Snap Back To Reality @jazhop
Chapter 63

Snap Back To Reality 63

Fugaku hadn't instantly sent me packing from my desk job just yet. Instead he decided to ease me back into Orochimaru's side by sending us on a mission with my Genin team. A part of me was almost relieved to be back in a team with Anko and Rui. After working with them so long as equals, it felt wrong to split up just because of Orochimaru. Said snake man was obviously brooding about his lack of progress. The fact that he hadn't beaten me to an inch of my life meant that my warnings to keep my involvement with Fugaku becoming Hokage was kept as far away from Orochimaru as possible.

Of course the mission hadn't been all fun and games either. Fugaku had sent a subtle yet blaring warning to Orochimaru, and maybe me too, with the nature of the mission. We were sent to hunt down some Konoha Shinobi who had deserted or run away during the war. It made Orochimaru brood even worse than an Uchiha on a bad day and left the team on edge. Even though Anko had a great deal of hero-worship for Orochimaru, and Rui silently respected his Sensei, both of them knew well enough how painful the punishment would be if they got on his bad side. Of course he'd always been a bit easier on them than he did me. He thought I was a masochist for some reason though.

Circle Step Form 1: Aerial Style Disarming Whirlwind

I dropped down silently like a leaf in the wind onto the unsuspecting traitor who had joined a banned of thieves. My thighs wrapped around his neck and I used my momentum to twist hard and snap it quickly. It was almost too easy how he died from it. There were always times to use a good flashy assassination technique like the Chidori, but if you wanted things done quickly, the quiet moves in the shadows were best. It always left a bad taste in my mouth though.

Ducking and rolling mutely against the grassy planes, I hid behind the cover of foliage before the rest of the bandits charged to attack. I moved through them without having to activate my total concentration breathing. My speed was beyond people who were barely Chunin level. Before they could even blink, I had cut their throats with my chakra enhanced fingers.

"Dammit Hina! You can't just drag us along and do all the work yourself," Anko said running in from behind me.

I looked down at these men and scowled. What work? This wasn't work, this was just a slaughter. Work would mean a challenge, and that would actually be fun. This was neither fun, nor something I wanted to drag out. It was simply a waste of life, life which if we had a better system for minor criminals, could save them from this meaningless death.

"I want to go back to Konoha post-haste. Orochimaru-shishou's been in a terrible mood and it's not fun," I grumbled looking away from her face, unsure why I felt suddenly so regretful for making her mad.

"Yeah, well next time let me vent a little too," she grouched.


"What was that?" she asked in disbelief.

"I didn't say anything," I replied petulantly, huffing.

"Was that an apology? Are you an imposter?" Anko asked.

I flushed in embarrassment when she pulled at my cheeks like I was a child. It was irritating. I hit her hands away and scowled before stomping of. Why the heck was I being so childish anyway?

"Seems you're in a foul mood too," Rui pointed out with a raised brow.

"Not a word. Let's just rendezvous with Orochimaru-shishou and get back home."

I realised I might have been a tad bit too harsh on my teammates recently. It wasn't entirely my fault. Orochimaru was in a bad mood, and now that we were on missions again, his bad mood had transferred to me. In fact it seemed at every opportunity whatever little peace I had found after the war was being ripped from me. Despite knowing that I deserved a lot more than this, it didn't stop my foul mood from growing. I lost my desk job at R&D and was transferred back under Orochimaru as per his request. Then I found myself once again starting on missions, and now my training sessions with Guy were being cut short, and I entirely threw out the idea of having the time to play with Tsukiya or learn the flute with Rui.

All in all a very terrible few months passed by.

The worst of my behaviour, I had to admit was thrown onto Anko. She made me incredibly uncomfortable. None of it was her fault, but her presence alone was enough to drive me crazy now. It was like she was always known to me in the peripheral of my thoughts, and the very idea of it was sickening. A repeat… that's all this was, a sick repeat of fate. But I wasn't some starry-eyed lover who dreamt of romance, who would trip over herself at the thought of love, and I was certainly not in the mood to be distracted of all things.

I stopped by the missions desk this time. It was my turn to hand in the report… well it always was either me or Rui, since Anko and Orochimaru were lazy arses. I gave it to the Chunin and went about filling in the boring legal forms and then stretched on my way out. I didn't however expect to see Anko out front, arms crossed and scowling.

