Title: When I'm Gone

Summary: Kakashi loses someone precious to him

Warnings: character death, angst

Disclaimers: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto; "When I'm Gone" belongs to Three Doors Down; but Elvis belonged to my daughter.

Dedicated to Elvis, the Basset hound, we'll miss you forever. 15 March 2005 - 3 September, 2007

"List five genjutsus and ninjutsus that would be effective in this situation."

A knock interrupted the lesson on ambushes in hostile territory, followed shortly by a wildly mussed head of brown hair and a bandaged face peeking through the door.

"Iruka, you're needed in the Hokage's office. Don't worry, I'll take your class."

The scarred face paled under the dark skin. "Kakashi?"

"Go, Iruka. He's alive, but go, please."

The academy instructor disappeared in a swirl of smoke and leaves.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

"Come." The voice held a lifetime of command experience.

Iruka opened the door, not knowing what to expect, but knowing it couldn't be good.

He wasn't disappointed.

Kakashi sat, pale and unmoving in a chair before the desk.

"Kakashi?"

Only silence answered.

"Kakashi?!?" The chuunin looked up at his leader. "Tsunade-sama?"

"He just returned from his mission. He's been like that since he arrived."

Iruka walked forward to the seated man and pulled three items from the clenched dirt encrusted hands - a small hitaiate, a set of dog tags, and a scrap of blue fabric with a familiar henehenomoheji symbol. He crouched beside the silent jounin, looking for answers in the unseeing eyes, yet knowing he wouldn't like them. A strong arm rested on the stiffly held shoulder, and again he asked, "Kakashi?"

The silver head drooped, exhaustion evident in every line of the body. "Mmm."

Again, "Kakashi."

When the reply came, it was a harsh, gravelly sound nothing like the copy-nin's normal voice. "Pakkun."

Deep brown eyes worriedly met amber before flicking back to the hidden face before him. "Kakashi…" He seemed to have lost the ability to say anything else.

"Pakkun's dead. We were tracking our target; we split up; he died. Poisoned senbon. He died within minutes. His throat swelled up and he died. He couldn't have suffered long." After breaking the silence, the words spilled from his lips. "He was my responsibility and he died. I raised him from a pup. He said my name at four months. And now he's gone. My last words to him were an order; not a friendly word, not a thank you, not even a farewell, just an unthinking 'Go get him'. And now I can never tell him. He's gone."

The head lifted and they could see the tears streaming from two red eyes, the sharingan and the normally stormy bloodshot eye. "He's gone… forever."

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

Hold me when I'm scared

And love me when I'm gone

Everything I am

And everything in me

Wants to be the one

You wanted me to be

I'll never let you down

Even if I could

I'd give up everything

If only for your good

So hold me when I'm here

Right me when I'm wrong

You can hold me when I'm scared

You won't always be there

So love me when I'm gone

Love me when I'm gone...