Hatake Kakashi had never expected this to be his downfall. He is a jounin, ex-ANBU, an elite ninja of Konoha. He had lived his life purposefully, had done his best when it was needed, had never thought about the consequences that feelings could have on his life beyond the cost of his comrades' deaths, because-well-he would never fall in love.

Or so he thought.

And that is why he's bent over his toilet, heaving white and yellow petals of jonquil and daffodils, wondering where he went wrong.

He'd thought, at first, that he was just coming down with a cold, maybe the flu. He'd thought, maybe I've been a little careless lately. Perhaps a lack of sleep, perhaps he hadn't been eating as healthy as he should. He'd started coughing a few days ago, but this is the first he's seen of the flowers.

He'd assumed that the weight in his chest was a mixture of whatever virus he'd contracted and worry for his comrades still fighting, despite the end of the war.

Oh, how wrong he'd been. He hadn't accounted for the flowers taking root in his lungs. Hadn't accounted for falling in love.

You're the only one. The sun is always shining when I'm with you. I love you. Love me, too.

Kami, even the flowers he's choking up are sad.

Well, he thinks, nothing to be done for it now.

Because it may be foolish, or reckless, but he has time left, and though he'd never expected to feel this way for anyone, he refuses to have them removed by force. If he has to die, so be it. He's lived longer than he expected, anyway.


The worst part about it, though, is that Kakashi doesn't really feel the need to tell anyone. If anybody has noticed, they haven't said a word, and he's pretty confident in his ability to keep secrets. So for months, he's sure that he'll die without anyone being the wiser.

It's not like he can tell anybody that he's lovesick. That he has the Pining disease. His friends will try and force him to confess, and his superiors (of which there are few) will push him to have the surgery, but

But the war was won. For the first time in years, there's peace between the nations, real peace, and that means Konoha is thriving. There's no need for a ninja like Kakashi's whose talents happen to be of better use in hostile situations.


"Kakashi-sensei, do you realize you're not hiding it very well?"

A moment passes.

"I'm sorry, Sakura-chan, did you say something?" He looks up from his book with mock-sincerity, wondering idly how she'd caught him. She's standing in the doorway to his kitchen, though he hadn't even heard her entering the apartment.

"You may think you're sly, but your secret's out. At least to me." She crosses her arms. "How did I get saddled with a bunch of idiots for teammates? I'm starting to think Naruto is smarter than you and Sasuke both-or at least more perceptive."

Naruto. Of course Naruto would be the one to notice.

"I don't think I follow."

She picks up a book from his desk and chucks it at his head. "Naruto has asked me to please check on you because he saw you coughing up flowers at the memorial the other day. So. How often have the petals been coming up, sensei?"

He sets the book aside, having caught it in midair, and sighs. "Every few days, give or take."

"And when did you first start to feel the effects of the Hanahaki?"

Kakashi shoots her a glare, and Sakura seems to crumble just a little. "Sensei, I know that you understand what's happening, and that you're seemingly okay with it, but I don't think you realize how it will affect us."

He hadn't. But

"I'm sorry, Sakura-chan, but…"

"You won't have the surgery done," she finishes. "Won't you tell them, at least? Just in case?"

"Maa, I don't think that's an option. He is… otherwise engaged."

She doesn't seem phased by this. "Still, Kakashi-sensei, you never know. You deserve to be happy, too. It just doesn't seem like you, succumbing to this disease without lifting a finger to stop it."

Is he, though? He'd done his best to avoid feelings altogether after he lost his genin team, and he'd done a fairly decent job until he met his own little students.

But they're all grown up now. Each of them is incredibly astounding in their own way, and perhaps one of them in every way. And they care about him, just as he cares for them, and perhaps that is why. He really never believed he'd fall in love, and doing so is… achingly beautiful.

"I always believed I would never fall in love," he admits, standing from his kitchen table. "I never had crushes growing up, never felt any sort of romantic affection. I didn't even know I was, until the first petals started coming up. I'd been coughing for about a week before then, but I didn't think… I was sure I just had a cold." He coughs now, and he can feel the roots taking hold just a little more. "I never believed I would fall in love, Sakura, and I think it's probably a one time kind of deal for me." He quirks an eyebrow at her. "Do you still want me to have the surgery? Or sacrifice a friendship? To either be rejected, or give up all hope of ever loving again? I think I'd rather-"

"Die," Sakura finishes, and she almost looks like she agrees. "Can I… Can I ask who?"

