Kakashi sat quietly, by himself, up on the roof of the hospital. Tsunade had told him to stay there for a few days for observation, but Kakashi had, once again, found a way to twist her words and get away with murder. Technically, he was still at the hospital…just not in bed, resting, or even in his room. No, Kakashi had decided that he needed some time alone to think, and hauled his injured ass up onto the roof. He sat there now, arms wrapped around his knees, feet resting on the slope of the roof. He had insisted on getting his own clothes back, and was wearing the shirt and pants of his jounin uniform. He just didn't feel like wearing anything else. Now, he was feeling quite depressed-depressed, because of what had happened to Itachi. Kakashi's guess was that Pein had gotten furious and taken it out on Itachi. It made him feel incredibly guilty.

Still, Kakashi had lived.

Perhaps it was the unrealistic hope that something would happen that would tell Kakashi that Itachi was still alive. Perhaps it was the way Tsunade and the medical staff treated him so well. Perhaps it was the way Itachi had sacrificed so much for him to live, and he didn't want that to be in vain. Or perhaps it was the way everyone seemed to care…countless ninja had come and visited him, among them Asuma, Kurenai, and Gai. Kakashi even welcomed Gai at that point, who was strangely serious. But not even a visit from Asuma and Kurenai, now happily married, could truly cheer Kakashi up. He was bitterly reminded of what could have been.

But the roof seemed so appealing when Gai got going.

Kakashi excused himself, pretending to go to the bathroom and instead slipping up to the roof. Asuma and Kurenai said they needed to get going, anyway, which led Gai to excuse himself as well and head out after them. So Kakashi felt no guilt about lying. He decided to let Tsunade find him on her own-she knew where he was most likely to escape to, and she would probably keep her cool until she had exhausted every possibly place for him to hide. Kakashi had come up her to be left alone-once she knew where he was, she would probably leave him, anyway. Kakashi was just fine up here-he found it rather comfortable.

But, all good things must come to an end. A breeze began blowing in from the east, chilling Kakashi to the bone. It had to a cold wind. From the east, none the less! Kakashi curled up a bit tighter, wrapping his arms around himself. He wanted to go inside, but at the same time, the cold felt refreshing, like splashing cold water on one's face when they first woke up. Kakashi glanced up, just as a particularly strong blast of air reached his face. What the hell here?!

The air gained form.

The translucent figure of a man stepped forward, as if pulled together and formed by rose petals. A face slowly was chiseled out-a long, pert nose, narrowed eyes, a soft, full mouth, a set of short bangs that hung to either side of his face, a long ponytail that whipped in the wind-Kakashi shot to his feet. It couldn't be! It wasn't possible!

But it was.

Itachi's spirit stepped forward, offering his hand to Kakashi and whispering to him on the wind. Kakashi couldn't understand him at first-the wind stole Itachi's precious words, flinging them around on the wind and tearing them away from Kakashi's straining ears. But then, Itachi stilled the wind, having reached his destination, and spoke clearly to Kakashi.

"I missed you."

Kakashi found himself feeling choked for a moment. But he worked past it, managing a small, "Yeah, me too." He stood up, hesitantly stepped forward to the spirit of Itachi, standing before him almost as real as before. "How-?"

"My spirit lives on, Kakashi," Itachi whispered, reaching out and touching the side of Kakashi's face. Kakashi had been without his mask the entire time at Akatsuki, but the second he set foot in Konoha, he had replaced it without hesitation. Now, Itachi gently pulled it down, and Kakashi found a small tear creeping down his cheek at the familiar gesture. Itachi had done this to him before-slowly and carefully pulled his mask down around his neck, and then softly kissing him. Would it be the same? Would Itachi-?

Of course.

The touch of Itachi's spirit was freezing cold, but Kakashi accepted it gladly. He missed Itachi so much already-what would it be like later on? Would he be able to handle the loss? Itachi would want it that way, but Kakashi could hardly bear to look at himself anymore. Kakashi decided that he would just forget abut it for now: he needed to ask Itachi a few questions, a few which had been bothering him for a while now. There was just so much that he didn't understand, didn't know; but most of all, Kakashi wanted to know: could Itachi stay? Or at least come back. Kakashi knew he would miss him terribly. The jounin reached up to touch Itachi's face as he broke away, to draw him closer again-

His hand went right through Itachi.

Kakashi started and suddenly withdrew his hand, jerking backwards as if shocked. He stared at Itachi for a moment, stunned. How could Itachi touch him and feel perfectly real, but he couldn't touch Itachi? "I-Itachi?"

Itachi shook his head. "You can't touch me," he murmured. "I'm not real."

"Then, how can you touch me?" Kakashi cried. Itachi shrugged ambiguously.

"I'm sorry," he murmured. "But I just don't know." Kakashi's head lowered in sadness, and Itachi gently lifted his face to his own once more. "I'll be back," he whispered, sealing his promise with a kiss. "But time passes differently in the afterlife than the living world. I may not come back for a long time; or at least, not until I figure out the way time moves."

Kakashi nodded, and he seemed a little happier at Itachi's promise. Itachi gently kissed him one last time, then stepped back and wordlessly began to disintegrate into the wind.

"I'll see you again, my love."


Throughout the rest of the week, Kakashi was quiet.

