When he hesitantly slid his eyes open again once the light disappeared, the first thing he noticed was his future self, a few years older than when they had seen him.

Obito groaned. "Kakashi again?"

Minato lightly ruffled Obito's hair in response. "It makes sense that we're tied to him since he's the only one that's the left in the future. Besides, we'll make sure that this time around, all of us will get to live in the future, right Obito?"

"I guess."

Obito didn't get to say anything else because they were instantly alerted when future Kakashi began to move. Sliding the Anbu mask into its rightful place, future Kakashi leapt down from his vantage point in the trees, landing deftly on his feet. With a hand arched over his shoulder to grasp the handle of his sword that was still sheathed in the holster, future Kakashi slowly turned in a full circle. His eye surveyed his surroundings, ears perked up at the slightest noise.

There was nothing but the sound of rustling leaves.

Three minutes later, future Kakashi abruptly spun on his heels and darted off into the forest. Team Minato was quick to follow, not before Minato spotted a shadow streak across the clearing.

Looks like they weren't the only ones after him. Future Kakashi had cause to be wary.

They chased after him for ten minutes before the entrance of a cave appeared. Or rather future Kakashi yanked one of the branches downward, forcing the makeshift door to slide open. Glancing one more time over his shoulder, future Kakashi traversed into the cave.

Minato noted that the shadow was able to slip into the cave in the tiny space right before the entrance closed again, basking them in complete darkness. Future Kakashi didn't bother to ignite a source of light. The only indication that he was even there at all was the sound of his footsteps, so faint that even a seasoned shinobi like Minato had a hard time picking up on it.

He couldn't pick up on his chakra either.

Minato felt a hand wrap around his wrist.

"Sensei, I'll follow him with my nose," Kakashi whispered softly. Minato nodded, before coming to the realization that his student couldn't see him at all. Groping blindly in the dark, Minato found Obito, tugging on him lightly to guide him as Kakashi was guiding him. It was a slow and cumbersome process, but it was worth it when they didn't ram into any walls.

Oh wait, they could pass through objects, couldn't they? But that would potentially lead them to somewhere that they didn't want to be, like stuck underground.

Thinking about the mechanics of his ghostly, but not phantom self made Minato's head hurt.

Light. Kakashi's hand fell back to his side when they spotted a bit of light. Kakashi ran after his future counterpart, who had just disappeared into the ground. Minato and Obito were quick to follow, reaching the hole that future Kakashi had descended. Kakashi and Obito jumped down at the same time, with Minato taking up the rear.

Minato was thoroughly sickened at the sight. There was a long row of containers, about twenty of them, with a seemingly lifeless body floating in the blue-green liquid. Numerous tubes were attached to the bodies, connecting to the pipes that went underground.

Future Kakashi calmly surveyed each container, slowly moving from one container to the next with calculated, languid steps. The tips of his gloves grazed against the glass, smoothly sliding over them. He stopped at the last container in the row, staring at it for far longer than he had with the others.

"Sensei, what is this?" Obito furtively whispered like he was afraid of being caught.

"Experiments," Kakashi responded at his normal volume, earning an indignant look from Obito.

"Oi, keep your voice down."

Kakashi shrugged. "He can't hear us, baka."

Obito's mouth widened into an o shape before his lips curled upwards into a sheepish smile. "Oops?"

Kakashi ignored him in favor of walking right up to his future self to get a better view of exactly what he was looking at. Future Kakashi rummaged around in his weapons pouch before he fished out a few photos. Peering over, Kakashi angled his head so that he could see what was in his hands.

Future Kakashi pushed his Anbu mask to the side of his head. His left eye remained shut. He flickered back and forth between the photo and the figure in the glass, before he slowly raised the photo upwards so that it was side by side with the figure.

Kakashi noticed the slight change in his future self's expression before he quickly shoved the photos back into his weapons pouch, seemingly uncaring that they would get wrinkled. Despite only getting a glimpse, he had managed to put two and two together.

The people in the photos were here, in each of the individual containers. If Kakashi had to guess, he bet all of them were already long dead.

Spinning rapidly on his heels, future Kakashi marched towards the exit in clipped steps. He managed to make it halfway there before a figure rounded one of the containers, flying outwards to intercept him. Kakashi acted on instinct, having already drawn a kunai to take care of the intruder, before reminding himself that he couldn't do anything.

