Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, nor any places, characters, things, or ideas therein. The aforementioned belong to Masashi Kishimoto and Viz Entertainment. I am writing this fic for entertainment purposes only, not monetary gain.

Summary: November was her favorite month. He'd learned to love everything she did, but even the strongest love can turn to hatred if given reason enough. KakashixOC, character death

Rating: T

Warnings: Character death

Spoilers: None

Pairing: KakashixOC

Author's Note: I love Kakashi's character, and though there are a lot of females in Naruto, I don't really see him with any of them. Akiko was born fully-formed alongside this plot bunny, and it didn't really fit in any other fandom I write for. Truthfully, Akiko was really born for one purpose in this story, as you will see later. I'm hoping my next fic (probably a NejiTen) will be more lighthearted. Thank you so much for checking out my story, and I hope you enjoy it!

*~November~*

~fyd818~

Akiko was there every time he was brought to the hospital.

Eventually, Kakashi Hatake began to think of her as a permanent fixture in the building, as much a part of the place as the beds or medicines. After he'd "visited" enough times (as she called his semi-frequent trips), Akiko began to tease him about coming just to visit her. He would always smile, though she could never see it, and reply that the company just couldn't be beat.

One day, he began to believe it.

The first time he saw her outside of the hospital was a day in early November, when they crossed paths in - of all places - the cemetery. He was leaving the Uchiha section, not really paying attention to where he was going since he was late, rushing until he collided with a small body that teetered precariously post-impact. Without thinking he grasped the person's arms, pulling her back onto balance as he looked at her face.

Akiko had smiled at him over her armful of flowers, dark eyes half-hidden by her flyaway hair. "Of all the places to meet," she'd said.

Kakashi was even later than usual that day.

The next time Kakashi landed in the hospital, he made it a point to learn more about the woman who always patched him up. Akiko was always careful, respecting his privacy as she healed him. She never once touched his mask, even though he saw her studying him more than once with wild curiosity unhidden on her face and eyes.

He knew that most of the others in the hospital thought of Akiko as nothing special. He'd heard her be called average at best, in both her healing skills and her looks, and that rankled him. Perhaps she wasn't as gifted as Sakura and Lady Tsunade; maybe she didn't turn every head on the street as she walked by. But to Kakashi, there was no woman who could possibly be her equal.

Akiko would come by his room after her shift when he was in the hospital, even though she had little enough free time the way it was. She would always come with a smile, her voice full of laughter and happiness, even though he could see the way shadows ringed her eyes and the slight slump of tiredness in her shoulders.

As he spent more and more time with her, Kakashi began to notice more and more about her, not all of it positive. Her free time away from the hospital (and sometimes in the hospital) was spent with him, when he wasn't away on a mission for the village. She began to look more and more tired, and finally he confronted her about it about a year after he met her.

They were sitting by a particularly beautiful fountain not far from her apartment, the warm August evening air ruffling their hair as they swished their feet through the water. Calmly folding her hands in her lap, she looked down at them and replied simply, "I am dying."

His world had been shaken that day, skewed from the normalcy (even in chaos) that it had always held. He had never pictured Akiko as vulnerable, let alone mortal. She was Akiko - an indestructible constant in his life that loved flowers, November, books, and, most of all, helping people. She was so good. How could someone so good be dying?

She had gone on to explain that her condition wasn't too bad yet, and Lady Tsunade was allowing her to go on with her work until she was so weakened she couldn't. Akiko wanted nothing more than to use her remaining time to do what she loved - healing people, even though she herself could not be healed.

They married that November, Akiko flashing him a smile as she tilted her parasol just right so it hid his face as he pulled down his mask to kiss her.

Kakashi and Akiko faced the new year with unshakable resolve to see nothing but the good in things. At first, it wasn't very hard to do. Their lives together were just unpredictable enough to keep them from falling into a rhythm - what with him being called on missions at any time and her on call at the hospital - but they were very happy together. Kakashi had made it his personal mission to make Akiko the happiest woman alive, and it seemed to be working. She practically glowed with happiness every time he saw her.

In early May, Sakura came to the training field where he was working with some of the other jounin, hard at work on the mandatory brush-ups on their techniques that was required of all of them. "Kakashi-sensei!" she called, still using his title even though she hadn't been his student for several years. "You need to come to the hospital, quickly. Akiko collapsed."

That day was the beginning of the end.

When he got to the hospital, Akiko was awake and obviously embarrassed. She kept trying to laugh off the incident, saying she was just tired. Kakashi knew better, and one look at Sakura and Tsunade's faces tattled that they did, too.

Less than a month later, Akiko was forced to quit her duties at the hospital. She just had no extra strength to spare to help others. What was left needed to go toward helping herself.

