A/N: I really didn't know how to end this, and that's why I took so long to put this chapter up. (I'm still not sure about this version.) Sorry!

Kakashi couldn't believe it. It just wasn't possible. He had taken his usual route, maybe even spent a little longer with Minato-sensei, Rin, and Obito than he usually did.

Yet, his students were not present.

He sat still for a moment and listened, but he couldn't even hear them. Evidently, if he couldn't hear Naruto, they weren't here.

Kakashi finally resigned himself to thinking that the little devils had just decided to play his own trick on them. Perhaps they had encountered an old lady in need of help…

So, Kakashi pulled a battered Icha Icha book from his pocket and began to read.

:::

"Sakura-chan, why are we skipping training today?" Naruto asked, his tone whiny. "I really wanna try out my new techniques!"

"Hn, dobe, don't you know what day it is?" Sasuke retorted smoothly.

Naruto shrugged, in turn making Sakura sigh.

"It's Kakashi-sensei's birthday," she told him. "And we have to do something really special!"

"I don't see why we have to do anything for that pervert," Naruto grumbled, albeit in a good natured sort of manner.

Sasuke looked at their female teammate expectantly.

"What should we do?" he queried.

"Do you have any ideas, Sasuke-kun?" Sakura replied sweetly.

Naruto shook his head in disgust.

"Teme never has any ideas about being nice to people," he groaned. "I think we should have a RAMEN PARTY!"

His gleeful smile disappeared when he felt Sakura's fist slamming into his head.

"This has to be something good for Kakashi-sensei," she reminded him, seething. "Not for you, Naruto!"

The blonde rubbed the bump on his head gingerly.

"You didn't have to be so mean, Sakura-chan," he pouted. "I was just brainstorming."

"Hn," Sasuke grunted.

"So Sasuke-kun," Sakura smiled, turning to her crush again. "Did you have an idea?"

Sasuke thought for a few moments. Their sensei was always reading Icha Icha, one characteristic that nobody failed to notice. But, as they all knew well, he already had all those books. He probably already had the movie versions that were supposed to come out soon. So, those were not an option.

"Hn," Sasuke responded.

"Maybe we could get him a present!" Naruto piped up.

Sakura considered this suggestion. It wasn't too bad, coming from Naruto.

"Like what?" she asked. "Nobody knows what Kakashi-sensei likes."

Naruto nodded seriously, not knowing himself what Kakashi would want.

Team 7 (minus their teacher) sat in silence for ten minutes, thinking hard.

"I give up," Naruto whined. "I just don't know what he'd want."

"I say we all go look for gifts on our own," Sasuke suggested.

"And then have a ramen party!" Naruto exclaimed.

Sakura looked at two boys, feeling outvoted.

"Fine," she said, defeated. "We'll meet back here in an hour."

:::

Naruto wandered through the market, fingering his frog wallet sadly. It was already thin, but for Kakashi-sensei, he was willing to make it anorexic.

"Naruto!" a familiar voice called.

Naruto turned around to find none other than the Hokage standing behind him and waving.

"Old man!" Naruto greeted him, grinning. "What's up?"

He walked back to the old Hokage.

"Shouldn't you be training?" Hiruzen asked, his eyes twinkling.

"Not today," Naruto replied cheerily. "Sakura-chan says its Kakashi-sensei's birthday. So I'm looking for a gift for him."

"Do you have anything in mind?" Hiruzen asked, wondering himself what Kakashi would want.

"No," Naruto sighed. "I just don't know what he'd want."

"Well then, let's see what we can do," the older man said kindly, putting a hand on Naruto's shoulder.

They reached a stall filled with all sorts of ninja things, from pictures of the Yondaime to antique kunai and shuriken.

"Kakashi-sensei already has tools," Naruto pointed out, making a face.

Hiruzen shrugged. There was something that wasn't a tool that would probably delight Kakashi.

"Hm, this looks rather like young Kakashi," he pointed out, picking up a small portrait.

Naruto craned his neck over, trying to get a glimpse of said object.

"Ah," the shopkeeper said. "Interesting thing you've picked out there. That is Konoha's famous White Fang."

