Happy Birthday to my wonderful wifeh, Zhang Sizheng!! This isn't exactly what you asked for muffincake, but I hope you like it anyway! It's rather rubbish, but I poured all of my love into it. Hope you had a wonderful Birthday!

When he first opened his eyes his initial thought had been that his apartment had vastly more ceiling than he remembered. Not to mention that it was a different colour, far whiter than it had been, and he wondered who had broken into his house to paint the ceiling.

He wondered if his burglars had bothered to paint the walls too, he had been thinking about redecorating, so he let his eye rove from the ceiling to the wall because actually sitting up or turning his head would be far too much effort. But he found his view of the wall obstructed by Sakura, who was standing at the foot of his bed.

He considered asking her to move, because she was blocking his view of the wallpaper, but speaking would require effort too, so he simply thought really hard at her. All of his effort was going into keeping his eyes open anyway.

But obviously Sakura hadn't become telepathic since he had last seen her. She wasn't even looking at him; she was frowning at a medical chart in her hands. Kakashi's mind stumbled over why Sakura would bring a medical chart to his apartment and stubbornly refuse to read his mind while standing in the way of the wall, when he realised why there was so much ceiling in the first place. All hospital rooms have vastly more ceiling than rooms people actually live in.

Knowing that he was in hospital was helpful, it meant that the colour of the walls didn't actually matter, so he gave the girl his full attention. She was biting her lip now, and her hair had fallen into her face a little. He liked Sakura's hair, it looked like liquid candy floss, and for an odd moment he wondered if it would taste like candy floss too, before he mentally rolled his eyes at himself and decided not to think about eating Sakura's hair.

She looked a little worried, and Kakashi decided that as soon as he could be bothered he would find Naruto and Sasuke and make them tell him what they had undoubtedly done to upset her. But he couldn't work up the urge to do anything about it at that precise moment, his eyelids felt heavy whereas the rest of him felt weightless. Even though he could feel the mattress beneath him he felt like he was sinking, sinking, sinking, and that was obviously not normal. But Sakura was still standing at the foot of the bed, still not looking at him, but he knew that she wouldn't let him carry on sinking if it was bad for him. So he let his eyes droop and carried on sinking, trusting Sakura to pull him up again if he sank too far.


The second time he woke up, it was to a sound. He didn't open his eyes this time, because his eyelashes felt as though they were made of stone and were weighing his lids shut. He didn't need to see anyway, he recognised the sound of Naruto laughing without needing to open his eyes. It sounded warm and song-like, and it made him want to smile, but he couldn't be bothered engaging his facial muscles so he kept the smile inside, like molten gold spreading through his chest, and let the sound caress him back into unconsciousness.


This time it was a different sound. Not the lilting chorus of Naruto's laughter but a clinking, gravelly sound that Kakashi recognised but couldn't identify. He would have ignored it and gone back to sleep, but it was irritating him that he couldn't decide what was making the sound. So with untold effort he prised his lashes apart and stared at the wall (eggshell blue by the way) and blinked in confusion when he didn't see Sakura.

He was sure Sakura had just been standing there, with a medical chart, biting her lip.

The scratchy, gravelly sound was coming from his right, and he groaned silently when he realised that he would have to turn his head to see what the sound was. He contemplated ignoring it rather than moving any part of his body, but there was something dangerous about the noise that managed to shift some of the fog in his mind. It reminded him of blood and shadows and the dancing, anticipatory feeling that came before a battle, so he slowly, slowly, slowly, turned his head upon the pillow.

The first thing he saw was the IV stand directly beside him, and thought 'ah… drugs' before his eye focused upon Sasuke sitting on one of those plastic chairs that was designed to make the nerve endings in the ass roll over and die. Seeing Sasuke, suddenly the sound wasn't dangerous but comforting in its familiarity. He was sharpening his weapons, running a whet stone along the blade of a kunai with concentration creasing his features in familiar lines.

Kakashi knew that Sasuke shouldn't be sharpening his weapons in the hospital, and at one point in time Kakashi would have been slightly nervous to be trapped in a room with Sasuke and a collection of sharp, pointy objects. But Sasuke wasn't the enemy any more, and it was quite comforting to know that anyone who wanted to get to Kakashi would have to go through Sasuke and his sharp, pointy objects first.

