Author's notes: The following dreams occurred during the time Kakashi fell into a coma after Itachi's Tsukuyomi attack in episode 82. (spoiler warning - if you have not read chapters 238-244 of the manga then do not continue unless you really want to know about Kakashi's past)
Itachi was gone, leaving him transfixed in a void he could not escape. Everything was red.and black... with splashes of grey. It was as if he were seeing things in infrared, if there had been anything to see. But there was nothing, just swirling dichromatic kaleidoscope patterns. The stabbing pains were now mercifully gone, but the feeling of unease and impending danger persisted. He knew he was in an unconscious state, that Itachi had put him there, that whatever he would see would be from his own sub-consciousness. But like being pierced by the katanas, it would feel no less real. He knew instinctively that he was not dead, and would not die, as long as he had the will to live. But did he? How many times had he been close to death? How many friends and family members had gone before him? It would be very easy to follow the seduction of death. But he still had responsibilities, didn't he? He could not die so easily. If he could survive being stabbed by katanas for three days, he could survive anything. He braced himself for what would come next.
Somewhere in the distance he saw a pinpoint of white light and naturally moved toward it. How was he moving? He was not walking or running, yet the white light moved continuously closer.
The First Dream: Ascending Hero
It was one of those recurring dreams, where you know it's a dream, yet it feels so real that you cannot wake up from it, but instead accept it as part of your temporary reality.
It always started with a dim white light that gradually grew stronger. Strong enough to illuminate a small figure in the distance which seemed to be beckoning him to come closer. As he approached, the figure became more distinct and he could see it was his best friend looking just as he did half a lifetime ago. He was standing there smiling and waving to him. As he came even closer, the light behind his friend became brighter. It was a pure white light, painful to look at, and even with his sharingan he could not see beyond the purity of the light.
Usually in this dream, the light would continue to grow and encompass all, enveloping his friend who would then disappear from his sight. But now the light kept at bay and his friend stood there clearly before him. His friend, who should have stood a foot below him, was somehow on par with his line of sight. Kakashi looked down to see how could that be and saw that his friend was standing on a small stone pedestal.
The pedestal grew taller and now Kakashi had to look up. But still the brightness of the light, coming from behind and above his friend, hurt his eyes and he could not stare directly at Obito whose outline was washed out by the backlighting. Kakashi thought how the light did not bother his friend, whose eyes were covered by goggles, and perhaps those goggles filtered out the ultraviolet radiation. 'How analytical I am, even in my dreams.' And he noticed this time, instead of a smile, Obito looked sad and pensive. His arms were folded across his chest. Kakashi thought how he looked like some kind of monument dedicated to some ancient obscure deity. 'Well, if it weren't for those weird anachronistic goggles.'
"What's wrong Obito?" Kakashi heard himself asking.
"What's wrong? What's wrong is you. You've called me here again. Why do you keep me bound to this earthly plane?" Obito seemed to be in his petulant mood.
"Don't you like my visits?" asked Kakashi, amused at the form his friend had taken in his dream.
"It depresses me to see you."
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"With you calling me, I can never reach the source of the light. If you would just forgive yourself, then we can both move on to true happiness."
Kakashi said nothing in response. Instead he was trying to study the figure in front of him. Was he that short? Or was he taller? Or even shorter? Was his hair that long or that straight? Was this the same Obito from back then? Or was it just an imitation based upon his own memories?
Obito sighed, "Why do you still persist in punishing yourself?"
"Do you have to ask?"
"It was my choice, my decision. It had nothing to do with you. I would have done the same for anyone. It was just instinct. Don't summon me again."
"This is only a dream, you are not Obito, not even his spirit, you are only a manifestation from my own sub-consciousness. You can't order me what to do." 'Am I arguing with Obito or myself?'
"You were always the analytical one weren't you? Yes, perhaps I am just a part of you, the part that wants to let go, but wouldn't your dear friend have said these same words to you? Forgive yourself and set us both free."
"If...if I let you go.if I forgive myself.you would fade from my memory, wouldn't you?"
"With time all memories fade and change. You say that I am your best friend. But we weren't really friends were we? Not until the very end. I made no great conscious sacrifice to save you because you were my friend."
