A/N: 30 reviews in two weeks (because I will have finals soon and won't have time to do it) will get you the lemon alternative! So if you guys want it, I can work it into my tight schedule within two weeks!


Naruto sat down, as quiet as he'd ever been, in a chair besides the bed his sensei laid on. His bright blue eyes that were usually warm were dull and downcast and a smile hadn't seen his face in eighteen days. He had expired all of the anger he had in him when he killed Pein and couldn't produce the feeling anymore.

All he could do was stare at the floor, too hurt to look at his sensei. He had been sitting awake in the same spot, in the same position, with the same painful posture, staring gloomily at the same spot on the floor, with his mouth set in the same loose line with the same clothes on with the same horrible thoughts going through his mind for eighteen days.

'What if he died?'

Nobody else would have been able to do it, but he could. Just him. Because he was…no, he was…different. In a way he was glad that he was, that way he could sit there and stare at the floor until it gave in and swallowed him up. He had stopped shaking ten days ago and hadn't moved since.

People and doctors came and went, but he never did. People stopped and stared, but he never noticed. People tried to talk to him, but he never heard. All he knew was that he had never been so scared in all of his life. The worse was over, but the fear still resided and he didn't fight it. The fear was what kept him from falling asleep.

Eighteen days was an awful long time for someone to be in a coma, he thought, but knew that it really wasn't. He'd been in longer comas himself. But eighteen days felt like eighteen years and he wished that Kakashi would just wake up.

He knew that doing what he was doing would likely end him up in a bed of his own, but he honestly could have cared less. He wasn't tired, he wasn't hungry, and he wasn't leaving until Kakashi woke up. He had explained that to Tsunade only once. The next time she tried to get him to leave, he had hit her. She'd stumbled back and held her face. It was an impulsive accident that would have surely put him in his own coma but the former Hokage had just stared at him sadly and then left him alone. Sakura learned to wisely keep her distance after seeing her teammate punch their superior in the face, which was something that only he could get away with.

He hadn't been the only listless soul in Suna. Shikamaru had certainly seen better days. The older boy had taken to smoking and drinking and had pushed the rest of his team, and his friends and family away. Naruto knew only how close to being like Shikamaru he had become and knew how lucky he was that Kakashi still was alive.

He knew that Shikamaru was more like him in that respect, but didn't know how the other ninja lived his life with his most precious person buried in the ground. He had always wanted people to believe that he was strong and capable, but by far Shikamaru was stronger than he was.

He didn't know what he would have done if his sensei, the person he cared about the most, had died. He might have killed himself. But Kakashi was alive, and that was one less thing to make his life miserable.

"You must have beaten him."

In another reality, Naruto would have looked up, but he didn't. This had happened before. The voice was small and raspy with disuse and tired, but he couldn't be have been more happy to hear it. Even if it was an illusion brought on by his ignored fatigue.

He didn't say anything in response; usually he didn't have to. He had longed to hear that voice for what felt like an eternity, and the ones his mind concocted actually helped more than they hurt.

The bed shifted without his notice and suddenly he felt something touch his head. He wasn't used to these kinds of illusions and stiffened. He didn't want to feel something that wasn't real. The hand slid off and he sighed in relief.

"How long have I been out?" The voice asked, and naturally, Naruto responded,

"Eighteen days so far."

"So far?" the voice questioned with an edge of confusion. The blonde didn't move and repeated it again.

"Is everyone else alright?" The voice was dry and cracked, as if Kakashi had just woken up. But no, it was just his mind.

"Everyone's fine." He droned monotonously.

"Are you alright?" Naruto didn't answer. Usually the conversations never turned out like this and for once he was at a loss for words. Maybe he should have at least eaten something.

"Water." The voice said. Naruto didn't move.

"Naruto, can you….water…"

He could feel the tears well up in his eyes.

Something touched his head again.

"I'm thirsty Naruto. Do you…think you can get me some water?" The second time the thing touched him, Naruto got angry. He needed to leave. The illusions were getting really bad. As he got up to exit the room, a hand closed around his wrist. He stopped, but didn't turn. Eighteen days with no sleep or food could do this to a person, he reasoned.

"Water." The voice was begging now. It sounded so real…

He couldn't help it. He did it every time. He looked. But instead of seeing his sensei still asleep and unmoving, he found himself staring into a single gray eye. His eyes widened and he jerked his arm back out of sheer surprise.

"You---you're--!"

Kakashi stared at him.

"You're awake." He whispered with awe. Kakashi's eye took on a slackened look.

"Naruto, we've been talking for a minute now." He rasped weakly.

Naruto couldn't help it and stared at him like he was a ghost.

The door opened behind him and a nurse ran in to his bedside. He asked her for water and drank three cups before the nurse checked his vital signs and status. Naruto didn't stop looking at him the whole time, even when she stood in front of him blocking his view of the man's face while he drank. When she left, he blinked.

"What's wrong with you? I asked if you were alright." Kakashi's voice was clearer, but still cracked and was still gravelly. The boy put his face in his hands and tried not to scream. If this wasn't real, then he knew that he had lost his mind. He had to find a way to prove it.

"I'm…tired." He admitted.

"When have you slept last?"

"Eighteen days ago."

The room got quiet. Then Kakashi told him for the love of god to go home and get some sleep. That was how he knew it was all real.

"I waited for you to wake up. I'd have stayed up for as long as it took," he murmured quietly. He could feel the Jounin's eye on him.

"Your determination is admirable as usual Naruto, but that wasn't necessary."

"But I was afraid that you wouldn't wake up!" His eyes got big when it came out so loud and desperate sounding. He hadn't meant for it to come out that way.

"You must be tired, you didn't even realize that we were talking."

"I did. I just thought…"

Kakashi sighed shakily and closed his eye. He was still very tired and wanted to sleep. He didn't tell Naruto that he knew he was hallucinating, because obviously the boy knew it. He wanted to know why Naruto would do that for him, but was too tired to think about it.

"Go home and sleep," he managed to whisper before he blacked out again.

Naruto stood back and watched him carefully, looking for any sign that that he was wasn't all right before walking toward the door and leaving the room, only to run into Tsunade who looked startled to see him.

She wanted to ask how he was holding up, but Naruto muttered a quick and quiet 'sorry' and brushed past her, obviously still in no mood to talk.

She checked on Kakashi and asked him without much thought if Naruto had said anything of significance to him. Kakashi was too tired to even remember what the word significance even meant and couldn't give her an answer. She hmm'ed and then smiled. Kakashi cringed. The smile she was sporting was one of those 'I know something you don't know, but you'll find out and it won't be pleasant' smiles.

In a way, he was glad he was too dizzy to ask her what she was plotting. A part of him didn't want to know. She started talking and it took him a few seconds to catch up on what she was saying.

"….for you. We'll get you a live-in attendant so that you can recover at home. And if I hear anything about you giving this person trouble, I'll make sure you stay in the hospital instead." Kakashi just knew that it was that kind of smile. The evil, 'I know something you don't, but you'll find out and it won't be pleasant' smile. And it wasn't.

He tried to complain but he blinked and didn't open his eyes again. Tsunade left the room with a different smile on her face, pleased that he was too out of it to complain.


Kakashi slept for another four days on and off before he was deemed stable enough to stay awake more than five hours. Now that he was getting better, Tsunade thought that it was time to put her plan into action. She knocked lightly on his door and entered after a few seconds of silence. Kakashi was sleeping. She smirked. Pushing the wheelchair over to his bed, she bent down and pulled out a box from under the bed.

Five minutes later, Kakashi was fully dressed and in the chair being pushed by the woman out into the hall. She led his unconscious form all the way to the front of the hospital and smiled.

"He's all yours. Remember what I said; he's an asshole, but don't let it bother you. Try not to be too helpful, but be helpful enough and if you feel that he's too much to handle, then bring him back here even if you have to knock him out."

"Okay…but why'd you pick me to do it, I'm not a nurse."

Tsunade smiled and backed away. "You're loyal, and caring and always determined to help someone out. You're perfect." Before the attendant could complain, she had actually run off down the hall.

Naruto groaned. Was she trying to torture him? Nevertheless, he gripped the wheelchair and spun Kakashi's prone form around and walked out of the hospital into the hot Suna air. Walking a ways toward a food hut, he wondered if he could bring Kakashi with him while he ate something.

'No, that'd be wrong. Tsunade asked me to take care of him, and if someone steals him, she'll kill me'

So he kept on walking, stopping every once in a while to look at the directions she had scribbled on a piece of paper. He'd never been to Kakashi's place when Konoha was still standing and was a little excited that he was going to be living with him in his new home for a while. He had packed up a backpack full of necessities and clothing for the temporary stay at his sensei's apartment.

On the one hand, he was happy to be seeing Kakashi everyday for a few weeks, but on the other, he would have rather Tsunade not have chosen him to do it. Agonizing over Kakashi's well being was one thing, maintaining it was another. That and he had never taken care of anyone but himself before and honestly didn't know what to do. Tsunade had told him to do what came naturally and whatever the Jounin needed but he doubted that any of that would go smoothly. Besides, it wasn't as if he were taking care of a child, this was the great Sharingan Kakashi, the amazing copy-nin of former Konoha. He was a grown man.

Though she had warned him of Kakashi's tendency to be a jerk, Naruto knew that their attitudes would clash at some point. Naruto wasn't afraid to put a jerk in their place and Kakashi wasn't afraid of anything so that made for some problems already.

What he really was worried about was wounding Kakashi's pride. Tsunade hadn't thought everything out very well before she had released him into the care of Naruto.

Kakashi still wasn't strong enough to do very much for himself. He would have to be helped up the stairs, he would need help going to the bathroom, help taking a shower and Naruto could already see how that could make a person, a man no less, a real defensive bastard. Kakashi was definitely going to be a handful.

Naruto sighed. How could she do this to him? He wasn't the only loyal person in the village. Iruka would have been more suited to it then he was but she had picked him. She had to be up to something. Kakashi's new place wasn't very far away, but it was secluded, which didn't surprise him.

The first things he noticed upon entering was that there were no sheets on the bed, no food in the kitchen, no toiletries, no furniture and only two ninja outfits on the huge king sized bed. He went back into what he guessed to be the living room where he left Kakashi and brought him to the bedroom.

He scratched his head, wondering where he was going to sleep. He would have to send a clone back to his place to grab one of his camping futons. In the meantime, he waited for the clone to return and sat down on the copy-nin's bed and watched him. Kakashi's Sharingan had been poked into his skull when Pein speared him with the nail but luckily Tsunade had been able to save the nerves and implanted Sasuke's Sharingan in Obito's' place.

At the thought of his former best friend, Naruto's eyes narrowed. He had to kill him. He didn't want to, but Sasuke was too far gone to be saved and had said one too many unpleasant things of him and their sensei and village. Being insulted didn't bother him as much as Kakashi being insulted did. Sasuke had said some pretty nasty things about him that Naruto just couldn't let go.

After the death of Shizune and Kotetsu, Naruto had had about all he could stand. His ex-teammate had died a painful and horrific death at his very own hands and strangely enough, Naruto never felt bad for doing it. He missed Sasuke for who he used to be, but he didn't care for who and what he had become. His death was necessary and ridding the world of him didn't hurt Naruto at all.

"Hey, are you gonna stare all day or put him on the bed?" Naruto's clone asked softly. Naruto startled a bit but shook himself out of his reverie and dispelled the clone.

Effortlessly, he picked his former teacher up and gently put him on the bed so as not to wake him and pulled the thin blankets over him. They were linens from Naruto's own closet but he didn't mind donating them seeing as it looked like Kakashi would be in need of a lot of things.

'Yeah, he needs food and some things for his bathroom. Maybe a lamp or two…'

So he sent two more clones to get some things from his place and the village shopping center. He had gotten a generous amount of money from Gaara for saving his life to get himself a new apartment.

Konoha had been decimated to nothing during the war with the Akatsuki and with the amount of casualties lost between both villages there was more than enough space for all of them to live so the Kazekage of Suna had invited the survivors of Konoha to stay until they rebuilt their lives. Gaara actually seemed happy to have him there, and had even stayed in the hospital watching over Kakashi with him until his duties as the village leader took him away.

Naruto's clones were expeditious and had come back in under two hours with all the things he had ordered them to bring. He left Kakashi for a while to stock the empty fridge with food and the bathroom with soap and towels and shampoo and the like. Once he was satisfied with how much more 'lived-in' the place looked, he sat back down at the foot of Kakashi's bed and watched him.

The Jounin must have felt eyes on him because he opened his own with a groan and looked directly at Naruto. Thankfully, someone had been nice enough to draw the curtains so that he didn't suffer the hot sun's blazing rays of pain.

He looked at Naruto and closed his eyes briefly before opening them again. He was still there.

"I thought I told you to go home and get some rest."

Naruto smiled brightly. "I did."

"Why are you here?" Naruto fidgeted on the bed. It seemed that Tsunade hadn't told him about their special new arrangement.

"Ah, well, Baa-chan said that um…that you might need someone to uh…"

Kakashi groaned in realization. She had been serious. Naruto paused, seeing the agitated look on Kakashi's face and tried to put the man at ease.

"I know you don't like it, I mean, I didn't agree with it, it was forced on me. I'll stay out of your way as much as possible if you don't need help." Of course Kakashi didn't want him there. He lowered his head sadly and stood, ready to leave the room.

"Where are you going?" Kakashi asked tiredly. He saw the way his reaction had made Naruto sad and that wasn't quite what he had intended to do. And, he had a lot of things to ask the boy.

"I was just going to give you some privacy. Uh…there's a-a ch-chair there for you to uh…ahem…get around and I'll just be in the living room."

"So that's how it is? Don't want to be near an old burnout like me?"

Naruto spun around faster than he expected and didn't look too happy. "Who's an old burnout?! Say it again, I dare you!" Kakashi blinked in surprise.

"Naruto…."

"You're not old, and you're not a burnout Kakashi-sensei! Why would you say something that absurd?" Naruto asked with a hand over his face so the man couldn't see how embarrassed he had made himself.

"I'm thirty-one and most ninja don't live up to that age. Those that do, retire. Besides, you're stronger than me now, you should stop calling me sensei."

"But you'll always be my sensei, Kakashi-sensei! You taught me the technique I used to defeat Sasuke! You'll always be useful, you're too cool to be a burnout!"

Kakashi sighed, deciding that he would let this one pan out and asked Naruto for a glass of water, hoping that he got it immediately this time, as there were no nurses around to get it. Naruto actually sent a clone to do it.

"You expend chakra on such menial tasks?" It may have only been a teeny bit of chakra, but some people didn't have chakra like that to simply make clones do their lightweight. People like him.