She was always there when he got home, though. She would meet him at the door, and the moment it closed behind him, she would pull down his mask and kiss him sweetly, no matter how grimy he was. Sometimes he would even fall asleep at night hurting from a mission and wake up the next morning feeling much better, though Akiko was paler and more tired than she'd been when she'd come to bed. She'd healed him during the night, and he couldn't bring himself to scold her for it, because she always looked so serene afterwards. He couldn't bear to take away the one thing that brought her the most joy.

By August, there started to come days where she couldn't get out of bed. Kakashi took a leave of absence, refusing all but the most crucial missions so he could stay home and take care of Akiko, as she'd taken care of him for so long. Several times, he would hold her at night and cry into her hair as she slept, regretting the fact that he didn't have the same gift she did; wishing there were something, anything, he could do to heal her.

In late September, she became almost entirely bedridden. What little energy she had during the day was spent doing simple things like feeding herself, or holding a book to read. By the end of October, even those things became too much.

"I have to hold on a little longer," she kept telling him day after day, week after torturous week. "I have to hang on until our anniversary…"

Kakashi was watching his wife waste away before his very eyes. It was an elaborate torture, knowing she was forcing herself to cling to the last shreds of her life to have a little extra time with him, to make sure they'd had a year together before she… He could never bring himself to finish the thought.

Their first and only wedding anniversary was spent quietly at home. Akiko insisted on getting out of bed that day, saying that all that time of resting beforehand had been in preparation for that. Kakashi carried her to their table, cradling her against him as they ate, then settling her in his lap as they sat by the window and watched the world go by outside.

"I've always loved November," she sighed contentedly, nestling her head in the crook of his neck and shoulder. "The world is just beginning to change from all the beautiful colors of fall, and just when you think the barrenness of it all will completely take over, it snows. Then everything is white, pure, clean. It is the most beautiful thing in the world."

It did snow that day, covering everything in Akiko's beloved blanket of white. Kakashi held her in his lap, wrapped in her robe and blanket because she was always cold now, watching her more than what was happening outside. She was thin, pale, a shadow of the vibrant woman she had been when he'd first met her, but she was still far more beautiful in his eyes than anything else the world could offer him.

Two days later, it was reported that an Akatsuki cell had been spotted approaching Konoha. Every able-bodied ninja was called to defend the village, no exceptions. Kakashi was forced to take Akiko to the hospital, leaving her in the capable care of the nurses there as he left. Her promise that she would still be there when he got back made him more determined than ever to wipe out the Akatsuki as quickly as possible.

He awoke an indeterminate time later to the familiar sound of Akiko's voice. The Akatsuki had been destroyed, but Kakashi's use of his Sharingen eye had left him unconscious for almost an entire day. He still felt weak and shaky, but he managed to make it across the room to his wife's bed.

Akiko stared at him with exhausted dark eyes, her limp hair splayed across her white pillow like spilled, watered-down ink. Her skin was the same color as the sheets. "Kakashi," she whispered. Despite everything, her expression still glowed with the same serene love she'd always shown when he was around. Her skeletal fingers twitched slightly, and he gathered her icy hand in both of his.

"Akiko." He lifted her hand to his face, holding it against his battered cheek. He closed his good eye as her fingers weakly curled, hooking beneath the edge of his mask to weakly tug it down. Even though he was technically in a public place and anyone could walk in at any moment, he didn't stop her.

A single crystalline teardrop trailed down her cheek to drip into her hair. "My Kakashi…" The words were a mere breath, a faltering note that seemed to come from a great distance. Her index finger moved to touch his cheek, eyes shimmering with tears and brimming with love.

He leaned over to kiss her desperately, capturing her final breath in his mouth.

It was said that Kakashi Hatake's bone-chilling scream of anguish was heard all through Konoha village and beyond.

Akiko Hatake was buried a little over a week after she'd celebrated her first anniversary with her husband. The snow was still on the ground, the November air crisp and fresh, causing everyone's exhales to swirl out in steam like dragon's breath as they gathered around the fresh grave.

Of all who had come with him, only Lady Tsunade, Captain Yamato, Naruto, Sakura, and Sai - the few people in the world left that he was closest to - remained for any length of time after the service. At last they, too, drifted away, leaving him alone next to the headstone commemorating his wife's life - and death.

Kakashi had learned to love everything Akiko did, almost as much as he loved her. But even the strongest love could turn into hatred if given reason enough. As Kakashi sat slumped on his knees next to Akiko's fresh grave, he knew deep in his heart that he would forever hate the snow - and November - until the day he died.

And so he did.

*~The End~*

Thank you so much for reading my fic, and I really hope you enjoyed it!