Disclaimer: The Naruto characters are not mine.

Cycles in Life - Chapter 1

It was like waking up from any nightmares. Slowly the uneasy feelings in her heart turned into fear as the fog cleared up in her mind. But unlike normal nightmares where reality would give comfort, she found absolutely none. This time, all she found when she opened her eyes was blood.

She panicked.

Ignoring the sharp pain emitting from every muscles in her body she pushed herself off the ground and sat up unsteadily. Her head was throbbing, spinning, wanting to explode at any moment, the pain was almost surreal. Perhaps she was still dreaming. Meekly, she lifted her hand and touched her forehead. It was wet. She looked at her fingers. They were red.

Looking past her fingers she suddenly noticed a small stream of blood making its way around the pebbles, the small dents, and a few dry leafs toward her. She frowned. The ground was flat; the blood should not be flowing at that speed. Her gaze followed the trail and quickly found the origin – laying a few meters in front of her was a thick eyebrow teenage boy. She knew him.

The scene was all too familiar.

It was just like that time at the forest during her first Chuunin exam, except this time there were no friends hiding behind the bushes. This time they were truly alone. To add to her misery, with two dislocated shoulders, a broken leg and a profuse headache, she could do nothing but watch, helplessly, dumbly, as her enemy kicked her unconscious friend, then with a wicked grin on his face began to advance toward her.

Hideous laugher rang non-stop in the thick air. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, trying to come up with an escape plan, but she found nothing. It was hopeless. In despair she closed her eyes and waited for the attack that never reached her. In time she reopened her eyes and saw, to her utter horror that the bleeding Lee was once again in front of her, and from the unnatural strong chakra emitting from him Sakura knew, right away, that he opened his gates – to be exact five of his gates.

"He will die if he attempts to open the gates again," Tsunade's warning echoed in her ears.

She yelled his name and begged him to stop but once again she was powerless. She knew her voice would never reach him. He was already in his fighting trance, it was simply too late. She was once again the defenceless princess on top of a tower waiting for her prince charming. Lee would die and it would all be because of her. Occupied by this train of thought she did not notice the battle ended until she heard a loud thud in front of her. There lying at her feet was Lee in very bad shape. Somehow, she managed to push herself closer to her fallen friend.

"Sakura-san... you are okay..." Lee said in a weak but relieved voice when he saw her, "I am glad..." His breathing was strenuous, he looked tired, but on his face was still his trademark grin.

"Why..." Sakura whispered, "Why did you come..." She could feel tears gathering in her eyes, tears she vowed not to shed after his departure. "I...I never wanted you to help me, I never asked you to help me! Why do you always come?"

"I promised you I would protect you with my life, I am not one to break a promise," he murmured before wincing suddenly. His whole body hurt, every breath, every word took so much effort. He escaped death once, but he knew he was just lucky. No one could be lucky so many times. He looked at the girl in front of him again. She was pretty, he decided with a tint of regret, even in her tears. How he wished she would go on a date with him some time before. If he survived, though he doubted he would, he would definitely ask her out again.

On second thoughts, why should he wait and see if he would survive? There was no harm in asking, especially if he was to die in the next fifteen minutes. If she says no then too bad, but if she says yes then even if he dies he would he would die happy.

"Lee..." she was prepared to scream at the boy, to say how stupid he was for trying to save her, but her voice failed when Lee weakly touched her hand.

"Hey Sakura-san?" he muttered, "If I survive this, will you go on a date with me?"

Sakura did not answer because she was crying, but from her eyes, Lee could tell she would. He smiled, Gai-sensei was right once again – perseverance won him the girl. Now, if only Sakura was smiling instead of crying he would be contented. "Smile idiot..." he muttered again, forced his words out with much effort. Talking was beginning to become difficult, and so was keeping his words comprehensible, "I will be alright... I want to see... happy."

Sakura bit her lips and willed herself to stop crying. She tried her best to force a smile on her face and after a few attempts finally managed to put on a stiff smile. Lee seemed satisfied. "You better survive this, I would hate to die for nothing," he whispered in an almost playful tone. Then he paused for a moment, as if contemplating before he added something too soft to be heard properly. From the way his lips parted, he might have said, "But then again, anything for you is worth it." Anything at all.

No one would know for sure.

The nightmare should have ended then, but fate was especially cruel that day. No sooner did the boy say his last words did hideous laughter filled the air once again. Sakura looked up and saw to her dismay her enemy, supposedly dead, was rising slowly with two energy ball charging in his hands. He wanted her dead. He wanted to make Lee's sacrifice completely meaningless...