"Nah, it's okay." Naruto laughed and scratched the back of his head. Kakashi downed the large cup of water with a satisfied moan and regarded his blonde-haired ex-student.

"So you're going to be taking care of me then?" He was surprised to see the teen blush.

"Uh…no—I mean yes! I mean h-help you, not…not that…"

"So you're trying to say that you don't want to take care of me?"

"What?! NO! I didn't mean it that way!" Kakashi chuckled and gasped when a sharp pain seizes his ribs.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto ran over to his side and put a hand on the Jounin's shoulder. Kakashi shrugged it off and wheezed, "I'm fine. I just can't enjoy the humor right now."

Naruto backed away and looked at the floor uneasily. "Are you hungry? There was no food in the house so some of my clones went shopping and got a few things to eat. If you want, I can make you something." He looked up to see Kakashi staring at him and put his hands up defensively. "N-not that you can't feed yourself! I was just saying that since I know how to cook—oh god, not to say that you can't cook! I was just trying to be helpful! If you want I can just pretend I never asked---

"That would actually be really nice, Naruto." Kakashi interrupted, feeling sorry for the boy. He had never spent time alone with Naruto before and wasn't sure if he had always been this way. The poor thing was going to really embarrass himself at this rate. Part of him knew that it was because it was him and that someone must have told him that his bedside manner wasn't the greatest. 'Tsunade-sama.'

He hadn't had a home cooked meal in years and the thought of his student cooking for him brought a slight smile to his masked face. Naruto scampered out of the room like a scared puppy and he had to try not to laugh lest he hurt himself again.

The sounds of clattering pots and pans came from the kitchen as Naruto grabbed all he would need to make dinner for the two of them. Jiraiya had taught Naruto all he knew about cooking, always making the boy prepare meals for them when they weren't staying at a hotel. It was annoying at first being the one to cook all the time, but after a while, he began to look forward to the sage's compliments and loved to learn new recipes.

One time Jiraiya had told him that he cooked almost as good as his mother. He said Kushina, but after his death Naruto learned of who the woman was and beamed. He would be sure to make something special so he could get a good praise from his sensei. He knew how to make a really good domburimono, which consisted of boiled beef (gyudon), chicken and egg (oyakodon), deep-fried shrimp (tendon) and deep-fried pork cutlet and egg (katsudon) with miso soup, sashimi and rice. It was going to be a big spread, but he wanted to have leftovers so he wouldn't have to cook everyday.

Throughout most of the cooking, he was smiling to himself, thinking about what Kakashi would say about his cooking. The food took a few hours to finish and he had been too nervous to go and check on Kakashi himself, which was why he had a clone doing it from a tree outside of the Jounin's bedroom window. He didn't know what to do now that he would be staying with him and wasn't sure if Kakashi was uncomfortable with him there. He hoped not, but he could see how things would be awkward, especially come bath time. Or helping him to the bathroom….

Why was Tsunade doing this to him? Was it because he hit her? Yes, that had to be it. Well couldn't she just knock him through a wall and call it a day like she usually did?

"Nooo, she had to make life miserable," he mumbled.

Not that he minded taking care of Kakashi, but he knew that it would be hard and taxing on his emotions and much worse for Kakashi. He didn't want Kakashi to feel as if he were an invalid because of him. In the midst of his miserable thoughts, he almost didn't notice that his food was boiling.

Turning off the stove, he drained the rice and put it into a large bowl. Then he put all of the food on the table and set it, making sure to put his plate as far away from Kakashi's as possible, which wasn't far enough because the collapsible table his clone had brought wasn't big enough. Oh well, he mused.

He walked into the bedroom, expecting to see Kakashi sleeping, but the man was awake and watching the window. Naruto glanced at the window and saw that Kakashi was staring at his clone, who was sleeping. He cleared his throat and the Jounin slowly turned to him and smiled.

"Dinner's ready."

Kakashi nodded. " I can tell, it smells great."

'Just wait'll you taste it, sensei.' Naruto thought excitedly. A few seconds passed and he bit his lip.

"Umm….do you need help getting in the chair? I mean, I'm not saying that you can't do it yourself! I was just trying to make it easier, seeing as it would make no sense to waste your energy when you're trying to recover. A-and not that I'm saying you're weak or anything! I just---

"Yes Naruto, some help would be nice." Kakashi sighed. Just what did Tsunade tell him he was like? Sure he was nasty with the nurses, but this was Naruto and he didn't want to be hard on the boy. Especially not when he had stayed with him all those days. Now Naruto was afraid of him.

"Oh…" Naruto's face turned red with embarrassment. He went to the bed and tried hard not to look at Kakashi when he felt the Jounin put an arm around his neck and slid his hand around the thin man's waist. Kakashi grunted as he put his full weight on him and carefully swung his legs over the side of the bed. Once he was in the chair, he sighed as his bones relaxed back into his limbs and Naruto walked around him to wheel him out to the kitchen. A delicious array of food was spread out on the little table and he whistled seeing some of his favorite foods.

"You've really out done yourself, Naruto. Where'd you learn how to cook?"

"Pervy-S—er…Jiraiya made me learn. He said that I cook like my Mom and that I'm almost as good as her!" He told Kakashi, pleased with himself.

Kakashi gazed distantly at the food, remembering his sensei's wife's cooking. Kushina was the best cook alive, he was sure of it. And if the boy cooked anything like her…

"Well, Itadekimasu!" Naruto pushed his chair in at the table and took a seat across from him. Kakashi broke apart his chopsticks and Naruto put his head down.

"I won't look at you while you eat, sensei." He muttered and broke his own chopsticks. Kakashi thanked him and dug into the katsudon. The taste of juicy, well-seasoned pork filled his mouth and he couldn't keep back the groan of appreciation, making Naruto almost look up.

"Jiraiya was correct. You do cook like your mother. This is delicious, Naruto."

"Thank you." The blonde smiled.

The meal went on for about ten minutes before Kakashi spoke.

"So how did you kill him?"

Naruto looked up, startled, but thankfully Kakashi had pulled his mask back up. "Huh? Who?"

"Pein. How did you kill them all?"

Naruto's mouth twisted. The thought of Pein always brought with it a sour feeling in his stomach. "Itachi helped me."

Kakashi's eyebrow lifted. "Itachi? But wasn't he dead?"

"Yeah, but some time before that, when he were looking for Sasuke, I ran into him. He said that he only wanted to talk to me, and that he wouldn't hurt me or kidnap me."

"And did he?" Kakahsi could hardly believe that Itachi had let Naruto go without trying to capture him and was curious as to what had happened. Naruto had never told him about this before.

"No. I let him talk to me. What he said was vague, I don't remember all of it, but then he touched me. I hadn't even seen it coming, and I thought he was attacking me but then there was this awful flash of pain and a while later, it was over. I asked him what he did to me. He told me what he did would help me fight Sasuke when it was time. He never told me what it was that he did, but I didn't feel anything, so I forgot about it. But I killed Sasuke easily with the modified version of Rasen-shuriken."

Kakashi was interested. "And what is that?"

"Well, it's the Rasen-shuriken, but I can manipulate the chakra to expand, contract, move, and explode at any point I choose."

He was awed. Naruto had come far and learned much. He had been trying to manipulate the chakra for his Chidori and Raikiri forever, but didn't have the control to do it. And this boy had done it. He didn't seem to get it when Kakashi was trying to teach it to him, but he learned not even a full month later.

"Did Fukusaku teach you that?"

Naruto smirked. "Actually, no. It was like the biggest epiphany ever. I was messing around with my new natural energy, and I found that when I blend it with chakra, I have much better control. Then I thought about the Chidori and about how you can only attack in a straight line. I thought about what you were trying to tell me when we were training. I manipulated the chakra with my body, not my mind. When my hand moved, it moved. But the only downfall about it is that I have to stay in one place. If I move, my control will falter and the mobility of my Rasen-shuriken will be reduced. It's taxing, and I can only make three, but---

"Three?!" Kakashi could only make two Chidori's in one day and Naruto could make three Rasengan's and maintain enough control to contort all of them? The kid was simply a wonder.

"Yeah. So anyway, when I killed Sasuke, I didn't feel anything different. I did it with my own attack, and I thought that maybe Itachi really did do something strange to me. Then I figured it out. He knew I would kill Sasuke. He wanted me to so that I could fight Pein. Fighting Pein was really hard, I almost died at least four times, but then…" He stopped.

"Then…." Kakashi prompted.

"He killed Fukusaku. Then he told me he killed Shizune and Kotetsu and I was angry, but he wanted me at my fullest power. Apparently, I wasn't up to par. But then he told me that he killed you. The bastard said it like it was an afterthought. Like, 'Oh, and I killed that annoying Jounin, what was his name, ah, Kakashi.' And I just…I don't even remember what happened after that. I remember turning into a frog though, which is what happens when you use too much natural energy in Sage mode. Fukusaku had to hit me to get me to change back while we were training. Even though I was a frog, I could feel Kyuubi seeping out. Tsunade-baachan told me that she didn't know what she was looking at when she saw me. That I was….horrific."

"I don't remember ever being that angry. One of my clones had to snap me out of it by hitting me with all it's strength in Sage mode. When I came to, the first thing I did was cry. The village had been destroyed and so many people died. She told me that I did good and I told her that I didn't do good enough, because I still lost two of my teammates and most of the village. She looked at me like she was confused. Then she asked me what I meant. I don't remember what I said, but I cursed her out and called her an idiot. She shook her head and told me that you were still alive. It hadn't even occurred to me that Pein had lied to get me to pose a challenge to him. I asked her what happened and she told me that I used a special jutsu called Amaterasu."

Kakashi's eye widened. That attack… "That's Itachi's jutsu." He whispered. That justu combined with Kyuubi's power…the flames must have still been burning.

Naruto cocked his head to the side. "So he did give me something. Baa-chan didn't explain what it was. They got it out of Sasuke's memory."

"I know. It's an attack designed specifically for the Uchiha clan. And he gave it to you."

"He wasn't as evil as we thought he was. Sasuke told me why he killed the clan, and that he forgave his brother. I didn't believe him then, but I do now." He glanced thoughtfully at his bowl of uneaten rice.

"They died too."

"Who?" Kakashi asked.

"The Council."

The Jounin grunted and nodded. That was one thing that was certainly to a better end.

"So," the blonde began cheerfully to change the subject, "How'd you like dinner?"

"Dinner was great. Who knew such a wild kid like you could cook like this?"

"Hey! I'll have you know that I come from Greatness!"

"I know it." Kakashi agreed.

"And don't forget it!" He wasn't really as enthused as he let on, but he didn't want to give his story any emotional ammo with which Kakashi could shoot him down with if need be. The last thing he needed was to be hurt. It wasn't like he needed to know what Naruto really felt.

There was an uncomfortable silence at the table for a few minutes. Naruto pushed his chair back and stood to collect the dishes. He put them in the sink to be washed later, because now there was this heavy, bitter feeling in his throat and stomach and he didn't feel like doing anything but sitting down. He needed to think.

He could feel the Jounin's gaze on him as he went about filling the sink with water and soap to make his job easier when he did feel like he could pick up a dish without breaking it. Talking to Kakashi about what happened after Pein had knocked him out brought back unpleasant memories.

He remembered the look Sakura had given him when he'd cried even harder upon finding out that their sensei was alive. She looked a cross between sad and jealous, but he didn't think that it meant anything until now. He wondered if she wondered if he would react the same way if she had died, and knew without thinking about it, that he wouldn't. Nobody's death would have affected him the way Kakashi's would have and after a lot of days of endless thinking while waiting for Kakashi to wake up, he began to slowly wrap his mind around why.

He'd tried everything to make himself believe anything else. Maybe Kakashi was his new Iruka-sensei. Maybe he looked at Kakashi like a father figure. Maybe he really liked Kakashi as a sensei. None of those even fit. He tried to make them, but it was like forcing a square block into a circle hole. Denying what he felt wasn't making the feeling go away. Only accepting it made it easier to deal with, but not much. Maybe Kakashi would make those other excuses fit if he couldn't, because it wasn't like the man felt the same way he did.

"Naruto!" Kakashi's voice ripped into his thoughts and he instinctively looked down to see that water was overflowing from the sink and splattering loudly on the floor. He quickly turned the water off and stepped back from the puddle, feeling stupid for letting his thoughts carry him away.

He stared down at the floor, feeling stupid for letting such a thing happen and wondered how he was going to clean it up without a mop. He growled low in his throat and stalked over to the back of Kakashi's chair to push the man out of the room, gripping the handles so tight his knuckles turned white.

"….seen you." He had caught only the tail end of what Kakashi had said. He felt stupid again for asking him to repeat himself. It was like his ears were simply for decoration.

"I said, you're more distracted than I've ever seen you. What is it that's bothering you?" Kakashi had asked in such a genuinely concerned voice, that Naruto almost wondered if he could lie to that voice. He did, and it was easier than he thought.

"Just thinking about Sasuke." That would do it. Kakashi thought he and Sasuke were close, but in reality, Naruto hadn't thought about the Uchiha at all since he'd killed him. He'd stopped wanting to rescue the other teenager while he was training with Jiraiya, but didn't want anyone to see how much he'd changed when he was gone, so he kept his promise to Sakura to bring Sasuke back. It hadn't quite worked out that way, but she didn't seem angry with him, so they never talked about it. One day he would ask her how she felt and see if she had changed as much as he had.

"Oh," Kakashi said blandly, but that was okay, because he hadn't expected much else.

He let himself be led to the bedroom, even though he didn't feel like sleeping. He felt drained most of the time, but not always tired and when he did get tired, he slept enough to last him most of the day. He was curious to see what Naruto would do when they got there.

The boy opened the door, pushed him inside, closed the door behind him, and wheeled him to the bed. He stood behind him for a while, not making a move to help him into the bed then after a few moments of awkward silence, he crossed in front of him and sat on the bed. He stared at him.

Kakashi felt scrutinized with the blonde's eyes on him, but didn't show it. Naruto stared and stared at him, looking at him from head to toe, then focusing solely on his masked face. Then after a few long minutes of this, he spoke.

"Do you think I'm a hero?"

Kakashi was a little surprised. What kind of question was that? Wasn't that what Naruto had always wanted to be? Didn't he consider himself a hero after all he'd done?

"You possess all the qualities of a hero," he replied without saying yes but without saying no. He was curious as to what Naruto himself thought.

"I finally figured out the irony of me being a hero," the blonde started, as if Kakashi had said nothing. "The village was destroyed because of me. And I realized…that the villagers were right to hate me---

"Shut up, Naruto."