Reluctantly, Kakashi tucked his kunai away.

The intruder's kunai clashed against future Kakashi's sword, the clang of metal echoing through the empty laboratory. Future Kakashi's expression remained impassive while he surveyed him, committing his features to memory.

The intruder was younger than future Kakashi, about half a head shorter than him. The strangest thing was that he was wearing an Anbu mask as well, but future Kakashi certainly didn't treat him like a comrade.

The killing intent in the air was suffocating.

The boy backflipped twice to stretch the distance between them. Future Kakashi's sword fell to his side in a manner that suggested he didn't view the boy to be a threat in the slightest. Yet judging from how it had taken a millisecond for future Kakashi to brandish the sword earlier, Kakashi had no doubt that he would be able to counter any of the other Anbu's sudden moves.

"Who sent you?" His voice was detached and cold.

When the boy didn't answer, future Kakashi lifted his sword again, pointing the tip right at him. He took a menacing step forward. To his credit, the boy stood his ground, even with the sharp side of the sword digging into his mask.

He remained silent.

In one clean move, the sword cut through the boy's mask. The mask split in two pieces, cleanly in half. Gravity took over, letting the mask fall to the ground, landing with a loud clang.

Just as expected, Kakashi saw the face of a young boy behind the mask. Hints of baby fat still clung to his cheeks. His eyes were wide and round, yet they didn't reflect a single ounce of innocence in his dark orbs.

"I may have had mercy on you the last time that we met, but I won't be so lenient this time. Who sent you?"

Still, the boy didn't answer. Instead, he slowly opened his mouth, sticking his tongue outwards to allow all of them to clearly see the seal embedded into his tongue.

"Sensei, what's that?" Obito whispered, pointing at the strange sealing.

Minato frowned. "I believe it's some sort of seal to prevent them from leaking information, but I wasn't aware that Anbu were branded with it."

"I see," future Kakashi hissed. "Danzo, huh?"

At the mention of Danzo's name, Minato immediately perked up. "Danzo? The Root Foundation? But the Sandiame should have dissolved that organization a while ago!"

"Maybe he didn't," Kakashi suggested. "Clearly, they are not the same Anbu division. My future self can speak without restrictions, so obviously I don't have the seal."

Nobody knew how future Kakashi was going to react to the revelation, but they didn't expect him to raise a gloved hand and to press his fingers against the eyelid of his left eye. The same one that they had seen with a scar and kept shut the entire time…

Except not for the entire time.

"Sensei, Hokage Kakashi had both eyes open, right?" Kakashi questioned, seeking confirmation. He could almost swear that he wasn't hallucinating, but having seen the depth of the scar, there was no way that his eye survived.

Minato quickly caught on to Kakashi's train of thought. "He did. Perhaps an eye transplant? But I don't see why you would if you've adjusted to fighting with one eye."

"Two options," future Kakashi was saying. "You can turn around and abandon your mission and I'll pretend that I didn't see you. Or you can fight me for my eye at the cost of your life. Your choice."

The boy hesitated, contemplating his next course of action. Kakashi was surprised that his future self even offered that opportunity; he would have taken the advantage to attack him.

Hokage Kakashi's words rang in his head in a haunting manner. At least you don't have to understand what it felt like to kill one of your comrades.

Had he been referring to this boy?

After a couple of minutes, the boy finally spoke. "And your eye is that important for you to lay down your life?"

Future Kakashi didn't even look a bit fazed at the boy's bold assumption that he would be the one to die today. "My best friend entrusted this eye to me for me to see the future in his stead."

Future Kakashi slowly opened his shut eye, revealing a red orb with three tomoes spinning rapidly.

The Sharingan.

Kakashi's mouth fell open in shock, but no one could see it because his mask covered it. Obito let out an audible gasp, blinking rapidly almost as if he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. Minato simply stared at the eye, quickly putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

In the future before Obito died, he had given Kakashi his eye to replace his damaged one. Although Minato longed to know under what circumstances that this had to happen, he wasn't in control of the time travelling scroll.

"He gave me this eye, along with a promise."

"But you didn't keep the promise, so you're undeserving of the eye!" the boy shouted, lunging forward. Future Kakashi simply twisted his body out of the way. The boy barely caught his balance, teetering on the edge of toppling over as his feet struggled to right itself.

