The sound of heavy breathing filled the frigid air. Kakashi stood in the clearing near the trees surveying the area around him. Numerous footprints and impressions from where his clones had hit the ground and dissipated were everywhere. How many clones had he summoned anyway? Deciding it wasn't important, he began to head back toward the house.
Training was part of his normal routine now, at least while Alysha was working. She had made him promise to not do anything too crazy to attract attention, so he hadn't. Other than meditation and chakra control exercises, he kept to clones. Usually, he would summon Pakkun and his other hounds to help him train, but of course he was still stuck in this strange world. He was completely cut off from his summons.
Still he tried to find a way to agitate the force that sent him through the portal. He had long since flipped through every possible technique he could think of in the time he had been there. Nothing. Perhaps it had something to do with the timing? Or something to do with the lack of chakra in the world around him? He could only guess and continue to speculate.
When he came inside, the familiar trot of padded feet made their way toward him. Hanging up the coat he had worn, he smiled at the dog. The canine had been a welcome companion during his long days alone in the house. Jasper would follow him around, nap with him, and sit with him while he read or studied by means of animation. With thorough scratches and a treat Alysha had shown him, the dog was content and went to rest on the couch.
Continuing on with the monotony of the day, he readied the coffee maker before heading up to take a shower. The icy chill that had been nipping at him faded as soon as the hot water pelted his skin. In the comforting heat of the shower be let his mind wander. How was the village holding up? Did his comrades even think he was still alive? By this point they probably believed he had been killed in action and his body whisked away by the raging river.
He wondered, if they truly believed him to be dead, was his name now on that memorial stone? The stone he had spent so many hours standing in front of, regretting his past choices and mistakes. Was his name now etched into that stone? Would others go there to pay their respects to him? There were many people he would like to think would have stopped by at least once, but there was one man he knew who would be devastated by his loss.
That man had followed him around for years. Two decades to be exact. Since they were both children Guy had been his self-proclaimed rival in everything. Whether that be eating, fighting, drinking, running, or rock paper scissors, Guy had to do everything he could to prove he was the better man. The better Shinobi. As much as the man grated on his nerves at times, he had to admit that Guy was a true friend. One that he actually missed.
He had begun to miss many things. Things he hadn't even considered when he first arrived in this world. Things he wouldn't even realize he missed until suddenly faced with them. Like when he would wake up in the morning and for a brief moment he thought it was all a dream, but then he would see the unfamiliar ceiling and realize just how real it all was. Realizing that he missed his dingy little apartment. Alysha's accommodations were better, but it wasn't home. Though it certainly had its many charms.
Once he was done washing and had spent enough time wondering and reminiscing, he stepped out of the shower and dried himself off the best he could with the towel before wrapping it around his waist. The steam had built a thick haze over the mirror but he didn't have to look at himself to know he needed a shave. He had admittedly become used to not wearing the mask, and had let himself start to go longer without shaving. Without the constant rubbing of the mask, it was easier to ignore the stubble that would start to appear. Even so, he didn't like it to get too long. And with the products Alysha had bought him just a few days ago, it was far easier than it used to be to take care of it.
He was wiping off his face with another towel when he heard it. The faint sound of the door opening and closing. Followed by a loud excited bark from Jasper. His eyes narrowed, realizing it was too early for Alysha to be home yet. It was odd, as she was always late or on time. Never early. For a brief moment he focused and he could sense chakra, so it had to be her. But this time it was a little off for some reason.
Looking down at himself and his state of undress, he shrugged and decided to check it out quickly. He would step down for a moment just to see if she was alright before retreating to get dressed. Securing the loosening towel around his waist he quickly and quietly opened the door and moved down the steps.
"Has this coffee been on all day?"
Kakashi froze. He didn't recognize that voice. It was a man in the kitchen and his voice sounded confused. Obviously talking to himself.
Not knowing who this man was, Kakashi moved to the entrance of the kitchen in an instant to confront the intruder. He didn't know who this man was or why he was here but he knew Alysha would have alerted him if she had known he would be there.
The intruder looked over his shoulder from where he was about to pour himself a cup of coffee and froze. Kakashi observed that the man was well kept and dressed in what this world considered casual business clothes and had his dark brown hair slicked back. Kakashi realized he looked familiar, but he couldn't place it.
For a brief moment there was stunned silence. The intruder's mouth hung open and for a second he tried to form words. Just as Kakashi was about to demand what he was doing there the man's expression morphed from stunned shock to barely contained rage. "Who the fuck are you supposed to be? What the hell are you doing in this house?" The man's voice was rising with every word, his face and neck slowly growing red. "If you don't tell me right now I will call the authorities!"