"---because I was just a horrible incident waiting to happen."

"Stop talking." Kakashi said again.

"Something like this was in the making since the day Kyuubi was sealed inside of me. And I think of how Konoha would have turned out of I had left, or died---

"SHUT UP!" Kakashi had roared so loud that his throat felt like it had been set aflame from the inside out but he didn't care. Naruto had to hear him. He had to shut up.

"How could anyone possibly see me as a hero?" Naruto murmured quietly, lowering his head so that Kakashi wouldn't see the tears building in his eyes. He had wanted Kakashi to see him as the worse possible being so that it wouldn't hurt so much to love someone that was like everybody else.

They all saw him as a hero and didn't even know why. It was true what Kakashi had said, he did possess all the qualities of a hero, but that didn't mean he was one. He could have been, but his heroism was nothing without Kyuubi.

He wanted Kakashi to see how sad that was, and that his heroism was nothing but a farce, so that when Kakashi finally pushed him away, he could say he had seen it coming. He would have no illusions with which to defer reality.

Kakashi didn't say anything, trying to catch the breath he had lost yelling at Naruto and the boy took that opportunity to continue.

"I know you felt uncomfortable with me staring at you, but I hadn't gotten the chance to look at you while you were in the hospital. I mean, I never did. I couldn't. But I never expected Tsunade to put you under my care. I mean, what made her think I was the right person? Or was she trying to torture me? You being in that chair is a constant, inescapable reminder that I'm the reason you're there. Did she make me do this to show me what I've done?"

"Shut up, Naruto, and get me some water." Kakashi rasped. His throat had gone dry from the yelling and had hurt enough to make him feel sick. This time Naruto went to get the water himself, obviously feeling like he needed some air. When the boy returned, he downed the water in several satisfying swallows and sat in silence until he felt like he could speak with feeling like a brush-fire was in his throat.

"And what could you have done otherwise? It's like making a mistake, then fixing it, and we've all done that before. But you didn't make a mistake, you made the best out of a bad situation. If anyone destroyed Konoha, if anyone put me in this chair, it was the Council. Their greed and sick desires are what plants the seeds of resentment in the mind of a young boy like you. If not for them you wouldn't be in Konoha, but they wanted to hate you and have you at the same time. You're right; if you had left Konoha, it would still be standing, but because you stayed, the world has been rid of the most dangerous kind of greed and evil. If not for you, the Akatsuki could have made the lives of more innocent people miserable." The remainder of the evil organization had been torn apart by the bijuu they sought so desperately to control and Naruto had been the only living container left after the war.

Naruto had sat back on the bed but didn't stare again, this time he seemed to find his knees rather interesting.

"I had thought about that too but…I could never figure out why the villagers didn't see this."

"Well, they're not wise people. We protect people like them from other people like them. If all that was left of Konoha thought of you as a burden, they would have let you die ages ago. The Council couldn't stop them from killing you then, and even though you're the strongest of us all now, if we all wanted you dead, then it is possible. We stick by you and view you as a hero because we care for you and that's what you are. Even before Kyuubi was sealed, you were born to be a hero. Like you said earlier, you come from greatness, and that greatness shines in you everyday and not because you look like your father, or cook like your mother, or desire to be the Hokage, but because of everything you do. Because you fought for people who could care less if you lived or died, because you make friends out of enemies, and because you grin and bear it and because you have a bigger heart than anybody I've ever met. So don't you ever let me hear you say that you're a burden and that you deserve to die. If I had the strength, I'd slap some sense into you."

Naruto looked away. Of course Kakashi was right. But it didn't make him feel better. Still, he looked up and pulled the smile he always did when he wanted to back out of an uncomfortable situation.

"Thanks, Kakashi-sensei. I guess not everyone feels that way." He got up quickly and headed to the door. "Well, I'm going to go and uh…train. So, if you need me, one of my clones will be by the window, just say my name and it'll hear you."

"Wait." Kakashi found himself stopping the blonde. He didn't want him to go. He wanted Naruto to stay, and didn't know why.

Naruto stopped.

"I'd like to go outside with you." Naruto blinked. He hadn't thought of bringing Kakashi with him. He shrugged.

"I guess it's alright." He took Kakashi outside and put him closest to the house and stepped away. He wasn't used to being watched when he trained, so he would have to limit his freedom by keeping his shirt on. Oh well.

Kakashi watched his ex-student train, noticing how much more fluid Naruto's movements were than the last time he sparred with him. The boy moved with the grace of a feline but with the force of a gale and yet his body always seemed to be at ease, never straining, but obviously having the desired effect. After an hour and a half of watching, he saw that Naruto was sweating profusely and was tugging at his shirt.

"Ah…Kakashi-sensei…"

"Hm?" he responded.

"It's really hot and usually I train without my shirt so that I won't get too hot too soon and reduce my stamina. So, if it's alright with you, I'm going to take it off."

Kakashi nodded. Sure it was fine, no use burning up because of him. Naruto toed his sandals off and all but ripped the shirt off of himself with a loud sigh, tossing it behind him. He had to wear light clothing, especially in the Suna heat, so he was left in his thin Capri pants.

He resumed his taijutsu and Kakashi could see how well developed he had become. His muscled rippled like water in the wind, and he was sleeker than before. Naruto had grown to have a body more like his mother than his father, who was a tall, bulky man. He looked good, sexy even.

Sweat dripped off of the blonde's longer than usual hair and ran down his torso to disappear into the hem of his pants and Kakashi looked away shamefully. He shouldn't be staring at his much younger student that way and he knew it. What if Naruto had caught him?

He shook his head and grunted to himself in disapproval. Naruto already let him know what he felt about the idea of Kakashi liking him, even though the Jounin hadn't meant it that way at the time. The teen was right; he was creepy.

"Are you okay?" He looked up, only slightly startled seeing that Naruto was so close.

"Yes. I'm fine. Finished?"

"Yep!"

They went back into the house and the second the front door closed, the awkward air was around again. Naruto chewed his lip, wondering what they would do now. It wasn't late and he wasn't ready to go to bed and he couldn't think of anything to do. He took his sensei to his room and scratched the back of his head nervously as he stood in front of the elder shinobi.

"Um…if you want, I can help you into bed if you're ready to sleep…a-and not to say that you can't help yourself…uhh…"

"Do I make you nervous, Naruto?" Kakashi couldn't figure out why the boy was acting the way he was around him. Was he really afraid of him? This was so unlike the Naruto he knew, it was odd for someone like him to be so jittery, especially around a man that he knew for little over four years. He knew it wasn't a lifetime, but this behavior was too strange to be right.

Was there something about him that bothered Naruto? It wasn't like he'd never been disabled in front of the kid, so it couldn't be that. Suddenly it was like he was a stranger or something. Naruto had reacted so strongly from his incapacitation, so why the weird change?

"H-huh?" 'Oh, very smooth Naruto!' he cursed himself.

"Do I make you nervous?" Kakashi asked again. Naruto looked at the floor.

"No," he lied. He certainly couldn't ask the man why he thought that, because it was obvious. He'd been making an ass of himself all day, and now Kakashi was catching on. That wasn't good.

"You know Naruto, you're very skilled at a lot of things, but lying was never one them."

Naruto had to find a way out of the rapidly awkward turning situation, fast. "I'm just not used to taking care of a person. I don't want to offend you, because I know I'd be offended if I had to have a caretaker. I don't want you to be upset at me for doing something wrong." Well, that came out a lot better than he expected, but it was for the most part true.

Kakashi gave him a narrow look. There was something he wasn't being told.

"But I can't deny that I need to be helped. You're right, it is a bit offending, but I know you, so it helps. I actually don't prefer the nurses, but because they're qualified, I have no choice but to let them take care of me. I'm used to this, and I'm not going to give you a hard time. If you don't want to do this, you should tell Tsunade-sama. It doesn't appear that you're comfortable with staying here with me."

Naruto's eyes widened franticly. "N-no! I mean, it's not like that! I do want to help you, but..," Damn it, why did he have to say but?

"But?" Kakashi prodded.

"W-well…um…"

"Come on Naruto, if you say what it is, then we can find a way to deal with it. How will I know if you don't tell me?" Actually, he was very curious now. What could make his ex-student so unnerved?

Naruto shifted nervously from one foot to the other, chewing ravenously on his bottom lip. "What about…what about when you have to um…you know…go to the bathroom?"

Kakashi felt stupid for not having thought of that. Of course that was it.

"S-showers and stuff….ahem…I don't think you want me to…h-help you with those things." Not that he minded, but he couldn't just say that.

Kakashi laughed dryly. He hadn't thought it would pose a problem until now.

"Well, I'm not so weak that I can't use the bathroom by myself. But yes, I wouldn't be able to wash myself on my own. So I see that makes you uncomfortable. Well then, you could take me back to the hospital if it bothers you. I guess I should have thought of that. What's more, Tsunade-sama didn't think of it either."

Or did she, Naruto wondered bitterly.

"I think I can manage if you can." He uttered quietly. He didn't want Kakashi to think he was a stupid kid who hid from responsibility. He didn't want Kakashi to think he was repulsed by the idea of seeing him naked, or washing his body. Because he wasn't. He was very worried, yes, but certainly far from repelled by the thought. It was shameful really, that he even looked forward to something like that and he definitely wouldn't let Kakashi know. God, what the man would think of him.

Kakashi knew he could manage because he had done it before. Gai had even helped him like this before, and that had certainly been one of the most embarrassing moments, especially with the other Jounin's mind-scarring rants about how 'youthfully endowed' he was.

He shuddered faintly as he remembered those few days so many years ago. At least Naruto was going to be too shy to comment about his equipment. And speaking of which…

"Well, I'd like to bathe tonight." He watched with amusement as Naruto's face turned pink and his breath hitched. The poor thing must have been nervous beyond words. Then the boy stood and created a shadow clone. He didn't say anything to it, but it left the room.

"Where's he going?"

Naruto rubbed the back of his neck. "Uh, he's going to get you some under clothes because I uh, hadn't um, thought of that, at the time." It wasn't that he hadn't thought of it, but that he hadn't thought it would be so soon that Kakashi would want to wash himself. He though that Kakashi had washed at the hospital and wouldn't require another until the next morning.

"He'll be back by the time we're done." Kakashi nodded and then silence once again ensued. Kakashi watched him fidget and swallow nervously.

"Oh!"

"What is it?"

"Your um…what about your mask?"

Kakashi blinked. Oh, he had forgotten about that. Well…

"It can't be helped. I have to take it off."

"I won't look."

Silence.

"So…are you busy now? I think I'd like to do it before I get too tired."

"O-of course." Naruto stuttered and walked round to the back of his chair to push him into the bathroom. Every step he took, his heart beat faster. He had never been so scared or nervous in his life. But this was Kakashi-sensei he was about to see…gulp…naked.

When they got inside, Naruto gave the door a look. Should he close it? If he did, would Kakashi think something about it? Would it feel strange?

"You can keep it open if you want. I suppose it doesn't matter." Kakashi had to take pity on him, it was the kid's first time doing this.

"W-would you feel better if I closed it?"

"Yes. But if you feel the need, you can leave it opened."

Naruto closed the door. Then turned to him and stared for a few seconds. This was it. He was about undress the man he'd been having less than decent thoughts about for a year and a half. God help him.

Kakashi was giving him this expectant look, and he couldn't help but blush. It would have helped if Kakashi was just as nervous as he was, but he was Kakashi, so Naruto guessed it wasn't that surprising that he wasn't.

Kakashi almost smiled under his mask. Naruto looked like he would run any second and by the way he was breathing, he might faint too. He decided to lighten the mood a little to help the teen out.

"I'm not that repulsive naked. Way to make a guy feel attractive." He drawled, feigning an insulted look.

"Sorry, I just…sorry," the blonde muttered and pushed him to the toilet and sat down on the commode in front of him. He leaned forward and reached for the hem of Kakashi's shirt.

"I know this might hurt…sorry. But do you think you can lift your arms?"

Kakashi grunted. He would try, though he doubted he could do it without hurting himself. He lifted them as far as they could go, but couldn't extend his elbows very much. But Naruto managed to pull his shirt off with some effort and a little pain on Kakashi's end.

After his shirt was off, Naruto averted his eyes anywhere but up and looked at his pants. That was going to be the hard part.

"U-um…I have an idea. Wrap your arms around my neck." Kakashi did as he was told and Naruto stood and looking up, pulled Kakashi's pants down to his knees, then gently sat him back down. He pushed Kakashi back and bent over without looking, to un-strap his sandals.

Kakashi looked at the ceiling and took a deep breath, then let it out. He wasn't exactly having a ball himself, especially not with Naruto leaning between his legs. When his shoes were off, Naruto divested him of his pants and stood.

For the first time since Kakashi was in the bathroom, he realized that the bath hadn't been drawn yet. He looked at Naruto, ready to tell him this, but Naruto had begun odd making hand signs.

"Suiton: Baika No Jutsu!"

What?! That wasn't a justu he'd ever heard of!

Naruto then stuck his hand under the faucet and turned the hot water tap on. Once his hand was filled, he allowed the water to levitate into the air, then it suddenly expanded and he lowered it into the tub.

"Wha…how did you…?"

"I've been getting into the habit of mixing jutsu. I know it's the Akimichi clan's jutsu, but Chouji told me that it could be used to expand anything, not just body parts. I practiced with Gamakichi but I never had an occasion to use this technique before. I'm glad it worked so well."

Shit, Kakashi wasn't even aware that mixing jutsu was possible! What an amazing idea!

"Did you discover that you can mix jutsu on your own?" He asked out of curiosity.

"Yeah. It came to me when I was training to use a collaboration justu with Gamakichi and Gamatatsu. Gamakichi and I came up with techniques that used my Wind element and water. But he doesn't know how to use water-based attacks, strangely, so we had to find an external source. It just works well together." He poured some soap into the bath.

Kakashi shook his head in amazement. Naruto really was meant for great things, and, he would have to learn that justu himself when he got the chance.

"A-anyway," the boy stuttered.

He looked Kakashi in the face, a feat the Jounin was surprised he could manage, and told him to put his arm around his neck again. He was helped into a standing position that made him very dizzy and his chest burned with discomfort, but he only groaned and bore it.

Seeing that Kakashi was in pain, Naruto had to fight the urge to simply pick him up and put him in the tub, but if he wanted Kakashi to feel emasculated, then that was certainly the way to go. He wanted to apologize for causing him pain, but knew that he wouldn't be able to help it so he didn't. It took a while, but he slowly lowered Kakashi into the water and sucked in a breath when Kakashi moaned. Damn.

