(Gen, Team Seven) Kakashi isn't really good at giving reassurance, but that's all he has left to give.
Genre: general Team Seveness
Pairings: hints of NaruSasu
Summary: Kakashi isn't really good at giving reassurance, but that's all he has left to give.
Hope is the thing with feathers that
perches in the soul -- and sings the tunes
without the words -- and never stops at all.
When Kakashi got to Naruto's room he was surprised to find it empty. He looked at the number on the door again, wondering if he was on the right floor. Then he spotted the orange and blue jacket slung over the back of a chair.
'This is Naruto's room alright.'
Kakashi stepped back out into the hallway and waved down one of the medic-nins.
"Sorry to bother you," he said, "but could you tell me where the patient in 205 has gone? Uzumaki, Naruto-"
"Is that kid gone again?" The medic-nin scowled and poked her head into the doorway of Naruto's room. "That little brat. Tsunade-sama is not going to be happy."
The medic-nin sighed. "He's been trying to sneak out of here ever since he woke up. Said something about a training schedule and meeting up with a perverted hermit....Anyway, he never goes very far. Not since that day he was caught out on the training fields with half his stitches pulled out again. That pink-haired girl must have chewed him out something awful."
"Is that so?" Kakashi tried not to sound as amused by this as he felt. No wonder Tsunade and her new apprentice were out of sorts lately. Dealing with patients like Rock Lee and Naruto was something Kakashi wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.
The medic-nin tapped a finger against her lips thoughtfully. "He's probably in the cafeteria again, trying to persuade the cooks to serve ramen. I'll call security to look for-"
"No need," Kakashi interrupted, noticing a sign at the end of the hallway. "I think I know where to find him."
Kakashi found Naruto on the roof, comfortably perched on the edge like he wasn't covered in bandages and hadn't just suffered a chidori strike through the chest a few days ago.
If Kakashi was surprised by the lack of enthusiasm in Naruto's voice, he didn't show it. Less surprising was the presence of a certain hitai-ate clutched tightly in the blonde's hand.
"Naruto," he replied evenly. "Mind if I join you?"
The boy eased to the left and Kakashi sat beside him, one foot dangling off the edge recklessly. He looked Naruto over discreetly, noting the fresh bandages, the fading bruises around his face and neck, where Sasuke's finger marks were almost completely gone. He seemed to be healing quickly, Kakashi noted.
Except for where the skin of his right palm was raw and red.
'He probably doesn't even notice it,' Kakashi sighed to himself as he gently pried Naruto's reluctant fingers from the metal plate.
"I didn't bring this back with you so you could torture yourself with it," he said.
Naruto frowned and looked away, the hand no longer holding the hitai-ate clenching into a fist.
"Kakashi-sensei," he said, voice hesitant, "when we were fighting...Sasuke said something."
"He said a lot of things, I'm sure."
Naruto sent a sharp glance in Kakashi's direction, but the mask hid the sudden tightness around Kakashi's lips and he kept his voice perfectly devoid of any expression. After a suspicious narrowing of the eyes, Naruto continued.
"He told me that it was too late," he said quietly. "He said that...I was too late. Does that mean..."
"What do you think it means?" Kakashi asked, fitting his hands into his pockets.
Naruto shrugged, still looking out across the rooftops of Konoha, away from Kakashi. He fidgeted with the bandages on his arms.
"I guess I didn't know him as well as I thought," he muttered. "Hell, both you and Sakura-chan figured out before me that he was leaving. And when we fought here I didn't even notice..."
Kakashi followed Naruto's gaze to the newly repair water coolers, not even having to close his eyes to remember the gouging jagged hole that had been there after Sasuke's strike, the space where he'd patted Sakura on the head and promised her that things would be as they were before.
"If I had told him earlier," Naruto whispered, "how I felt, then maybe he wouldn't have-"
"It doesn't matter."
In a second, Naruto was on his feet, whirling to meet Kakashi's blank stare. His eyes flashed dangerously and his lips were pulled back into a snarl.
"How can you say that," he growled, chest heaving against the bandages. "Kakashi-sensei, Sasuke is...Sasuke is..."
"He's gone," Kakashi said, and the words fell like a lash on Naruto's back, because the boy actually flinched. His shoulder's trembled and Kakashi reached out to steady them.
"Sasuke's gone," he repeated, more gently this time. "So let's bring him back, and then you can say everything you wanted to say. Over and over again, until he understands."
Naruto's eyes widened. "Kakashi-sensei, you..."
Kakashi smiled back, lifting his hands to tie Sasuke's hitai-ate firmly around Naruto's neck where it hung darkly against the stark white of the bandages.
"I'll help you tie him up myself if he won't sit still for it. Sakura-chan too. We still have time."
Naruto's lips twitched into a wide grin and Kakashi found himself enduring an odd embrace as the blond wrapped himself around his waist and squeezed tightly. Eventually, Kakashi managed to pry Naruto off him and persuade him to return to his room before Tsunade or Sakura came by to check on him and found him missing.
Kakashi lingered on the rooftop a while longer, eyes instinctively searching out the tree he'd held Sasuke against with trap wires just a few short days ago. "You tried your best," Jiraiya had told him. Tsunade had told him. Gai had told him. Hell, everybody told him.
You tried your best.
Kakashi knew that wasn't true. He hadn't said enough, and now Sasuke was gone. He couldn't give Sasuke anything now. But he could give Naruto hope, and then maybe...
'Maybe that will be enough.'