A/N: A rather short chapter, but I just want you guys to know that i'm still alive. I'm still working on this series and hope that you'll continue to support and read. This time, let's get a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of our one and only copy ninja.

Chapter 4: The man behind the orange books

He couldn't help but sneak a peek when he heard Naruto's boisterous laugh again. Naruto had always been loud and annoyingly cheerful, but having been his teacher for so long, Kakashi could tell his blue-eyed student was on edge and had so reverted to his 13 year old self in front of her. Her. Hinata Hyuuga.

He laughed too often. He punched Sasuke a little too hard. His eyes followed Hinata a little too much.

He was too aware of her.

Kakashi turned his gaze back to his book, the lines already memorized and engraved in his mind since the first time he read them. He wondered if she noticed that the hokage wannabe was trying too hard. Seeing her just smiling lightly, he decided that she did. But she was Sasuke's fiancee now. She would not ask.

And Naruto knew. Since Sasuke first told him that he was going to marry someone in the village, Naruto had given his full support. So when Sasuke revealed that it was Hyuuga Hinata, the girl who confessed her love to the blond, Naruto had shut away all potential feelings for the girl. When Hinata confessed again, Naruto had turned her away.

Kakashi admired Naruto's loyalty, but at the same time, he worried about the blond's own happiness. Many girls now sought out the blond after his heroic feats, but Naruto, having craved acceptance for so long, could not distinguish their romantic ambitions from admiration. No other girl would be able to leave as deep an impression on him as Hinata had when she had fought Pain to protect him.

But now, she was Sasuke's girl. She would be his wife in 17 months. And Naruto would never betray his friends.

Those who abandon the rules are scum, but those who abandon their friends are worse than scum.

Of all the lessons he had tried to teach his students, that was the biggest one he had wanted them to remember. Where Sasuke had failed, Naruto had taken it to heart.

Speaking of Sasuke...The grey haired ninja glanced at his other student, who sat silently a fair distance away from Naruto. Hinata sat in between them, an equal distance from both. Had Sakura been there, she would have been closer to Sasuke, her back turned towards Naruto. But maybe that was only the Sakura of the past. Now, the pink haired girl was too busy, taking on multiple shifts at the hospital to avoid the avenger.

Looking at the trio in front of him only served to remind him that he had failed to keep his team together. Now, Hinata had been dragged into the ruins of Team 7 as well.

Everyone knew that it was a marriage of convenience. She knew it well before she agreed to marry him. But Konoha needed him and in the end, she had picked her village and family over her own happiness. Her loyalty was undeniably as strong as Naruto's, which was to be expected after having followed him for so long.

Like Itachi, she was throwing away her happiness and life for the sake of others. With Sasuke here, Konoha would benefit. Naruto would have his best friend back. The Hyuuga would cease to feud over who would be leader. It was a well thought out and selfless decision on her part.

Which was why he pitied her. Konoha had been built on the sacrifices of so many. He had hoped that with the end of the war, things would change. No one would have to sacrifice for the sake of the village anymore. He had thought that being a shinobi for so long, he would be no stranger to the sacrifices that shinobi had to make, but no, this was different. This was too personal of a mission.

"Do you want some lunch, Kakashi-sensei?" He lowered his book to see Hinata smiling up at him. "I made extra." So she had noticed his hiding spot. He jumped down to join them, smiling when Naruto gave a quick squawk in surprise. "How long have you been there?!"

Kakashi made a quick mental note to give Naruto some training in stealth as he took a rice ball from the basket. "Ah, I just got here," he lied flawlessly. Noticing Naruto's unamused stare, he grabbed another rice ball. "Just in time to eat lunch. Lucky me!"

"Naruto-kun, here. Have some too." Kakashi turned to look at Sasuke, who had remained silent all this time. Even when Hinata whispered something to him and placed a rice ball in his hands, Sasuke's face didn't change.

Since their mission together, she had been trying really hard to reach to her fiance, that much was noticeable. But Sasuke was like a brick wall.

Kakashi internally sighed. After all the hard work that he had put in for his student, the biggest problem was his student himself. But Sasuke had his moments. Kakashi knew that Sasuke had his hawk send a package to Hinata after their recent mission. Just what was in the box though, he did not know. He could not enter the Hyuuga complex without the seeing eyes of the byakugan detecting him and he did not want to create unnecessary alarm.

Perhaps it was better that way though. Sasuke appreciated his privacy more than anything. The more he pried, the more Sasuke would shut himself away.

For so long, he had watched over his students, but he didn't neglect to keep an eye on the other teams. He knew of Hinata's lack of confidence, that Shikamaru still had a pack of cigarettes in his pocket, and that Lee's new training schedule included standing in front of the memorial stone everyday at dawn. He was not blind to his surroundings. So he was not blind to the longing that the girl in front of him possessed. Even though she was not vocal about it, Kakashi could tell she craved affection and love. The fact that she was trying so hard to reach Sasuke was proof of that.

Did Sasuke see it? Kakashi turned away, lifting his mask just slightly to slip the food into this mouth. It was delicious.

"Ah, I have to go now. Please, help yourself to more food." She waved at them, her mouth set in that friendly smile of hers. "I'll see you later, Naruto-kun? Kakashi-sensei?"

"See you later, Hinata-chan!" Naruto replied, his mouth still full. Sasuke gave a grunt before he stood up.

The lightest tint of pink brushed her cheeks, but everyone there could see it against her pale skin.

Perhaps...Sasuke did see it after all.

He could sense Naruto's mask of cheerfulness falter in just the slightest as the two began to walk away before it dropped away completely.

"Ne, Kakashi-sensei." It was barely a whisper, spoken in that low tone that Naruto only used when he was completely serious. "Do you think...she's happy with Sasuke?"

"Why? Do you think you could make her happier?" Naruto flinched, crushing the rice ball in his hand just slightly.

"That's not what I meant. It's just…" He trailed off. "I just want her to be happy."

Kakashi turned to look at the form of Hinata and Sasuke, to look at their back that was slowly getting smaller as they walked farther and farther away. He looked at the way Hinata struggled to keep up with Sasuke's pace. He looked at the distance that existed between them. He looked as Hinata turned back, causing her hair to flutter freely in the wind. He looked as she smiled and waved slightly before turning around to walk that lonely path again with Sasuke. And in that moment, Kakashi felt a small part of him struggle.

It was something he had tried so long to control. That he had promised himself he would never allow to happen because everyone he cared for eventually left. But he was stupid and he had held her hand and he had looked at the fireworks reflected in her eyes.

Those who abandon the rules are scum, but those who abandon their friends are worse than scum.

"We can only hope that Sasuke will treat her well."

It was so hypocritical of him to think that Naruto was so pitiful. If Naruto was pitiful, then so was he.


Note: I know not a lot happened in this chapter, but I honestly was stuck. :( Hopefully this sets the tone for where I'm going with this story!