The Jounin's eye slid closed with the pleasure that came with sliding into a hot bath after a painful ordeal. He hadn't had a bath in a long time, and sponge baths didn't count. Naruto leaned back and watched him sink up to the collarbone in the water. He could practically see Kakashi's mouth part with the moan through his mask.

He reached behind him and pulled a washcloth he had brought from the store off the bar and picked up a bottle of liquid soap from the shelf above the toilet. He didn't want to be the one that had to tell Kakashi that he had to sit up, as he was looking so comfortable, but he had to. But not right away. He would let him enjoy the water, then wash him when he was ready. He just hoped that Kakashi didn't get comfortable enough to fall asleep.

The water felt so good against Kakashi's skin, thought it did sting in some places, it still felt really nice to be so relaxed. He didn't want to move, but knew he would have to soon enough. He opened his eye and looked at Naruto, who was staring at him.

"Ready?" He asked, seeing the things in Naruto's hands. The blonde nodded and he put them down to help Kakashi into a more upright sitting position. It hurt to bend his waist, but he managed. Naruto could barely breathe.

His hands were shaking as he brought the soapy cloth to Kakashi's chest. If he had to be in a bathroom alone with Kakashi in another situation, he would have gotten an erection, but right then he was so nervous, he couldn't get one even if he tried. Which wasn't a bad thing, because seriously, how embarrassing would it be if Kakashi caught him with a hard-on? The man would think him the worst kind of pervert, and that was the last thing in the world that he wanted.

"So…" Kakashi thought it might have been a good idea to get a conversation going so that Naruto wouldn't be suffering more than he already had to.

"Mixing jutsu is very impressive. I have to say that you've become more than I ever expected you would be. I mean, I knew you would be great, but you really are still the Number One Surprising Ninja. You never fail to shock me by how powerful and intelligent you are."

Naruto smiled as he ran the washcloth across Kakashi's torso. Thank god his sensei had said something when he did, the silence was starting to suffocate him. "Thanks, Kakashi-sensei. The way I saw it, there had to be something special about me worth putting in the history books, you know, so that when I become Hokage, people have something to talk about. And you know what else? You're the only person that knows I can do it. I hope you don't tell anyone yet. I want to show people and surprise them too."

"I wouldn't take the spotlight from you, Naruto. It's too amazing to explain anyway." Naruto's now lightly trembling hands moved to his arms and he continued, "You've surpassed your father in every way, I think that makes you the most powerful person I've ever met. I'm really proud to have been your sensei."

"Be." Naruto said, washing under his arms, his hands no longer shaking.

"What?"

"You're proud to be my sensei. You still are, so don't use the past tense when referring to that."

"But I have nothing to teach you. You've far surpassed me as well. I actually want to learn from you now."

"Being my sensei isn't all about teaching me ninja stuff. You give great advice too. And you're smarter than me, so you can help me strategize on missions, I mean, if we ever go on another on together. Also, there are still jutsu I don't know, and you know over one thousand."

Kakashi could see the sense in that. He had after all memorized most of the jutsu he had acquired with Obito's Sharingan and with Sasuke's he could see what jutus his other ex-student had learned. He supposed he still had some wisdom in him yet.

"I guess that settles it then, I'm still your sensei." He smiled sunnily up at Naruto, even thought he wasn't looking. Naruto washed his back and pulled away. Now the embarrassing part.

"I think I can wash those parts myself, Naruto." He would have laughed at the sudden look of impending mortification on the boy's face if it wouldn't hurt to do so. He sunk as far down as he could to level his hips with the tub floor so that he could get easy access to his entire lower region and took the washcloth. Naruto turned on the commode and looked away.

"I don't know if Tsunade told you this but…most of the villagers and a lot of ninja were killed. All of the Rookie Nine survived except Kiba and TenTen. Most of the survivors are here in Suna, but some of them left to be on their own. I think that was a good idea, but I wonder if we'll become sand shinobi now? I can't really imagine it."

"Well," Kakashi began, scrubbing himself thoroughly down there, "I suppose I can't either, but I guess I wouldn't mind serving Suna. My allegiance will always lie with Konoha though." Naruto grunted in agreement.

"I can wash my legs too." Naruto nodded and there was silence again. This time it wasn't uncomfortable or awkward, just quiet. Still, Naruto didn't like it.

"Gaara seems to like it that we're here. He told me that if I ever need anything at all, that I could ask him and he'll make it happen. Isn't that cool?"

"Yeah. I knew you two would be friends. You had…similarities that drew each other. Which is what led to you ultimately becoming friends."

"Yeah…" He replied sadly. But Gaara had lost his bijuu. Naruto wished he would say the same for himself. It wasn't that Kyuubi was a burden, but it certainly hurt more than it helped. The accelerated healing was great, but he felt like he was cheating every time it happened. Alas, it couldn't be helped. That was just the way things were.

"All done."

Naruto turned around and looked at him. "Your face?"

"Done."

"Okay." He stood a created a clone, then bent over the tub. Kakashi put an arm around his neck while the clone held out the towel to wrap around him. Because the tub was not an external one, getting in was easier than getting out so he had to resort to a different way of getting Kakashi out without causing him too much pain.

"Put both arms around my neck and when I say when, let your weight down."

Kakashi saw what he was going to do and tried not to think about the naughty things that could be done in an intimate position like that. But it was the position that afforded him the least pain so it was necessary.

Naruto put his arm around Kakashi's hips securely and pressed his body flush against his sensei's too support him. "Okay, relax and let your weight down." Kakashi did as he was told as carefully as he could.

Surprisingly what he didn't expect was for Naruto to stand up to his full height and his feet to leave the floor. Naruto literally lifted him, with seemingly no effort, for three seconds, stepped back, and placed him back down. The added pressure on his arms and legs made Kakashi hiss. It wasn't a good idea to sit down immediately.

"Wait." He grit between his teeth. Naruto froze. Kakashi panted, already exhausted from all the movement, holding on to Naruto and it hurt so much he almost buried his head in the crook of the boy's neck. Naruto's arm was still around his waist, and they were still pressed together, otherwise he'd have been in more pain.

He distantly registered Naruto's shallow breathing and relaxed his muscles as much as he could so that he could get ready to get back in the chair.

Naruto meanwhile, was using every ounce of his willpower not to get an erection. A bead of sweat trickled down his temple. He had to sit Kakashi down now or he was going to embarrass himself. If he were to get hard in that position he might as well have kissed his dignity goodbye. Kakashi's body was so warm and hard against him, and the breathing on his neck was really stretching his self-control to its limits.

Then Kakashi moaned, "I'm ready," into his ear and his will snapped like a dry twig in the fall. Blood rushed to his groin faster than he could stop it and he tried not to put Kakashi down too hastily. The clone behind Kakashi was watching the whole display from an angle that Naruto would find very flustering when it got back to him. He didn't dispel it right away.

As soon as he put Kakashi down, he stepped around to the back of the chair, thankful that Kakashi had his eye closed from the pain. He looked at the clone and it nodded and went to open the door.

Naruto wheeled Kakashi back into the bedroom, all the while willing his erection to go away. His clone followed him closely, ready to switch with him if his plan to kill his arousal didn't work.

"Thank you Naruto," Kakashi rasped, a little out of breath. "Do you think you can get me a cup of water?" Instead of sending his clone to do it, Naruto went and got it himself.

'That must have been too much for him' Kakashi thought. Naruto must have been too nervous to stay in the same room with him after holding him that way.

That was too bad, because Kakashi had rather enjoyed the intimate proximity. Naruto was about two inches shorter than he was, which didn't make that task as awkward as it could have been. It felt good to have the teenager's hands on him. When the nurses touched him, he felt like he was going to be sick, but with Naruto, he had to exert some self-control not to pitch a tent in his towel. It wouldn't do to scar the boy for life.

Naruto took a bit longer than usual in returning with his water, but he thought nothing of it and sipped the water, sighing as it soothed his burning dry throat. Naruto dispelled the clone and pushed Kakashi over to the bed.

He looked at the bed, and longingly wished that he had the power to manipulate sand the way Gaara did. Then he wouldn't have to touch Kakashi.

He spent an extra three minutes in the kitchen trying to get that breathy moan out of his head long enough for his hard-on to go away. All he had to do was think of the war and it was gone. That topic was definitely a mood killer.

He took the cup from Kakashi and placed it on the dresser. "Are you ready to stand again?" Kakashi looked up at him and he instantly looked away.

"Yes." He wasn't really ready, but the sooner the better. He was getting tired. Naruto pulled back the covers, which one of his clones got for him, helped him to sit on the bed and picked up a pair of briefs.

"You seem like a briefs kind of guy, but I bought both boxers and briefs incase I was wrong." He explained.

Kakashi smiled. "You were right. But boxers would be easier." Naruto picked a pair of dark blue boxers up and knew that now was a good time to engage in a conversation.

"You also seem to like navy blue, if I'm not wrong, so I got that color and black."

"Right again. It's my favorite color. What's yours?"

Naruto looked up at him. "Do you have to ask?"

Kakashi chuckled softly. He should have known it would be orange. "Guess not."

"I wonder what made you think I was a briefs kind of guy?"

Naruto shrugged. He hadn't seen that question coming, but he refused to be flustered over it. "I don't know. I just assume cool people like to wear briefs."

Kakashi was taking a risk asking his next question, but for the sake of banter he would do it. "Which do you wear?"

'He's asking me what kind of underwear I wear?'

"Um, well, I'm actually a briefs man myself." He laughed nervously and looked down at his knees.

"Uh huh. Well, I'm ready to put them on now whenever you are. To be honest," and he knew what he was about to say would make Naruto blush, but he felt like he should somehow break the tension a bit so that Naruto didn't feel so awkward around him. "I usually sleep naked."

Naruto's head shot up, his mouth open in shock. "Y-you…you do?"

Kakashi nodded. "Don't take that the wrong way, I was just letting you know that you don't have to put them on me right now. I'd much rather sleep in the nude. But if that makes you uncomfortable, I could wear them."

Naruto laughed, and said without thinking, "How can that make me uncomfortable, it's not like I'm sleeping with you." After it came out, he realized what he said and started to shake his head franticly and wave his hands defensively. "Oh my god, I didn't mean to say that! That was rude, I'm sorry!" He apologized profusely.

Kakashi just chuckled. "It's alright Naruto, it didn't offend me in any way. You have to stop getting worked up about such menial things. What you said makes sense. I was just saying that it's up to you if you want me to wear them."

"N-no. Whatever you want, Kakashi-sensei. If you don't want to wear them, then I won't make you. It'll be the same tomorrow, so I might as well get used to it." Inside, Naruto's mind was reeling at the thought of Kakashi sleeping naked. That would mean that when he came in to help Kakashi out of bed in the morning….

'Crap'

He would have said that he'd have been more comfortable if Kakashi put some underwear on but didn't want to make it seem like he was immature. That, and he didn't really want Kakashi to wear them. Still, it would have saved him some embarrassment. But then again, Naruto was a bit of a masochist.

"Okay, then that's settled." Naruto glanced down at Kakashi's towel-clad lower half.

"So you're going to wear the towel to bed then?"

Kakashi looked down too, as if now noticing that he had it on. "Oh, no. I wasn't sure that you'd take it off. I didn't want to put you in that situation."

"It's fine." Naruto found himself saying before he could think about it.

'Damn it, you idiot! Learn to keep your trap shut for once!' He cursed himself. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

"Okay then." Kakashi dropped his hands to his sides and looked at him patiently. Naruto couldn't keep the blush from his face. Kakashi would have to stand again. It wouldn't be very different save for the fact that he would be taking something off as opposed to putting something on. Why did he keep putting himself in these embarrassing situations?

Then, an idea struck him. "I have an idea!" He went over to the window and drew the shades and the room went almost completely dark. Now Kakashi wouldn't be able to see his erection or his reaction, he was a genius!

"That was a good idea." Kakashi agreed. Quite unfortunate though, he'd wanted to see Naruto's face.

Naruto walked back over to him and he could sense the confidence. He could see that blindfolding him might come in handy from then on. It was too bad Naruto was that pressed not to see him naked.

The blonde allowed Kakashi to put an arm around his neck and lifted him momentarily to slide the towel off his hips, then sat him back down. Kakashi let out a pained grunt.

"Are you okay, Kakashi-sensei?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Do you think that you could knock in the morning before you come in? I don't wear my mask to bed." Naruto nodded. He pulled the blankets over his lap to cover himself and told Naruto that it would be all right for him to open the shades. He opened them and went into the bathroom to put the towel away. When he returned, Kakashi had his eyes closed, preparing to fall asleep.

Naruto stood by the bed and watched him. The blanket wasn't covering his chest, so Naruto had the full un-obscured view. A sad look crossed his face. He would never have a chance with such perfection. Never would some as tainted as he was ever be seen by someone as perfect as Kakashi.

It was a sad reality, but one he had to face, especially in the coming weeks he had to care for the man. He didn't know how he was going to do it without continually making a fool of himself but he would just have to swallow it ad move on like he did with most things in his life, which was unfortunate because this time, he didn't think he could do it.

He sighed dramatically and left the room, tired himself.


The next morning brought him awake around 5 am to take a shower and do some light training. Kakashi had not yet woken up and he was grateful for the time alone. He put a clone in the tree by the bedroom window, so that he could keep and eye on Kakashi. It wasn't his intention to see the man's face, and even so, the shades had been drawn so that he could only see dull shadows of the figures behind it, which would afford Kakashi all the privacy he needed.

He trained until little past 8am and stopped, sweaty, hungry, and ready for his late morning shower. The light training had turned into a full-fledged battle preparation between he and his clones. His clones were more efficient than they used to be and could take several hits before they were dispelled, another thing he couldn't wait to surprise Kakashi with if he got the chance.

When entered the house and passed the bathroom outside of the bedroom, he stopped briefly to listen if Kakashi was awake. He wasn't, so Naruto went ahead and washed himself. When he was done, he dressed down in a comfortable pair of black shorts and a sleeveless black, form-fitting shirt. Today was one of the less hot days and he was happy to revel in it. Gaara's older sister, Temari had stopped by to provide them with the latest in Suna fashion so that they wouldn't burn in the clothing they had.

Naruto opened the fridge and looked inside, then immediately closed it, deciding he would cook breakfast instead and leave the leftovers for lunch and dinner.

"Now what to make?" He wondered aloud. He wasn't used to cooking breakfast dishes all that much, and only knew a few which would be quick. After some thought, he settled on an foreign style he had encountered in a village that was nearly on the other side of the world that he and Jiraiya had journeyed to in search of new techniques. They didn't find any ninja villages, but they did find great food and unique cultures, and of course, Jiraiya couldn't resist the exotic women there.