He watched as Sasuke flipped the kunai and began to scrape the whet stone along the other edge of the blade. He had never noticed how long Sasuke's fingers were, or how pale and elegant they seemed when handling a weapon. It was hypnotising to watch those hands move back and forth as he worked, and he was almost asleep again, his eyes drifting shut, when the sudden silence pulled him back to full consciousness.

The hands had stilled, and when Kakashi searched Sasuke's face for the reason he had stopped, he found the youth staring straight at him, eyes wide and startled.

They blinked at one another. Kakashi lazily and Sasuke rapidly, before the young man turned towards the door.

"Sakura!" he bellowed, and Kakashi felt a chuckle building up in his chest when he realised how adorable Sasuke looked when he was flustered. But the chuckle never reached his mouth because he had forgotten to keep his eyes open and he was sinking again, until everything was quiet and calm.


It was the heat that woke him up next. It was confusing, because only one side of his body was warm, and surely both sides of him should share the same temperature because otherwise one side of him would be sweating while the other side would be shivering, and he would have to hug himself all the time to even it out.

But his arm was numb as well, and that just made things even more strange because while his limbs had felt slightly hollow earlier, weightless and light and like they weren't really there and thus impossible to bother moving, he had still been able to feel them.

He tried opening his eyes, and all he saw was shadows and moonlight and the ceiling. Everything was silent and still, apart from his breathing and the soft snuffles of the person nestled at his side.

He had to tilt his head in order to see the youth, and even then all he could see was a spiky mop of hair where Naruto's face was buried into his side, and a leanly muscled arm draped across his waist.

Naruto's body was bathing his right side with sleepy warmth, but in contrast his left side felt cold. He spent a minute contemplating waking the blond up and telling him to create a clone to keep his other side warm too, but Naruto was whuffling quietly in his sleep and he looked so comfortable that Kakashi would rather lose a limb than disturb him, so he would let Naruto lie on his arm even if it meant that his fingers would turn black from lack of circulation and fall off.

It was still confusing though. Not the warmth, because he had discovered the source of the heat, but Naruto's sleeping presence in his bed of all places. He didn't know why Naruto was in hospital when he could be at home, he didn't know why he was curled up into Kakashi on the very edge of the bed and in serious danger of falling off, or why his arm was resting across him. It was all very confusing and Kakashi came to the conclusion that life is one long test, but unfortunately he hadn't been taking notes, because he didn't know how he was supposed to react.

Suddenly Naruto shifted, and Kakashi could just make out the tremulous yawn that split the blond's face in half, before the arm around his waist was removed as Naruto stretched languorously and rolled over.

He winced in sympathy when he heard Naruto hit the floor. There was an outraged squawk and a flail of limbs and then Naruto was on his feet and squinting through half asleep eyes into the darkened room as though they were about to be attacked by assassins.

Now that Naruto wasn't lying on his arm he could feel it again. He had pins and needles but strangely he didn't mind. He did notice that the needle keeping his blood supply connected to his drug supply had been squashed into his flesh at an awkward angle while Naruto had been lying on him, and he could already feel the bruising in the crook of his elbow.

Naruto reached his hands toward the ceiling and stretched again, before he dumped himself in the chair beside the bed and pillowed his face in his arms upon the mattress.

He wasn't quite as warm any more. His right side was cooling down until he was the same temperature everywhere and the need to constantly hug himself seemed preposterous. He almost managed to work up the energy to clear his throat and tell Naruto to get back on the bed, but by that point Naruto was snoring and Kakashi would rather freeze than wake him up.


This time, when his mind was a little more alert and the sinking sensations were completely gone, he woke up to their arguing. It was the most wonderful sound he could imagine, because if Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura were arguing then all was right with the world. The sky wasn't falling, no one had died, and the sun would rise upon another day so long as those three could argue. When he opened his eyes, and realised that really, the ceiling wasn't that big at all, the aroma of what had to be ramen reached his nose, and he managed to lift his head enough to see them sprawled upon the floor surrounded by empty bowls and bickering like only real friends could.

Friendship, Kakashi decided then, was a little like losing control of your bladder and peeing in your pants. Everyone could see it, but only you got that funny, warm feeling.

He wondered, as Naruto fought Sasuke for the last bowl of ramen and Sakura attempted to stab them both with her chopsticks, if that made the three of them his friends.

"I should get the last bowl, I'm the one who bought it!" Naruto wailed as he attempted to free himself from Sakura's headlock while simultaneously throttle his best friend.

"You've already had six bowls, idiot," Sasuke sneered haughtily, "and it was your turn to bring lunch today anyway."