It was then when a sudden rage, a sudden boost of energy filled her. Ignoring the pain she somehow managed to snap her shoulders back into place. Then without thinking she cut her finger with her kunai and summoned. She was determined to summon the great slug Katsuyu, the one she always wanted but never managed to summon – and she did.

"I have finished healing those Jounin you assigned to me, Tsunade-sama. May I go early today?" eighteen years old Haruno Sakura asked wearily.

The fifth Hokage observed the Jounin in front of her silently before she made any comments. "Going to that boy's grave again?"

Sakura nodded curtly, for a moment pain surfaced in her eyes but they instantly hardened. When she finally spoke, her voice was nonchalant, "It is that day again."

"Yes it is," Tsunade agreed solemnly before allowing silence to grow. She caught the girl's eyes, they did not waver. She sighed and giving an impatient wave toward the door she added. "Off you go then." With an utter of thanks and a fleeting smile Sakura headed out of the door without another word, leaving Tsunade alone in her office once again. The Fifth shook her head sadly as she watched her student disappear around the corner, crackling the dry leafs on the floor as she walked away. It was autumn again just like the time when the boy died.

A ninja must not show his emotion in any situation.

A ninja must prioritize his mission first and must not show any tears.

These were the codes for ninjas, but if a ninja's worth was judged solely by these two codes then majority of the ninjas in Leaf would be a failure. Since the war three years ago, Sakura had fallen out of the norm. She stopped crying, even during the boy's funeral her eyes stayed dry. She became a good ninja, but at what cost? She could not speak against the codes, but sometimes looking at the girl was painful. Sakura was not the happiest person in the world even in their first meeting – Sakura, all these years back, sitting timidly on the white hospital chair next to that boy Uchiha. The difference was that back then there were still times, times like the moment the boy woke up from his coma, when a genuine smile would find its place on her face.

She sighed deeply again.

She had taught the girl for five years now, yet it still seemed like yesterday when the girl bowed in front of her begging. She was surprised, because from Kakashi she knew the girl locked herself inside her home after Uchiha left the village. He said she refused to talk to even her parents, but there she was kneeling in front of her with full determination. In a decisive tone she refused without thinking. It was only natural, a Hokage was not suppose to favour any one in the village, let alone a teenage girl with no obvious talents.

But perhaps, it was all those rejections from Sasuke Uchiha, or perhaps it was something else, what ever it was something taught Sakura not to be disheartened by rejections.

That very night Sakura was back, this in front of her house. Tsunade had refused to open the door, but when morning came and she discovered Sakura asleep in her knees in front of her door she could not say she was not moved. She also knew; however, unlike her two team mates, Sakura had an extremely low chakra level. Even if her chakra control was perfect, there was nothing she could possibly teach the girl. So she gave the demanding conditions, hoping to discourage the poor girl – she must climb the cliff over looking the village every day for the next six months if she wanted to become her apprentice.

Summer was replaced by fall and then by winter. The climb became more challenging and a lot less enjoyable as time passed, but every day if she looked up to the cliff at noon she would see the vague outline of a person in red. When Tsunade first gave the condition, she did not expect it met, but it was. And at a time the climb became so dangerous that the girl's parents, quite ironically, went to the Hokage in an attempt to stop their daughter. It was only natural, considering the big snow storm blowing that day made the climb suicidal for a girl like Sakura.

Or at least for a girl who they thought was Sakura.

Perhaps the parents should have more faith in the girl. Perhaps everyone should have more faith in the girl, because when she climbed the cliff like any other experienced ninjas. She slipped a few times but each time she held on and continued climbing until finally three hours later she was standing on the top of the cliff watching the almost invisible village below.

Sakura was definitely stronger than anyone expected.

Just like herself when she was young...

Watching her back at a distance, Tsunade could not help but feel nostalgic. She could not stop herself from remembering a time when Jirayia and Orochimaru were her team-mates and the Third was their teacher.

Those were the good old days.

Even when Jirayia pulled her pig tail every five minutes, or when Orochimaru always took her as a joke, even when the Third did not paid as much attention to her as he did to Orochimaru and Jirayia, or... But still, at times like that she could not help but admit those days had their charms. She missed them, the way Jirayia always get her in trouble, how the Third always seemed to be peaking in the bath houses, the way Orochimaru used to smirk – Even the times when she felt like a damsel in a tower, waiting to be saved because standing beside Orochimaru and Jirayia made she felt most useless and weak.

She missed those days. Looking up once more she found the girl was still standing in the snow, watching the invisible village below. She wondered if she was dwelling of her past as well.