That wasn't true was it? They were friends and Obito did sacrifice himself for him. "It doesn't matter what you say. I don't want to forget. I need those memories, faulty though they may be, they're all I have of the past."
"You have my present to you. That's all you should need. My forgiveness came with it."
Silence again as Kakashi thought how his memories were already waning. Was his hair that same shade? Were his goggles exactly that shape? If he stopped thinking of Obito for even one day, then how much more would his memory erode? He shook his head sadly. "No, I can't let you go."
"You're a fool! You mean to hold on to your guilt. You were always so stubborn. It was your stubbornness that caused it. It really was all your fault..."
The white light became harsher, brighter still, but no longer pure, now tinged with red. Obito's face twisted into an angry scowl as the growing red light started to envelop him, first covering the right of his body, then creeping across his face. The red light now bled through to other side of his body, which began to morph into a different yet familiar shape. The hair became lighter, the face longer, and the body thinner. Kakashi suddenly realized the left side was himself as a child. The image continued to morph as the red light moved across to the left and as the transmogrification continued to the right. Now he was looking at just himself at that age.
The two Kakashis scowled at each other, accusation in their eyes. But the image continued to change and grow. Now he was looking at himself as a young adult, and then as he is now. But still the image continued to morph. Finally the process slowed and Kakashi found himself looking at his older, future self.
The Second Dream: Fallen Hero
No.there was something different.it could be his future self, but the figure before him was very familiar, from memories of so long ago.he had almost forgotten.
The red light faded. The white light was gone as well. Instead, this figure was illuminated by a yellow light coming from below.He looked very much like Kakashi. Except.the eyes were not just languid eyes, they were bone tired world weary eyes. They had the same poor posture, but while Kakashi's was an assumed air of nonchalance, the other truly felt a great burden on his bent shoulders. The hair was longer, reaching past the neck and tied in the back. Kakashi stared at the figure before him. He hasn't had this dream before, has he? Or did he have it long ago?
"You've grown into a fine man, " observed the older Kakashi with his two dark eyes.
"Have I? I suppose so, considering how you left me." The words were sharper than Kakashi had intended. Was his father this height? He seemed so much shorter now, or was it because his own self had grown so much since then? Kakashi felt himself standing more erect as he stood over the figure of his father.
"Still angry I see, after all this time," Sakumo said sadly.
"Suicide is a selfish act," retorted Kakashi angrily, clutching his fists.
"I did it for you. Because of you," murmured the figure before him.
"For me? You did it out of cowardice. You couldn't live with the consequences of your own actions."
"You mean I should have continued to live as you have? With the guilt? Living in a shell? No, I did it so those who hated me would not hate you too, so that you wouldn't have to live with my disgrace, so that you could continue to live without such a burden."
"You're blaming me?" asked Kakashi, his eye widening in surprise.
Sakumo shrugged. "My death was as much your fault as Obito's death was. We both sacrificed ourselves for you." His father stood straighter now, and rose to the same height as Kakashi.
"If you had lived perhaps I would have been different and Obito would still be alive," Kakashi countered.
"I tried to teach you the value of teamwork. You just chose to ignore it, to side with those against me."
"Your death nearly destroyed Konoha. The village still needed you," Kakashi persisted.
"No one needed me at the time. Not even you."
Kakashi felt himself grow smaller as his father seemed to grow taller before his eyes. He was now looking up in the way he did before his father's death, his father now brilliant in the golden light. Then suddenly the red light returned, encompassing all, and the vision changed.
Now he saw his father lying on the floor, clutching a short sword half buried in his body. The blood and viscera almost caused Kakashi to wretch as he recalled the stench he could never forget. He stood frozen, staring at the body in the full green ceremonial dress of the leaf shinobi, but soaked black with blood. He felt his form diminish to become a child so young, yet already accustomed to death. A normal child might have fled from the scene or broken down in tears. Instead, his only thought was, 'This will never happen to me, ever.I will never disgrace myself to this extent. My father was a fool. I will never make the same mistakes as he did, never.'
Kakashi silently relived the long buried memories from his early childhood. Obito's death had since taken over the thoughts of his father's death. When was the last time he truly thought about his own father whom Obito had admired as a true hero? Kakashi recalled the deep feelings of shame and disgrace after his father's failure. Then upon his death, the fear of becoming like him and succumbing to the same fate, followed by anger at his action, leaving him alone with no other family. Then finally guilt. Guilt that he did not or could not prevent it; guilt that he contributed to it; guilt that he felt relieved when his father was gone and he was no longer shunned by the rest of Konoha.
