A/N: A sad little drabble that diverges from the manga a tad.


"What was he like, Kakashi-sensei?"

The silver-haired man looked over at the boy, and felt something cold clench up in his chest. The boy's pained, over-bright eyes were peering at him from a heavily bandaged face, his hands clenching the crisp linen blankets tightly. His wounds were healing very slowly, and Naruto was quite adamant about not using the kyuubi's chakra. He said he could handle the pain, but it was hard on Kakashi, too.

"Who?"

Scarred fingers clutched the blankets tighter, and Naruto whispered, "My...my dad." He dropped his gaze, as though afraid he'd mentioned something unforgiveable, and the uncertainty- the fear that filled his expression almost killed the Jounin sitting at his bedside.

A small part of him wanted to share nothing; they were his memories, memories of his teacher. But the rest of him squashed the selfishness. Naruto's body was under enough strain as it was; adding stress onto that was nothing short of stupid. Kakashi made a thoughtful noise, and Naruto's eyes flew to his, desperate and hopeful.

"Your dad," Kakashi began slowly, unsure of where to start, "was a good person." A quick glance at Naruto proved the blond was staring at him, drinking in his every word. "He was kind, and moral, and at times the most infuriating human being on the planet. He kept things running smoothly, and always had a quick joke or light banter on hand when one of us was feeling down." Kakashi smiled beneath his mask. "He and Kushina- your mother- were quite the pair. She kept him in line, and he loved her more than anything in the world. Except you."

"Me?" His voice was so small and plaintive.

Kakashi closed his eyes. I'm glad he's finally hearing this.

"Yes, you. He completely adored you even before you were born. When Kushina-san got pregnant, sensei all but sang us the news. I was there when he held you for the first time."

I've never seen anyone look like that. So full of love they might burst with it.

"That day- surrounded by his students, his wife and his son- was the happiest I'd ever seen him."

There was no response this time, and Kakashi risked another glance over. Tears were streaming unchecked down Naruto's face, staining into the bandages there. He was trying to smile through them, though, fists shaking. "I wish..."

But he couldn't finish. Kakashi reached over, and put a gentle hand on his head, understanding. Life was so unfair it hurt, unfair for them all, but if anyone deserved better...

There were no words sufficient enough to convey it; a wish so heavy he couldn't bear it, one he would never let go.

If only things had been different.