He was alive.

Against all odds, he's here, lying in bed, awake. An oxygen mask is affixed to his face, filling with fog at his exhales. The doctors had secured down his limbs, however, and his body was far too sore to move. Suppressants for chakra was still being pumped into him, mixed with painkillers that make his head swim. But it was supposed to thin it out to ensure a good flow. The heart monitor is beeping with a steady rhythm, filling the silence with intermittent blips.

It had been nearly four days since the venom arrived in Konoha, and an antidote was crafted. After its administration, he'd been taken out of the coma, but still had no indication of waking up. A day later, his internal hemorrhaging showed signs of stopping, and they were staunched. On the second day, the casts on his limbs came off. On the third day, they had repaired his stomach enough to give him liquid nutrient, and taken him off the ventilator. He'd woken up about two hours ago, and there had been some fuss as his eyes were still taped down. He'd scared the nurse with his struggling.

It hurt to breathe, and his body's weak feeling is unbearably palpable. It took an effort to even shift his hand. Not just because it was tied down.

But he was alive.

"... You doing ok?"

Minato walks in, smiling slightly as he sidles to the bedside of his student. Kakashi just looks at his general direction, not bothering to crane his posture.

"It'll be back to missions for you soon before you know it."

"... Yeah."

Minato's face remains a soft smile. He had worried that Kakashi wouldn't pull through. He knew, after all, the scarred state his heart was in. Surely, it was a near miracle the venom hadn't finished him off. Unless the snake was lying, of course.

"I think I saw then, sensei."

"Hm? Who?"

"...The people my father saved."

"..."

"And Obito and Rin."

"... Kakashi..."

"They wouldn't look at me, though."

"... Maybe they didn't want to see you there."

"...Maybe. But, I won't know."

Minato sighs and gently murmurs, looking away slightly, "Kakashi, do you still have that death wish..."

Kakashi does not answer. The beeping monitor fills their dense silence.

"... I know you want them to be here. I want that too. But I also don't want you gone. I'm telling you this... not only as a teacher but as a fellow ninja, because you're not a kid anymore."

"... I don't think I'll ever be over it, sensei..." Kakashi mutters quietly, "I'm weak..."

"Kakashi, you are the good kid among all the heartless ones in Anbu... You are not weak. And you need to forgive yourself for feeling that way."

Kakashi doesn't answer immediately. If he did, he might choke a bit.

"... I always hated them, you know. Those people... my old man saved them, and they just turned their backs on him."

"...I know."

"But I don't think he ever did. I never got that. Even when he killed himself, I was always thinking why he didn't just kill them instead. I fucking hated them..."

He pauses with a sigh.

"But I... saved them."

"... Did you?"

"... Yeah. I couldn't... just leave them."

"... Just like I know you didn't want to leave Rin and Obito," Minato ruffles that silvery hair gently.

"Sensei..."

"You don't have to be over them, Kakashi. No one has to get over something like that. But don't dig at those scars to reopen them. You need to heal eventually... and look forward."

I'll be your eye... and together, we'll face the future together.

"...Do I … even deserve that..."

Minato shakes his head likely, "Don't ask me, Kakashi. Ask yourself. You can't think yourself unworthy and have someone else give you chances."

He pulls back his hand. Kakashi stares off a bit at the ceiling, likely in thought.

"Same as how I don't expect you to be over them, I don't expect you to be all better. But I know you'll get better."

"...Why?"

"Just a hunch... because I'm your teacher," Minato gives a dazzling, goofy grin.

Kakashi gives a slight scoff and resists rolling his eyes.

"There's that ol' Kakashi snark...!"

Minato chuckles. He can't tell if Kakashi is smiling, but he sure looks unamused, which is a hell lot better than down and depressed. It's that face he wore a lot when snubbing Obito. He scratches his head and waves slightly as he goes to leave.

"You're worthy, Kakashi."

Kakashi's eye widens slightly.

"Oh, and before I forget. One of your Anbu buddies left something for you on the bed stand!"

"... Great." Sarcasm.

Minato chuckles and steps out. The door closes and he is gone, leaving Kakashi alone. The young man sighs and closes his eyes. It was likely he'll be back to missions tomorrow. He didn't know that what was on the bed stand was a new Anbu mask to replace the one he broke.

With a great weight off his shoulders, Minato walks a more leisurely pace. Today was when he's supposed to be doing more paperwork under the Third. Being hokage... that was already a daunting thought on top of all his other missions.

It's true. Kakashi won't be better immediately like this. But the fact that he's still here, meant he hadn't given up… hearts and souls can heal if given the chance. And knowing Kakashi… he'll go the right way. His heart hadn't given up. His body showed it. Otherwise, he would've been dead back at the checkpoint maybe. And that he had forgiven those people... he remembers, but he can forge ahead.

Maybe the snake was lying, maybe it wasn't. Minato wanted to believe it was the truth.

Kakashi lived because he had the will to.