The yellow from the viscera began to pulsate and the golden light was back with his father standing again before him. This time they were the same height. "Well, at least you've learned the value of teamwork, despite my mistake." Sakumo gave him a small smile.
"It wasn't a mistake. I understand that now. It was just.an impossible choice." Kakashi bowed his head respectfully.
"Sigh, hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? Even better than a byakugan or a sharingan." Sakumo started to say.
The red light now came from his father's abdominal area, where the sword had pierced. As it grew from that spot, his father's face twisted in agony but his mouth was a firm line and no screams were released. He gave Kakashi one final look of pity before the red light consumed him entirely.
The Third Dream: True Hero
The red darkened to black, then the black lightened to a midnight blue. He was drifting now in the dark blue night sky illuminated by the many stars above Konoha, floating with a sense of anxiety that he could fall at any moment. Somewhere below him he saw a spot of brilliant blue light acting as a beacon. Finally pulled down by gravity and guided by the light, he found himself gently landing on top of the tower in the middle of training area 44. There was someone there already, apparently waiting for him. This person had such a strong chakra aura that Kakashi did not need to expose his sharingan to see the blue light pulsating all around him."You're a bit taller than me now, Kakashi-kun," observed the smiling handsome young man with blonde hair and deep blue eyes standing erect before him.
"Yondaime?" Kakashi whispered in surprise. 'My sensei, as he was back then, so inspiring and noble.'
"I hear you have your own genin team now."
Kakashi nodded tentatively in response, still trying to accept his resurrection.
"They're growing fast, aren't they?"
"Yes they are, I even nominated them for the chuunin exams their first year," Kakashi answered proudly. He felt himself straightening his posture before his former sensei.
"Really? I'm impressed. You must be a good sensei," Yondaime smiled encouragingly.
Kakashi shrugged, "Not really. They all had natural talent."
Yondaime laughed, "How humble you are now. You used to be so."
Yondaime stopped, noticing the tension that now rose in Kakashi's shoulders.
"Yes, I was, wasn't I? Such an arrogant fool."
"No, you were never a fool. You were my best student. The smartest. There was only one lesson you had to learn the hard way. But I'm sure you've passed that lesson on to your genin." He continued to smile.
"Sigh, well, I tried, but.I'm afraid it hasn't worked out that well."
"Hmm, let's see, you have the nine-tails kid and the sole Uchiha survivor. Not easy to deal with just one of those, to have both is exponentially difficult. Then there's the girl. Another cause of friction. I'm afraid you have it tougher than I ever did," Yondaime gave a slight chuckle.
Kakashi scratched his head and said "Well, I'll have to admit I was a lot like Sasuke and Obito was like Naruto. But Sakura and Rin are quite different. Rin was.less obvious about her feelings. and.had a better temper, so I guess that doesn't help."
"Well, I'm sure you're handling it. How did your genins do in the chuunin exams?"
"Naruto and Sasuke made it into the finals. Naruto won his first fight, against a member of the Hyuuga clan, no less, but Sasuke's fight was interrupted." 'How much does Yondaime know? He knows about my team, does he know about the Sand and Sound attack? Well, of course he does,' Kakashi reflected, 'after all, I'm just talking to myself again, am I not?'
"That's good, very good for a first try. So what kind of special training did you give them?"
"I trained with Sasuke for the finals. Naruto needed more help with the basics so I sent him to Ebisu, but then Jiraiya took over."
The smile disappeared from Yondaime's face. Now he looked down pensively.
".it all worked out," Kakashi added the last part almost defensively, afraid Yondaime would chide him for not watching over both his students.
Yondaime fixed his brilliant blue eyes on Kakashi's single dark eye. 'Those eyes,' Kakashi recalled, 'were they always so bright? Though they were not special doujutsu eyes they always seemed to see the truth.'
"You know Naruto is special to me. I have great hopes for him. To protect this village I gave him great power. You should help him harness it, not push him away," Yondaime said sternly, as if addressing a genin.