The food would consist of fried eggs, fried pork slabs called bacon, flat cakes with maple syrup, some pork, and some kind of grainy gruel of some sort called grits. When he first saw and smelled the food, he thought he was in heaven, and the taste was even better than the smell and he hoped that maybe Kakashi would like it too.

The meal took about an hour to cook. That was what he liked about it, it was so delicious, yet so simple and quick to make. When all the food was finished, he put it in the oven to stay warm and brought out a pitcher of orange juice and hot tea for Kakashi. Then he sat down, and wondered if he should see if Kakashi had awakened yet. He wanted to go and knock on the door, but if Kakashi wasn't up, he didn't want to disturb him.

He gnawed his lip with indecision. But how would he know if Kakashi hadn't been sitting in his bed, waiting for him to come knocking, if he didn't?

He got up and went to the bedroom door and pressed his ear to it, listening for any sounds of rousing. Hearing nothing, he wondered if it was because Kakashi was waiting silently, or if he was asleep. Perhaps the smell of breakfast had woken him? He knew Kakashi wasn't good for yelling, so he had to think of a better way for the man to get his attention.

'A bell?' Nah, he didn't like the feeling that would bring. It was kind of slave-ish.

'Maybe an earpiece?' That would work. He filed that idea away and knocked on the door. There was no answer. Naruto stood anxiously outside, not knowing whether he should walk in or not. It wasn't dark enough out to keep him from seeing Kakashi's face. Or he could close his eyes? But no, Kakashi had specifically asked him to knock before entering, so that was what he would do.

He went back into the kitchen and sat down on one of the wooden chairs he had brought to make the house look more like a home. His clones had been running around all day yesterday, making sure that they had the things they needed. He'd been doing everything he could to make it comfortable and easy for them, but was always finding something to be anxious about. That went without saying, for this was Kakashi he was doing it for. He wanted to please the man in every possible way, but wasn't even sure if he was going about it right.

What if Kakashi came to feel as if he were being treated like a child, or an invalid? Naruto didn't know what to do to avoid such a thing and was trying his hardest not to have it come to that.

He wanted to tell Kakashi more about these fears, but then he would think that Naruto couldn't handle taking care of him and that he didn't know what he was doing. He might even request to be sent back to the hospital and that wasn't something Naruto wanted to happen, so he would keep all of his nerve-wracking worries to himself until he found a way to deal with them, if he ever did.

All of a sudden he was jolted by the familiar feeling of outside information infiltrating his mind. His clone had dispelled itself and he got information that there was movement behind the curtains of Kakashi's bedroom.

'He's awake'

Of course, he had forgotten all about his clone in the tree. He went and stood at the bedroom door for a few seconds before giving two soft, shallow raps.

"I'm awake," Kakashi called in a low voice he barely heard. "Just a minute." Naruto waited patiently, not unaware of the dread rising in his chest.

"Come in."

Naruto slowly opened the door and stuck his head inside. "Good morning, sensei. I made breakfast if you want some." Kakashi had his mask firmly back in place, the blanket still just covering his lower extremities. He smiled at the offering.

"Sure, it smells great too. I'd just like to go to the bathroom first. Just take me in there, and I'll take care of the rest." Naruto tried not to think about the rest, and calmly went over to help Kakashi. He stopped at the bed, then looked as if he had forgotten something and went to the dresser to get the man a pair of boxers. He turned to Kakashi.

"Um, do you want to put these on now, or after you finish in the bathroom?"

"Now is fine. And would you happen to have toiletries that I could use?"

"Yeah. They're above the toilet on the shelf. Washcloths are in the cupboard behind the door and on the bar, and other things like deodorant, razors, and shaving cream can be found behind the mirror."

Kakashi grunted his thanks. He didn't have anything to shave anyway.

Naruto started biting his lip again, something Kakashi noted that he did when he was nervous or anxious. "Would you like to put a blindfold on?"

"Yes." Naruto answered too quickly.

"Jeez," Kakashi muttered under his breath. "You didn't have to answer so enthusiastically."

"Huh?"

"Nothing, Naruto." He lied. Naruto pulled his hitai-ate over his eyes and tightened it and made his way blindly to the bed.

"I have to admit, you wearing that blindfold makes me feel hideous and old." He said honestly. He didn't like that feeling. He didn't want Naruto to think that way about him.

"But I…" He was about to say that he didn't want to wear the blindfold, but that would lead to Kakashi thinking of him as a perv. "I was trying to respect your privacy. I'm not good at this, am I?"

"You're not bad at it, just new. I don't really care if you just avert your eyes. That would make it less awkward." Unless Naruto couldn't trust himself not to look. Kakashi didn't think he had anything to be ashamed of but was sure that Naruto wasn't that kind of boy.

"I trust you not to look." But he wouldn't mind if Naruto betrayed that trust. No, not at all.

Naruto's flushed face stood out against the black headband covering his eyes. "A-are you sure?"

The Jounin nodded. "Yes. But if you don't think you can contain your curiosity, then you can wear it if you want." Naruto had been considering it, so if he said yes to keeping the blindfold now, Kakashi would be sure it was because he didn't trust himself not to look.

Naruto debated with himself. If he went without the blindfold, there was a 98 percent chance that he would get an erection. If he went with it, then he would end up making Kakashi feel a way he didn't want him to feel. He didn't want to offend the man, but he didn't want to embarrass himself either.

Damn it, if only he could get Kakashi to wear the blindfold, that way he could spare himself total embarrassment. But then Kakashi would ask him why he wanted him to wear it and he knew he would be at a loss of words.

Ah, who was he kidding, he'd be in trouble the moment he touched Kakashi.

He swallowed dryly and let out a shuddering breath. "Okay." He took his headband off completely and put it on the table next to the bed. With his face still flushed, Kakashi thought he looked beautiful in his flustered state and couldn't help but stare at him for a moment. Naruto looked up. His eyes widened fractionally and he quickly averted them to the floor.

"I'll make sure to cover myself so that I don't scar you for life." He said this with a chuckle, but Naruto didn't seem to find it as amusing as he did. He only turned redder.

Kakashi carefully moved so that his legs hung over the bed and tried to pull himself forward and resulted in a very sharp pain searing through his arms and ribs. The world went hazy for a moment as Naruto rushed forward to see if he was all right.

"You don't have to do that, I'll help you. Sensei, you're going to really hurt yourself if you try moving like that too early!" The boy scolded, and Kakashi gave a short laugh at his own stupidity and let Naruto put his hand on his back to help him into a sitting position. When he was stable enough, Naruto pulled away and dropped to his knees.

Conversation time.

"So," he started when he felt the boy's hand on his ankle, "What did you make for breakfast, the smell is different than any breakfast I've had." Naruto looked up at him and he could see the quick flash of indecision and knew that he was debating on whether he should maintain eye contact.

The blonde didn't look at him again, but instead found a series of other things to look at and the Jounin noted that his hands were shaking. He found it all rather amusing to know that he made Naruto like that so he kept looking at his face. It was only about three seconds that it took to get the boxers past his knees and Naruto didn't immediately stand up. He looked at Kakashi to see the man staring at him.

"You'll see. I think you'll like it. Ready to stand?" Kakashi grunted. Naruto made sure to stand up as slowly as possible so that Kakashi wouldn't be able to see that he was already half hard. He picked the man's arm up and put it around his neck and put his own arm around his hips. He didn't think about what he was doing as he pulled the sheet away and stood, bringing the older ninja with him. He pulled the boxers up and moved his hand up over the elastic strap.

All the time he was doing this, he held his breath for fear that Kakashi would hear his breathing speed up and sense that something wasn't right. Just having his hands on his sensei's naked flesh felt so good he almost moaned Kakashi's name.

Kakashi had surprisingly soft skin for a ninja like him and he was a little skinny, but Naruto liked the feel of his slim physique under his hands, it made him want to touch the man everywhere he could reach, but of course he didn't dare do such a thing. He stood all the way up and helped Kakashi limp his way over to the chair, holding him close so he didn't put too much stress on his ribs and legs.

The copy-nin let out a shaky sigh of relief as he was lowered into the chair gently. Naruto's warm hand dragged up his back and off of him as the teen moved away from him. He put Kakashi's arm on his lap and walked behind the chair.

"Are you alright?" he couldn't help but ask. It must have been annoying by then that he kept on doing it, but it was becoming a habit.

"I'll be in pain for a while like that. It can't be helped." Naruto pushed him into the bathroom and up to the toilet, wondering how Kakashi was going to do it.

"Is this okay?" He positioned him as close to the toilet as possible and stepped away and out the door.

"It's fine." His teacher grumbled and he left the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He went to sit on the bed and waited for Kakashi to be finished so that they could have breakfast, he was famished. Several minutes later, he heard his name from inside the bathroom and went to take the Jounin to the kitchen.

He pushed Kakashi's chair up to the table and went about taking the food out of the oven and setting it on the table. He quickly served himself and his sensei, then sat down and focused his attention politely on his plate.

"This all looks very good Naruto. I'm so glad you can cook." Kakashi chuckled and pulled his mask down to take a bit of the fried eggs. They were well seasoned but not salty, which he knew took a lot of skill to pull off. At this rate, Naruto would make a better cook than his own wife.

"Your wife will feel very inadequate in the kitchen. I can imagine she won't be too happy about your cooking skills. Unless she's better, which I can hardly imagine."

The clanking of Naruto's fork against his plate stopped. "I don't plan on ever getting married," he muttered darkly. That surprised Kakashi to hear.

"Why not? Don't you want a companion someday?"

Naruto shrugged and began stabbing at his pork listlessly. "Who can love me with Kyuubi in the way? And how can I live with losing my precious person because of that? I almost…"

He was about to tell Kakashi that he almost lost him and didn't want to feel the way he had when he heard that he was dead again, but stopped short. The pain that he felt hearing Pein say that Kakashi was dead was like nothing he had ever experienced. There was no physical agony in the world that could compare and if staying along meant never having to feel that way again, then he would be alone for the rest of his life.

He didn't want to be alone, and he wanted to give himself that chance, but he was so afraid and by the time he had caught up to Pein he had already felt so strongly for Kakashi that the news of the destruction of Konoha hadn't even registered afterward. All he knew was that Kakashi was said to be dead and his world felt like it was splitting in two. What kind of coward would he be trying to escape the inevitable? But Kakashi didn't know anything about what he felt, so it didn't matter anyway, he supposed.

"You almost what?" Kakashi asked gently.

The teen shrugged again.

He sighed.

"Naruto, you know you have to take the good with the bad if you ever want to experience true happiness. Love hurts, but so does loneliness. You're the perfect example of taking the good with the bad. Sure Kyuubi is an albatross to some degree, but if someone gets to know you for you, then they can live with it the way you have. And it hasn't been all bad with the fox, you've save a lot of lives using his power, and you haven't killed a comrade. You're doing what Yondaime meant for you to do, and that's protecting your precious people. Isn't that all that matters? If it not, then it should be. If not for Kyuubi, you might not have defeated Pein. Kyuubi is a burden, but it's a blessing as well and you can't run away from the fact that it's a part of your life. You should accept it, even if you don't like it, instead of complaining about it. And as for loving you, how do you know that someone won't want you because of that? You haven't even met the person you want to spend the rest of your life wi---

"Yes I have." Naruto interrupted.

Kakashi was silent for a moment. "Really? Who? I mean, if you don't mind me asking."

"Actually I do."

He watched Naruto stab at the helpless piece of pork and felt the jealousy spread even more because he didn't want to tell him. Did Naruto not even trust him enough to tell him? Well he wanted to know who it was, but he would have to respect the boy's wishes.

"It doesn't matter anyway," Naruto continued. Kakashi hadn't expected him to say anything else about it.

"They don't know and they'll never care."

"What makes you say that?" It couldn't be Sakura, because it was obvious that she liked him now. Was it someone they knew mutually?

"Because they're out of my league and I refuse to put myself out there be rejected. I think I've done that enough in my heyday." The bitterness in his voice made Kakashi's eye narrow.

"Well I guess then that you'll have to move on if that's the way you feel. I just find it odd that the person who practically lives by the phrase 'You'll never know if you don't try' and never giving up on what he wants, would stoop to the level of a kicked puppy."

This was obviously not the right thing to say because Naruto's head snapped up with a glare, his teeth clenched together with anger.

A split second passed.

Then the look slid off of his face like water on a windowpane and his jaw dropped.

Only then did Kakashi realize the error he made in baiting the boy. Naruto had accidentally looked up and saw his face. Shit.

His eye widened as well and he made a move to cover it but his prolonged reaction had made the gesture useless so he let his hand drop.

"Oh my god…" Naruto uttered. Kakashi stared back at him.

"Well that was very stupid of me," the man muttered and looked away. Not even two days had passed and he already made a fool of himself. It wasn't even dramatic at all, not cool, not action-packed, not romantic. Just stupid.

"I…I didn't mean to look. I forgot that you…jeezus I'm so sorry." He couldn't have been too sorry because he kept looking at the Jounin's face and wouldn't stop. Heaven help him he didn't expect to see what he was looking at. He gulped. God really must have hated him. It wasn't enough that he had to touch the man when he was naked. No! No, Kakashi just had to be outrageously gorgeous! He just had to say that stupid thing and forget to put his mask back on before he said it. And Naruto just had to look back up, like an ass, without thinking. He wouldn't be surprised if Kakashi hated him now.

"Well," Kakasji sighed, looking around and nodding to himself, "Now that that cat's out of the bag…" The uncomfortable silence persisted as Naruto continued to stare at him.

"Yeah…so, are you going to eat, or keep staring at me like I'm from another planet?" That seemed to wake him Naruto up. His eyes zoomed back down to his plate and his face turned nearly scarlet with embarrassment.

"Sorry…" was all he could say. Suddenly he felt like a horrible person for having looked, and felt the stinging of angry tears in the backs of his eyes. Kakashi would probably not like him anymore. He had foolishly disgraced the man's most private asset and not even in an acceptable fashion.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. His nerves tightened and he vaguely heard the shattering of glass and barely registered the hot pain in his hand, nor did he seem to notice that he was literally biting a hole in his bottom lip.

"Hey…Naruto, are you alright?" Naruto didn't hear him. It was like being a twelve year- old idiot all over again. If he had kept his stupid sentiments to himself, this wouldn't have happened. What must Kakashi have thought of him now, after praising him so highly only moments ago?

"Naruto?"

"I'll take you back today. I obviously can't do anything right. See what I just did? I don't even want to know what you think about me now." He would call a nurse to dress Kakashi, as he was sure the man didn't want to be touched by his royal stupidness, and escort him to the hospital and back into Tsunade's care.

