Title: Helping Hands
Author: desbutterfly
Genre: gen
Pairing: Kaka/Gai friendship
Rating: G
Summary: Gai can see underneath the underneath. It's a habit he had to pick up to take on the role of Kakashi's eternal rival.

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Gai looked up from his sixth-hundred and seventy-ninth one-fingered push up to see Kakashi. The jounin was slouched against a nearby tree, flipping lazily through a dog-eared copy of Icha Icha Violence as he waited for Gai to finish.

Gai smiled briefly at him and then continued his push-ups. Six-hundred and eighty…six-hundred eighty-one…six-hundred eighty-two…

Kakashi always waited patiently for Gai to complete whatever task he had set for himself before speaking up, which Gai appreciated. Except for that one time when Gai's toaster had caught fire and Kakashi waited until he'd done two-thousand leg squats before informing him of that fact. After that, Gai had made a "fire comes first" rule for Kakashi and himself to follow.

'Six-hundred ninety-nine…Seven-hundred!'

Gai sprang to his feet and pumped his fist in triumph. Kakashi straightened from the tree and slipped his book into his vest pocket.

"All done?" he asked.

"Yes, I have accomplished what I challenged myself to do," Gai replied, giving Kakashi a grin and striking a dashing pose.

Kakashi ignored the pose magnificently, and nodded.

"Then…I have a favour to ask you," he said.

Gai dropped the pose, his expression turning serious. Kakashi didn't usually ask him for favours. The last one had been fifteen years earlier, when he'd asked Gai to look after Obito's memorial for him while he was away on an extended mission.

That time, Gai knew that Kakashi hadn't been expecting to make it back alive. He had visited the monument stone every day with fresh flowers for two months and then another six days while Kakashi was recovering in the hospital.

"What do you need?" he asked.

Kakashi shrugged and then glanced to the side. "It's not really for me," he drawled, scratching his chin through the mask, "but I need you to teach Naruto."

"Naruto?"

"Yeah." Kakashi raised his head. "I need you to teach Naruto how to fight a Sharingan user without looking them in the eyes. And…how to deflect a chidori strike."

Gai raised his eyebrows. "That might take a considerable amount of time, Kakashi," he said, already rearranging his daily schedule in his head to make room for that kind of intensive training.

"Naruto pretty quick at learning when he has a goal to reach," Kakashi replied. "He's kind of like your Lee that way."

Beaming at the praise of his precious student, Gai gave his eternal rival a hearty slap on the back. Kakashi jerked forward with a cough and a reproachful look. Gai only grinned harder.

"Consider it done my friend," he said with a grandiose wave of his hand. "I will teach your student everything he needs to know about how to defeat a Sharingan user and more!"

The was a slight twitch in Kakashi's shoulders, and then a way of dangling his arms which meant that he had relaxed muscles that were previously tensed. Gai noted with satisfaction that some of the exhaustion in Kakashi's posture had faded.

'If there is a way I can lift this burden from him, I will.'

"Send Naruto to me this afternoon at three o'clock and we will begin training," he continued.

"…Thanks." The orange book came out of the vest pocket again, and Kakashi stuck his nose in between its pages before shuffling off out of sight.

Gai watched him go with a mixture of amusement and concern. It had to be difficult for Kakashi, to lose his students one by one to other teachers, simply because they needed to learn things he could not show them. Still, it was all for a good cause.

'You'll get your students back one day, Kakashi. Each and every one of them. It's a promise of a lifetime.'

If Gai felt rather silly giving the nice-guy pose to Kakashi's retreating back, he didn't show it.

He had a feeling that Kakashi would appreciate the sentiment anyway.

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fin.

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