"I didn't push him away. I'm not like those others. I don't blame him for your death or any other. He's not the nine-tails demon fox. I know that. I know that.but."
"But you knew my intentions for Naruto. Yet you favored Sasuke because of the sharingan.and what happened with Obito. That's it isn't it? Are you still paying off your debt to the Uchiha clan?"
"I didn't mean to.but.Sasuke is much easier to teach. We're alike in many ways." Kakashi could no longer meet Yondaime's accusing stare with the penetrating blue eyes that always sought the truth. He felt his hunched posture return.
"But that's no excuse to neglect the other two is it? I never neglected Obito or Rin despite your genius..."
'No, you didn't favor me, if anything, you seemed to favor Obito,' Kakashi thought wryly, remembering the feelings of jealousy he had. 'I thought it was because he was a Uchiha, an honorable clan, not disgraced like mine... '
Yondaime continued, "Does Naruto feel that you've neglected him? His power needs guidance. As his assigned sensei, it should have been you. And what have you taught Sasuke except how to use a lethal jutsu? His teamwork hasn't improved. His heart is still filled with hate and vengeance. Perhaps if you had trained the two together." Yondaime shook his head sadly. "A good teacher respects his students and vice versa. Can you say that? Or do you think your silly posings earn you their respect?"
'I don't recall Yondaime ever giving such long lectures before,' Kakashi mused to himself. 'Damn, I'm longwinded.' Yet Kakashi could say nothing to defend himself against himself, or rather Yondaime. After all, this was the truth, wasn't it? "You were a better teacher," Kakashi admitted, bowing his head.
"Was I? You didn't listen to me.and look what happened. Yes, he is very much like you. The Uchiha won't listen to you either. Be prepared for that before it's too late..." Yondaime fixed his stare intensely on Kakashi, forcing him to meet his eyes.
But then Yondaime's brilliant blue eyes started to glow red and they transformed into sharingan eyes that spun around and around until the red and black were indistinguishable. Yondaime started to fade away as the red and black void came back.
Everything turned red, swirling with black streaks, so fast that Kakashi had to close his eyes as vertigo swept over him. When the feeling passed, he opened his eyes again. The swirling slowed and he could see the black swirls were in the shape of sharingan dots. A monstrous pair of Uchiha eyes stared down at him from the crimson sky. But these were not Itachi's eyes with their three sharingan dots. There were only two dots in each eye...at first.now the third dot began to metastasize. And Kakashi was no longer standing on the tower, which had disappeared as well, but falling.falling into an abyss streaming with red blood fresh from a kill and stained with black blood from ages long past.
The Fourth Dream: Unsung Hero
He had been falling for quite a while. The sensation would normally have woken him, but trapped in this state of limbo, Kakashi had to endure the feeling of his stomach rising to his throat. He kept his eyes closed to lessen the vertigo, but opened them just a fraction for just a second, every so often, to see if anything had changed. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he felt his body falling onto a soft field of grass. The impact would have killed him instantly in reality, but in this dream state it was a mere jolt of unpleasantness, not even pain. He kept his eyes closed, refusing to open them, waiting for the environment to stabilize. But then he felt someone approaching.
He opened his right eye to find himself in a meadow of green grass reaching as far as the horizon. No tree or rock or other feature was in sight. Just a field of green that gradually became enveloped in heavy mist, but even the mist was tinged with green. He forced himself to get up and then stretched his limbs to ensure nothing was broken. 'Not that anything should be, after all, this is still a dream,' he reasoned with himself. Kakashi looked around and saw a figure nearby. Although it was obscured, he instinctively knew it was Rin. 'After all who else is left?' She was standing with her back towards him, looking up at.not the sky, there was no sky, just the green mist. He came within a few feet of her, but he still could not see her clearly. She remained obscured, even to his sharingan.
She turned to him saying, "It's lovely here isn't it? So peaceful and beautiful. I wish you could stay here with me." He could feel rather than see that she gave him a wistful smile.
"It is peaceful, isn't it?" He felt a sense of calm pervading his body. It was unlike his other dreams. Then again, Rin had that influence on him. She was always the mediator between him and Obito. 'It would be nice to stay here with her, wouldn't it?' If only he could see her clearly. He tried to remember how pretty she was with those beguiling stripes on her cheeks.
