Summary: Kakashi died with the sky in his eyes. How very Kakashi-like of him to do so. Everything made a stupid amount of sense, except it didn't. And Naruto hadn't been there to catch him when he fell. —An alternative take on his death and the revival of Konoha.

Written on some sudden inspiration. Beware, angst ahead (as usual)? (:

Hope you'll like it!

A note to people who are having a lovely white Christmas: I envyyyyyyyyyyy you. Snow is just so pretty! In Singapore there are only two types of weather: hot, and wet. It's been raining like crazy the whole day. XD


With the Sky in His Eyes

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Part one: The fallen.

Kakashi died with the sky in his eyes.

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Before the battle started, Naruto allowed himself one – just one – bit of selfishness, and sent a Kage Bunshin out into the destruction.

He was looking for a person.

Just one person.

—Just one bit of selfishness, just one Kage Bunshin, just one person.

Please.

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A lot of things can be learned by studying a corpse. A shinobi's dead body can hold many of his village's secrets.

He remembered Kakashi telling him that.

If I die and my body falls into the hands of another village, they can take apart my Sharingan to learn more about it.

He dug through the debris, broken slabs of wood and cement and rock and whateverthatwas. He dug around hi—

no, it.

He dug around it.

He was looking for just one person.

And he found just one corpse.

He didn't find Kakashi, he only found his body.

.

It figures.

Everything made a stupid amount of sense, except it didn't.

Like how there was blood but there was no fatal injury.

Like how there was a destroyed Pain only a few meters away.

Like how Kakashi had died looking up of all places.

Like how there was only one dead body.

It figures, he thought, that Kakashi would die – had died – of chakra exhaustion.

It would never have happened if he was only trying to save his own life, because Kakashi's always like that. Being there. Saving other people's asses.

He was always just there at the right times, somehow.

He had used Kamui on Deidara's explosion that time, saving all of them, and practically collapsed afterwards. Naruto had been there to catch him.

But he hadn't been there the second time.

It was not a surprise that Kakashi had died alone.

It just meant that he succeeded in saving whoeveritwas that he was trying to save.

It was just like Kakashi to choose to use his Mangekyou Sharingan at that moment, to choose to sacrifice himself, to choose to die.

Why?

—But that was a stupid question. He often asked stupid questions when he didn't understand and Kakashi was always able to explain things properly.

Because Kakashi was Kakashi.

He knew the answer, but he still didn't understand. Didn't, couldn't, and perhaps wouldn't.

He wondered what Kakashi was trying to find in the sky, because he couldn't see it.

There was no sky, because it fell.

The sky fell, Konoha fell, and Kakashi fell with them.

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Kakashi died with the sky in his eyes.

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The scarlet chakra burned, even when he was not the one releasing it. He clutched at his chest, gasping in pain, eyes wide with horror.

What— No wait stop no don't—!

Something had happened to the original Naruto. Something worse than just losing, because when he lost he could always just get up again and keep going keep trying keep fighting and eventually everything would be alright.

Stopstopstopstopstopstopstop you can't! Can't lose control can't you'll destroy everything stop dammit stop!

The Kage Bunshin disappeared with a faint poof.

Kakashi was dead. There it was – the confirmation and the truth, (cold hard truth like a cold hard corpse) thrown right in his face.

And Naruto snapped.

He despaired.

.

Blue was the colour of Kakashi's hope. His hope and his trust and I'm leaving the rest in your hands.

I'm sorry.

Red was the colour of Naruto's despair.

Red like blood and death and Kakashi's Sharingan.


Interlude: Leaf-spirit

He had defeated the sixth Pain and tracked down the seventh. Naruto drew in a deep breath. It's time to end this, the wind murmured. He hummed softly in agreement. Yes, it's time to end this.

But before that...

He sat on the ground with a soft sigh of relief. He just felt so tired, a deep weariness that seemed to seep right into his bones. Slowly, he placed his hands in the position he favoured when drawing energy to mold Senjutsu chakra, and closed his eyes.

There it was.

He drew up as much nature energy as he dared, and concentrated.

I'm sorry I'm late. Sorry I can't do more. Sorry I didn't manage to save anyone.

But... if you're there, can you help me?

He felt like a silly kid, trying to believe in something which was probably just a myth. After all, there had never been any proof that the... spirit? existed, a manifestation of the trees, animals, land and people which made up Konohagakure.

Please, help me help them. Just this once.

A new energy washed over him, lessening the pain from his injuries, and soothing the horrible burning feeling that came with overuse of Kyuubi's chakra. Its forest green reminded him of healing chakra used by the medics, and he realised that it also felt a lot like nature energy.

Naruto smiled a small, bittersweet smile, shifting his hands into the cross seal.

"Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

...And whoa – he really outdid himself this time.

The thousands of Narutos only had one goal: to rescue as many people as they could, and to recover the bodies of those they could not save.

