzo had first joined his team, when Kakashi let himself be vulnerable around another person for the first time in years. It was safe to say that Tenzo had made note of the change.

“Senpai, are you…are you okay?” Tenzo began, concern creeping into his voice. “Is something wrong?”

“No,” Kakashi answered. Simple responses, nowhere for Tenzo to go with them. Cut the conversation short.

“You’re lying to me,” Tenzo was clearly distressed. “Why? Kakashi, what’s the matter?”

Kakashi’s throat tightened at the switch to his name. This might not be as easy as he thought.

“What makes you think I’m lying?”

“You…these past few weeks…it’s like you hate me now, or something,” Tenzo seemed nervous. Kakashi glanced back at him and immediately regretted it; the earnest look in Tenzo’s eyes might be enough to break him if he kept looking.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“This is just it,” Tenzo sighed. “We…we were close, and you…you would talk to me, about stuff, and now it seems that you just…only talk about missions…”

“I’m your superior,” Kakashi answered. “That’s what is appropriate for us to talk about.”

“What happened?” Tenzo asked again, stepping closer. “Did you—get in trouble, or something, for being friends with me?”

“No.”

“Then, why?” Tenzo’s voice grew softer. “I’m worried, Kakashi. I just—I care about you, you know? And I thought—I thought you cared about me,”

“I don’t,” Kakashi answered quickly, almost choking on the words. If he didn’t get them out fast, they never would come. “You’re my comrade, and I value you as such. You’re an asset to my team.”

Silence stretched for a few very long seconds, in which Tenzo was stunned and Kakashi was bracing for fallout.

“Bullsh*t,” Tenzo finally managed. “That—I refuse to believe that, Senpai.”

“Well, that’s your problem,” Kakashi muttered. “Keep deluding yourself if you wish. Don’t let it affect missions.”

“Kakashi!” Tenzo protested, stepping closer still and reaching for Kakashi’s arm. “What are you talking about? What happened to you?”

Kakashi jerked his arm away like Tenzo’s touch would burn him, taking several steps to distance the two of them.

“Don’t touch me,” Kakashi warned, turning his back. “If this is all you wanted, feel free to go.”

The two stood in tense silence, in which Kakashi knew that Tenzo had no intention of leaving. Tenzo had grown stubborn and assertive in his time spent with Kakashi, and had a long standing history of not letting Kakashi get the last word, rank be damned.

“If you really don’t care,” Tenzo spoke through gritted teeth, his shaking hands clenched into fists at his side. “If you really don’t care about me, why did you even come after me? Why not leave me with Danzo? You could have left me to rot in Root forever but you didn’t, Kakashi, because you care.”

“I went back to Root for you because you are an asset to the village—”

“You’re really gonna tell me that was the only reason?” Tenzo challenged. “You came back for me. You care about me, Kakashi. It’s okay to say so. Not everything you do has to be for duty, or for the village, you can act selfish for once—”

“My reasons for getting you weren’t selfish just because you want them to be,” Kakashi snarled. “Drop this. Now.”

Tenzo’s face fell, he squeezed his eyes shut and ducked his head, letting a curtain of brown hair hide his face. “Kaka—”

“Drop. This.” Kakashi repeated, staring forward, determined not to look over at Tenzo. “That’s an order.”

Tenzo froze, his eyes snapping open wide, his shoulders shaking gently with the effort to control his breath. “Yes, sir,” He whispered, slowly raising his head to glare at Kakashi’s back. “My mistake. It won’t happen again.”

Kakashi frowned, the slight quiver in Tenzo’s voice the only thing that betrayed his otherwise hardened professional façade. He was silent for several seconds, his chest constricting uncomfortably. He squeezed his eye shut, letting out a long sigh.

“Make sure it doesn’t.”

Kakashi stood still where he was until he heard Tenzo leave the way he came in, letting out a heavy sigh as he sank down onto the floor. Every part of his brain was screaming at him to stop Tenzo, bring him back and tell him the truth, but Kakashi forced himself to remain still. He didn’t even look at Tenzo, and he knew that he hurt him. Badly. Dammit, he was just trying to keep him safe. There was no way that he could explain without sounding crazy, but he knew this was for the best. Someone like him didn’t deserve someone like Tenzo, anyway. Kakashi ruined everything good in his life. It was better for Tenzo that he stay away.