"Sasuke!" the girl cried in a sudden burst of anger and frustration, "See if I care if you never come back!" She did not expect the girl to shout with such fury toward a boy she was sure the girl loved dearly. But she understood – it was not undeserved.

"One day you will not be able to say I am weak anymore, just you wait!"

It was odd, but as Sakura shouted her line, Tsunade saw a shadow standing next to her saying the same thing. It was her younger self, cheeks red from rage. Was not that what she once said to Orochimaru when she was younger?

Harunos, from what she heard, they were once a clan specialized in healing, but as the years gone by their glory faded and their name lost among the nobles. Thinking back to the conversations she had with the villagers about team seven, she realized no one had mentioned Sakura's name except for Kakashi. The lack of expectation was not surprising, for the last five generations no one in that family became a jounin. Obviously, no one expected anything from her either. Looking at the girl in front of her, she could not help but to think how wrong they all were.

There and then Tsunade decided to train the girl, a girl who, in so many ways, was a mirror of herself. If Sakura was to be another of her responsibilities so be it.

If there was one thing that never changed in the world it would be the goodness of ramen. Naruto Uzumaki almost danced in joy as another bowl of fresh ramen was placed in front of him next to his stack of finished ramen bowls. He quickly calmed himself and after dipping his chopsticks into the hot noodles he began devouring the ramen at top speed. The years had not changed Naruto too much. Physically, he had grown taller and stronger, but personality-wise he did not change much. Even through all the hardships (the last few years was not in any mean easy on anyone in Konoha), Naruto was still able to maintain some of his carefree attitude.

He also definitely kept his love for ramen.

Someone sat heavily down beside him. "A bowl of miso ramen please."

Naruto instantly recognized the voice. He turned. There sitting wearily beside him was his old team-mate. "Sakura-chan! You are here!"

"Hello, Naruto," Sakura greeted in an exhausted air.

"What had you been doing? Is your mother being difficult again? You look tired," Naruto commented as he finished his bowl and ordered a second.

Sakura shook her head. "Mother is being good today, but you know," Sakura exclaimed with a wryly smile, waving her hand around listlessly, "How lazy Tsunade can get sometime."

"She is over working you again?" Naruto acquired, "I can always talk to her, she listens to me now a day." It was true, even the Hokage took some of his words into consideration. At the age of eighteen Naruto had become one of the most distinguished, if not the most accomplished Jounin in Leaf Country. Rumours flew about how he would be the next Hokage as soon as Tsunade retires.

Sakura never doubted the rumours, she knew he would become a Hokage one day – Just not at that moment.

Sakura laughed.

"Awww Sakura-chan you don't take me seriously, do you?" Naruto pouted playfully.

Sakura smiled at the thought but shook her head, "I think you overestimated yourself, Naruto, the Hokage may listen to you when you talks about tactics in a battle, but she would just ignore you when you talk about her work habits." She laughed. "It's alright though, healing everyone who she is suppose to heal herself gives me practices. If she hogs all the work then there would be no chance for me to get better don't you think?"

It was Naruto's turn to laugh. "You are so hard working." Then without thinking he added what he instantly regretted, "You are as hard working as Lee!" Naruto swore inwardly as he watched his friend froze, her features darkened. He was an idiot, mentioning that name so carelessly. One would think he had learned to think over every word he would say, especially now when every word could offend someone in the village. A fresh bowl of ramen was placed in front of him, but he ignored it. Instead with low cast eyes he muttered, "I am sorry... I didn't mean to – "

Sakura smiled. "It is alright," she quickly interrupted, "You don't need to apologize."

Naruto gave a nervous laughed and both turned their concentration to their noodle.

"Hey Naruto," Sakura said eventually, breaking the silence, "I just over reacted. I am sorry if I upset you."

Naruto looked at his friend silently. "Sakura-chan..." Naruto muttered when he saw the remorseful expression on Sakura's face, an expression that surpassed his own guilt. He never imagined five years ago that there would come a day when Sakura would tirelessly apologize for everything, even for what was obviously not her fault. Where was that carefree, spontaneous Sakura he had befriended with when they were twelve? He missed her, even for her inconsideration and selfishness. Unafraid to speak her mind, she would sometimes let slip malicious, crude comments that would hurt his feelings, but they were always never truly meant.

After the war all her words became so well thought out, so flawless. She had become so immensely careful...

Not that he could not call her changes negative, after all, kindness, and selflessness are virtues. In fact, many thought her changes were rather welcoming, well, at least those who did not know her well. Of course, Naruto, who was much more sensitive and perceptive than he was given credit for, and a close friend of Sakura knew better. Behind her kind words and gentle smiles, all he could see was darkness, her words all seemed hollowed, her smiles never reached her eyes.