"Hina," she greeted.

I winced. No Vege-senpai… this didn't bode well. I greeted her with a short bow of the head and when she turned to walk away, I sighed and decided to follow her. I didn't want to. I wanted to go home, shower, and then promptly pass away in my bed. We were a good distance away from anyone before she spoke. She turned and there was none of the usual humour in her eyes.

"Let's just get straight to the point now. What's going on with you?" Anko asked, stabbing an accusatory finger at my chest. "Ever since the team came back together you've been ignoring me and scowling every five minutes like a dammed Uchiha. I know you liked your desk job but you're seriously acting like a little child!"

"Oh, I'm the little child?" I asked crossing my arms and giving her a pointed look.

Anko stewed at that, clenching her fists. "Yes, you are! Taking out your anger on other people is decidedly something childish," she pointed out vexingly.

I deflated at that. I knew she was right, but everything was so goddamn frustrating! The war was over, and I was denied the end of this bloodshed. It had always felt like once Danzo had died I should get my peace, and for a while I thought I was getting it, but now Danzo was simply replaced by Orochimaru, and once again I was under the threat of servitude. This lack of power… this lack of utter control in my life was maddening. Anko's existence was maddening!

But it wasn't her fault…

I took in a deep breath, pushing away my anger and fear at just about everything happening to me. I'd agreed to this mission in the first place. So getting angry at the world for my own actions sounded entirely stupid. I wasn't ever rude to Anko, I simply ignored her because confronting her brought its own litany of issues.

"I'm sorry Anko… I'm just stressed is all," I admitted finally.

"Stressed about what? The team's back together, Danzo's dead, the war's over and we can move on with our lives," she replied in exasperation.

"I can't move on… don't you see—it feels like nothing is over," I admitted, shutting my eyes tightly at the start of a headache.

In fact nothing was over. Whatever childish notions of a dream I had about a peaceful life after this was a lie. Danzo was simply just one threat in the scheme of things, and for all his evil, he didn't plan to commit mass genocide, or to put everyone in a dream like illusion for the rest of their lives… nor would he make me partake in inhumane experiments.

"You know what we need. We need dango," Anko surmised, catching me entirely off-guard.

"Dango… seriously?" I asked.

"As my senpai if you have issues you need to fix it over dango," she said seriously.

The vindictive look in her eye made me certain she was going to drain an entire month's worth of savings just today. Deciding that I deserved it for having been a foul friend for the last month I agreed… reluctantly.

The store owner we frequented looked at Anko's entrance with a wide grin, and eyes that if this were a looney toons cartoon, would have a dollar sign drawn onto them. I sighed with a grimace as I took out my wallet and just handed over the entirety of my savings prematurely to the man.

"Well anything for my two favourite customers," he said happily as he whistled to himself and got ready for a busy day.

I sat by the window and Anko took a seat opposite to me. She looked at me with a frown, as she plopped the first dango into her mouth.

"You know I killed a man for you," she said starting up the conversation with a glare.

'He was an innocent man' was left unsaid but heavily insinuated. She was right. Anko had dirtied her own hands for me by killing an innocent eye-witness merchant, and here I was ignoring her and treating her terribly.

"I know," I whispered guiltily. "For what it's worth I'm sorry for these past few weeks."

She looked at me dubiously and then nodded. "It is worth something… and Vege-senpai, you don't have to… do it all yourself. That's what teammates are for you know… to be a team."

I nodded but didn't make a comment. Getting her involved in this new mess with Orochimaru wasn't a good idea. In fact it was best if she was far away where he couldn't ever give her a magical hickey. Thankfully, my apology had abated whatever wrath was left in her, except for the wrath that had her eat the man's entire store in one sitting. She turned the conversation quickly to other more mundane things and I was happy to sit here with her and talk. She made me feel comfortable in a way only Cat had managed to in the past, and now that I wasn't actively ignoring her, I understood it as a deeper sort of love. It wasn't like the crushes I experienced in my past life. It almost felt like the love I felt for my brothers, for Gaku and to a lesser extent my friends—but it also felt different. It didn't feel like Cat, which was about the only thing that made all this bearable.

