And the Sun Shall Rise

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Birthday fic for Chevira Lowe, because she requested it and she rocks much socks and canoes. First attempt at writing Kakashi (and he's scary like Neji, woah). Kakashi Gaiden spoilers and hints of Kakashi/Sakura (and maybe Kakashi/Obito...?).

As always, comments and criticisms welcome.

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"Dogs," he says, "go away when they sense death because they want to be alone."

"I don't want you to die."

He raises an eyebrow at that, watching the girl—no, young woman—as she walks towards him, the morning sun just breaking the horizon. "Just because you want something doesn't make it happen. You know that."

"And just because things look bleak doesn't mean you have to just give up. So let me rephrase." She's standing before him now, hands on her hips and sun behind her, and he can't see her face too well because of the backlight. If he was the type who really noticed or cared about art like that, he could admit the image was striking in its simplicity and power.

But he's not like that, so he's just slightly annoyed at her for ruining his view of the sunrise.

But she's talking still, and as she does she kneels and he can suddenly see her face again. Trapped between adult beauty and child pretty, he idly wonders where the difference lies, and how he comes to decide which one she is. "I won't let you die, and I won't let you give up."

Well, now.

She reaches out to touch him, her hands almost reaching his arms, but he tenses, pulls back, does something and she's suddenly not so sure of herself anymore. She's not so old she doesn't remember when he easily toyed with her at this exact spot, her and her two teammates, but she's not so young as to still be intimidated by him. He sees the conflict in her eyes and allows himself a smirk beneath the mask that she won't ever see.

"Try me."

The growl in her throat is reminiscent of their Hokage, which doesn't surprise him at all. He is surprised, however, when her arm lashes out and her hand connects with his cheek, whipping his head to the side and confusing the morning light with stars. Her growl stills, her breathing evens out, and she just kneels across from him, staring at him with those piercing eyes and daring him to look back.

He'd rather not, but he does so anyway because, death wish or not, he won't let her get the best of him so easily.

"I said I won't let you die. I'm not going back on my word." Her smirk is deadly. "That idiot has some good things to say, you know."

His eyes—although she can see only one—narrow, but he just shrugs, nonchalant disposition back in place. If there's anything he knows that can piss her off, it's that attitude.

Like teacher, like pupil.

And he's never been the type to pass up getting under someone else's skin.

"That idiot, as you call him, also has the power to get up and make sure he doesn't go back on his word. You can say it, but words are still only words until you act on them."

She stares back at him, cheeks reddening in anger, but he just looks to the left of her face, watching the sun crest the horizon. He always used to love watching the sunrise. And so, too, does a part of him, especially on days like this, especially on this day.

"Avoiding what's really the problem will never make it better," she finally says, voice soft and eyes slightly downcast. He glances back at her out of the corner of his eye, still keeping the sunrise in his view. "Why won't you just admit what's wrong to at least one person? I'm not asking you to tell the entire world just…"

"Just you."

She looks up sharply, eyes narrowed in what he suspects she thinks of as a threatening way. He can never find her threatening, no matter how much she's like the Hokage now. Sometimes he finds it hard just to think of her as an adult.

"That would be nice, sure."

He rolls his eyes and leans back against the tree, letting her know quite clearly what he thinks of that idea. "Sorry, but I don't think I need to get advice from children."

"I'm not a child!" She yells, leaning in closer to him, face red.

He rolls his head lazily to the side, catching her glance with his, and then his hand is flying up through the air and suddenly there's a finger to her forehead and she's going crosseyed to try to see what it is he's doing. He allows himself a true, genuine smile that lasts all of two seconds, and then he pokes her in the forehead, making her scrunch up her face in a decidedly childish manner.

"Like I said, I don't need advice from children."

She swats his hand away and he lets her, his fun done with for the day. Her face is still red, although mostly from embarrassment now, but he can't fault her dry eyes or the determined set of her mouth. Despite his words, she has grown up, and is much different from the little pink haired girl who would cry if things didn't seem to go just her way.

He'd like to take the credit for that, but he knows that's not true and never will be, so he just appreciates the fact that there was at least one person capable of forcing the girl to grow up.