"Bastard! Don't you dare put that in your mouth!"

The raspy chuckle that escaped from Kakashi's throat startled him as much as it did the squabbling teenagers. He had only just noticed how dry his mouth felt, and how itchy his throat was. He would give anything for a glass of water.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura was upon him suddenly, peering into his uncovered eye with a professional ferocity that would have made Kakashi recoil a little if he wasn't lying flat upon the bed. "How do you feel? Can you follow my finger?"

As Sakura wiggled her finger in some fashion in front of Kakashi's nose, Naruto leapt forwards and almost caused the bed to topple over in his enthusiasm, "about time you lazy bastard! You've been asleep for seven days!"

"Seven days?" Kakashi rasped with a smile, "that's a new record."

"Naruto!" Sakura seemed to glow with righteous fury, eyes flashing, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

The blond was standing in the corner so suddenly that Kakashi didn't even see him move, looking half sheepish and half ecstatic.

"Kakashi-sensei," Sakura said calmly with a flick of her hair, "can you tell me if you feel any pain?"

But Kakashi couldn't reply with a smile swallowing his face. Naruto was dancing from foot to foot in the corner, as though attempting some sort of jig, and Sasuke was standing at the foot of the bed, watching with an expression that would be called blank by people who didn't know him, but considering his face usually held some note of disdain or irritation, a blank expression was something of note.

"Kakashi-sensei? How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Water," Kakashi said softly, swallowing despite the lack of saliva in his mouth.

"Oh! Water! Of course! Here!" Sakura nearly knocked herself out in her eagerness to pour him a glass of water from the jug on the table near the bed.

"What happened?" Kakashi groaned as he struggled to push himself into a sitting position.

Sasuke was suddenly on the other side of the bed from Sakura, helping him sit up and fluffing the pillows behind him, and the action might have given Kakashi a stroke if the youth hadn't been wearing his customary scowl once again.

"You got yourself beaten up," Sasuke huffed, "Gai had to carry you back to Konoha."

"We've been taking care of you though, Kaka-sensei!" Naruto beamed from his corner.

"Sasuke's been taking care of Mr. Ukki," Sakura smiled once she had poured a glass of water.

"And I've been protecting you from the nurses!" Naruto informed him, earning a glower from Sakura, "what?" he whined, "they kept trying to sneak in and give him sponge baths!"

Kakashi's eyebrows rose, and he had to bite his tongue to stop himself from groaning at the thought of the pretty young nurses that Naruto had chased away.

"Here you go Kakashi-sensei," Sakura held out the glass, and Kakashi carefully wrapped his clumsy feeling fingers around it.

They all seemed to shuffle uncomfortably for a moment, and it took him a second to realise that they were probably wondering if they should turn away or leave the room while he pulled his mask down.

Suddenly, he recalled how worried Sakura had looked when he had woken up the first time, and how flustered Sasuke had been when he had woken up again. He remembered how Naruto had wrapped himself around Kakashi in his sleep, and he wondered if friendship was such a good word for the funny, warm feeling these three gave him. They were more like a family really.

With a small smile, Kakashi made a decision, and pulled his mask down.

The very air in the room was still as Kakashi emptied the glass in one long, wonderful drink and sighed appreciatively. He could feel the cool water washing through his insides as he opened his eyes, and held the glass back out to Sakura before he registered her expression.

She was wearing an impressive blush, and staring at him with wide glazed eyes. He blinked at her, wondering if he had finally managed to break her brain, before he turned to Naruto. He was resigned to the excitement that would no doubt fill Naruto now that the youth had finally seen Kakashi's face, but he was startled by the silence that lingered, and the way Naruto was openly gawking at him, with a strange vacant look in his eyes.

Feeling a little put out by the lack of response, he turned to what he hoped would be the source of sanity in the room, but Sasuke had turned a surprisingly delicate shade of pink, and quickly looked away, staring at anything other than at Kakashi's face, as though he would turn to stone if he met his gaze.

That hadn't been the reaction he had been expecting. He had expected Sakura to grin and cheer and then flood him with questions as to why he always wore a mask anyway, and he expected Naruto to point and laugh and then bounce through the streets as he yelled to everyone who would listen that he had seen Kakashi's face, and he expected Sasuke to roll his eyes and walk away, feigning indifference.

He hadn't been expecting this.

"Kaka-sensei?" Naruto breathed, still gawking unabashedly, "would you like a sponge bath?"