Title: One More Day

Author: Lemon Drops/thatreevesgirl (both me)

Rating: T

Summary: He wants to thank her for the small moments, the ramen and silly conversations. Kakashi and Sakura.

Warnings: character death

24 hours.

Kakashi sits on his apartment complex's rooftop. He's holding his beloved copy of Icha Icha Paradise, but not really reading it. His thumb is marking a page that he has been mulling over for an hour or so. Everything seems to distract him today—the farmers selling vegetables, the birds, the children playing in the street, the ninja walking by, an Inuzuka's dog pack, the buzz of insects, etc.

Just focus, Kakashi thinks, but his mind remains distracted. He sighs and leans back into the little reading chair he keeps on the rooftop. The arms and fabric covered metal seat seems to dig into him today. He can't quite figure out why, but he's just itching to move and act and do. It is almost like he forgot something, but for the life of him, he can't remember what it is.

"Sempai," a voice calls from the streets.

Kakashi gets up from his chair and walks to the edge of the building. Peering off the side Kakashi looks down and sees Naruto waving up. Sakura and Sai are also there, smiling up at him. It strikes him how old they look, and if they look old, then he must seem ancient.

"Sempai, come treat us to some ramen," Naruto shouts up. Even now he is still all smiles and boundless energy. He reminds Kakashi of the sun, and he revels in the young man's warmth.

"Mah, Naruto, I'm not really hungry," he calls down. Kakashi is, but he isn't. His stomach feels a bit queasy today. It just fits with everything else, just a bit off.

Naruto gives Kakashi a disappointed look and he grumbles. "You just don't want to pay," Naruto says as he points an accusing finger at the copy-nin.

"Ah, right you are," Kakashi tells the whiny young man. It isn't anything new though. Kakashi has never treated them to ramen. He is sure he owes Naruto a thousand bowls of it by now.

Naruto stomps off. He has matured a lot in the last decade, really he has, but Kakashi still wonders if Naruto will ever truly grow up. Sakura and Sai tag along behind the walking temper-tantrum. Just before they slip around the corner he sees Sakura giggle as she waves goodbye to him.

23 hours.

Kakashi wakes to a gentle tapping on his shoulder. "Sempai," a quiet voice says, "You shouldn't sleep in the sun. It isn't good for you. Heaven forbid if you ever take that mask off. You'd look ridiculous with the strange tan you're getting."

Sakura had a point. This is why Kakashi avoids mirrors. Still, he has his pride. He grunts and shoos her away.

"I brought you some ramen," Sakura tells him. "My treat."

She sits beside him on the ground next to his chair as he eats. His back is to her most of the time. It is still weird to have her see him "naked" in that way most people would never consider nude, but he does. It makes him feel vulnerable to Sakura.

The really funny thing is Kakashi's stomach doesn't seem to be bothering him anymore. The food tastes good. He watches over his shoulder as Sakura makes herself at home on his rooftop and pulls a stack of charts from her bag. The hospital must be busy if work is chasing her around like this. Sakura signs a couple forms and inspects a few others. She can't seem to wrap her mind around a larger packet.

"What's that?" he asks as he slurps down the last of his noodles.

"A new research study," she tells him before dropping it to the ground and rustling her fingers in her hair. She stands and stretches and stomps a bit and then she glares menacingly at the proposal.

"Are you having problems with it?" He asks as he drinks down the broth and replaces his mask to its rightful place on his face.

Her eyes are burning holes in the paper and he can see her warring with herself about whether or not her boot belonged atop the stack while stomping it to death. "I don't think it is moral," she finally tells him, "But these are the concessions we made to the council when Danzou was removed from office."

"Transparency?" he asks and picks up the packet.

"Yes, transparency," she hisses. "Just because the council doesn't hide these things anymore doesn't mean we should be doing them."

Kakashi glances over the packet. "At least it is entirely comprised of those who volunteer."

She looks almost sad as she takes it back from him and shoves it in her satchel. "Kakashi," she tells him very seriously, "That doesn't make it right."

"Then don't sign off on it." Their eyes connect and he watches her face as she considers this, but they both know it isn't as simple as that. If she doesn't sign, then someone else will, someone with less scruples and less moral integrity than Sakura. This project requires a watchdog, and who better than she?

"Thanks Kakashi," Sakura tells him as she leaps off the roof.

He doesn't have a chance to tell her thank you for the food. Kakashi rubs his satiated belly and picks up his novel.

20 hours.

A messenger bird drops off a summons from the Hokage. Kakashi sighs. He really hates it when a mission starts after six in the evening. It usually means he isn't going to get any sleep.

18 hours.

Kakashi stands at the gates and waits for Sai and Tenzou to arrive. This isn't a normal mission, but it is disguised as one. These are the kinds of things that make him worry. The details are sparse, and he wonders if it is a good idea to take only three men. If Kakashi were Hokage he would have assigned a platoon.

15 hours.

There is nothing worse than the smell of charred flesh. Kakashi thinks it is especially bad because it is only a small step away from the aromas that drift down from the barbeque place near his house (minus the sauces and spices). Sai is busy trying to help Tenzou mop up some blood splatter. They don't want enemy nins tracking them. This mission is too damn dangerous as it is.

13 hours.

The three of them are exhausted. Sai is taking the first watch and Tenzou and Kakashi are trying to get a little bit of shut eye. It isn't that difficult to drift into unconsciousness, but it is damned hard to sleep.

10 hours.

The first paper bomb he tries is defective. Kakashi attempts to set another one, but the place is crawling with too many enemy nin. He curses under his breath and pulls out a kunai. He grunts as he takes care of at least three enemies the old fashioned way. There is blood and screams and pain. It isn't until everything is over with that Kakashi discovers that not all of the it was from the enemy.

8 hours.

Tenzou would make a terrible horse. He is all bones, and Kakashi swears his kohai can't walk straight and steady in the slightest. He ends this thought by puking on Tenzou's shoulder. "Poison," he tells his comrade and Sai stabs him with something from the medpack.

4 hours.

How long had he been unconscious? Kakashi's arms and chest burn so damn bad. He swears to never take another fucking mission like this again, and after he does he regrets it. Something tells him he will uphold that promise, but not by his choice.

2 hours.

Konoha's gates have never, never looked so wonderful. Kakashi thinks about how much he is happy to see his home. Then he thinks about how he can't feel his toes or legs, and how Tenzou won't let go of him until they actually get to the hospital despite being absolutely exhausted himself. These are just a few of many bad omens.

1 hour.

"There isn't enough time to make an antidote."

Kakashi overhears this when a nurse thinks he isn't awake. He isn't really awake. It's kind of like pseudo-consciousness at this point.

30 minutes.

She refuses to give up. It feels like there are knives stuck in every inch of his skin, even the parts he has no feeling in, but Sakura refuses to give up.

5 minutes.

She still refuses to give up.

30 seconds

Kakashi hears voices and they all sound so muted. This is the second time in his life that he has taken his last breath. At this point, why is dying so difficult? Giving up should be easy.

1 second.

Kakashi feels Sakura as she cries on his chest. She apologizes over and over again. Kakashi doesn't move and doesn't talk. He can't, but he still wants to tell her thank you for everything, especially for the ramen and all the silly conversations they've had over the years. It is always the small things you cherish at the end.

Sakura stands by the memorial stone and tells Kakashi about all the things he has missed. Her fingers trail over his name as the cool autumn wind dances around her.

The End