The sunlight is brighter now, reflecting off her bright hair and giving everything a slightly reddish look and he sighs. She blinks. Obviously she'd been expecting a fight, or had been about to start one, so his seeming to give up before anything starts must confuse her. She follows the line of his vision, and even if he can't see her face for the split second she's looking away, he knows she's squinting and wondering what it is he sees because she sure as hell can't see anything.

"The sunrise," he supplies, and he's not really sure why he does because he wasn't lying when he said he wanted to be alone. She raises an eyebrow at him in a way that's her and the Hokage at the same time, then moves so she's sitting beside him against the tree, facing out towards the rising light.

"Never thought you were the type to watch a sunrise."

He shrugs in a way that says 'I'm not, really, but on some days you just do things you can't explain.' He likes the fact that a simple gesture can mean so many words—saves him the time of having to speak, having to form words and actually interact with other people. Not that he's antisocial—he has friends, knows there are those who care for him and those he cares for back. He just tries not to dwell on those things, because if he does he'll realize how many chances he still has to fail them, and he doesn't really like to be reminded of his faults.

He already has a constant reminder as it is.

The sun crests the tops of the trees and he closes his eyes for a second, reaching up and pulling off his forehead protector. The girl beside him blinks, looking at him strangely, but he ignores her and just continues what he's doing. It's been a ritual for more years than he cares to think about, and he won't let her presence take away from it.

The forehead protector gone and his eye free, he leans back and closes his own eye, letting his friend take over. It's odd, but he can sense the excitement and joy such a simple act brings.

The crimson eye takes in everything, the sunrise, the light playing over the trees, the girl beside him. It stops on her a second, and he's almost sure he hears a faint chuckle, but that can't be right because his friend is always silent. Expressive, yes, but vocal? He hasn't been vocal since he willingly fused himself to the best friend he never even realized he had.

The way the eye focuses on her must be intimidating because her cheeks turn about the color of her hair and she looks away, biting her bottom lip in a way that is most definitely not the Hokage. Beneath the mask he allows himself a smirk, and the eye continues on, seeing anything and everything and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying it.

After a few more minutes of this, he begins to get a little impatient. He doesn't begrudge his friend his freedom, but all he seems to be thinking of is how nice everything is and isn't it a wonderful day and why aren't you smiling too, Kakashi?

Because I don't want to, he answers back silently, a slight pout in his voice he would never admit to but doesn't have to because his friend knows everything about him anyway.

You shouldn't be like this, his friend whispers back through images of the sunlight dappling the trees, the way the grass shines just a little bit more as the sun touches it. There's more than what you're giving yourself.

It's enough, he answers in a shrug, and the young woman beside him feels the movement and looks at him again, confusion written across her face.

There's always more, Kakashi.

His—their—eye takes one last sweeping glance, Obito's meaning clear in the way that everything stands out that much more, in the way that even that annoying rock that stubbed his toe this morning looks peaceful and serene and right. In the way that Sakura looks at him, worry and confusion and some other emotions he can't name because he's never cared to wonder about them grace her face.

Then he's sighing and closing his eyes, his tribute to his long dead but ever-present friend finished. Beside him, Sakura tilts her head and he's happy she's managed to stay quiet for this long. There's a twinge in his left eye as he replaces the forehead protector and he rolls his eyes. Some things never change.

"Kakashi… Are you sure you're ok…?"

He looks at her again, and finally decides that her face is a perfect mixture of adult beauty and child pretty, and that that's just the way things are. Maybe someday she'll graduate to adult fully, but he doubts it and doesn't really care either way.

"Yeah, I'm fine." He stands and then pauses, giving her a quick look, then holds his hand out to help her up. She's not his student anymore, and she's definitely old enough to be her own person and not have to rely on anyone else for help, but he's feeling better than he was earlier and he doesn't need Obito to tell him the reasons why.

Some things never change, and then, some things do.

He's not quite sure what he thinks of that fact yet, but she's taking his hand and he's helping her up and the sun has already crested the trees. And that's enough for him for right now.