Kakashi got his discharge from ANBU not long after that. The guilt he felt churning in his stomach at the betrayal written all over Tenzo’s face as he cleared out his locker was familiar, but it didn’t make it any easier to endure. He turned to say something, anything, to Tenzo, but he was gone when Kakashi turned around. Kakashi cleared out his possessions and left without ceremony, his mind completely occupied with Tenzo. Cutting people out had never hurt this bad before. Now that they didn’t work together anymore, Kakashi supposed he’d probably never see Tenzo again. He reminded himself, firmly, that this was all for the best. It was keeping Tenzo safe.

When the nightmares played through his head yet again that night, Tenzo, mercifully, was left out of them.

___

 

Kakashi was older now. Less alone, but maybe more broken than when he was younger.

Leaving ANBU wasn’t enough to cure him of his darkness, even if it took on a different form now. People whispered about him still; about his ruthlessness, about his genius, about his willingness to kill his allies. But now, they also whispered about “disturbed”, about “obsessed”, about how he failed three Genin teams for “unimportant reasons”. And, as usual, Kakashi ignored them. People could scoff all they wanted about how there were things more important than teamwork. Kakashi wasn’t about to let anyone else live like him. Just because he couldn’t let anyone love him didn’t mean that had to be every Shinobi’s life. These kids deserved better. He’d promised Obito and Rin that these kids would have better.

Slowly, eventually, the nightmares started to get better. Less frequent, at least. They were still brutal, and still had Kakashi waking in sweat, but the blood was never there anymore. If Kakashi was honest, the blood hadn’t been there since Tenzo talked him down that night when they were young.

Tenzo. Kakashi didn’t think about him very much, not anymore. When he first left ANBU, he wondered about Tenzo almost every day. He worried for him, he sometimes even went by his house to make sure he was still okay. He stopped doing it once Tenzo started using blackout curtains. So, the little bastard was still perceptive, then. It brought a small smile to Kakashi’s face, even though it was a new kind of hurt not to even be able to see Tenzo from afar anymore.

A lot had changed for Kakashi since he’d left ANBU. For one, he’d finally managed to pass a Genin team. A team with Minato-sensei’s son, no less. And somehow, when he least expected it, these three obnoxious little a**holes managed to worm their way into his heart.

The first time they were in real danger, Kakashi felt years taken off his life. The fight with Zabuza and Haku was a new kind of stressful since Kakashi had the lives of three tiny, blundering people to watch out for at the same time he tried to neutralize the threat. He cared for these kids, he cared for them and that goddamn terrified him. There wasn’t much he could do to keep these kids distant from him, but he would try. He was a genius, so people liked to say. He could be a good teacher while remaining unattached.

So he showed up late for their training, he kept his nose in his book when he spoke to them, he never spoke about himself even if they asked. But, no matter how much he wanted to pretend he didn’t care about them, he cared about them a lot. They were all showing tremendous growth and potential. And, for once, Kakashi had three people who didn’t look at him with pity, or contempt, or fear. Well, sometimes they looked at him with contempt, when he was really late for training. But they didn’t see him as a weapon, or an asset to the village, or even a threat. He was just their lazy Jonin sensei, and it was freeing.

Another thing that changed once Kakashi left ANBU was his relationship with Gai. Kakashi’s three small brats had taken emotional sledgehammers to Kakashi’s mental walls, and he slowly managed to open himself up to Gai. Not as much as he’d opened himself to Tenzo when they were young, but more than he’d opened up in a very long time. He was still reserved, he didn’t think he’d ever match Gai’s outward enthusiasm for their friendship (and he honestly didn’t want to), but he was okay with admitting to himself that he cared about Gai. He cared about and appreciated Gai deeply, and he always had. He kind of regretted being an a**hole when he was younger, even though Gai always seemed to take it in stride. But even though Kakashi had relaxed, the anxiety still lingered. The guilt telling Kakashi that someone like him didn’t deserve relationships like this still reared its ugly head every so often, and Kakashi tried his best to quash it. It was right, but Kakashi didn’t want to think about it.