He thinks of blond hair and vibrant cerulean eyes. "Three guesses."

She leans against the doorframe, arms crossed, worrying her bottom lip. "Hnn… Yamato?"

A laugh escapes him, loud and chest-heavy, and it sets off a coughing fit that results in a handful of flower petals falling into the sink.

"No," he croaks, wiping his mouth and fixing his mask before he turns to face her again. "It's not Tenzo."

A curt nod and she's pacing his kitchen. "Iruka?"

Why do people always assume I am seeing Umino Iruka?

"No, but I do have a question. Why is this not the first time somebody has asked me that?"

Sakura meets his gaze, a peculiar glint in her eye that has his throat constricting. "It's Naruto."

"Naruto thinks I'm dating Iruka?"

He doesn't think he's ever seen anybody roll their eyes so hard. "No."

"Oh." Kakashi coughs, eyeing the yellow petals that he picks out of his mask. "Dear me, my secret's out."


He's visiting his deceased teammates again when a certain blond-haired, unpredictable young man stops beside him just as he keels over with the coughing fit to put all other coughing fits to shame.

"Uh, Kaka-sensei, I'm not gonna force you to take your mask off, but you're going to suffocate yourself. Want me to close my eyes or something?" He's crouching by Kakashi's side, hands fluttering like he wants to help but doesn't know what to do.

And he has a point.

Kakashi shoves his mask down, petals and full blooms spilling onto the grass in front of him, eyes squeezed shut in a pitiful attempt to keep them from watering.

"Huh," he hears distantly when his heaving peters out and he can breathe somewhat normally. "I always liked daffodils. And you're growing two different kinds in there, Kashi. If you weren't dying, I might even say it was cool."

Well, at least somebody can find the beauty in all of this besides Kakashi-he's really not surprised. Naruto, though he's loud and brash and sometimes annoying, can see the beauty in anything-even, sometimes, in death itself, though Kakashi doubts Naruto would ever admit it. One thing he hates is watching somebody else die when there's a way to stop that. And Naruto always finds another way.

"Sakura thinks you have a decent amount of time left, but I don't think it occurred to her how quickly the disease is progressing. You know me, sensei, I really don't like this, but… I guess I'd probably choose the same thing. Honestly, the only reason I'm not going through the same thing is because of Kurama, I think. If there's anything I understand, it's being lovesick." He laughs, and Kakashi realizes that his eyes haven't drifted from the ground once.



"Look at me."

The blond shifts, spine going stiff. "You're not about to drop dead, are you? If that's the only reason you're-"

"No, I assure you, I'm not going to die right now."

Naruto stares for a long moment before he shows any reaction at all-just a small smile, though it's more real than almost any smile he ever wears. "Knew you'd be handsome, even if Ayame hadn't said so."


Naruto looks back at the flowers, cocking his head. "I wonder who else in the village likes daffodils. Though, most of them would probably be a little put off if they were covered in blood, huh? I suppose we could leave them for these guys." He glances up at the memorial, climbing to his feet. "Come on, you're probably tired after all that. Have you eaten anything today?"

It's a tad bit confusing. He thinks maybe Naruto's attempting to make up for any lost time, but that's the trouble-he already spends more time with Naruto than anyone else, especially now that his former student is a jounin, an equal. Somehow, they're always sent out on missions together, or their days off typically coincide-they've even been stuck on guard duty as dual punishment a handful of times.

"I have, but it's been awhile. Let's not do ramen though, okay?"

"Sure, what do you want?"

He fixes his mask, shooting Naruto a suspicious look.

"What? Listen, I know I eat a lot of ramen, but it's not the only thing I eat!"

"Could've fooled me, Naruchan," he teases. But the man beside him falters just as they start their walk back toward the village. Kakashi stops, too, watching Naruto study the ground.

And then Naruto is walking again like nothing happened. "Want me to cook?"


"You know, Kakashi-sensei, if you had fallen in love with me, it would have been easy to cure you!"

Out of everything, it's the last thing Kakashi's expecting-that isn't to say he automatically understands, because apparently, he's incredibly dense to emotions when they're directed at him. Which is why he says, "I don't understand. Would you force me to fall out of love with you or something?"

