Not on his last mission to Snow Country--he’d never had a chance. Not on his mission with Katsuko. Space-time jutsu weren’t his forte; even when he used kawarimi he generally ended up in the middle of a thornbush. Real translocations took concentration and chakra and mostly an emergency to get right.
“Seven months ago,” he said. “March.” Wrenching himself to the hospital, as soon as Reiko had given him the news of Kakashi’s coma. Not something he wanted to think of, just now. He reached for his chakra, and it slipped like sand through cupped fingers, trickling back into its wild paths. He gritted his teeth and reached again. This time it molded reluctantly in his grasp, like a feral horse slowly remembering the taste of the bit.
He was sweating. He released the chakra with a gasp. “I think I might end up in a wall, if I tried now. ‘f you’re sick of walking, though, feel free to pull a ride-along. I’ve been walking for two weeks. Got no sentimental attachment to doing more of it.”
“Lazy,” Kakashi teased. His chakra sparked over Ryouma’s arm, raising goosebumps in its wake. A little slipped beneath the skin, coursing through Ryouma’s pathways and tangling his own chakra in the blue-white rush, yanking it back into a smoother rhythm. Ryouma’s breath hitched, steadied, and caught again when Kakashi slid both arms around his waist, pressed his hands together, and dissolved the world in a swirl of leaves and smoke.
Ryouma’d always had a strong stomach. The results of his flesh-melting jutsu never even made him queasy, anymore; he could cheerfully eat swill that made his comrades gag, and in a summer of masquerading as a fisherman in the choppy waters off the Lightning Country coast he’d never once been sea-sick.
But translocation grabbed the bottom of his stomach and turned it inside out, as the world lurched and settled in a different configuration. There were walls, a bed, shelving, an open window framed with curtains fluttering in the whirl-wind of their arrival. His head spun, refusing to sort component parts into a coherent whole. This wasn’t Kakashi’s apartment in ANBU HQ. But Kakashi wasn’t in ANBU anymore, had left (been kicked out) three months ago. This was somewhere new. He could see a slice of the Hokage’s palace, windows still lit with late workers, out the window; beyond it the black bulk of the Monument loomed against the darkening sky. It was something to focus on, while his stomach heaved and settled and his chakra surged with the memory of jutsu.
The warm solid strength of Kakashi’s arms around his ribcage, the absurd silver fluff of his hair tickling Ryouma’s nose, and the uncomfortable press of his jounin vest were even better. Ryouma swallowed hard, and breathed in the long-remembered scents of sweat and skin and lingering soap, and told himself that he was home.
Kakashi released him far too soon. “You’re cold,” he said critically, as if goosebumps were a personal failing.
“I was in the desert,” Ryouma said. “And I’m wearing a tee-shirt. And it’s, what, October?”
Kakashi ignored him, heading for the closet. Ryouma took a cautious step, didn’t immediately pitch to his knees, and followed. “Your shirts probably aren’t going to fit me, if that’s what you’re thinking. My shoulders are wider’n yours, even if you have put on muscle.” Quite a bit of it, actually. Ryouma tried to refocus. “I’m okay.”
“You were shivering,” Kakashi snapped. He turned with something in his hands, just as Ryouma was about to protest that that was the translocation, he wasn’t that much of a pansy--
It was the red Atomic Sunrise hoodie, the one Ryouma had forced Kakashi to wear to the Hero’s Stone half a lifetime ago. He’d given it up for lost.