Obito had loved her. She had known that though he said nothing. But she gave Obito no encouragement as her heart was set on Kakashi. And he knew of her feelings for him even before she tried to tell him. But back then, before Obito's death, there was no room in his heart for any kind of love, not even friendship. And then after his death, he still couldn't love her, not the way she wanted. And then.but it was too late. 'If only.'
"Rin.I.I've missed you, " he managed to say.
She smiled more broadly, so it seemed. "I've always longed for you to say something like that to me."
"I.I'm sorry I wasn't able to protect you.I promised Obito."
"Not all promises can be kept. You can't be in two places at once. You can't protect everyone. No one can. It just the way things are. But let's not dwell on that." She turned away from him again and looked around, holding her arms out as if trying to capture the intangible, elusive mist. "Do you remember how the three of us would run around the training fields of Konoha? The fields were so green all year round. Just like this. I used to hunt for medicinal herbs while the two of you chased each other."
Kakashi rubbed his eye, trying to clear away the mist, but still it hung around them and clung to them and she remained partly hidden from his sight.
"Damn this mist, I can hardly see you."
She turned back to him. "Well, you couldn't look at me in life either, could you? Not after his death."
"What do you mean?"
"You wouldn't acknowledge my feelings for you. You wanted me to hide them away. I did as you wished, but those feelings never went away. I always loved you."
Kakashi bowed his head sadly, whispering "Yes, I know. I'm sorry you wasted your feelings on me."
"It wasn't wasted. I was happy just to love and be near you, whether or not you returned those feelings. But you couldn't love me, could you, because of Obito? All I want to know now is.could you have loved me, if it weren't for Obito?"
Kakashi hesitated. He could have loved her, if he had let himself. But it was a testament to his loyalty toward Obito and the guilt he felt for his death, that he had withheld his feelings. It was not until after her death that he realized what he had lost, someone more that just a friend or comrade in arms. After some thought he cautiously said, "If I had stayed as I was back then, I could not have loved anyone. It's only thanks to Obito that I think perhaps."
But his answer was either too slow in coming or not good enough for her. "If I came to you now.in flesh and blood, with breath in my body, could you love me?" She asked him insistently, almost desperately. Still no answer. "Could you? Yes or no?"
"Yes," Kakashi finally admitted.
She smiled in satisfaction and relief. "Then you could love someone else."
The green mist began to fade, but along with it so did the figure of Rin. Kakashi felt he still had more to say to her and he called out her name. But it was too late again and he was alone again in the field of green.
The green field began to undulate and he nearly lost his balance. The ground broke and a serene green light appeared from beneath. The light encompassed Kakashi and he felt the initial feeling of calm he had when he first saw Rin. He felt the light and the tranquility enter him and he closed his eyes to try to keep the feeling from escaping and to enter it into his memory banks to call upon in the future.
Kakashi's state of peaceful contentment was disturbed by an annoying, rather high-pitched, voice calling him as if from a distance. "Hey, hey Kakashi-sensei! Kakashi-sensei! Wake up, wake-up!"
'Leave me alone!' Kakashi thought, but still the voice continued to call him, persistently louder and more annoying, worse than nails on a chalkboard.
Tsunade was using her healing green chakra to enter Kakashi's mind and repair the damage Itachi had done. After weeks of torturous dreams, he awoke from Itachi's spell, only to find: Tsunade standing over him, berating him for being a failed genius; Naruto by her side, ecstatic that he was the one who brought Tsunade to help return his sensei to the real world; and Gai by the door waiting impatienly. Kakashi slowly sat up to clear his head.
"Hmmph, I heard you lost to just two traitors. Weren't you supposed to be a genius?" Tsunade asked sarcastically.
Kakashi hung his head and sighed to himself. 'I woke up to this?'
Fortunately, Gai and Naruto immediately dragged Tsunade away to see the next patient. Kakashi was left alone in peace to meditate on the possible meanings of his dreams.
White = purity, deity (Kakashi has put his friend Obito on a pedestal)
Yellow = cowardice, glory (Sakumo can be seen as a coward for committing suicide, or a hero for his achievements)
Blue = truth, nobility (Yondaime is often depicted as the exemplary shinobi)
Green = unrequited love (based on green for envy/jealousy similar to want), new beginnings