Kakashi glared at him, nonplussed. Why was he taking it so hard? There had been no drama in what happened and Kakashi wasn't angry, but why was Naruto so upset? He himself couldn't be mad over something like that, it just happened, and didn't Naruto see that it wasn't his fault? If he hadn't said what he did, knowing that it would upset Naruto quite a bit, he wouldn't have looked up. Why did Naruto look like he was about to cry?

"It's not a big deal, it was an accident. I don't think different about you for it. And it was my fault."

"No," Naruto snapped. "No, it's my fault, because I have no control over my emotions. I should have been able to ignore that statement. I should have been able to keep my cool, but stupid me, I couldn't."

"Naruto."

"It wasn't even…it wasn't even…ugh!" He growled, too disgusted with himself to continue.

"Naruto." Kakashi said again, feeling like he was talking to a slab of concrete.

"I'm so sorry." What else could he say? He was an idiot, and now he would never have a chance. He thought he had past the 'fuck-up everything in sight' stage of his life, but apparently he hadn't.

"Naruto, look at me."

At first he heard the words but they flowed through his head like string through a hole, then Kakashi said it again, and he was actually listening and he was shocked because it was the last thing he expected to hear.

"What?" he asked dumbly, not quite believing what he was hearing.

"Look at my face."

"But…"

"Come on."

"But why?" He didn't look. He didn't know why Kakashi was telling him to. Was it because Naruto had already killed the purpose of him hiding it and felt that he might as well get a good look because he already fucked it all up anyway?

"Just look." Naruto shook his head furiously. He refused to make it worse.

"There you go again, making me feel repulsive and old," Kakashi actually laughed. "Way to make a guy feel attractive."

"And," he continued, "It makes me a little sad that my face isn't worth a second look." Which was definitely true, but only for Naruto. He wanted the boy to look at him, though he hadn't intended for it the first time, but since it was already out there, he might as well hope that Naruto wanted to look again. Of course, the blonde wouldn't find an old man like him attractive anyway. Still.

Naruto refused to be baited again. He knew that Kakashi was trying to downplay the situation by joking around with him, but he still felt like a real shit for allowing it to happen.

"It's okay sensei, you don't have to do that." His voice cracked. Damn it, he wouldn't cry. He wouldn't. He was already stupid and impulsive; let him not add weak and girly to the list.

"Are you going to forget what I look like?" Kakashi wondered aloud.

"You know I can't." He'd been waiting for years to see what was under that mask, and by no means did it happen in any of the ways he imagined it would happen.

Kakashi laughed again, and Naruto bit harder into his abused lip. "Judging by the way you refuse to look at me again anyway, I wouldn't say you won't forget because I'm attractive enough to remember."

Naruto kept silent. He would not.

"By the way, you do realize that you're bleeding, don't you?"

Naruto had the grace to blink. He actually hadn't noticed. He brought a hand to his mouth and followed the trail of blood down his chin and looked at his plate, where a small pool was widening.

"Oh," he mumbled noncommittally, wiping his mouth and chin as best as he could with the back of his hand. He got up and went to the sink to rinse his mouth and hands, berating himself silently for doing something as animalistic as chewing on his own flesh in front of Kakashi.

"Take me to my room."

Naruto turned the water off and dried his face, the cut on his lip already healing rapidly to a bruise, and went to take Kakashi to his room. If that was what Kakashi wanted, he wouldn't make it worse by not complying. Once they were inside, he parked the Jounin next to his bed and walked back to the door but he didn't get far before Kakashi grabbed his arm.

"Why are you so upset?" Naruto stopped walking and sighed.

"You think I'm stupid, don't you?"

"Why?"

"I shouldn't have looked! I should have done something else! Now you probably think I'm impulsive---

"No, you're more ignorant than impulsive." Naruto's face fell even more and he looked like he would cry again.

"You won't listen to me, that's what makes you ignorant. Listen, damn it."

"…."

"If I hadn't said what I said, you wouldn't have looked up. It's my own fault. I insulted you because of the way you felt and that was wrong of me. Besides, it's only my face, it's not like you could help seeing it. And it would be hypocritical of me to be angry for that when I'm stark naked around you twice a day. You've never looked at my nakedness, so I think it could be worse. Not to say that I'd be angry if you saw me naked, lots of people have, it's natural. You didn't defy my wishes in any way and you didn't use dishonest means to look at my face. It was an accident, okay? You don't have to be so upset. I forgive you. Now, I have to say, I'm surprised you reacted as strongly as you did, and you should never let what people think of you cut that deep. Everyone makes mistakes, Naruto, we both made one today. I also realize that it's not right to be upset at you because I trust you with my life, and it wouldn't be fair not to trust you with this. I can get used to being comfortable not wearing my mask around a person for the first time in fifteen years, so that makes you pretty special, even if by accident. You better get used to looking at me, because I can tell you right now that it'll be impossible not to now that I won't wear the mask around you anymore."

His student slowly turned around and looked at him for the second time. His cerulean eyes scanned every inch of his face, and though it made Kakashi a bit uncomfortable, he let it happen.

"See, that wasn't so bad. And I feel better now." He smiled and Naruto's eyes got bigger.

"Y-you have dimples." He said in awe.

"Oh yeah those. My mother had them." He shrugged nonchalantly.

The boy couldn't help but turn a little pink. Kakashi had a beautiful smile. He stared longer, taking in the man's boyishly smooth skin, which looked like it had never seen facial hair, the eye patch on his left eye, his straight pointed nose, and lastly, his temptingly full lips all on a perfectly angled face. He looked androgynous enough to be considered pretty, but still masculine enough to be considered handsome. Not that Naruto was going to tell him that.

"Um…" he looked down at his hand, which Kakashi still hadn't let go. The Jounin dropped it. He looked at the door. "Did you want to be alone?" Kakashi had asked to be taken to his room, so perhaps that meant he wanted solitude. "No, I just wanted to get you close enough to listen to me. I could have grabbed you in the kitchen, but you moved too fast, so I knew once I got you here, you'd be more subdued and then I could pounce." He explained with another sunny smile.

Naruto gave a weak smile of his own. "Oh…so…um…did you want to get dressed…?"

Kakashi looked down. Sure enough, he was still in his boxer shorts. He laughed lowly and said yes.

"Do you think you're up to helping me?"

'Do I have a choice?'

"Sure, if you're okay with it."

His sensei sighed. "I have to be, and someone has to do it, and honestly, I'd much rather it be you than the nurses there. I'm ashamed to admit that I have been molested a few times by some of them, though they knew better than to go too far otherwise they'd have no hands." The smile on his face as he said this sort of creeped Naruto out.

"Don't worry, you have my word that I won't overstep my boundaries." 'Much as I'd like to'

He snickered a little. "But I'd like to have nurses pay that much attention to me. They don't like to touch me, you know, me being who I am."

Kakashi's mind went to the proverbial gutter. He'd love to have been Naruto's nurse, just for an excuse to touch the boy and see him naked. An airy smile crossed his face.

"If they allowed Sakura to be a nurse, I'm sure she wouldn't mind touching you."

Naruto turned red. "Don't say that, she doesn't really like me like that. I'm like an annoying little brother to her."

"That's not what she told me."

"Really?" His voice wasn't happy or surprised, which pleased Kakashi. "Oh, well, I don't really like her that way anymore. She's more like a super-powered, scary older sister." They both laughed. If Sakura were there, Naruto would be imbedded in a wall, true to her description.

"I seem to have a habit of falling for people out of my league. Sakura wouldn't even give me the time of day when we were younger. It's amazing how people change. I never would have expected her to develop any feelings for me. It even looked like she would hit it off with Sai at some times. But I guess he looks too much like Sasuke for her liking."

Kakashi decided that today, he would get as much information about Naruto's preference as possible. If Naruto was even remotely interested in males, then he could find out who he liked. It obviously wasn't Sai, and he couldn't think of any of the other Genin who would be compatible with the blonde, but it was Naruto he was thinking about, he was sure it would be a big surprise who it was that he liked.

"Your father had an endless fanclub of girls that would kill just to get his attention. They fought each other just to get talked to by him first, and when I say fought I mean kunai and all. He was quite the ladies man. I remember having to fight off some of these kunoichi myself, especially the ones from other villages. Boy those women were crazy. They even had a poll of the sexiest men alive, and your father was number zero, they were that crazy about him. I'm sure you can understand that your mother had to beat off more than a fair share of women with a stick. She was lucky. Most of the women were envious to death of her because she wasn't as beautiful as a lot of kunoichi in the village. She was very pretty but she was plain to look at with red hair and blue eyes and not exactly the picture of a woman. She was a tomboy, so it enraged other females that she could catch his eye and they couldn't. He loved your mother so much I think he was obsessed with her. Kind of the way Hinata Hyuuga is infatuated with you."

Naruto blinked. Hinata? Shy little Hinata? Infatuated with him?

"Are you serious, Hinata? No way, I never got that feeling from her."

"Of course not, you're dense."

"Hey!"

"Everybody knows it but you. She follows you practically everywhere when she can. I'm surprised you've never notice. See? You might have one of those silent fanclubs. She likes you so much she's afraid to talk to you, and faints if you even so much as look at her. Poor girl, falling for someone as dense as a brick." Kakashi teased.

Ohhhh, so that was why she kept passing out! He thought she was sick!

"I wouldn't be surprised if you turned out like your father, though it seems that the women you attract aren't crazy, with the exception of Sakura." He wisely added. Sakura was definitely not his type.

"Wow…" Naruto whispered. He never thought about that. He just assumed that he had horrible luck with girls. With people like Neji Hyuuga and other pretty boys in the village, he didn't think he stood a chance.

"But then you have to understand that not ever female has the same taste in males. Some like people less attractive, some like people based on their looks. I'm sure every girl in the Rookie Nine had a crush on one of the other boys, whether on their team or another." Kakashi paused, then added, with much carefulness, "And some of the boys have crushes on other boys. Which is far more common than you think."

He watched Naruto turn redder, a sign that maybe he was getting somewhere. Naruto wasn't far from thinking along the same path as Kakashi. He was trying to get as much information about Kakashi's preferences too. Since they were on the topic of boys liking boys…

"Do you think any of those guys like me?" The question wasn't asked with any hint of disgust so Kakashi assumed that it meant that he wouldn't mind if another male liked him.

"Not that I know of." Maybe Naruto did like one of the Rookie Nine. But who?

"Good, because none of them are my type." The second the words came out of his mouth, Naruto wished he could put them back.

"What is your type?" There was a chance that Kakashi was pushing it, and that the boy wouldn't answer him and he was right. Naruto turned a shade redder and told what Kakashi knew was an obvious lie.

"I don't have one yet." If Kakashi had reason to believe that he was interested in men, he might not want to be cared for by him. What if Kakashi was homophobic? He wouldn't let Naruto come near him, wouldn't even let him prod him from afar with a ten-foot pole to save his life. He'd have to feign heterosexuality.

"They could be whatever," He said airily, as if it didn't matter what the girl looked like and he'd still like her anyway.

'Damn' Kakashi cursed in his head. He was so close! That settled it then. Naruto may not have been averse to the idea of being liked by another man but wasn't into it himself.

"So what is your dream girl like? I mean, what does the one you want now look like?"

There were several characteristics he could make up in his head about a girl he might have liked, but if he was wrong about not having a chance with Kakashi, he might mess it up by saying that his heart was taken. But if he told Kakashi that it wasn't a girl, then he might mess up what little they had now.

"It doesn't matter. Want to get dressed now?" He felt Kakashi's eyes on him but didn't look. He knew the Jounin knew he was avoiding the subject.

'As long as he doesn't know why.'

"Fine." Kakashi resigned. Naruto didn't like him, so he didn't know why he even cared to know.

As Naruto dressed him, they did their usual bout of conversation and as the teen was pulling his pants up to his knees he asked, "What's your preference, Kakashi-sensei? What kind of girl catches the eye of the man of a thousand jutsus?" Nobody could blame him for being curious.

"Well, I like blondes." He replied casually. Naruto tried not to look shocked. One point for him!

"Yeah, we do have more fun," he sniggered.

"That you do. Though I wonder if all blondes are kinky? I hear they are." Kakashi was proud to say that he was back on the bandwagon of figuring Naruto's sexuality. Now all he had to do was use the commonality (or lack thereof as there weren't very many blondes that he'd ever met) of Naruto's hair color to get information. He felt so sneaky he wanted to do an evil laugh, but refrained out of respect for himself.

"I think Ino is pretty freaky by the looks of it. Temari doesn't look too fun, but you never know what someone's like in bed. She could be a beast in there." Now was his chance! The least he could do was let Kakashi know that he had potential to be kinky. Maybe that would give him something to think about and rethink being straight!

"It's not a surprise that I've never had sex before, but I'd do just about anything in bed. Blame Jiraiya, he's corrupted my innocent mind."

Kakashi swallowed before asking his next question. "Anything?"

Naruto nodded and stood, taking Kakashi with him and wrapped his arm around his hips. He was so close, Kakashi could feel his warm breath on his skin. "Whatever my lover wants to do, I'll do it. Nothing is too kinky."

Kakashi grunted and held onto him for support. "You say that now, but maybe you're more innocent than you think."

Naruto looked insulted for a moment. "I've seen the face of death, kinky sex won't scare me!"

"Do you like being tied up?"

Naruto pulled his pants up to his waist and lowered him back down to the bed, standing in front of him, he picked up the dark blue shirt and ruffled it to the neck for Kakashi's head. He wasn't going to hold back his answers. They weren't talking about gender, just sex in general, so he was going to tell the truth and see how far he could go without freaking the man out. He never thought he'd be talking to his sensei about what he wanted to do in bed or anything to do with sex, but he wasn't going to waste the opportunity. Besides, Kakashi was a pervert, and he was sure all perverts talked about stuff like that. He had just joined the club.

"I wouldn't mind being tied up. But I'd like to be the one doing the tying. I'm too full of energy to be held down. I can't do gentle slow stuff."

"So you'd like it rough, then?" It was a good thing Naruto was standing and he was sitting because he was already half hard just from talking about sex with the blonde.

'Yes siree!' Naruto inwardly shouted with glee but outwardly answered calmly, "Rough sex is hot sex, I can tell by looking at it. Jiraiya used to make me watch porn and tell me that it was a form of taijutsu before he finally just told me what it was and from the moment I saw it I was hooked. All the pornstars were really hot and doing it really rough. I remember asking Jiraiya if the girls were in pain, and he laughed and said that's how ninja have sex. Since I'm such a great ninja, I could picture blowing some chick's back out."