When one by one, his Genin team left him, Kakashi felt the heavy weight of guilt in his stomach like a familiar friend. They may not be dead, (and Kakashi felt sick to his stomach at the thought), but they were still gone. Sasuke deserted, Naruto and Sakura both left him for better teachers…and Kakashi couldn’t blame them. He wasn’t cut out for teaching, he wasn’t cut out for anything that wasn’t killing, if he was honest. And he definitely, truly, did not deserve the love and camaraderie from his team. He couldn’t protect the people he cared for, he never could. It was better that they found other people to mentor them.

Adjusting to life without his students surprisingly well. He threw himself back into S-rank missions, using the sense of purpose they gave him as a distraction from the inevitable loneliness. Even when Naruto came back and he was sent on missions with his team again, Kakashi still didn’t feel as though his team was back together. There was a distance between the three of them, and Kakashi couldn’t say he didn’t expect it. But still, Kakashi’s heart ached with how proud he was of hist former students, and he hoped he would be able to share in their successes for as long as he could.

___

Kakashi honestly never thought he would see Tenzo ever again.

So, when Kakashi was in the hospital to recover from chakra depletion and exhaustion, the last thing he expected was Tsunade to walk in with Tenzo.

He looked different; taller and broader, more filled-out. His hair was shorter, in a practical style, and he’d swapped the ANBU armor for standard Jonin blacks and vest. He looked different, to be sure, but his eyes were the same. His eyes were always the same.

If Kakashi wasn’t expecting to see Tenzo again, he definitely wasn’t expecting how much it would hurt. He immediately could only remember the last conversation they had before Kakashi left ANBU, how badly Kakashi had tried to convince Tenzo that he never cared. But he did. He cared so much, and seeing Tenzo again only reminded him of that fact.

Tsunade was talking, saying something about Kakashi’s team needing a leader in his absence, but Kakashi wasn’t listening.

“Tenzo?” he breathed, struggling to lift his head off the pillow to get a better look.

“You can’t call me that when I’m undercover, Senpai,” Tenzo chided him gently. “I’m Yamato now.”

Kakashi wrinkled his nose, not liking the change of name at all. Here he was, going by yet another name that wasn’t his, all in the name of what the village wanted to tell him was his duty. It reminded Kakashi of Root, and he wanted to object.

Tenzo was awkward in Kakashi’s hospital room, not meeting Kakashi’s gaze very often, shifting and fidgeting as though he were uncomfortable. Kakashi, conversely, couldn’t take his eyes off Tenzo in that moment. He didn’t realize how much he had missed having Tenzo in his life, he didn’t let himself realize. And, in the time they were apart, Kakashi would admit that he’d grown up. He knew that people didn’t die just because he cared about them…but he still deeply believed that he wasn’t deserving of the love and affection that people seemed to want to give him.

Tenzo left Kakashi’s room with Tsunade before Kakashi could think of a reason to try and get him to stay. Kakashi wished he could get up and follow them, make Tenzo listen so he could tell him…what? Just saying he was sorry wasn’t enough. Saying that he was happy to see him again was an understatement. Kakashi was never good with words, and he never regretted it until this moment. But he hadn’t wanted a person’s presence so much since he was younger, since he and Tenzo first shared a team. The want was intoxicating.

When the remnants of Team Seven came back without Sasuke yet again, it was more of a blow to Kakashi than he expected. He didn’t have high hopes for Sasuke, and he was still crushingly disappointed. He mostly was upset for his students, they had both gone through so much only to be defeated yet again. Kakashi had no idea how Naruto managed to keep his morale up, when Kakashi was his age he would undoubtedly have left Sasuke as a lost cause.

It was several days after their unsuccessful return, and Kakashi hadn’t had a chance to talk to Tenzo again. It was driving Kakashi crazy that Tenzo was here, he was closer than he’d been in years, and Kakashi couldn’t find him. He wasn’t good at talking, and he knew it, but he just wanted another chance. He didn’t deserve it, he didn’t even deserve the first chance.

Kakashi sat atop a particularly tall roof, staring out at the dark night sky, watching as clouds slowly traveled to cover the moon. He tensed when he felt a presence land behind him, positioned neatly in his blind spot. Before Kakashi could turn, his visitor spoke.