The only relief I had was that not once did my thoughts turn sexual. As a teenager in my previous life all my thoughts had been on, at the time, risky things such as kissing and… well more. Those had always been crushes, flings that I felt the need to have to establish my social position for someone desirable and as someone who could be desired. I felt none of that now that I allowed myself to truly look at Anko. Even with Cat it was like her presence was enough for me. Everything else that came with our life was welcome but secondary. I was glad it wasn't in any way carnal, and that my thoughts never strayed to those things, because I was coming to recognise her as someone I would never part with… and maybe that was all that love truly was.

After realising how stupid I'd been, I felt almost ashamed for ignoring her for so long. All this time I had considered what had happened to be something vile and disgusting, another good thing that my reincarnation had twisted into something bad, but maybe I was wrong about things. Maybe I was allowed to love in this life—maybe not in the traditional way people loved, but in the only way I could—by protecting the people I had fallen for. I knew this body affected my mind, that I was starting puberty of all things, which was terrifying in a whole new way the second time, but while I couldn't control my emotions, I could control my actions. I wouldn't push Anko away anymore.

"Anko there you are," a voice drawled from the corner.

I turned around, crinkling my sensitive nose at the scent of alcohol and tobacco. I was met with a dark-haired man, pot-bellied and rather unkept in appearance. Anko stiffened opposite to me a scowled.

"What are you doing here?" she hissed.

"W-what can't talk to my own daughter?" the man asked.

"You're drunk, how about we get you home?" I asked unsurely, looking between the two scowling family members.

"A'right this is the cutie team member you refuse to show me eh?" he asked pointing at me dramatically.

Anko flushed a deep red, hands shaking into fists as everyone turned to look at her. I noticed her discomfort and decided it was about time to step in and without a moment's notice I got up, grabbed the man and body flickered him right out to the back end of the store and out. He groaned, steadying himself against the wall before puking his guts out. I held my nose and scowled.

"Look, you shouldn't be embarrassing Anko like that in public. If you're going to be drunk do it somewhere no one will see you," I said frowning. "Or at a bar… not in some family friendly sweet store."

"And who're you to tell me what ta' do girly? Just cause you're a shinobi to some Sannin," he spat. "Thinking you're better than everyone else huh? Us Genin too simple for you?"

"Hina, ignore him. You should go home now. I'll take him back," Anko said stepping out with an uncharacteristically distressed look.

"No way," I hissed back in anger before turning to the drunken man.

There was very little I hated more on this planet than incompetent parents. They had a duty to their children, to love and protect them. Incompetent children at least had a pass because they were children, but this man was a grown adult who went out of his way to get drunk and then harass his daughter in public. Suddenly Anko's comment about being an adult when she was 10 made sense. I could understand why she looked up to Orochimaru so much, why she jumped for even an ounce of his approval and physical affection. I could understand where she got all those bottles of alcohol and why she cursed the name of the man who provided it to her. I felt a surge of protective anger abruptly. No one hurt what was mine.

"I'm taking him to his house, and I'm going to lock him in his room until he sobers up and wakes the fuck up," I hissed, grabbing the man harshly. "This is non-negotiable Anko. Where does he live?"

Anko faltered for a second before reluctantly nodding and grabbing the drunken man's other arm.

"Follow me."

The apartment Anko's father lived in was a mess. I'd seen garbage disposal more cleanly than it. The only relief I had was the fact that I couldn't spot one single bit of Anko's belongings here. She lived alone then. I had a feeling that was infinitely better than having her live in this filth with this mess of a man in my arms. I cleared his bed of all the junk on it, coughing as I threw him on and got a mouthful of dust in my face. The man grumbled half-dazedly, having fallen unconscious somewhere in-between our trip.

I turned to Anko and she was standing by the wall, arms crossed, and body drawn in on herself. She was looking around the house nervously and I felt my heart drop. This wasn't good…

"I'm sorry you had to see that," she mumbled, sighing and rubbing her forehead tiredly.

"How long has he been doing this?" I asked softly.

"After my mother left us, he's been getting progressively worse. It was fine for a while, he was promoted to Chunin and things were looking good, but he got his hands on those bottles of his, got demoted for mental instability, and things went from there."

Ah… so that's where her abandonment issues came from. I felt rageful for her situation, and the urge to skin her pathetic parents alive made me pace uncomfortably. How could they just do this to their own kid? Her mother leaving her and now her father drinking away his sorrows… it was a whole mess of a situation.

