A/N: So it's 2 am and I'm sick of statistical mechanics & blackbody radiation ;D I'd love comments...but please have mercy! It's my first try...

A/N V.2.0: Sakura used to really tick me off. I mean, REALLY tick me off. "Oh, Sasuke-kun.." Yeah...whatever. But she's infinitely more tolerable now..and I dare say I almost like her =) So that's why she's the main character of this fic...BTW, it's NOT Kaka/Saku. Any scenes involving those two are purely platonic. While I don't mind the pairing per se, I'm not so good with writing those kinds of stories ;D

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto - but I wouldn't mind owning Kakashi. You know how it is.

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Chapter 1: The Voice in the Night

In all appearances, Konoha was this night as it was on any other night. The village was gently illuminated by the soft silver moonlight radiating from the cloudless night sky, and the silence broken only by leaves rustling quietly under the slow breeze. Yet there was something hanging in the air, irksome like a sentence unfinished. Beneath the surface was something intangible, the outwardly idyllic picture incomplete. Or at least, so thought Kakashi to himself as he slowly ambled home. Absorbed totally in his training, he had lost track of time and thus it was well past midnight as he walked through the sleeping town. He kept the outward appearance of nonchalance, but had his guard up for the entire duration of his walk home. While nothing happened to justify his uneasiness, he nonetheless cast the night a suspicious look before entering his apartment. His mind troubled, Kakashi fell into an uneasy slumber on a chair facing his bedroom window.

Across town, Haruno Sakura dreamt.

She instinctively knew that she was in some kind of room, but she could not see the walls.

She tried to move, but couldn't tell if she was successful or not.

She yelled, but there was no sound.

Then came the voice.

"It is almost time."

"Time for what?" thought Sakura.

"It will happen soon." the voice said simply.

Sakura jolted awake before she could think up a reply. Panting heavily, she discovered to her dismay that her nightclothes were drenched in her sweat. She nervously got out of bed and went to the closet to get a change of clothes, the dream still vivid in her mind. As she made her way across her room, she caught a glimpse of her alarm clock. Judging by the time and the unlikelihood of getting back to sleep, she decided to dressed for the day and wait in the living room until it was time to meet up with her team. She was so preoccupied by what she had experienced that, as she changed, she failed to notice the shadow that flitted across her ceiling before fading into a wall.

She was still shaken by the dream as she walked towards the daily meeting place. She idly noted that she was walking slower than usual, but it wasn't as if Kakashi-sensei would be on time anyways, she thought to herself.

"Ohayo, Sakura-chan!" came Naruto's usual cheery voice.

"Eh." said Sasuke, looking sullenly at the ground.

"Good morning." said Kakashi.

Sakura did a double-take, her brain having trouble registering her sensei's figure reclining languidly against a tree.

"You're awfully early, Kakashi-sensei." said Sakura suspiciously.

Kakashi laughed. "Well, you know how it is. You're always complaining about my lateness, so I figured that for once..."

Sakura nodded, only half-satisfied with his answer.

"Well then," continued Kakashi, "Since we're all assembled, let's get the mission on the road, shall we?"

The mission was an easy one. One of the older women in the town had lost a valuable necklace, and Team 7 was dispatched to locate the missing item. As they somewhat reluctantly scoured the town, Kakashi's mind drifted onto his own thoughts.

He had not intended to be on time that morning. He had gone to sleep in his bedroom, sitting his favorite chair. He had woken up, sitting propped up against a tree in the meeting area. He hadn't spoken a word of it to anyone. But it bothered him.

His solitary musing was interrupted by an exclamation of triumph from behind him.

"Found it!" crowed Sakura, holding up a necklace fitting the description of the lost piece.

Kakashi forced a smile onto his countenance, and turned to face the proudly beaming genin.

"Well done, Sakura." he said, taking the necklace from her and inspecting it. Satisfied that it was indeed the target of the search, he called the boys over.

"I'll take the necklace back to its owner. You guys are dismissed for the day." said Kakashi.

Naruto and Sakura cheered, and even Sasuke's expression brightened ever so slightly.

"Good! I was hoping we'd get off early today, I have some errands to do." said Sakura happily. "I'll see you all tomorrow!"

She turned to leave when she felt three pairs of eyes staring at her.

"what?" she said, turning around.

Naruto coughed. "Sakura-chan...You didn't ask Sasuke where he was going...or anything..." he said warily, bracing himself for Sakura's punch.

It never came.

"why would I care where Sasuke was going?" asked Sakura, without hesitation. She turned around again, and this time they watched her until she disappeared from their sight.

"Yes!" cheered Naruto. "In your face, Sasuke. She doesn't like you anymore!"

Sasuke scowled. It was better this way. But inside, though he wouldn't admit it, Sakura's comment bothered him. "Baka." he said. "I'm going home."

Had they been more observant, they would have noticed the look of concern on their sensei's face, evident even underneath the everpresent mask.

After an afternoon of shopping, Sakura was on her way home with an armful of groceries and various other necessities of life when Kakashi's voice came suddenly from her side.

"Hello, Sakura. Need a hand with those parcels?" he said.

Sakura jumped, almost dropping her purchases in the process.

"Sensei!" she whined. "You scared me!"

Kakashi laughed, and felt a little better. This was the Sakura that he knew.

"Anyways," he said. "Don't you want a little help? Things'll get done faster, and I've got a surprise for you."

Sakura looked at Kakashi questioningly. "Surprise?" she asked. "What type of surprise?"

"There's a short mission that just came to my attention. Konohamaru is going to be at a friend's house until late, and he needs someone to walk him home. I was thinking that you and Sasuke would be perfect for this task." Kakashi said, smirking under his mask.

Certain of Sakura's response, Kakashi was taken aback when Sakura blinked at him and said "But Naruto is Konohamaru's friend. Wouldn't he be a better choice?"

Very few things caught the elite jounin by surprise. But this -

Kakashi put a hand on Sakura's shoulder to stop her midstride. "Sakura." he said seriously. "Is everything alright?"

Again, those clear green eyes raised to meet his. "Well...yes, of course, sensei..." Sakura said slowly. "Why wouldn't it be?"

Kakashi let go of her, and they continued walking in silence. At Sakura's doorstep they parted ways.

Sleep eluded Kakashi that night.

In the darkness, the voice came to Sakura once again. And once again, Sakura woke to face her empty room. The moon cast an eerie glow on the picture of Team 7 resting on her tabletop. Staring at the picture blankly for several minutes, all her fear came to the surface and she broke down into tears. Muffling her sobs in her pillow so as to not wake her parents, she nonetheless longed for someone, anyone, to come and ease the fear...

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Please let me know what you think! I haven't completely proofread this chapter yet, so if some sentences are convoluted or just badly worded, please forgive me (at least until after the school term is over, after which you can tear into me all you want =D)