Naruto snorts, carrying their empty plates to the sink and turning on the faucet. "Wow, sensei, you really are dumb." He shoots Kakashi a grin over his shoulder (Kakashi hates how fake that grin is). "The easiest way to cure Hanahaki is with requited feelings. I'm pretty sure you know that."

Naruto keeps talking-well, Kakashi thinks he does. He can't really tell, not with the way the vines and roots wrapped around and in his lungs are slowly easing, the annoyingly familiar weight of them dissipating-and he can suddenly breathe again, deep pulls of air that don't have him on his knees with flowers tearing from his lungs, blood spotting their delicate, lethal blooms, throat raw and body numb.

And this means that Naruto-vibrant, wonderful, determined Naruto, with his big heart and lithe body and his understanding gaze-truly loves him back.

I've been an imbecile.

"...can't imagine who Gai-sensei will pester with challenges, though. Maybe I'll challenge him, just to keep him company."

The rest of Kakashi's life is looking a lot less bleak than it had only moments ago; he indulges in the possibilities that are suddenly open to him-to them. If what Naruto was entertaining was simply affection, or a crush, Kakashi's suffering would be lesser, not cured. It means that the man washing dishes in Kakashi's kitchen shares his feelings, loves Kakashi just as deeply as Kakashi loves him.

Hanahaki may be very rare, but a cure that works this well (perfectly) is even more so.

He fits himself along Naruto's back, rests his chin on Naruto's shoulder, content to stay pressed against him as long as he's permitted to. The rambling cuts off the second Kakashi touches him, but he continues washing the dishes as if his sanity depends on it.

"Naruchan, I don't think you're going to have to start challenging Gai." His voice is still a little hoarse, but he's not surprised that the damage is still there. At least the flowers are gone, which…

"Come on."


"Okay, tell me again what you're doing here." Sakura crosses her arms with a look that says if you don't explain yourself, I'm going to start throwing punches, whether you're dying or not.

"Sensei, why are we at the hospital?"

"Proof," he tells them, crossing his arms and seating himself on the cot in the exam room that Sakura had begrudgingly led them to upon arrival.

"Kakashi, we've both seen the flowers, we already know." Naruto's voice sounds like it's on the verge of breaking, but Kakashi stares at Sakura.

"Humor me," he spurs, raising his eyebrows in the universal gesture for I'm waiting.

Sakura rolls her eyes, but the second she starts inspecting him with chakra, she freezes. "Sensei?" The green medical chakra around her hands fluctuates in surprise as she repeatedly scans his chest.

"What have you found, Sakura-chan?" he asks wryly, sparing a glance at Naruto's eerily blank expression.

"N-nothing. There aren't any roots, no flowers!" She meets his gaze, eyes wide. "Oh."

"What do you mean? You literally coughed up like five full flowers just a couple of hours ago!" Naruto crosses his arms, looking between them, but Kakashi can only smile.

"It means he's cured, you idiot," Sakura growls. "There's still a little damage, but I can heal that up right now."

"Cured?" Naruto scratches the back of his neck, eyeing Kakashi suspiciously. "But…"

"It's just like you said, Naruchan. The easiest way to cure Hanahaki is with requited feelings."

"Well, yeah, but… I mean, you didn't confess to anybody, so how could they have cured you?"

"I didn't confess, no, but somebody did confess to me. Not even thirty minutes ago."

"What, did they come in through the window when I wasn't looking?"

He laughs, shaking his head. "Wow, Naruchan, you really are dumb."

"Naruto," Sakura says slowly, sounding frustrated, "Kakashi's in love with you." The green chakra around her hands fades and she moves to the door. "You're all healed up, sensei, so you're free to go."

He slips out the door with Naruto following along confusedly, unusually quiet. Not five minutes later, they're walking along the quiet streets typical of week nights in Konoha, and Naruto hasn't uttered a single syllable. Kakashi would be worried, if the situation was anything else.

"You weren't going to tell me."

A quiet sigh slips out of his throat, and he takes a moment to appreciate his sudden freedom to breathe. "I hadn't planned on it, no. The last time I expressed any kind of affection for you, you ran away, or don't you remember?" He shoves his hands in his pockets to stop them from fidgeting. They may feel the same way about each other, but that doesn't mean this conversation will be easy. Kakashi's actually certain that love is one of the hardest trials a man ever has to face.