“It’s been a while, Senpai.”

“Tenzo,” Kakashi breathed out a heavy sigh, mostly in relief. “I…it really has.”

Tenzo moved forward, not joining Kakashi at his seat, but standing next to him at least. Kakashi looked up, unable to meet Tenzo’s eyes. He was certain Tenzo was doing it on purpose.

“I thought about you a lot,” Tenzo spoke up. “After you left.”

“So did I,” Kakashi answered. “I thought about you.”

“I know,” he sighed. “That’s why I got the new curtains.”

“Touché.”

They fell into a slightly awkward silence yet again, neither of them moving away or looking at each other.

“I…asked to be sent back to Root.”

Kakashi looked up then, his eye widening.

“What? Tenzo, you didn’t—”

“Right after you left? Yeah, I did,” Tenzo laughed softly, clearly a little embarrassed. “I damn near begged. Lord Third wasn’t having any of it, of course he wasn’t. He put me on leave instead, something about emotional distress.”

Kakashi just sighed, the guilt clawing at his insides. Tenzo had been so affected by their argument that he wanted to go back to Root to get away from Kakashi.

“Tenzo, I—”

“I didn’t understand, for a really long time. I still don’t, really,” Tenzo cut him off. “I just…what did I do, Kakashi?” his voice was so quiet. “What changed?”

“Nothing,” Kakashi said quickly, his voice coming out strangled and rough. “You didn’t do anything, Tenzo. I…it was me.”

“You’re really giving me the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’?” Tenzo scoffed. “Really, Senpai?”

“It’s the truth,” Kakashi sighed. “Do you…do you remember that night, when we were younger? I woke up with nightmares…and you helped me?”

“Of course.”

“That—when I was younger, I thought that people died when they were close to me,” it was the first time Kakashi ever admitted it out loud. It sounded even dumber this way. “After that night I was thinking about you, and—how much you meant to me, how much I cared about you…and you died in my dreams that night.”

Tenzo bit his lower lip gently, but let Kakashi continue.

“I was young, and dumb, and scared sh*tless to lose you, Tenzo,” Kakashi whispered. “I didn’t know what else to do. I thought that if you didn’t know that I cared about you…you would be safe.”

There was another long pause, in which Tenzo finally moved to sit next to Kakashi. Tenzo looked over at him, finally, and spoke again.

“Kakashi…no offence, but that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.”

Kakashi winced, looking down at his lap. “I know.”

“Now I just don’t understand why you’d ever think that would work.”

“I don’t know,” Kakashi muttered. “I…it’s been happening ever since I was young. People who love me keep dying. My dad killed himself, my team died because of me…Minato and Kushina died, when I was supposed to be protecting her…and I just convinced myself that the people who loved me died because I don’t deserve the love. It keeps happening, Tenzo.”

“Kakashi—”

“My team all left to find better teachers, and I can’t even blame them. They deserve better than me.”

Tenzo sighed heavily, unsure of what to say. He laid a gentle hand on Kakashi’s shoulder, the comforting warmth doing nothing to sooth the guilt in Kakashi’s gut.

“And I know it’s my fault,” Kakashi murmured. “I know that…people don’t just die because I love them. I know that. But still…you and the kids…it’s my fault you’re gone.”

“Kakashi?”

“People are always calling me things. A genius, a hero, a murderer, a friend-killer…one extreme or the other, you know? But I’m not any of those things I—I’m just a guy, Tenzo. I’m just a pathetic guy who wants so much but destroys it before I can ever hope to have it.”

“You’re so stupid, Senpai,” Tenzo muttered, tugging at Kakashi’s arm. Kakashi’s eye widened as he was pulled against Tenzo’s chest, strong arms wrapping around his shoulders. “You’re a goddamn idiot.”

“I know,” Kakashi let his eye slip shut. “And I know that I don’t deserve it, Tenzo, but I want it, you,  I—"

“Stop saying that,” Tenzo scolded Kakashi firmly. “You deserve love, Kakashi, you more than anyone deserve love.”

