This was not better.
It wasn’t worse, either.
Kakashi said softly, into the space around the notches in Ryouma’s spine, “Can we stop getting in trouble for a while?”
“We might have chosen the wrong career for that,” Ryouma said, without moving. His earlier bitterness had faded; he just sounded wryly accepting. “But we could try.”
“We’d have more free time if we didn’t have to deal with issues after every mission. I’m for it.” Genma said, equally wry. “It’ll be easier now that we have our real captain back. I don’t have to spend every waking moment pretending I don’t want to garrotte the team’s commander.”
“That’s because you’re a morning person and don’t mind 5AM training,” Kakashi muttered.
Raidou gave a low, rumbling laugh. “I let you sleep in two whole hours this morning, and you were still late.”
Also true. Kakashi breathed out against Ryouma’s spine, and didn’t respond. After a moment, there was a rustle from the other end of the couch, and Raidou’s fingers didn’t quite brush his shoulder.
“Doing okay, Hatake?” Raidou asked.
There was an answer, and it was stupid. Kakashi made an almost inaudible canine sound. Kin immediately scrambled to her feet, to the squashed protests of his teammates, shook herself violently, and flopped down the other way, so that her fore-paws dug into Raidou’s thigh, and her haunches rested on Ryouma’s lap. Genma, in the middle, was thoroughly flattened.
“Subtle,” Pakkun said.
Raidou’s hand had vanished to deal with Kin’s claws. Genma, bulwarked on both sides by his strongest teammates, and covered in a blanket of warm dog, was laughing again with a crack in his voice. Ryouma freed a hand — to shove Kin off, Kakashi thought, but Ryouma reached behind himself and cupped his palm around the back of Kakashi’s neck.
He didn’t do anything else. He just held there, bleeding warmth through Kakashi’s mask.
It shouldn’t have helped, but it did, and Kakashi had no idea what to do with that.
Nothing, it turned out. The four of them sat like that, in cycles of silence and soft jokes, while Genma slowly re-grounded and Kakashi remembered how to pull himself away from the drowning dark. Kin dozed with her head settled on Raidou’s hip.
Someone knocked on the door.
“I’ll get it,” Pakkun said, with a tongue-curling yawn.
“How…?” Raidou began, but fell quiet when Pakkun extracted himself and a moment later, the door clicked open.
Out in the hallway, someone made a startled sound.
Pakkun’s voice turned very dry. There was a brief exchange, then Pakkun said, “Shiranui, a messenger’s waiting for you in the lobby.”