"I remember. I can't say I'm proud of my reaction, but at the time, I was still trying to figure out why my stomach was doing backflips every time you looked at me. I'd never felt that around somebody before, okay?" Naruto kicks a rock out of his path, directing his gaze away from Kakashi, most likely in an effort to hide how he's feeling.

But his words are a painful reminder of his own confession to Sakura, and that's what makes him stop. "Neither have I."

Naruto turns with a grace he rarely employs, cocking his head as he studies the older man. "Then you understand. Don't you? Why I had to take the slightest chance, even though there was no way. I had to, because you were going to leave. You were going to go away and there was no bringing you back this time."

He takes a half step closer, wondering what kind of display they're making for the rare few still out and about. "Better I love you until my last breath than willingly give you up."

"What would have happened if I hadn't said anything?" Naruto shouts at him, and now there are unshed tears in his eyes and his hands are shaking, but Kakashi only has one thought on his mind.

I love you.

"Just imagine for a minute what would have happened. I would have asked Sakura if she knew, and maybe she would have even told me! And then what, Kakashi? I would have lost the only person I will ever love like this. For nothing." After another moment where he just stares, searching, he shuts his eyes, dropping his head, and that's when Kakashi closes the distance between them to pull Naruto into his arms.

"I'm sorry," he says against Naruto's temple. "I've never been good at taking chances, but I'm very, very glad that you are."

"Self-sacrificing asshole."


When Kakashi wakes, his post-nightmare haze only fuels the confusion and wariness of waking up to a room that's too dark and too quiet (since when is his bedroom too quiet?). Slowly, awareness creeps in, followed by the small spark of worry when he realizes that the warm weight he'd fallen asleep with is no longer present, and it's after comprehending this fact that he's up and out of bed, reaching out with his senses in an attempt to locate his missing companion.

Said companion is sitting on the kitchen counter nursing a cup of steaming tea, gaze cast toward the window that's open just a sliver, pulling in a cool breeze marking the descent into autumn and the promise of slowly turning leaves.

"I've been thinking," he says in a tone that leaves Kakashi a little breathless. "We've only been together for a few months…"

"But?" He crosses the space between them, coming to stand in the 'v' of Naruto's legs, not the least bit surprised when those legs wrap around his waist and bring him closer still.

"But you've been by my side my whole life," the blond murmurs.

It knocks something loose in Kakashi's chest. He's never told Naruto how often he'd taken ANBU shifts just watching over the boy when he wasn't needed elsewhere, and he's never planned on it, never, yet somehow he knows.

Naruto isn't impeded by Kakashi's realization, maybe doesn't even notice it, and continues in a soft voice, "I'm not going to stop loving you, and in our line of work, no matter how good we are, there's always the chance that something will go wrong." He sighs a little, sipping his tea. "I meant to ask you over dinner, but we got a little carried away, you know, so I…"

Naruto has always been unpredictable, and though Kakashi's the person most aware of this, he's in no way prepared for the words that slip from Naruto's tongue.

"I want to buy a house together." One of his hands comes up to grip Kakashi's shirt, but he doesn't return his gaze. "And if you don't think it's too soon, or too pointless, I want to marry you."


I've loved you for a long time, Naruto. It isn't too soon.

"I know a place we could look at in the morning, if you're interested." Kakashi cards his fingers through Naruto's hair, using it as leverage to tip his head back.

His emotions are on full display, first and foremost settling on stunned. Underneath that, there's something warm and something just on the hesitant side of joy, like he really wants to believe his ears but he isn't quite sure how.

"If you really want this, and you aren't just asking because you're afraid we'll fall apart if you don't, I'm perfectly happy to oblige." He lets his thumb trail over Naruto's bottom lip, studying that gaze for a long moment. "I want to marry you, too," he admits, voice low. "You're right, Naruchan, I've been by your side for a very long time, and I'm not going to leave it for as long as I live. Besides, we have the distinct advantage of being sent out together almost as often as Genma and Raidou-don't you think that's enough of an indication how Tsunade-sama feels about the whole thing?"

Kakashi doesn't think they'll be leaving the house until mid-afternoon, if Naruto has anything to say about it.

He doesn't mind in the slightest.