"I am," future Kakashi admitted. "But I also promised to help him see the future. He will be the only one to decide whether or not I am deserving of his eye. No one, not even you, can take that away from me."

"Even with an eye that is supposed to help you see the future clearer, you still managed to kill your friend."

An uncomfortable feeling crawled its way to Kakashi's stomach. Now that he knew that it wasn't the boy in front of him that he killed and based on the people he had seen in the last time arc and knowing that Rin was dead, he had an unsettling premonition that it was her.

From across the room, Minato shot him a warning look. "Don't be so quick to jump to conclusions, Kakashi."

Obito glanced back and forth between the two of them, understanding that he was missing something, but he couldn't figure out what. For once, Kakashi almost wished that he was as oblivious as Obito was; he didn't want to be so quick to figure things out. Even a few extra moments of oblivion was welcomed.

But it seemed that the horrible news had to keep coming one after another. His father was dead, but Kakashi hadn't imagined that in such a short amount of time, he would lose the entirety of his team too.

Who else?

Maybe he was cursed to having everyone he cared to inevitably end up dead.

Future Kakashi and the boy clashed again; clearly, the boy had chosen to follow through with his mission. Kakashi would have made the same choice that he did, except after seeing the events of the future, he wasn't quite sure anymore.

He wasn't even sure of who he was at the moment, much less who he would become.

Sensing his student's distress, Minato walked straight through the fighting duo to reach Kakashi's side. Obito followed, although he wasn't as sharp as Minato.

"Don't worry about it, alright?" Minato placed a hand on his shoulder, like he always did when he wanted to calm them down. "None of this has happened yet, so we can change it when we get back."

"How?" Kakashi shouted, his inner turmoil finally bubbling over. "We don't even know if we'll see what happened. How are we supposed to change something that we don't expect?"

"But you do," Minato insisted. "You know that we're going to die in the near future. Even if we don't know the exact details, we're all going to train to be stronger than we are in the future to avoid disaster."

"Most importantly," Minato continued. "I hope that you'll learn to trust your comrades. I know that you care for them, I saw that when you realized that they were dead, but I want you to know that all of us, Obito included, have your back. Learn to trust us. Stop trying to do everything by yourself. Don't end up like…"

Like your future depressed, apathetic, and slightly suicidal Anbu counterpart, Minato wanted to say, but he felt like that was too much for the young boy to process at the same time. Beside him, Obito was nodding vigorously in agreement.

"Yeah Bakakashi. I don't know what my older self was thinking, but obviously I trusted that my eye would be in good hands with you." At this, Obito crossed his arms, jerking his head off to the side in a show of arrogance. "I don't just give my Sharingan to anyone, you know."

That had succeeded in getting a small chuckle from Kakashi. "You don't even have your Sharingan yet."

"Details, details," Obito stated. "What matters is that I'll unlock it and it's going to be awesome because the eye already has three tomoes in it. Not everyone unlocks the Sharingan, but even fewer achieve three tomoes."

Kakashi didn't know that, but he nodded along and pretended like he had known all along. Even if they were sort of getting along now, there was no way that Kakashi was going to admit that Obito knew something that he didn't.

His pride simply won't allow for it.

A loud crash caught their attention. The three of them looked up to see that the fight had moved towards the exit. Currently, the boy's back was pressed against the glass of a tank while future Kakashi's hand was jammed into the tank right underneath the boy's arm. He retracted his arm. Water sprouted out of the tank.

Both of them jumped away from the tank, managing to avoid the majority of the water droplets. Yet the water continued to pour out, draining the entirety of the tank, leaving the dead human test subject to hang limply from the pipeline that it was connected to.

Standing on opposite sides of the spray, the two of them simply stared at each other.

"Abandon your mission," future Kakashi commanded, with a hard warning edge in his voice.

Future Kakashi got his answer immediately when the boy simply dropped to the ground, rolled underneath the spray of water and was back up on his feet in a matter of mere seconds. Wood sprouted from the length of his arm, forcing future Kakashi to backflip to avoid being pierced by his jutsu. The wood broke off from his arm; the boy was quick to race across the plank of wood.

At the end of the plank, the boy used his momentum to launch himself into the air, hands moving in quick successions while midair. Future Kakashi's Sharingan followed his movements.

