quick team 7 drabble for Crystal Renee.
Warning: Angst, character death.
(secondary warning: if you like your angst, don't read the fix-it drabble at the end. XD)

The End

Weird how even as Kakashi falls, Sasuke keeps thinking "It's a good thing I never let him grow closer, that way it will hurt less." And then he slumps and he doesn't move and then there's the rest of the fight -- free-for-all, total chaos. When Sasuke kills Itachi he isn't thinking "I hate you, brother;" he isn't thinking "I loved you, brother;" he isn't thinking "Father, Mother;" (or maybe a little. A lot.) He's thinking "Kakashi gave you his life so you wouldn't have Naruto's and Sakura's; I'm not letting you take them." Except shorter, and more furious, and "not again."

And when his brother falls, too, and Naruto's flesh bubbles closed and Sakura's hands glow green against her own pierced lung, and they both stumble to Sasuke, all Sasuke can think is "not in vain, not in vain."

Then it's dark for a while, and he's not sure why, but when he opens his eyes again, there's a tree with dancing leaves overhead, and he knows Itachi is dead, and Kakashi is dead, and he's mourning and doesn't know for who. Both, maybe, the brother he hated more than anything in the world, because only great love can lead to the greatest hate, and the teacher he pretended to himself he didn't care about, who tried his best to save him but of course Sasuke knew better and didn't allow him to. In the end he saved Sasuke anyway, and in the end not allowing him closer doesn't make the pain much more manageable at all, and Sasuke was wrong.

And now it's too late, and he's surprised to notice that it feels a little like being orphaned again; that sense of living in a house where bricks have been knocked loose from the foundations. It's still standing, it's still doing what a house does, and you can repaper the walls and put flowers on the windowsill, but you still never trust it again to be solid and permanent. There's something missing from the foundations of your world and it's never going to be as familiar and safe ever again.

A few feet away, he can hear semi-familiar voices; Suigetsu and Karin, bickering with a rough-voiced young man he thinks he should recognize; the soft whispers of the Hyuuga girl. Sakura can stay quiet sometimes, but it's a bit strange that he can't hear Naruto.

He opens his eyes, and here they are, on the grass on either side of him. Sakura's fingers are knotted tight in his tattered sleeve; she's not asleep, though she pretends. Naruto sits against the tree, and doesn't even look at him. Sasuke would have expected more attention; but then when he sits up, he sees that Naruto is staring at a body on the ground with a jounin jacket pulled over his face, and he understands the silence.

There should be yells for their reunion, there should be pouncing and punches and furious insults, there should be demands for promises to never, ever do it again; there aren't.

Team Seven sit in silence, and they watch Kakashi's body, and they don't say anything, because, in a way that's stronger than mere words, it's all been said already.

and now... The crack.

"I'll miss him," Sakura said, breaking the silence first.

Naruto nodded. "Yeah. He was the best teacher I ever had. ... Well, Jiraiya knows cooler jutsu. And I guess Iruka's better at the actual teaching part. But, yeah. Okay, so he didn't entirely suck."

"He was a goddamn idiot who couldn't choose between putting his nose in my business where it wasn't wanted and pretending he wasn't seeing what you two were up to because that meant he could get away with not doing jack shit about it."

"Hey, that's a little unfair," Sakura protested.

"Also, he was a goddamn pervert."

"... Okay, this is fair."

There was a moment of silence.

"... At least now I guess we can finally see what's behind that stupid mask."

"Naruto!" protested Sakura. "That's disrespectful!"

Naruto blinked, and gave her and her outstretched fingers a long, unconvinced look. Behind them, Sasuke snorted. "While you're at it, his money's in his inner pocket. -- What? The party in honor of his death won't pay for itself."

Of course, Kakashi waited until Sakura had her fingers under the edge of his mask and Naruto a hand in his pocket before opening his eyes, grinning genially at them, and sitting up.

Sasuke and Naruto gave an ear-splitting girly scream; Sakura was too frozen to imitate them.

"So that's how it is, hm?"

Kakashi's eye glinted happily. Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura whimpered.

"Ahh, my cute little students. You've been slacking off, haven't you. We're going to remedy that."

They heard the triple scream of unholy terror even back in Konoha, but of course, that didn't save Team Seven from a super-special, zombie-Kakashi-style, a-thousand-generations-of-pain training session.