Terushi Daoko stood before the young, acclaimed white fang. Her wavy, peach colored hair was short cut, with the back tied in a short knot. From her tall height, you would have guessed her to be healthy and twenty, and you would be right. The anbu uniform contrasted against her fair skin but complemented her dark eyes, which stared out coldly behind spectacles. From her side, alongside the normal gear, was her anbu mask, depicting a monkey's face in black and red ink.

Sagari Arai was a shorter man, much shorter. His black, flat hair was rather long for a man, reaching down to his earlobe. There was an air of dependence from him. Perhaps it was to be expected. He was the healer of the ad hoc unit after all, and Kakashi had never seen his newbie face around before. What a pleading demeanor. He looked out of place with his cat anbu mask askew on his head.

And then there was him, the acclaimed white fang… his son, anyway. Son of a disgraced war hero. The same son taught by Minato, who was tutored by the legendary sage of the Sannin, Jiraya. A young anbu black op he was, but he'd handled more dangerous missions than a lot of the old timers. As a kid, he'd brutally slaughtered ninjas from the nation of earth while the war was underway. He tossed aside one of his teammates to get the job done.

Then there was the ultra-top-secret mission this kid undertook. Long story short, he ended up murdering his remaining teammate: some girl named Rin who was unlucky enough to become the vessel of a tailed beast. No doubt about it, he ran her through with his signature lightning technique and plunged his hand into her heart, slicing her chest open and ending her instantly. Was it savagery or mercy? It's all the same to Danzo, just as long as you get the work done.

After that, people just about called him flat out by his old man's address. Danzo was more than happy to load him with tougher work, and he was almost too eager to accept. Maybe eager is the wrong word. It was more like he resigned himself to it. Time and time again, he brushed with danger, and time and time again, he'd get placed in some new temporary unit for some suicide mission. He just kept cutting through that work, through the loss of members, and surviving.

No one would have figured how much killing Rin broke him. Like a mannequin on its last strings, he'd fought with losing Obito. He thought that as long as he could keep that promise…

But he couldn't. He was worse than garbage. Protect Rin? He ended up fucking ending her with his own hands. Since then, he hadn't even been able to draw out the lightning blade anymore. What was the point?

There simply wasn't any. Not to go on. Not for anything.

Minato had some kind words, but that didn't matter. It was like using cork from a wine bottle to patch a dam. The wounds were too big. He just threw himself in resignation to work, to death. He wanted Danzo to be the one to send him to his grave, so he didn't have to face the responsibility. How the samurai committed their rituals of honorable suicide is beyond all ninja.

But time and time again, he kept surviving like a dog. He clung to every bit of combat skill he had and kept evading that feeling of impending doom when he wanted nothing more than to embrace it wholly. It was those next to him who were casualties, and he eventually stopped feeling for them, much less remember their faces.

He was determined to die in combat, to just throw it all away. The proud hound he was had been crippled a long time ago.

These two before him, his new teammates, barely registered as Danzo listed and droned about the details of this new, important mission. Like an incoherent buzz, the words filtered in a trickle so only a few actually reached his brain.

"… Rogue… Sannin… kill… sight…"

He felt his voice speak in acceptance, like a reflexive motion without thought. Yes, that's right, don't think. Don't think about another of these mornings, waking up to face that countenance of failure in the mirror… another morning where he didn't want to be.

The other two echoed his assent. Danzo made a wave with his hand and sent them off.

This time perhaps, the young Kakashi thought, I'll get to see Rin and Obito again.