Right as the boy executed his attack, a massive ball of lightning formed in future Kakashi's right hand. A screeching noise filled the room. Obito grimaced at the noise while Kakashi simply watched in awe at the destructive power that the lightning jutsu held. It tore straight through all of the boy's wood jutsus.

By the end of it, future Kakashi had the boy pressed against the ground, letting the lightning jutsu crackle near his throat.

Was this what his incomplete jutsu looked like when it was completed? Seeing it in action spurred Kakashi to vow that he was going to work on the jutsu even harder when they got back; he couldn't wait to use it in action.

"What kind of jutsu is that, Sensei?" Obito asked, sounding breathless.

Minato's eyes remained fixated on the duo, who was engaged in a conversation that was making Kakashi's counterpart grow more agitated by the minute.

"An original jutsu. I have never seen anything quite like it."

"I based it off of your Rasengan," Kakashi supplied. "I always wondered what would happen if I added my lightning nature to your Rasengan…"

Minato wanted to complete his student for his creative thinking, but the future captured his attention. Future Kakashi had allowed the Chidori to fizzle out in his fist. Using both hands, he grabbed the boy by the front of his shirt and shook him violently.

"You're not a tool, you got that?" future Kakashi hissed. "You have comrades that care about you. Obito taught me that."

Obito perked up at the mention of his name.

"But he's dead," the boy responded apathetically.

"His ideology will live on through me."

"Friend Killer Kakashi," the boy stated flatly. "That's what everyone in the Anbu calls you. Everyone knows that you are willing to kill a friend for the sake of a mission. That's what happened with the girl, isn't it?"

The girl. Upon hearing those words, Kakashi felt a chill go down his spine. It was Rin. Rin was the "friend" that he killed. Kakashi felt a sudden urge to vomit, but years of shinobi training kept the bile from rising to his throat.

That didn't make the news any easier to digest however.

"She's a true hero of the village unlike your leader Danzo who hides in the shadows in cowardice. Where was he when the Kyuubi attacked our village? Your wood style could have prevented the Fourth Hokage from dying."

Minato instantly paled. "Kyuubi attack? That means Kushina…" Minato faltered when he noticed that both of his students were staring at him. They didn't know about the Kyuubi, or at least they weren't supposed to.

Kakashi simply crossed his arms over his chest. "Don't worry Sensei, nothing will happen to Kushina san. We'll make sure of it."

Obito nodded vigorously in agreement, even though Minato knew that Obito hadn't been as sharp as Kakashi and put together the pieces. While Obito wasn't looking, Kakashi shot him a profound look, one assuring him that he would keep his promise.

Minato was grateful for the reassurance, no matter how minute.

At least he knew what was coming so he could better prepare for it.

"I'll prove it to you," future Kakashi stated haughtily before ramming an elbow into one of the pressure points in the boy's neck. The boy fell conscious, head rolling over to the side.

Future Kakashi stood up, sheathing his sword. He took one step to leave, then stopped. After shooting one last look at the young boy lying on the ground, future Kakashi slid the mask over his face once more.

"I swear I'll save you from Danzo's clutches."

With that parting vow, future Kakashi climbed to the exit, disappearing out of sight. Minato was torn between staying to supervise the unconscious boy, not that they could actually do anything to intervene if danger did come, and following after his student's counterpart.

The scroll made the choice for them.

A/N: Hi again!

I swear the amount of Tenzo that I put in this story is to make up for the lack of Tenzo in The Catalyst (if you're following that story, you'll understand). If you guys watch the anime, there's a Kakashi Anbu filler arc that features Kakashi meeting Tenzo - I clearly didn't base it off of the anime for a number of reasons: 1) I didn't want to just regurgitate anime 2) Since Team Minato don't witness the other instances that they meet - like the cave, so I wanted to portray all the important things 3) I don't know what the 3rd reason is but it bothered me I started making a list and didn't make it to 3 lol.

There's still some similarities, like it being located at one of Orochimaru's hideouts, but beyond that, I'm not really interested in looking at the anime to retrieve their dialogue bit by bit and copying and pasting so I just made up my own. I hope you understand. I try to keep true to canon without overly being constrictive by having to copy anime line by line.

Thanks for reading! Until next time.