"I'm a friend of Alysha. I've been staying with her. Now, who are you?" The anger didn't faze him. He had stared death in the face on more than one occasion and there wasn't anything he had to worry about from this man. But, regardless it would seem he said the wrong thing.
The man's eyes grew wide and he pointed a finger accusingly at Kakashi, "You're the reason the water bill's gone up!" Before Kakashi could respond, the man threw his hands up into the air and moved closer to Kakashi. Face to face, Kakashi could tell this man was a few inches taller than him and had familiar blue eyes.
Then it clicked.
This must be her brother. Sure, he looked older than in the photos in the living room, but it was definitely the same man. His eyes were the same as Alysha's and it explained why he sensed chakra from him. It all made sense.
"You think you have the right to be here and walk around the place like you own it? Why is it I've never heard of you, huh?"
Kakashi, now knowing exactly who he was dealing with, backed off a little and held his hands up in a pacifying gesture. He didn't want to make things worse with him. He smiled and laughed awkwardly, "Calm down, I can explain-" His words were abruptly cut off when he felt the towel around his waist loosen and fall.
It startled both men and they both looked down. Kakashi covered himself before the towel even hit the floor but not fast enough. Alysha's brother looked up at the ceiling and covered his eyes with his arm, "Dude! Go get some fucking clothes on!"
Kakashi willingly obliged the offer.
Humming along to the music in her car, Alysha reflected on her day. It hadn't gotten out yet that Steven invited her out to a Karaoke night and she was thankful for that. He was as normal as he had always been at work, bright and smiling as he always had been. It didn't stop her from feeling like there was some kind of tension between them though. Maybe there was a way she could get out of going? She would have to brainstorm some excuses later.
Pulling into the long gravel driveway everything seemed normal, until she got closer and saw the white truck sitting behind the house. She recognized the license plate right away and her eyes got wide, her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly.
"Shit." Alysha gasped in a horrified whisper. Instantly, her heart rate skyrocketed and she felt light headed. The sudden and intense rush of anxiety caught her off guard and she rested her head against the steering wheel as soon as she parked. Taking a few deep breaths to try and calm herself, she gathered her stuff to head inside.
There was no way he hadn't met Kakashi, and she could only imagine how that went down. Maybe she was just over reacting. Maybe he wouldn't react as dramatic as she feared he would. Maybe he would be understanding?
Entering the house, she threw off her coat and rushed into the kitchen. Sure enough, there was her brother pacing in the kitchen. "Adrian, what are you doing here?"
He turned toward her, arms crossed over his chest and his eyes hard, "I was passing through and thought I would stop by to see my dear baby sister. But instead, I'm greeted by a half naked-" He paused, held up his hand and corrected himself, "basically, naked man who acts like he owns the place."
Alysha paled, so they had met. And it had not gone well. And why had Kakashi been undressed? She opened her mouth to respond, but Adrian cut her off.
"I don't want to hear anything from you unless it is an explanation. Dad is letting you stay here for a reason. To take a break, have some alone time, to get away." The calm and authoritative tone slowly began to shift so something more angry. Running his hands through his hair periodically to try and calm down, "Seems like that's the last thing you've done. We see the bills, Alysha. I can tell this guy's been here a while. Have you forgotten what happened with Drake?"
She couldn't meet his gaze, her voice shaking, "No, I haven't."
Something in him seemed to snap and he raised his voice, "Then what the hell, Aly!? Is another guy really what you need right now!? That should be the furthest thing from your mind after the last one put you in a hospital!"
Alysha blinked rapidly, trying to stop the tears from falling. "It's not like that." She tried to force her voice to be louder and more fierce, but it still shook. She should have known better than to think he wouldn't be upset with her. Thought after thought ran through her head. Things she could have done better. Everything she had done wrong was brought to the forefront of her mind in a whirlwind of chaos. Her breath began to shorten into small quick breaths. She could feel herself begin to shake and her mouth ran dry. It wasn't until a stray tear fell that Adrian took notice.
All anger vanished from him in an instant, "Shit! Hey, Aly, it's okay, it's okay. I'm sorry-" He was caught off guard as a hand grabbed him by the back of his shirt and pulled him away from her.
Suddenly, Kakashi was standing there. Adrian was about to tell him to butt out, until their eyes locked. An uneasy chill ran down his spin at the sight. Never before had he witnessed a silent threat before, especially not one that left him shaken.
Kakashi, now fully clothed and eyepatch in place, turned his attention toward Alysha. Jasper had rushed to her side as well, whining from his master's obvious distress. Kakashi placed a hand on her shoulder and spoke softly, "Alysha, breathe. Slowly. In for four seconds, and out for four." He saw the small nod and paused for a few seconds to observe her breathing. Continuing in the same tone he looked down at Jasper, "Jasper came to see you. I think he would feel better if you pet him."