The Hokage handed the little picture to Naruto and moved aside.

"And," the shopkeeper continued, lowering his voice. "He fell into disgrace after a failure to complete a mission because he wanted to save his teammates. Yet, I think he's a hero."

"Of course he's a hero!" Naruto exclaimed. "Kakashi-sensei always says that teamwork is really important. How much for this?"

The shopkeeper named his price and after a few tries at haggling, Naruto broke down and paid about ninety percent of the original amount.

:::

Sakura was completely lost at the thought of getting her sensei a present. She ended up wandering into the Yamanaka flower shop, of all places.

"Forehead!" Ino called. "What are you doing in here?"

"Ah, hey Pig," Sakura grinned. "It's Kakashi-sensei's birthday. And I'm just looking around Konoha for something he might like."

"And you thought he might like flowers?" Ino asked, her skepticism almost tangible.

Sakura shrugged, her lips twisting into a frown.

"I don't know what he might like," she replied. "I mean, flowers are always nice, right?"

"For any occasion!" Ino assured her, going into saleswoman mode. "We have every type that you would ever want."

She walked over to Sakura and grabbed her (ex) best friend's arm, leading her over to the freshest flowers. The pink haired girl looked them over carefully, breathing in each flower's unique scent. Ino noticed that the first flowers she hovered over were the red roses.

"You don't want to go with those," she warned her. "I don't think passionate love is the message you wanna send him."

Sakura recoiled instantly but within a few seconds, she was hanging around them again.

"But they're so beautiful," she sighed. "How about the other roses?"

Ino pushed aside a few bouquets to reveal one of white and red roses.

"This combination means unity," she explained. "It could be a representation of your team, you know, all united."

Sakura's eyes lit up.

"Ino, that's perfect!" she exclaimed. "I'll take these. How much?"

Ino waved her wallet away.

"Today they're yours for free," Ino smiled. "And would you like a card?"

"That sounds good," Sakura replied, trying to hide her embarrassment at Ino's kindness.

Ino went back behind the register and pulled out a plain card. She handed Sakura a pen, which she accepted with a nod.

Dear Kakashi-sensei,

You are evidently not the best suited for teaching, but you realize that we think you're great anyway, right? To put it in the least sappy way possible, I want to take this opportunity (on your birthday), to thank you for everything you've done for us so far. Naruto and Sasuke-kun already seem to be getting along well.

Now, it would be VERY nice if you could stop making up old ladies that need help and young children who have lost their mothers and ACTUALLY COME TO CLASS ON TIME. But, enough of that.

Happy birthday, Sensei!

xoxo,

Haruno Sakura.

P.S. Don't kill us for not coming to training today.

P.P.S. There was a huge group of old ladies that needed help…

P.P.P.S. …buying gifts for their favorite sensei.

Sakura looked at the card with satisfaction.

:::

Sasuke roamed the streets idly, not entirely sure of what Kakashi would want. Really, the man couldn't expect to get the perfect thing when he had told his students nothing about himself.

He came to a stop by a cart that rattled when it moved, because of all the trinkets lying on it. Sasuke's eyes widened ever so slightly when he saw a real Uchiha fan, laid out in all its glory.

The old shopkeeper caught him staring at it.

"Ah, Uchiha Sasuke," he recognized, smiling. "If you're wondering, that is an authentic Uchiha fan."

Sasuke didn't look up.

The man picked it up with gentle fingers.

"You know," he began. "There's an old belief that you should inscribe upon it the names of those closest to you. That way, you can wave it through the air and immediately feel their presence in the wind."

"Hn," Sasuke shrugged. "I'll take it, but I don't believe in all that."

The old man looked at him, a hint of regret visible in his stare.

"One day, you'll understand," he told him. "And that day, you can come pay me back for this. For now, it's yours, free."

"Thanks," Sasuke nodded, not completely ungrateful.

:::

The three met up at the previously agreed upon destination: Ichiraku. Ignoring Naruto's loud protests, Sakura led them straight to the training grounds where they should have been hours ago. They found Kakashi sitting under a tree, reading his novel for the hundredth time.

"KAKASHI-SENSEI!" Naruto yelled. "We're here!"

