Six Sentences 3: The Leaves Are In the Way…
The leaves…the leaves are…in…the way…” she hissed.
Jiraiya swore under his breath because it had just been about to get really good. He put down his scroll and brush and set the lid on his inkpot. Now she wanted to talk.
Naked, she slid off Kakashi and covered herself with her shirt. Kakashi laid there shaking, the branch of a nearby bush still pulled low over his face.
He didn’t reach for anything to cover his nakedness—except that damn mask. What was wrong with him?
Jiraiya had seen his face before, many times—because Rin wouldn’t allow it any other way. And yet, there was almost always a struggle about it.
It didn’t make any sense, because he was handsome enough that Jiraiya…well, he noticed the kid’s looks. If he’d seen that face on the street he’d follow just to see what would happen next. A face like that was sure to get plenty of attention.
Rin tore the mask away from him. They struggled, then Kakashi laid back, his arm bent over his face instead.
She looked at him for a moment and shook her head. “What is it, what happened?”
“Something happened.” She stared relentlessly, until he closed the red eye and looked away.
“I…yes. Something happened and I overreacted. It’s nothing.” He took his arm away from his face and tried to pull her back on top of him. “Come back here.”
The resulting jiggle made Jiraiya’s eyes pop, but unfortunately, Rin refused to get any closer.
“Not until you tell.” Stern now, like a schoolmistress. Like Tsunade when she’d been crossed. Maybe all women had a little of that in them; the kid would do good to give up and spill. Now.
Stupid move, now she was going to move in for the kill when she might have just settled for a lame-ass excuse before. Kakashi might have the seduction part down, but the love part—there he was a rank amateur.
“Not until you tell. The whole thing.” She stopped his hands as they reached for her again, pulling them away from her creamy skin. Then she turned on the water works, moving from irritation to hurt in the flicker of an eye.
“Shit. Run, kid,” Jiraiya whispered, then pulled himself back behind the tree trunk, the bark catching his vest all along his spine.
“Damn it, Kakashi, you always do this. Put something between us. It’s almost like sometimes…sometimes I can’t even reach you. I’m kissing you and you’re—I don’t know. Invisible or something.”
Kakashi’s sigh wrenched Jiraiya’s gut, here it came. The truth.
“It was an old lady in town. She…recognized me.”
“My dad. She recognized my dad. The White Fang of Konoha.”
Behind the tree, Jiraiya pressed his eyes closed and considered walking away. This was too personal. Nakedness, sex, and seduction—it was one thing to observe those things. They were almost instinctual and the dance was pretty much the same every time. But this touched some desolate places. Did Rin even know about Sakumo? Probably not, she was too young to have noticed much, and the kids were told a different story.
“Okay, so…you look like him? Is that it?”
“Except for my eyes,” his voice took on a growl.
“So, she remembered your dad and thought you looked like him. That’s kind of neat. In a way, it’s kind of like he’s still alive.”
“You don’t understand. She spit…on me. Because I look like him. Reminded her of him.”
And there it was. The dishonor of Hatake Sakumo was still remembered and harbored in the old. This kid, once proud of his family heritage—arrogant about it even and with good reason—had to live with that hatred and failure every day. No wonder he was so messed up about the mask.
“Yeah. Look, I overreacted, that’s all.”
Jiraiya peered around the tree again and saw her hand brush over the kid’s face. Tears streamed down her cheeks. “No,” she said, voice thick with tears. “I don’t think you did.”
She settled herself on his chest and sighed, pulling her arms around him and squeezing. “That’s why, isn’t it? That’s why the mask?”
He shrugged, didn’t say anything, but his eyes closed tight.
They lay in silence for a moment; Jiraiya listened to the call of a distant bird, breathed in the fertile smell of earthy loam. Waited.
Had Minato ever figured this much out about his student?
It had been time to go long before, but now he had an obligation to stay until the end. This wasn’t literary research anymore, it was Leaf information, and he was bound to stay.