Fate was harsh on everyone in the village, but fate was especially harsh on her the last few years. Ever since his death, which was closely followed by her father's death and her mother's sickness there was impenetrable sadness, eating away the old Sakura he knew. He had a feeling; however, that out of the three unfortunate events his death affected her most because her father died for the village along and her mother became sick because of her father – but Lee died for her. He cursed silently again at his own stupidity. If only he thought before he talked!

Who would have thought Lee, a boy who Sakura disliked at their first acquaintance would affect her so much at the end? If only he never died how much happier she would be! But then again, if he never betrayed the village, chances were Lee would not die, and Sakura would never have come to rely on Lee for support in the first place and... Everything started with his departure.

Once again he came to the same conclusion: it was all Uchiha's faults.

"Naruto?" Sakura inquired curiously, quickly pulling Naruto out of his thoughts.

Naruto turned to catch a glimpse of amusement sparkling in the jade eyes. Surprised and puzzled he replied, "What is it, Sakura-chan?"

Sakura laughed at the peculiar expression. She inquired lightly, "Were you thinking of killing someone again? Your eyebrows started twitching and you were shaking."

Naruto flushed. "No..."

Sakura smirked. "Now, now Naruto don't try to lie, especially when you are in front of the two women who can catch any of your lies," she teased, her eyes looking beyond Naruto.

He began sheepishly without comprehending her words, "Sakura-chan you are always..." Then a realization hit him. "Two!" Naruto quickly turned around and found himself looking into a pair of white eyes. "Hinata-chan!"

"Were you lying again Naruto-kun?" Hinata questioned with an expression of fake disappointment as she sat down on the stool next to Naruto.

"No! I mean yes! I mean no! I mean-" Naruto stuttered, disorientated by the sudden appearance of the dark haired girl. He hit his forehead. He could never speak properly when this woman was around him, it was definitely a problem.

Hinata giggled. "I am sorry I kept you waiting, Naruto-kun, Ino-san was late for her shift."

Naruto replied cheerily. "It's alright Hinata-chan! I didn't wait for that long! See I have only finished four bowls of ramen."

Sakura smiled and silently stood up as Naruto ordered a bowl of ramen for himself and another bowl for Hinata. It was time for her to leave, Hinata was finally there.

Slowly she advanced to the edge of the cliff, where one foul step would result in her death...

She laughed.

Remembering the way her friends reacted the first time they saw her stood there she could not help herself but laugh. They all rushed to her and pulled her back in horror, thinking she was about to let herself fall. They did not need to worry, however, she never wished to fall, or to die, at least not after his sacrifice. In any case, when life reached rock bottom it could go no where but up.

After the war, life got better. Even if her life had become monotonous, everyday filled with the same routines and chores, she was definitely not unhappy. When she was bored with the routines, occasional missions would arise to satisfy her desire for adventures. Work had kept her busy and gave her an excuse to interact with everyone at a safe distance, never too close for comfort but never too far for the feeling of isolation. It was better this way: a life of stability, a life without risks. For once in her life she felt she had control.

Standing at such dangerous position was more or less a habit she developed when Tsunade challenged her to climb the cliff each day. Cliff climbing just no longer seemed complete until she could stand at the tip and look down to see how far up she went. Certainly not very many right handed female ninja could brag about climbing the cliff with her left hand in less than twenty minutes. As she retreated to saver ground, she smiled.

It was another day.

She had woken up at seven that morning, brushed her teeth, cooked breakfast and lunch for her mother, went to the caring center, fed her mother her breakfast, ate her own breakfast, reported to Tsunade, went to the hospital and treated the more serious cases, ate lunch at the ramen shop, finished healing the most serious injured, trained with Tsunade for an hour, and finally – finally she could have some time to herself.

It was not that she was antisocial, or that she disliked the people, but having to socialize so many hours in a day is straining, both physically and mentally. She was not like Naruto, she could not stand attention twenty-four seven.

When she was a child she seldom played with the other kids because when she did she always ended up being teased for her forehead. She had learned to amuse herself then with the swings in the park, crayons at her home and most importantly her precious books. Ino's arrival saved her from the lonely afternoons. She was thankful, of course, after all, no one truly liked the feeling of loneliness, but even then there would be days when she claimed to be sick just so she could hide behind her books.

She enjoyed time alone to relax, to think. No. She needed it to be sane.