The fair haired ninja glanced at them and put a hand up in greeting.

"Yo!" he called. "Where have you been?"

They exchanged glances, to be specific, one shrug, one frown, and one emotionless glare, before Sakura piped up.

"We have a real excuse," she declared. "We were out buying gifts for our sensei!"

Kakashi managed to look fairly interested, especially when his single visible eye was taken into account.

"Ah, so you're finally doing something nice for Iruka-sensei," he nodded. "Finally, he gets recognition after teaching you… kids."

Naruto, confused, contradicted him immediately.

"No, Kakashi-sensei!" he exclaimed. "It's your birthday, so we got you presents!"

Despite his inner surprise (and pleasure), Kakashi kept his cool on the outside.

"Really?" he said, fairly impassively. "What is it that you've brought me?"

Sakura came forward first, producing the roses.

"Ne, well, Sensei, I wasn't really sure what to get," she explained. "And I, well, they represent unity. And we're like a family, our team, and so I thought…"

"Thank you," Kakashi smiled. "They're nice, Sakura."

She retreated, a girlish blush lining her cheeks.

"Sakura-chan and Sasuke-teme didn't want to have a ramen party," Naruto pouted, holding out his own little package.

Kakashi chuckled as he accepted it. He tore the brown paper off in one smooth motion, only to find his father staring right back at him. Naruto probably didn't know who it was when he had gotten the portrait, but Kakashi's heart went out to him. He had actually destroyed all of his father's pictures as a young boy, so this was something that he very much appreciated.

"Thank you, Naruto," Kakashi said softly, his voice nearly cracking. "I don't know how to–"

He was cut off by Naruto's excited whooping that he had gotten his sensei the perfect gift, but he didn't quite mind.

Sasuke tossed something over to Kakashi, seemingly unconcerned about the present or the meaning behind it.

"Is this what I think it is?" Kakashi asked.

"A real Uchiha fan," Sasuke grunted. "They say that–"

"They're connections to those closest to your heart," Kakashi finished. "Thank you."

The team sat in silence for a few seconds. Kakashi unconsciously fingered the charm necklace that still lay beneath his shirt. In a rush of emotion, he pulled it out and simultaneously grabbed a pink mask from his pocket. Pulling it over his regular mask, he put a hand on Naruto's shoulder.

"Let's go have ramen," he suggested. "I'll treat you guys today."

Sakura started giggling at his mask and Naruto's roars formed a chorus with her soon enough. Even Sasuke couldn't resist.

"Is there something you find funny?" Kakashi inquired, his eye crinkling good naturedly.

At the same moment, they all shook their heads.

"Of course not, Kakashi-sensei," Sakura grinned.

"Nothing at all," Naruto agreed.

"Hn," Sasuke smirked.

Kakashi chuckled, sending them off into another round of laughter. Once they finally finished, Sakura looked up at her sensei with a genuine smile on her face.

"Happy birthday," she told him.

Kakashi smiled so widely that even through the multiple masks, his students could see it.

:::

Epilogue:

Years later, Kakashi picked up the fan from his table. He could still feel the cool metal of Rin's charm necklace against his skin. The pink mask lay in his pocket. (He had to be taken seriously, after all.) The small picture of his father stood proudly next to the pictures of Team Minato and Team 7. Dried flowers were pressed into the frame he had gotten for it.

Looking down, he saw that the names were all faded, but they were definitely still there.

Naruto. Sakura. Sasuke. Obito. Rin. Minato. Kushina. Sakumo.

Waving it through the air, he was surrounded by a familiar sensation. Obito's grin was huge, but not to be outdone, Rin's smile radiated happiness, a slight blush coloring her cheeks. Minato and Kushina looked down at them, their hands gently entangled. A young Naruto pointed an accusing finger at a young Sasuke as Sakura punched him. Sakumo was content with just looking at his son, his pride shining through every pore.

The corners of Kakashi's mouth turned up as he put the fan down. He would do it again the next morning, as was routine for him.

:::

A/N #2: So. I know this one didn't focus on Kakashi as much as the other two, so I added in the little thing at the end. Now, please, REVIEW! :)