So he waited. If the girl was like other women, her big green eyes would look up at Kakashi soon and demand more confessions.
“When did you start wearing it?” she asked at last.
Exactly. First barrier breached, the rest would be right behind. Should have run. Dumb kid.
“After the academy. People always used to stare, from my first memory they stared at us. Then one day I…well, I had a reason to hide my face for a while and it was just easier for everyone by then. The staring wasn’t as bad.”
“People stared, huh?” She giggled a little, gently, maybe with a little bit of heat in the sound as well. “I agree with them. It’s not a bad view.”
“It wasn’t like that,” Kakashi sounded petulant, and Rin gave him another squeeze.
“Sorry. Tell me.”
Here it came. Too late to turn back.
He sighed. “When I was really small, they would stare and say, ‘you’re White Fang’s son, aren’t you?’ They were happy about it and I’d get compliments and candy and little gifts. Made me feel…proud. Made me feel important, too. And then…”
The kid closed his eyes more tightly, drawing lines across his lids.
“And then…” he sighed. “The words stayed the same, but everything was different. ‘You’re that White Fang’s son. Aren’t you?’ They’d notice I was his son, but…he was trash. I didn’t get compliments anymore—I got curses. Spit.”
Silence again. Rin had gone very still, her face carefully composed. The picture of nin training.
Jiraiya turned back to the tree and silently huffed a big breath of air, letting it out slow. That should be it now. They might get back to business now. He just needed to wait a bit longer. Then Rin spoke again, with that same feminine insistence for intimacy, the same tone that unraveled men to the core. Crap.
“Kakashi?” She waited for him to grunt in response; he seemed to wait her out until the pause got so unbearable Jiraiya almost answered. The kid put up a good fight, but he had lost this battle long ago.
“What reason did you have, that first time?”
“This is me you’re talking to.”
Kakashi rolled out from under her and scrambled to find the hem of his black shirt.
Too late, kid.
“Don’t run away.” She tangled the shirt, making it harder. “You know I can deaden your arms and legs in a second.”
“You’d have to catch me first.” He tore the shirt out of her hands and popped to his feet. Turned his back on her.
“Kakashi!” She sprang up too, draping herself across his shoulders. “Tell me. If you’re going to hide, at least tell me why—then I can try to be patient. I’m trying to understand.”
He stopped, seemed to listen and consider. Her arms retreated and she slumped on the ground.
The kid had had it now—he’d gone the distance, but this was about to be the knock out punch.
“Because…when you hide…well, it’s like you don’t care about me.”
Wham. Done for.
Kakashi sighed, but didn’t move, his back to both of them; his smooth voice rolled over them like the glassy surface of deep water–the hint of severe undercurrent only noticeable to the experienced swimmer.
“I had some bruises. It would have meant more trouble. So I hid. And they stopped seeing him on my face. It was easier.”
“Wait a minute. He…he hit you?” Realization dropped Rin’s shoulders, she squared them as if she herself were about to retaliate against the long dead White Fang.
Kakashi shrugged and shook his head, his tone still even, but the words themselves snagged. “You aren’t getting it. I was his mirror. And he hated himself. He…he wasn’t…hitting…me.”
Rin turned him around and gathered the slumping kid in her arms, guiding them back to their knees, rocking and shushing him as the current took him.
“And you haven’t forgiven him,” she murmured when the worst had ended. “And you’re afraid…afraid I might turn on you the same way.”
He tried to laugh it off, but it sounded strangled. “That’s crazy.”
“Kakashi, why do you think I always want you to take off that mask when we’re alone? I love looking at you, sure, but you know what else?” She leaned back until they gazed at each other eye to eye.
Even her smile had tears in it. Women.
“Your mouth gives you away every time. I can see what you’re thinking. What you’re feeling. It’s plain as the mouth on your face.”
“Another good reason to cover it.”
“Or uncover it, Baka,” she teased and then she kissed him.
Jiraiya picked up his brush and scroll and started to write the rest of it down for future reference.