"I'll take care of it from here," Anko said startling me from my thoughts. "I should probably clean up this place a little before he wakes up and it's not really your business."

"What was that about letting your teammates carry the weight?" I retorted softly as I took her hands. "I know you didn't want me and Rui to butt into your life, but we won't judge you for something someone else did."

"I don't want anyone's pity," Anko scowled.

"Then take our help," I retorted hotly.

"This is my mess to clean. He's my father not yours!"

"He is, but you're my teammate, and I won't let anyone else treat you like shit, not even your own father. Come on I'll help you clean."

We had cleaned up the majority of the mess, but the man was still passed out by the end of it. I felt vindictive without the opportunity to punch him while he was awake and make him beg for mercy in front of Anko. To think he rendered his chatterbox of a child mute in this house was almost unimaginable. Anko didn't have any funny quips, not a sarcastic word, or a thought of mischief in this trash heap. I could see it in the way she moved, as if this place made her sluggish. I wanted her out of here as soon as possible, and so I picked up my pace early on and did most of the cleaning, before taking all the alcohol I could find and throwing it down the drain.

"I'm sorry you had to see that" she repeated holding her face in her hands.

"Stop apologising for him. He's your father, not you, or your responsibility," I chastised.

"Ok," she whispered, but I knew she didn't mean it.

"Come on let's go train a bit. It'll get your mind of things," I suggested.

I made to move when Anko caught my shirt in her hands and stopped me. I turned to see the start of tears in her eyes and my heart stopped. I had never seen her look so desperate, so vulnerable, and I thought this was the most devastating expression I'd ever seen on her. I knew I never wanted to see it again.

"Please don't leave me," she mumbled.

I faltered, and the desperation in her eyes grew as she pulled me into a painful trembling embrace, one that felt more possessive than it did sorrowful.

"Please don't leave me," she repeated, her voice cracking with uncertainty at the end.

She was asking for something I couldn't possibly give her, although every single part of me wanted to say yes to her a million times. I never wanted to leave her, to leave my family, to leave my friends, but I had promised Fugaku to turn traitor with Orochimaru. I had promised to take part in a mission, that no matter how short, would break her heart and her trust in me. But the way she begged and the painful way she held on so tight as if to keep me forever, made me pause. I didn't want to see that expression ever again on her face, and so I said the only thing I could think of to make it stop.

"I won't Anko. I'll always be yours."

I paced after that. My thoughts went flying almost everywhere. I made a promise I couldn't keep, and it frustrated me. Now when Anko learnt of Orochimaru, it would double her pain to know I went along with him too. I'd have abandoned her in her mind, even if it was only for a few months. The damage would be done. I pegged a rock with enough chakra to make it go through a tree and felt only mildly better after debasing nature like that.

"Is that a new technique?"

"Kakashi," I greeted unsurely, not having to turn around to have spotted his presence.

"I know you spotted me in the building with the Hokage," he said mildly.

I finally turned to look at him and his body language was as aloof as always. His eye however betrayed a hint of conflict.

"You know then… how deeply entrenched in teachery I am," I said bitterly.

Now my lies would break the heart of a teammate I had sworn to protect. I snarled at the thought and couldn't help the anger that radiated from me.

"You did it to protect your family… but it was wrong," Kakashi said squinting his eyes and looking lost.

I felt frustration rise within me. "I don't have the answers to your morality questions Kakashi! I did what I had to do, and I don't regret it but now I hate myself for it regardless! Is that what you want to hear?"

"I don't know what I wanted when I came to you, but maybe just the truth," Kakashi replied honestly.

I deflated at that. The truth huh. That was harder to swallow than a good lie… like how I bloody told Anko I would never leave her like an idiot. Now I'd snapped at a boy who'd basically lost nearly everyone he loved. It seemed all my anger at Danzo had become just anger in general recently. It wasn't a good look at all.

"I'm sorry for my attitude," I apologised, sighing, and rubbing my forehead to stave of a headache. "There's no one to be angry at and yet that's all I can seem to do, but you didn't deserve that from me. Not after what you know I did."

"I don't condemn you. I wanted to come here to tell you that. It was wrong but I don't condemn you," he repeated firmly.

