Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. All rights belong to Kishimoto, Masashi.
The first time Sakura met Itachi, she was five years old and had a scraped knee. He was a coalescence of black hair and pale skin, blurred through her wet lashes, nameless – but he knew her.
"Be careful, Haruno-san," was all he had said as he had cleaned her wound and helped her to her feet. It was the first time someone had addressed her in such a polite and adult manner, the first time someone had been so needlessly kind to her, that she had felt too humbled and numb to even raise her eyes to his level. Sakura could only dry her tear-streaked cheeks and attempt to make herself as small as possible. A glimpse of thin lips, delicately curved, was the most she could see, too shy to meet his gaze – and the slope of his back as he walked away. She didn't have the courage to ask for his name or offer her gratitude then.
The second time she saw him, Sakura was eight and even warier to approach him – because she then learned who he was. Sasuke's older brother. Sakura could only watch Sasuke from afar, didn't have the confidence to share more than mere glances, much less words with him. She learned that day that his brother was no exception to that rule. Sakura simply couldn't get past her meekness and sense of inferiority.
When she gathered the confidence to come out of her shell, reach where she couldn't dream to reach before, Itachi was nothing but a distant memory of gentleness in her childhood, her mind swallowed by Sasuke – his wants, his needs, his everything. She consigned that thank you she couldn't speak to memory, sealed it deep in the past, lost in the labyrinth of recollection.
Perhaps she shouldn't have, or perhaps it didn't really matter – Sakura couldn't tell if things would have developed differently if she had. The only certainty she possessed was that she wished she had dared to be a little bit bolder that first time.
Sakura gazed at the memorial stone for all those nameless fallen heroes, green eyes tracing its smooth angles under the shine of the morning glow. Her lips curled in a smile – a quarter of melancholy and fondness.
"Here again, Sakura? I thought I was the only one with this bad habit." The male voice was low, familiar, more than a little expected.
"Kakashi-sensei." Sakura's neck titled in greeting, her smile grew fonder, sweeter. "It must have rubbed off on me after all those years."
Kakashi's chuckle was warm and husky, as if he was not yet wholly awake, but his words were spoken in full awareness. "So who is it? The hero you can't meet anywhere but here?"
She hummed softly, melodic sounds, mellowed by the memory of the person she came here to meet. "Someone I just want to say thank you to."
A/N: A miracle happened! I managed to write a K+ story. I'm so happy I could cry… Honestly, I wanted to write a humorous ItaSaku one-shot, and instead I got this… Thank you, oh my deplorable, fickle muse.