Kakashi groaned almost silently. Okay now he was fully hard. What could he ask that would really turn the conversation hot? Naruto put his shirt on and he was fully clothed and sitting on the bed. Naruto sat in front of him, much to his glee.

"You'd be wild in bed, I can tell by looking at you."

Naruto looked at him and grinned. "Is it because I'm blonde?"

'No, it's because you're hot.'

"Maybe." Kakashi made sure to smile as he said this, so that he could have the pleasure of seeing Naruto's face turn pink. His effort wasn't wasted. Naruto blushed and looked down at his lap.

Whatever was going on, Naruto hoped it led to finding out if Kakashi was into guys. Or him to be specific. He had never actually dated someone, but he knew that they were practically flirting.

"But your personality says it all." Kakashi surveyed every move the boy made. He seemed to be flustered or flattered, he couldn't tell which, but he was liking where it was going. Who cared about Naruto's mystery girl, she was never going to find out how kinky his student was. Only someone so lucky would and he hoped to be that man more than anything!

"What about you sensei? It's obvious you're kinky because you're a pervert, but are you a dom or a sub?"

Kakashi gaped. What did Naruto know about those?!

"What do you mean?" He feigned ignorance just so he could see what the boy did know about it.

Naruto looked at him with a sly grin. "Come on, you know what I mean. Are you dominant in bed, or do you let the girl be on top and let her do you?"

"I'm definitely dominant, though I love the occasional rough ride. I still partake in the control, no woman is good enough to whip me that bad."

'I'd whip you 'til you begged for it, sensei!' Naruto's perverted mind crooned.

"So have you ever tied a girl up?"

Kakashi looked up, smiled, then looked back down at him. "You'd be surprised how many women ask me to."

"No I wouldn't," Naruto muttered under his breath.

"What'd you just say?" Kakashi asked, his smile turning into a puzzled smirk.

"Nothing."

"Come on Naruto, that's not fair. I'm not mumbling anything."

"I said, no I wouldn't."

Yes, the Jounin thought, pleased. Now they were talking!

"You wouldn't be surprised by that? Why not?"

'Don't back out, don't back out…' Naruto chanted to himself. What if he said something wrong and screwed it all up? Things were going so swimmingly, he didn't want to say anything wrong. So much for not holding back.

"Some women will probably do anything to sleep with such a high ranked elite ninja."

"Hm, that's true." Kakashi joked.

"So that's it?"

"What?"

"The only reason you're not surprised?"

Naruto's eyes narrowed. Wait a minute, what was Kakashi getting at? Was he giving off the impression that he was lying? "Yeah," he lied again. Who knew, maybe he would get away with it.

Oh well, Kakashi mused, he still had the boy's attention. Now he would see if he could carefully exploit the blush on Naruto's face and see what he could get out of it.

"I'm sorry, this talk is too much for you. You're turning so red I think you might faint. I should have known you wouldn't want to---

"No!" Naruto yelled. He looked away and continued in a lower voice. "I mean, no, I can talk about it too. I'm a man now so you can say whatever."

Kakashi continued with the ploy of false worry. "Yeah but you're turning really red and I'm afraid I've said too much already---

"Nothing you say can surprise me, sensei." That was an outright lie. There were a great many things he could have said that would have succeeding in shocking and embarrassing Naruto. But what would he get out of telling Kakashi that?

"Okay, so since you're a man and all, you wouldn't be surprised if I said that I choke whoever I sleep with until they pass out in the middle of sex?"

'What the fuck?!' Choking them until they passed out?! Was that supposed to be kinky, or deadly?!

"So you…screw unconscious people?" Naruto asked as steadily as he could. That was actually a bigger surprise than he expected.

"No, not like that. It doesn't really have a name, but you pass out for a few seconds and it feels like an orgasm, kind of." Kakashi smiled again and Naruto thought he might have been imagining the wolfishness behind that smile.

"Really?" It didn't sound so bad when he put it like that. Because it wasn't sexy to undergo an assassination attempt in the middle of sex. "How'd you learn to do that?"

Kakashi waved a hand boredly, "Oh, a woman taught it to me." He wasn't going to say that it was Anko. He didn't want to traumatize the kid.

"So does that surprise you?"

"Not anymore." It seemed like something Kakashi would do, now that he thought about it. The more time he spent talking to the man, the more sexually deviant he seemed and it was thrilling talking to Kakashi with a raging erection and him not knowing about it. He felt that if Kakashi did discover it, that he would be too promiscuous to be surprised or offended.

It was really too bad that he was disabled, Kakashi thought with a slight frown, it really was. God the things he wanted to do to the gorgeous brat! It would be at least another three weeks before he was fully functional again, and if he had to discover today that Naruto liked men, he'd spend the rest of those weeks in misery.

He had to taper the conversation off somehow and get back to it when he got better, so that should he get the chance to test how rough Naruto liked it, he'd be able to give it everything he had.

"Well, whoever it is that you're interested in sounds like she's missing out. If she's a ninja as well, then you two would probably set sheets on fire together."

The adorable blush the boy sported made Kakashi want to tear his clothes off and ravish him to tears. But alas, it was not to be. Hopefully yet. Thankfully, Naruto took this as the ending of the conversation and got up to excuse himself.

"They've gone this long without missing it. I guess they could keeping going."

He left the room before the copy-nin had the chance to say anything in response, calling that he would be in the kitchen behind his shoulder. Kakashi saw the sad look on his face and wished he could tell Naruto that he thought he was very beautiful and had thought so for months and that anybody would be so lucky to have him, but he knew he couldn't just do that to the boy.

He was Naruto's sensei, and that might have been all he would ever be, and he'd be much less if he were to lose Naruto's trust. At that point, he couldn't see the benefits out weighing the risks. If he did get through to him, that would be great, but then there was that person, and what if Naruto wanted to marry and have children someday, where would that leave Kakashi?

What if he was just a phase in the teenager's young life? What if he decided that he couldn't deal with the age gap? Those were the risks. But then what if he did like Kakashi back and did reciprocate the attraction and did decide that he didn't mind the gap and didn't want kids and a wife?

Thirty years down the road would make the boy a 46-year old man, and Kakashi a sixty-year old retiree with slowed sex drive and only memories. What incentive was that to make him stay? Naruto would still have time to marry and reproduce, and enjoy the rest of his life with someone that aged at his pace. Those were the risks.

The benefits? That was the sad part. He couldn't see anything that would benefit Naruto in himself. He would be content forever if the blonde choose to stay with him until the end, but what about Naruto? He deserved everything, including the right to be free and happy, even if it wasn't with him.

Did that mean Kakashi was going to give up?

Of course not. It was still worth a try, and who was to say if he would even live long enough for their lives to get boring? He would kick himself in the afterlife if he didn't try.

He just hoped Naruto's dreamgirl didn't decide to feel the same way he did.


Two weeks had passed with no more conversations like the one they had on the third day of living together. In the meantime they went about their routine with the same shared nervousness, more so on Naruto's part, doing stretching exercises so that Kakashi's muscles didn't atrophy and light walks around the house.

Naruto was out on errands a lot and had to be substituted with Sakura. Sakura didn't stay long enough to need to help him with anything embarrassing and she was pleasant enough company, but he missed his blonde caretaker when he was gone, even if it was only for a few hours.

He was doing far better now, and was out of the wheelchair and moving about and such but was still not in good enough condition to be on his own. He still had the eye surgery coming to correct the headaches and blurred vision in his Sharingan eye. He had been having bad headaches as of late and Tsunade told him that it was because his chakra levels were still too low to heal the eye properly on it's own when he had it implanted and that when his chakra was rebuilding itself that he had seemingly begun to reject the eye. She suggested a quick surgery to check the optic nerves and retinas to see if that was the case and if it could result in permanent damage. He hoped not.

He hadn't told Naruto about the headaches, as they usually came at night or times when the boy was conveniently running an errand, and was thinking of telling him when he got back from his D-rank mission. The mission was more like a favor for Gaara, but when Naruto tried to get out of it, Gaara told him it was a mission. Naruto of course, couldn't refuse and had been gone for two days now.

Kakashi was able to take care of himself more or less and waited patiently. It was the longest time Naruto had been away from him in almost three weeks.

Naruto meanwhile, was teetering on the edge of going mad with anxiousness. He wanted to go home, but Tsunade and Gaara had him sitting through some stiff meeting with a bunch of diplomatic heads. They said that if he wanted to be Hokage, he would have to go through mind-numbingly bored meeting such as this one.

They weren't even talking about anything, how could it be important?!

Gaara went to them twice a week, and he was shocked at how well the redhead boy was taking it, though he couldn't really know because the Kazekage spoke very little and he couldn't tell if Gaara's face could express boredom even if he was bored. Naruto knew he was. Tsunade just nodded along and occasionally said something that the others seemed to find productive and he was beginning to black out.

"Meeting adjourned." Naruto had never heard more beautiful words! He literally ran out of the conference room, bumping into a few people on the way in his hurry.

Yes! He was finally going home to Kakashi! '

He wondered if his sensei missed him. It had only been two days and they hadn't been very talkative in the last few weeks, but it felt like he was gone for more than that. He sprinted through the hot sand with a huge grin on his face that made a few people stare, but he was so happy that he didn't notice.

When he closer to the house he slowed down, wanting time to catch his breath before he got there. He wanted to be cool and collected, just in case Kakashi didn't miss him as much. It came into view and he couldn't help but grin again.

He opened the door as quietly as he could, even though it was useless because there was a ninja inside that could hear creaks in the wind. He made a beeline straight for Kakashi's bedroom and stopped a while before knocking softly on the door. There was a shuffling inside and Naruto's stomach went into a frenzy of excitement. The grin was still on his face when Kakashi opened the door.

"Hi sensei, miss…" He trailed off with as his mouth dropped into a muted 'o'.

Kakashi had answered the door in a towel, dripping wet.

"Oh, Naruto…you're back. Did you have a good time on your mission?"

Naruto stared. Then his widened eyes went down and up and back again slowly as if to make sure that what he was seeing was real. He looked up at Kakashi, who was also maskless and saw that his lips were moving.

"I'm sorry, what?"

Kakashi didn't miss this. Naruto had just given him the elevator eyes. And apparently he'd been intensely shocked because he hadn't heard a word Kakashi had said.

"I asked how was your mission?" He made sure to closely watch for anymore interesting signs as he backed up and let the boy in. Naruto didn't move at first, like the plague was on the other side of the threshold, but then closed his mouth and looked at the floor, stepping inside.

"I-it was boring." He had waited two days to tell Kakashi about his mission and now that he'd been asked, he couldn't get his mind to work to form the words. He'd had so much to complain about and then Kakashi opened the door in his towel and the story turned to mush in his head. He really hoped Kakashi didn't plan to carry out a conversation like that. Before it was too awkward to want to look, but now…Kakashi looked so much more appealing when he wasn't disabled.

He almost jumped when the Jounin leaned his way and closed the door behind him. He did, however, gulp. He couldn't help but watch as the Jounin smiled at him and went over to the bed to dry is hair, asking him what made it so boring. Naruto bit the corner of his bottom lip.

"Well, it was a diplomatic convention and Tsunade-sama said I had to go so that I could see what kind of work it took to be a Kage. It was soooooo boring! They were all talking about nothing, and I don't know how Gaara does it, but when I'm Hokage, I'm going to make my conferences parties so it won't be so boring." He laughed uneasily, as Kakashi just kept smiling at him.

"I wouldn't be surprised. Meeting about wars and invasions over sake and party-mix, that sounds like you alright." He chuckled, the sound richer than it was before now that his throat had healed. Naruto wanted to get out of there.

"Hehe, yeah…." The words were filled with anxiousness, and he looked around, wanting to make eye contact with anything but his half naked sensei.

Kakashi took pity on him when he walked into the bathroom and he let out a short sigh of relief when the temptation was out of sight. In the bathroom, Kakashi was standing over the sink, staring in the mirror and wondering what Naruto's reaction in the room had meant.

Was he just surprised that he would answer the door that way and was nervous because it made him uncomfortable or was he surprised and nervous because he liked what he saw and didn't want to make it obvious? How would he find out? Naruto obviously wasn't going to say anything, if there was anything to say.

He pulled some pants on and walked back out of the bathroom to see that Naruto was standing in the same place he'd left him, looking like he wanted to run out of there. Maybe Naruto didn't want to be there after all. Kakashi felt a small sprig of disappointment.

"I'll be going for surgery on my eye tomorrow. I just thought I'd let you know that I'll be gone most of the day."

Naruto's face contorted in confusion. Why was Kakashi just telling him this now?

"Why?" He asked, trying to hide the worry in his voice.

Kakashi shrugged. "I've been having headaches the past week and Tsunade-sama thinks I might be rejecting Sasuke's Sharingan." Then he turned around and went to fold his towel. Naruto stood there, still looking confused. He was actually a little hurt that Kakashi hadn't told him about these headaches and he wanted to know why.

"How come I'm just now hearing about this?"

Kakashi turned around and glanced at him with that damn beautiful face and with those lovely dimples and simply said, "I didn't think it would matter when I told you. There was no need to make you worried about it, it's not that big of a deal."

Naruto clenched his hands into fists. "So you've been having headaches for a week, and you didn't tell me, because it's not that big of a deal?" There was a venomous calm in his voice that made the Jounin stop what he was doing and turn around.

Something about the way Naruto had asked made Kakashi suddenly want to lie. The boy glared at him silently waiting for his response and he found it hard to look him in the eyes when he answered.

"I didn't want you to worry. You've already done so much to take care of me and the last thing I wanted you to do was add needless worrying to the list."

"And why would my worrying be needless?" Naruto growled. Wasn't he important enough to know that, especially after all time he had spent literally feeding, dressing, bathing, and caring for the man? Kakashi couldn't even be bothered to tell him because he didn't think it would matter? That hurt. He thought he was getting somewhere, when he was really just putting himself into a position to fall into something just like this.

"You have so much more to do in life than worry about me." It hurt to say it more than it did to think it. He knew that Naruto was dedicated to being concerned about his comrades, but—

"Like what?" Kakashi blinked. He hadn't expected that response. Naruto still didn't look pleased with his answer.

"Like finding a girlfriend, or other things young shinobi with nothing to do do. You should be worried about how you're going to get this girl to like you."

"What girl?!" Naruto snapped, his hands now raised in fists at his sides. He felt used, damn it! Kakashi was lying and he knew it. He just didn't want Naruto and around and this was his way of telling him? Well then it was fucking pointless keeping the way he felt a secret. He wasn't going to live with it when Kakashi already didn't care how he felt.