Despite this Kakashi lunged at me. I deflected his blow in shock and confusion but one after the other he began an onslaught of hard to block attacks. My anger shot out from my confusion and I parried a punch only to grab his arm and sweep at his legs. Kakashi knocked of my feet, summersaulting into the air, using my grabbed arm to then pin it behind my back. With a growl, I twisted my torso forward, toppling his centre of gravity before rolling away and facing him.

"What are you doing?" I hissed in irritation.

"Fight me."

Then without wasting another moment he pulled out the tanto on his back. I jumped into my Tiger Palm stance and blocked his blade with my chakra coated palms, before drawing close enough to jab at his solar plexus. He kawarami'd away just before the hit could land, but I was onto his scent almost as quickly.

This exchange of blows continued on and on for a lot longer than it had ever before in any of our spars. In fact it happened too often and with so much intensity that soon both of us were breathing rough, having used a significant amount of chakra, and exhausted ourselves to keep up this speed. With that exhaustion came a crippling doubt in my head, and the next thing I knew was Kakashi's fist to my face. I flung from the ground and into a tree.

"Hina!" he shouted in worry as he ran up beside me.

"Ouch," I mumbled holding my now broken, and bleeding nose.

"Why didn't you dodge?" Kakashi asked.

I sat there and looked at my now blood-soaked hands and frowned. All the anger had drained out of me and now with the pain I could think clearly. Kakashi had been trying to help me vent. He knew enough to know a heart to heart wouldn't do it for me, that now I only really spoke in violence. For a moment there I had let myself believe this was in fact punishment and not just his way of helping.

I deserved it.

I wanted to say that, but I shut my mouth into a thin line. What a pathetic thing to say and think, as if letting other people put me down on purpose would be at all a proper way to atone for the great evils I had done. I had opened dozens upon dozens of innocent people alive, cut open their chests, tortured them in the name of science, and I'd killed little children with these dirty hands unknowingly or not. A simple punch to the face wouldn't be enough for actions that vile. I would fix this world to atone, and then I'd… I'd accept a much worse fate like I deserved.

"You're the one who told me to stop hating myself," Kakashi said with a frown.

Oh… I was, wasn't I? I'd told him that…

"You told me to share my burdens with my friends. Take our failures like we take our victories," he quoted. "Now put those words into action if you're making me do it too. I do not condemn you. What you did was wrong, but your intentions weren't. What you're going to do for Hokage-sama isn't wrong either. We are Shinobi, we make the hard decisions so others do not have to, and sometimes there will be no one there to punish us for it, but we do it anyway."

Kakashi held out his hands and I took it. He was my oldest friend in this life, someone I had known from the beginnings of my childhood. We may have not seen each other as much as we did others in our life, but this bond was strong regardless. He was like a brother to me. I didn't like making my brothers' worry and I remembered what Taichi had said about hurting myself—how it came full circle back to them—that it hurt them as much as it did me. I needed to stop. That was easier said than done.

"You told me to not do it alone—I joined the ANBU instead so I could do just that. It's a work in progress… for both of us, but we should try anyway. I don't leave my comrades behind anymore," he said resolutely.

Losing Rin and Obito had made Kakashi stronger. It had shown him a better way and he had overcome the hatred that so many people bore after a loved one passing. Before he had been angry at the world as much as he was at his father. I couldn't see that anymore. He had found his father's ideals living through Obito and Minato.

I hesitated at the idea of a hug. Kakashi wasn't the touchy feely type. So I took his hand, before nodding in agreement with him and wiping the blood off my nose.

"You're right," I replied. "It's hard but we might eventually get there. Thanks for the spar, it helped clear my head… want to pretend I never acted so stupid and we can go and fish or something?"

Kakashi nodded gratefully with a look of utter relief on his face. Yeah, at the end of the day the two of us preferred quiet, unemotional, non-high stakes company, over our overwhelming feelings.


Oh lordy, remember back in the day when Hina and Kakashi would just keep their feelings bottled up and never talked out their issues, instead opting to eat mochi in tense silence… yeah, they've both come a long way from that. Also Anko's abandonment issues coming out like a broken dam. Hence why she's always prone to jealousy whenever Orochimaru is involved, and why she would go so far as to kill an innocent man for Hina—because she desperately wants to keep those few people she cares about, but deep down inside she's constantly worried that they're going to throw her away… man every character I write in this story needs therapy. Except for Guy. He's cool.

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