Tsunade had been hesitant to discharge him from the hospital; she knew Kakashi would be depressed, and she also knew that his new Mangekyou would stir up trouble sooner or later. But Kakashi seemed to be recovering well, and so, Tsunade finally allowed him to go home.

The second he walked through the door, Kakashi was attacked.

Dogs swamped him left and right, crying for his attention and fighting with each other to get close to him. Tails wagged so hard Kakashi wondered what was wagging what. Slobber flew from slavering jaws, wide open in panting breaths. Barks issued from several dogs, and Kakashi found himself laughing at the dogs' antics. He struggled through the door, scratching each dog's head as soon as he could to satisfy their craving. He pushed his way into his apartment, only to be attacked again, this time by humans. One spiky-headed blonde, a hyperactive ball of pink-

Ah, there was Sasuke. Standing behind the ruckus as if nothing was happening.

Kakashi smiled. He knew Sasuke too well. He embraced Sakura and Naruto to satisfy them, then strode right over to Sasuke and gave him a hug, if only for the sake of embarrassing him. A small noise of disproval issued from Sasuke's mouth, but he came around and awkwardly hugged Kakashi back. Deep down, Kakashi suspected he was overjoyed to see his teacher.

"Welcome back, Kakashi-sensei," Sakura greeted. "We would have come to see you sooner, but Tsunade-sama said to let you recover before dealing with us."

"She's right, in a sense," Kakashi pointed out. "I need every ounce of my energy to deal with you!"

Naruto stepped back, laced his fingers together, and set his hands behind his head. He tipped his head back, giving Kakashi a huge grin. Kakashi returned his smile, although in a much more low-key fashion, and slipped through the throng of people and dogs. "You're been feeding them?" he asked, picking up one of his smaller dogs and giving her a quick kiss on the nose. The little beagle's tail was wagging ecstatically as she licked Kakashi's face over and over, searching anywhere for skin to shower with affection. The dog somehow ended up pulling off Kakashi's headband in her haste, and Kakashi set her down, bending over to pick up the fallen headband. He didn't realize his Sharingan eye was open-

Until he heard the gasps.

Both of Sakura's hands were covering her mouth. Naruto's eyes were wide, and he seemed frozen in mid-step. Sasuke's eyes only widened slightly, but Kakashi could see the anger buried there. Anger, betrayal, hurt, fear, resentment…but who was this directed at? Itachi?

"What kind of pain did he force upon you to make you take that?" the Uchiha murmured, stepping up to Kakashi seemingly without fear. He traced over Kakashi's left eye with his thumb, seemingly enchanted by the bleeding Mangekyou. Kakashi jerked away roughly, turning away and tying his headband over his forehead and pulling down one side to cover his Sharingan. Sasuke sighed and folded his arms across his chest, huffing slightly with indignance of sorts.

"He didn't hurt me at all."

This caught Sasuke's interest. "Oh, yeah?" he fired back. "So you stole this from him, huh?"

Kakashi shook his head, biting his lip to keep from simply blurting everything out. He took a moment to gather his thoughts, and then spoke.

"He died to save me. This was his last gift to me-as my lover, he wanted me to have his eyes."

Sasuke seemed floored by the mere thought of Itachi loving. For a moment, no one spoke, and Kakashi considered excusing himself to feed his little beasts, which were still swarming around his feet. One of his German Shepherds had even laid down across his feet in an effort to stay close to him. Kakashi decided to just stay where he was; hear Sasuke out, and also, there was no sense in upsetting the dog. Several were already leaning against his legs, making sure to mark him with their scent. Kakashi felt his palms begin to sweat; he curled his fingers into his palms until his nails bit into his flesh, and then allowed his tight fists to relax somewhat. His fingers opened a bit more, and Kakashi waited tensely to hear Sasuke's next words.

"Impossible. Itachi isn't capable of loving. The damn fool killed my entire family, and now you want me to believe he died to save you!"

"I know it sounds unrealistic-" Kakashi started, but Sasuke cut him off.

"It's not possible!" he insisted, throwing his hands into the air. "Itachi doesn't even have a heart anymore! He couldn't love you if he tried!"
Kakashi shook his head. "But Sasuke, how else would I have his eyes?" he whispered. "I couldn't take them-you and I both know that. The only way for me to gain his Mangekyou was for him to give it to me willingly. Sasuke, even if you can't accept it…don't say such things about him. He's changed…"

Sasuke's eyes narrowed. "And how am I supposed to know this?" he snapped. Kakashi sighed, lowering his head for a moment. But the second he did, a glimmer of white caught his eye, and Kakashi turned his head suddenly to catch it again. Itachi flickered back and forth, teasing him as his eyes darted around the room, trying to find him. Finally, Itachi seemed to still, and from the looks on Sakura's, Naruto's, and Sasuke's faces, they had seen him, as well. Kakashi turned to Sasuke, truly smiling for the first time in months.

"Ask him yourself."

A/N: I thought I would leave it a bit open-ended…sounds a little more like happy ending that way, too. But if you all absolutely demand it, I MAY write an epilogue, time permitting. I've been working the last week or so, and thus, my fics have been delayed. So sad. But I wanted to get this up, so it might be a little crappy. Review, please. It makes me happy!!