Over the next few minutes, Kakashi and Adrian observed as the panic attack subsided and she began to pet Jasper more naturally. It wasn't the first time Kakashi had observed a panic attack in action. When killing and near death experiences were common, you learned how to manage them. He himself had been on the suffering end of many in his younger years.
Finally, Adrian spoke up, "Alysha, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have blown up like that."
She finally looked up at him, "Yeah, you shouldn't have."
He took a step forward and enveloped her in a hug which she returned. "I just don't want that happening again." He said as he let her go and turned toward Kakashi. "Now, could I please know why you are here? Seems only fair since I've seen your junk." He grunted when Alysha elbowed him in the side.
For a moment Kakashi was confused. What junk of his had Adrian seen? It wasn't until he noticed Alysha's blush that he put two and two together and had the decency to blush a little himself.
"He's a friend of a coworker who I'm helping out. He needed a place to stay and I have an extra bedroom." Alysha offered quickly, hoping that it would be good enough to satiate him, though she doubted it.
Adrian ran a hand through his dark disheveled hair, "Is that so?" Deciding to put a pin in it for now, he held out his hand, "Well then, Kakashi, was it? I'm Adrian." Kakashi shook his hand firmly and was met with a nod from him.
Alysha looked from one man to the other and cleared her throat. "I'm gonna go change," she announced awkwardly.
"Sounds good!" Adrian responded as she left. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a small box, "I'm gonna pop out for a smoke, why don't you join me?" He offered Kakashi as he placed a cigarette between his lips.
Kakashi only nodded, sensing that it was more a veiled command than an offer. Not seeing a need to argue, he followed Adrian outside. Bundled in their coats, they leaned against his truck. Adrian offered him a cigarette, only for Kakashi to refuse.
"So, where are you from?" Adrian began, puffing smoke into the cold air.
"Originally, Japan. Though, I don't remember much about it to be honest." He didn't remember, because he had never been. He only knew that he spoke this world's Japanese language, native to the country of Japan. Hopefully Adrian would assume he had lived there as a very small child.
Adrian looked surprised, "Really? Damn, you two probably talk about anime and stuff all the time." He recalled when Alysha was a young preteen claiming that she would one day move to Japan and live there. She had been in love with the culture and aesthetic of it back then.
"Among other things." Kakashi stated blankly.
The man cast a sideways glance at Kakashi. "Anyway, I know it doesn't take that long to change clothes. How much did you hear?"
So, the man wasn't stupid. Even though he had hidden his presence perfectly from the both of them, Adrian knew he had been listening in. Not a hard conclusion to make. "I heard enough."
"Hm, and you two talk. Has she told you about Drake then?"
Kakashi shook his head, his eyes narrowing. Even though he had only heard of Drake today, he was willing to bet that he was the reason for Alysha's nightmare.
"Alright then. It's really not my place to say details, but he messed her up. Since him, she's never been quite the same person."
Kakashi turned toward him and noticed that Adrian was staring straight ahead with a searing look. Alysha was this man's sister. Someone he obviously cared for very deeply, even if he let his anger cloud his judgment. If Drake was the one responsible for all her hurt and trauma, then he shared in Adrian's disdain.
He shook his head from his own internal monologue and turned to Kakashi, "Look, I'm sorry for earlier. You seem like a decent guy and I flew off the handle. But, in my defense I wasn't expecting some random guy to be in my sister's place in nothing but a towel." He thought back to how Kakashi had helped to stop her panic attack. Just the sound of this guy's voice seemed to calm her down. Kakashi had understood the situation and took action in a calm and respectful way. It showed Adrian that this guy really did care about his sister. As a friend or something more, he couldn't say. But at least he hadn't belittled her for it like someone else in the past.
Adrian puffed the last of his cigarette and pressed it into the snow. He needed that. Already he felt calmer and more at ease. He turned and smiled at Kakashi, "Just so we're clear. Don't get too comfortable or try anything. I wouldn't want to repeat what I did to Drake on you."
Kakashi watched as Adrian turned and headed back inside the house. Just what had Adrian done to Drake? Whatever it was, Kakashi knew Adrian would never be able to repeat it on him. In an instant, he could snap the man's neck if he wanted. Kakashi had a feeling that whatever had happened, there hadn't been enough punishment.
All he had to do was picture her trembling form on that bed and he knew if he ever came across the man that caused it, he would be more than happy to do what Adrian could not.
Shorter chapter, but a chapter nonetheless. This summer has been crazy, but thanks you guys so much for all the support with this story!
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Posted - 7/18/2022