“Tenzo…” Kakashi sat up, reaching a hesitant hand out to touch the side of Tenzo’s face. “Do you think you’d forgive me?”

Tenzo smiled shyly, leaning into Kakashi’s touch just a little. “I forgive you, Senpai,” he murmured. “You moron.”

“That, I do deserve,” Kakashi felt himself smiling. “Not the forgiveness, the insults.”

“Shut up,” Tenzo laughed lightly. “I’m gonna break you out of this.”

“What did I do to deserve you?”

“You went back for me when no one else would have.”

“I’m sure someone else would—”

“You lied to the Hokage to keep me safe, multiple times. You showed me mercy when I tried to kill you for your eyes. You took me in as one of your own and let me find out who I was, as me, Kakashi. Not as an agent of the state.”

Kakashi was struck speechless, only able to look up at Tenzo with wonder. He didn’t think he had done so much—he didn’t think he had done enough to deserve having someone like Tenzo at his side. Surely, all the horrible things he’d done in his life were so great that someone like Tenzo wouldn’t want to associate with him. But here he was, telling Kakashi that all these good things in his life were his doing.

Kakashi felt such an overwhelming rush of emotion in that moment, he didn’t know what to do. He did the only thing he could think of; He took Tenzo’s face in his hands, gently, and pressed his mouth against Tenzo’s in what ended up being a very awkward masked kiss.

When he pulled back Tenzo looked stunned; his eyes were wide, his cheeks were pink, and his lips were still parted in shock.

“I’m sorry,” Kakashi said quickly, releasing Tenzo’s face and pulling his hands away. “I didn’t—”

Tenzo was moving before Kakashi could really comprehend what he was doing, tugging Kakashi’s mask aside and pressing their lips together in a clumsy, chaste, but passionate kiss.

It was Kakashi’s turn to look stunned when Tenzo pulled back, caught with his mask down like a deer in headlights.

“Uh—wow,” was all he could really muster, feeling his cheeks and ears heat up under Tenzo’s gaze.

“You’re such an idiot, Kakashi,” Tenzo muttered with a grin. “You should have just done that years ago.”

“I really should have,” Kakashi readily agreed, still somewhat in a daze. He reached back up to gently cradle Tenzo’s face in his hands, as if he let go Tenzo would disappear. “Can I make it up to you now?”

Tenzo smiled wide, dropping his gaze shyly before looking back up at Kakashi through his lashes.

“You goddamn better.”

Kakashi let out a breath, almost laughing he felt so lighthearted. “Tenzo…stay with me tonight.”

Tenzo’s eyes widened a little at Kakashi’s request, and Kakashi hurriedly explained.

“Not—not anything like that,” he clarified. “Just…to talk. And sleep. I missed having you around.”

“Yeah, okay,” Tenzo agreed.

Kakashi stood, pulling Tenzo up after him and leading him to his apartment. It had been years since the two of them had been there together, the last time being when Kakashi had tried to convince both of them that he didn’t care for Tenzo. Now, he was here to convince him of the opposite.

True to his word, they spent the majority of the night just talking. Kakashi told Tenzo about Team Seven, about the kids that finally managed to break holes through his walls. Tenzo told Kakashi about a ruthless barrage of missions, harder to handle without a support system, but ultimately how Tenzo was able to buck up and move on. Kakashi bit back apologies he knew Tenzo would just shrug off, opting instead to lean into Tenzo, holding him the way he wished he could have when they were younger, when Tenzo was timidly confessing to fears and insecurities that Kakashi wanted nothing more than to make better. He wasn’t there for Tenzo then, not in all the ways he could have been. He never wanted to let Tenzo down every again, and he told him as much.

When they did fall asleep, it was half-slumped against each other on Kakashi’s futon, with the light of day just beginning to creep over the horizon.

For the first time Kakashi could remember, he dreams of his friends; smiling and happy, surrounding him with love.

Notes:

Hey guys! This is my first time writing for this pairing, which is odd since I love them so much. This is also my first time trying my hand at something more sad. But I have a lot of angst feelings about both Kakashi and Tenzo, and I couldn't get this out of my head. That being said, this was pretty experimental and more of a challenge for me, so feedback is very much appreciated. Thoughts and comments absolutely make my day ♥

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