(It was the least he could do for them.)

"Go," he muttered.

They went.

As he got up, pushing aside any remaining fatigue, something swung right in front of his eyes. He froze, and stared.

A green crystal glinted in the sunlight, swaying a little as it hung from his neck.

Somehow, just – somehow, the necklace of the Shodai Hokage, the necklace he won off Tsunade and then crushed in his eight-tailed state, was back. There was not a single crack or flaw on the crystal to show that it had just been shattered into a thousand pieces.

He smiled again, this time in gratitude, and felt the breeze ruffle through his hair affectionately.

Thank you, Konoha-sama.


Part two: Being there.

It was tempting, very tempting.

He wanted to use his Sage Mode just one more time because he had to know, dammit.

He was very sorely tempted.

Naruto wobbled slightly as his legs almost gave way and grabbed a tree branch for support, ignoring the splinters which pierced his skin.

But he was just... too tired... and too afraid.

What if it didn't work?

After all, he was not the one who had performed the jutsu – it was far beyond anything he was able to do, and he hated himself for it. He wished he could have been in Nagato's place, because then at least he would know.

He didn't dare to try and search through the emptiness again, confused not by the crowd of chakra signatures but the lack of them, and still find a blank nothing where just one person should have been.

It's a long way back to Konoha.

He almost wanted to collapse into a pile of fatigue and just stay there, waiting for...

Waiting for what?

He blinked a few times, trying to clear his head and focus.

He was dead tired but he had to keep going, because Konoha was home.

The sky's still there, he realised, glancing up and feeling a little silly. And Konoha's still there. Maybe... maybe there's still hope.

Maybe Kakashi would be there too.

It was a long way back to Konoha, but a much shorter way down to the ground. Because he was falling.

Oh crap.

.

It was a short distance down (splat) to the ground, but an even shorter distance to fall and be caught by Kakashi, who was suddenly just there.

Alive.

"Kakashi-sensei..."

"Lean on me," the silver-haired man offered, which was both an explanation and not one, at the same time.

How like Kakashi, he thought, and almost wanted to laugh. Almost wanted to cry, too, but that would result in a huge confusing mess of hysteria and a lot of yelling you were dead you idiot! – so he squashed down both and just pressed his cheek into Kakashi's shoulder.

That made his face hurt, and then he realised he was smiling broadly.

"You did well," Kakashi murmured quietly.

"Mm."

He could sort of hear and feel Kakashi's pulse, a low and steady rhythm, and it was comforting.

A single thought drifted across his mind, like a wisp of cloud in the sky.

Kakashi... was always so dependable.

.

"What were you looking for?"

"Hm?"

"In the sky. You were looking up when I found you."

"Oh. That."

"What were you trying to see?"

"You."

"...Wha?"

"Seemed likely you'd be there."

.

Later, he slipped away from the crowds of villagers, feeling really really happy but also rather overwhelmed by everything. He made his way to the sidelines, where he was surprised and not really surprised to see the silver-haired jounin, standing there with his hands in his pockets.

He sidled over.

.

"There's a leaf in your hair."

With that muttered excuse, an orange-sleeved arm reached up, then changed its course, and suddenly Naruto was half-leaning against him in a one-armed hug-of-sorts.

"You've gotten heavier," he protested, but did not pull away.

Naruto smiled.


Epilogue: Because miracles do exist.

There were a few things neither of them would ever know.

Like how it should have been impossible for Kakashi to come back to life, for instance.

It was... a simple process, in a way, to replace the souls which had been ripped out and fed to the Outer Path of Pain and revive those whose injuries had claimed their lives.

A massively tiring jutsu, but still possible if one had the will and the power.

But it was supposed to be impossible to bring back a man who had willingly drained himself of his remaining life force and just faded into nothingness, breaths coming shorter and shallower, blood slowing and heart gradually coming to a stop.

Most of Konoha's dead had been killed suddenly, violently cut off from the living.

Even so, souls could be put back, injuries could be healed and people could be revived, as long as there was some residue chakra left in their bodies to form the link between life and death.

For Hatake Kakashi, there had been nothing.

And yet he lived.

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Kakashi had died with the sky in his eyes.

He awoke with a leaf on his face – of all things.

.

Because Konoha always takes care of her own.

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Blue was the colour of Kakashi's hope, red was the colour of Naruto's despair, and green was the colour of life.

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And perhaps orange is the colour of Naruto's silly affection which doesn't really need a reason. =amused=

Hope you liked it? (: It's similar in some ways to Windchime, I guess.

I know, it's Christmas and I should do some fluff, but somehow I just end up writing more AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANGST. XD

Next chapter of Lake is making good progress, I should be able to finish it soon :D

Um, I promise to write something happy for Christmas? ^^;;

Anyway! Hope you liked this fic, and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all! ;D

~rakku