The blonde looked very angry and Kakashi didn't know why. Did Naruto forget about the girl he liked already? The one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with? How could he forget?

"The one we were talking about a few weeks ago. You remember, you wouldn't tell me what she was like. And you said you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her. Did you get over her already?"

Naruto squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head in frustration. "You see, this is why I have nothing better to do than to worry about people that care about me. It's not a girl, damn it!"

Both of Kakashi's eyebrows rose. She was a he?

"I don't want a girlfriend, so I don't need time to find one!"

"But…but you said---

"I said they! I never said she!"

Ohhh, why hadn't Kakashi noticed that before? Naruto did keep saying they and not she. How could he have overlooked that? Naruto did like men!

"He's probably straight and wouldn't look at me like that anyway. So no, I don't have anything better to do than to care about you."

Kakashi frowned. What was he, a backup plan?

"You don't have to say it that way. You could find other people to care about, if I'm such a tie-down to you. If your love life is so bad that you have to resort to torturing yourself by taking care of me, then I have to ask you to count me out of that." He said in his usual deadpan voice, just so that Naruto couldn't tell how hurt he really was.

Naruto's eyes widened, and for a second he looked amazed. Then they narrowed and he threw his hands up and let out a short yell. He had officially lost his temper. "Ugh! You don't get it, damn it! Shit, I can't do anyfuckingthing right! If I don't make you hate me, I can't even get you to want to be around me! You don't care what I think, I can't not offend you no matter what I do, and now you know I'm gay and I was trying to avoid that!"

"Well, it's not my fault that you're using caring about me as a fall back for your boring life. That's not exactly a nice thing to know." Kakashi spat bitterly. If Naruto didn't really care about him outside of their allegiance to Konoha, then they could remain comrades if not friends. He should have known that Naruto was too young to understand love and pain and the harshness of reality. He was still a child, and he was acting like it too.

On top of that, he was concerned about worrying the boy, and here he was getting his head bitten off for it. Apparently, he was allowing whatever he had his attention on to hurt people around him that actually did give a fuck. He didn't have a chance with Naruto, now that he knew he was just someone to talk to that stayed in one place long enough to listen.

Naruto shook with rage. If Kakashi didn't care, then fuck it, why bother? He was too thick to understand how Naruto felt, and was insulting him because of it. He was throwing the information about his surgery in his face, just to tell him that he was done with him and that he could go away then. Well he would go away, damn it!

"Taking care of you these past weeks was far from boring!"

"Well I'm glad I was a handful." Kakashi intoned stiffly. Naruto was acting so immature and he didn't know what the hell had crawled up his tan ass and died, but he wasn't going to let Naruto tromp his feelings because of some foolish unrequited crush.

The angry look slipped off of the blonde's face and he sighed and shook his head. "I'll bet you don't even know what I was thinking the day you woke up in the hospital."

Kakashi cut him off. "Well this sounds pleasant already, but I don't feel like hearing your childish thoughts." He didn't want to hurt Naruto, but he was hurt too and he had every right to lash out.

"But you're going to listen! I sat next to your bed, awake, for eighteen days straight, I didn't eat, I didn't move, I didn't talk to anybody! I HIT Tsunade-sama, because she tried to get me to leave. I punched the fucking Hokage! I thought you would die! When you woke up and I went home, do you know what I thought? I thought, that the only thing worse than losing someone precious to you is having them live and not even know how much you care! You haven't been listening to me! I killed for you, you son of a bitch! When they told me the village had been destroyed, I was angry. The village is what I live to protect! But what really fucked me up was hearing about you! I couldn't have done it without hearing that! Don't you get it?! I care about you! I care about when you're in pain! You don't even care! I fucking love you so damn much, you fucking bastard, but I didn't want to tell you because I knew you wouldn't want to see me anymore, and then this happens and I can't do anything right!"

Hot frustrated tears came out before he could stop them and he put an arm over his face because they wouldn't stop and he hadn't meant to scream out what he had and now he couldn't take it back.

He didn't think Kakashi would say anything as they stood six feet from each other in silence save for his breathing, and he certainly hadn't expected the Jounin to laugh. His blood ran cold at the sound of the man's amusement. He was at such a loss for words and so hurt that he simply turned around and walked away.

Kakashi couldn't help but laugh. He just couldn't believe it, but when he saw Naruto walking out the door, he stopped and ran after him, managing to grab his arm in the kitchen. He almost let go when he was forced to duck a punch and grabbed the boy's other hand and Naruto was flailing hysterically.

"Why are you doing this to me?! Why do you hate me?! Is it because I couldn't bring Sasuke back?! Because I couldn't save Konoha?! You lied to me, you don't care about me, you hated me before and waited for your chance to throw it all in my face! I bet if I saved Sasuke, the village would still be alright because he'd have been on our side, and you would have stopped pretending and let Itachi have m---

A jarring blow to the face was what stopped him in his tracks. He laid sprawled out on the kitchen floor, shocked, but then anger got the better of him and he jumped to his feet to attack the Jounin only to be yanked forward by his shirt and slammed backwards into the fridge, his head hitting it hard enough to blur his vision and then there was a harsh press of warmth against his lips and his eyes popped open to see Kakashi's glowering angrily into his.

He shoved violently against the man's chest, too overcome with anger and enraged shock to realize that it was he wanted. Kakashi roughly pressed him back and slammed his hands into the fridge.

When he finally pulled back, Naruto's eyes had double in size and he was panting raggedly, staring at Kakashi as if he had lost his mind.

"What the fuck?!"

Kakashi was panting too, still glaring at him.

"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!" Naruto roared, pushing off the fridge, and attempting to leave before things got out of hand but Kakashi shoved him back into it so hard it rocked against the wall and whatever was inside was shattered.

"I'm sorry I laughed, but I couldn't believe it." He tried to explain.

"Well, believe it!" He punched Kakashi in the mouth and moved away from the fridge as fast as he could toward the door. Just as he opened it, it slammed and he was thrown to the floor. Kakashi snarled down at him.

"Listen!" He rubbed his bleeding mouth and from the look in his eye, Naruto thought Kakashi was going to try and kill him.

"Go ahead and do it. You've had your fun." He encouraged bitterly. He wasn't going to let Kakashi kill him, but if it was a fight the asshole wanted it was a fight he would get.

Kakashi sucked his bloody lip. He was pissed but he wasn't going to hit the boy again. He deserved the punch, much as it hurt. He hadn't meant to laugh, but it was hilariously ironic and he just had to let Naruto know.

"You're dangerous when you're angry, I should have considered that before I found amusement in the irony of your confession."

"What the fuck are you talking about?!" Naruto was in no mood to play games. If Kakashi was going to hurt him some more, then he was going to put him back in that wheelchair.

"It's ironic because here I am, wondering what girl has become my competition, and just my luck, not only is it not a female, but it's me. I just couldn't believe I was holding back telling you that I was gay and that I liked you when you felt the same way." Kakashi chuckled exasperatedly again, holding his still aching jaw; the damn kid packed a punch.

Naruto sat up on the floor and proceeded to look like a fool for a full minute.

"I didn't tell you about the surgery because I truly didn't want you to worry. I told you now because I couldn't really hide it from you anyway, and I didn't expect for you to react this way. I can imagine what would happen if I didn't tell you and you found out from someone else. Yeesh, I don't think I'd have a jaw anymore."

"What?" Naruto questioned dumbly. All of his anger melted away like ice under the sun and now he was just shocked.

"I'm saying that I feel the same way you do, Naruto. I've been thinking about a way to make you realize that for days, and I couldn't come up with one positive benefit being with me would have for you. Of course, I didn't indulge myself to think I would be that lucky, but it was better than not trying at all, something you yourself taught me to always think of first. I didn't want you to think that I was a creepy old man trying to hit on you. I remember a few times where I tried to flirt with you and you got freaked out. I just knew I wouldn't have a chance with you, so you can imagine how ironic it is to find that I did. But…"

'But he's probably too mad at me to want to give me a try.' He thought sadly. When he saw that Naruto didn't look like he was going to prove him wrong, he sighed and went back to the bedroom. The teen probably wanted to be alone, or leave and he wasn't going to stop him. For the first time in days he put his mask back on despite the lack of curious company.

How had things gone so wrong so fast? Just when he thought he was getting through to Naruto, he had forgotten how serious the younger one was about people he cared about. He'd never had a family, so caring for someone and being cared for was something idea for the boy, and Kakashi had been selfish when he didn't tell him about the headaches, even if he thought he meant well.

He very likely just messed up the best thing he'd ever have. Naruto meant the world to him, he didn't know what he would do without him. With Konoha destroyed, he could just take up and leave and Kakashi might never see him again.

"No." He said resolutely. No. He wouldn't allow Naruto to walk out of his life, even if he had lost that chance, he still wanted to be by his side and show Naruto how much he loved him even if the boy didn't want him to.

He stood to go back out into the kitchen and apologize and grovel if he had to, half expecting Naruto to be either in the same spot he left him in, or gone. When he opened the bedroom door, his expectations were dashed when he saw Naruto standing in the doorway.

The blonde just stared at him, cerulean eyes full of pleading and Kakashi folded like origami under the silent charm and pulled the boy to him in a tight desperate hug. Naruto didn't hug back at first, then his arms came up and he clutched at the Jounin's shirt with almost startling urgency, burying his silky blonde head into the clothed neck of his sensei.

Kakashi was a bit taken aback when Naruto's shoulders shook and jerked and the muffled sound of a hiccup came from him. He tried to pull away and see what if something was wrong, but Naruto kept pushing forward and pulling Kakashi tighter against him. He didn't want the other man to let go.

So the copy-nin held him like that for a few more minutes before the sniffles died down and Naruto's breathing evened out. He allowed time for the boy to pull away on his own so as not to ruin to moment by being the first to disengage.

Naruto stepped away from him and looked down awkwardly. Then, clearing his throat he said, "It's just that….I don't have anyone else…"

"I know," Kakashi softly reassured him. He didn't have anyone either. He didn't want to make the mistakes he had made in the past.

Ignoring Naruto in the past so that he wouldn't get close to him was a mistake. He wanted to love and be loved again. He felt that he was ready and….this would be Naruto's first time. Naruto would learn what it was like to have someone to love and he would re-learn the feeling.

He couldn't afford to keep his heart locked away anymore, because no he wasn't the only one who could get hurt. He had to believe that it was better to have and to hold then to not have at all. Naruto believed it. After all that had happened, and all that was lost, he believed it. How could Kakashi turn away from such hope?

The boy looked up at him and broke into a watery smile, when Kakashi smiled back, it became a full grin. "So Tsunade wants you to be her successor." He said, not framing it as a question.

"Yeah. But she says that she's going to wait until we rebuild Konoha. She says that people will be attracted to the new village and people who's villages got destroyed by the Akatsuki will be welcome. We might even get a few new bloodlines. Then, it's all mine." He gave the Jounin a sunny smile and laughed.

Kakashi just stared at him. The kid had no idea how beautiful he was. He leaned forward. Naruto stopped smiling and looked at him with wide eyes. "Is this alright," he asked. The blonde nodded slowly even though he still looked a bit stunned and Kakashi took his mask down and claimed his lips in their first kiss.

Naruto threw his arms around his sensei's neck and deepened the kiss, sealing his mouth as tight against Kakashi's as he could. The older man slowly pressed his tongue against his lips and Naruto eagerly accepted it. He was so happy, that he hadn't realized that he had closed his eyes and was crying until Kakashi pulled away.

"You all right?"

Naruto slowly opened his eyes, parting the damp lashes to give Kakashi a shining look of pure happiness. "It's uh…you know…my first kiss and I…."

Kakashi watched him.

"I'm happy. I'm happy that it was with you." (That disgusting thing with Sasuke didn't count. It was like pressing his lips against dry ice).

"I'm glad," the man sighed and then gave his new love a stunning smile. "I wonder if you'll be this happy when we—

Naruto silenced his perverted word with another kiss. He watched Kakashi close his eyes and smile against his lips and he couldn't think of a moment in his life when he'd been happier than he was right then. Though now that he thought about that, he had to wonder.

"You said something about positive benefits to being with you. Tell me, are you afraid that I might want kids?"

Kakashi stepped back and away from him. He was happy not to be reminded of that. "Naruto, I can be satisfied with whatever time you afford me. It's better than nothing. I won't stop you from having what you want, because you deserve everything."

The thought of Naruto leaving him for a woman was painful. They could adopt, they could pay a woman to have their babies, but it wouldn't be the same. What if Naruto decided that he didn't want a superficial family? Naruto never did things by halves, and Kakashi knew him well enough that if he were forced to, then he wouldn't be happy.

But Naruto only smiled and leaned back into him. "I have a very special jutsu. I immaturely called it my Sexy Justu, but she has a name now. I was thinking that Narumi, or Naruko was nice."

Kakashi blinked and turned his head slightly to the side, frowning. "Wait, what?"

The blonde shrugged. "You know that thing Sakura's always hitting me for for teaching Konohamaru?"

Kakashi nodded slowly, still not following. He knew that Sakura hit him for some reason but he never knew what.

"Well, I can uh…I can jutsu into a biologically female version of myself. Everything about me is the same, except, well, the obvious bits. If I want kids, then I want them with you. I think I can handle being a girl for nine months if it means there will be more of you to love. And I'll never want for anything. I'm not into girls and it's not going to change. So, I want to you take all of those insecurities that you have about this working, and simply…let them go." He smiled softly, the corner of his mouth quirking slightly to show how serious he was.

Kakashi just stared. "Wha—bu—how?"

Naruto shrugged again. "I've known how to since I was six. I taught it to Konohamaru, but not everyone can learn it for some reason. Anyway, that's it. You don't have to worry about that anymore. You know there is only one thing that can keep us apart, but…we can't let that stop us. Like you said, love hurts, but do does being lonely."

This was why he loved his little blonde kitsune. The boy made sense out of all kinds of things, and always had a solution to almost every problem. And Kakashi had never thought of having kids himself. But, there was a first time for everything, and, if one of them were to die, then they would have pieces of the other always with them. They would never be alone.

When he grinned, he made sure to make a spectacular display of teeth. "So how many kids are we talking?


The End.

Ahhhh, it's over. Yeah, I know NO LEMON???? No. Not every story needs a lemon to be good, though I would be lying if I said that I didn't want to put one there. I was thinking about writing an alternate version of this with a lemon, but we'll see, it depends on the reviews. You know, if I don't know you like it, how can I….yadda yadda. I do hope you liked it, and look out for more stories from me. And thanks for all those who wished me good luck in school. You all make my days a little brighter.