It was only when she was alone could she finally put down the façade, put down her guard, put down the masks she wore when around others. She could finally be herself. She was finally back at her solitude, at the top of the cliff overlooking her home. It was a place where she knew she would be left undisturbed, that even if she was joined by the odd company she would be warned beforehand. There would be no surprise. She smiled wryly, life is better without surprises.

She sat down as she always did and looked at the tranquil view around her. Under the falling sun, and at such magnitude, the view looked almost identical to what her twelve years old self saw after hours of laborious climbing so many years ago with her two team mates and Kakashi by her side. In fact, when she looked around, she could almost see them: Naruto being his loud and obnoxious self, walking around the top like an idiot, Kakashi reading his favourite perverted books with a bored expression on his face, and Sasuke sitting somewhere alone, emotionless, staring intensely at the far off woods...

Sasuke, someone who she had not seen for years, she wondered if he was still alive.

Not that the fact concerned her in any way.

In the beginning she loved the boy, and when the war first began she hated him. She was disgusted by him, he had betrayed the village, betrayed his friends, and betrayed her. She blamed everything on him – Lee's death, her parent's death, the whole damned war. She wanted nothing more than to see him die. Painfully. Yet toward the end of the war, she found herself too tired, too weary, too drained to hate. The passion that drove her through the war suddenly diluted by her distain, leaving her with absolute indifference and a hatred for death, a reason for her current work as a healer.

She did not want to see anyone die in front of her anymore.

The war had been hard on Leaf village, but like magic, the village rebuilt itself almost instantly after the war. In terms of architectures, the village was almost back to its former glory. In terms of population; however, there was still a long way toward replacing all those who died in the war. After the war, having children just stopped being a popular idea among the survivors.

Not that anyone could really replace the dead.

Nor could any one in the village ever be the same after the war.

She looked at the sun, now almost half way behind the forest from far beyond and decided it was time to go. She still had to feed her mother dinner, eat dinner with Ino, head over to the hospital one more time for a final check before finally heading home to sleep. Tomorrow the cycle of routines will continue.

"Good morning," Sakura greeted with a smile as she walked passed the reception toward her locker. She supposed she should not be so cheerful. Being informed to head for the hospital instead of reporting to Tsunade in the morning usually meant a tragic end to an important mission. That could not be helped; however, her mother talked to her cohesively this morning, the first time in three weeks. Good days for her mother were rare, and she treasured any moment she could actually talk to her mother normally. As she pulled out a new clean doctor coat she asked the receptionist, who, if she remembered correctly, was called Uriko, "How many patients?"

"One, Sakura-san," the receptionist answered, her voice anxious.

Something about that answer did not sound right to Sakura's ears. She turned around, for the first time since her arrival at the hospital she took a good look at the young receptionist. Uriko looked apprehensive and nervous, she decided. Something was wrong. Something must be wrong. "Who is the patient?" she asked in alarm, her mind raced, her heart pounded. Naruto? But it could not be, she just saw Naruto yesterday night and he looked fine. Who then? Or could it be Ino? Did something happen to her?

The receptionist replied her thought. "The patient is a male, late teens or early twenties, unconscious. That is all the information I was given, Sakura-sama, so many people were crowding around him when he was transported here that I could not get a good look at him. He is in room 114, Tsunade is already there," the young woman said that all very quickly, never loosing the urgency in her voice before handing Sakura a folder.

Her alarm tripled in an instant. There were only a handful of times where Tsunade arrived at the hospital before eleven let alone eight in the morning. Something was definitely wrong. Without another word Sakura sped down the long corridor leading toward the room.

Two minutes and she arrived at the closed door of Room 114, but she could not bring herself to open the door. Instead she realized how fast her heart was beating, and how badly her hands were shaking. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, but the gut feeling of dread would not disappear. Then a muffled conversation from the other side of the door caught her attention and she satisfied herself with ear dropping.

"Why is he here?" a loud voice, one Sakura recognized as Naruto's cried in anguish. Sakura let go of a breath she did not know she was holding. Naruto was fine. "Why did they not kill him when they could?"

"Because the last thing we need is another war. If we kill him, we will be giving other villages a reason to invade our village again," a calm voice, Tsunade's voice, explained.

"He is a missing-nin, Tsunade! For heaven's sake he is a dangerous criminal. He is under Orochimaru! For all we know this is all a part of Orochimaru's plan for a second attack! We need to kill him!" Naruto exclaimed. Another wave of dread swept passed Sakura. Someone working for Orochimaru, someone from Konoha, a missing-nin, there were only a few who fit the description. With the addition information she received from the receptionist – there was only one person who fit the description. She shook her head, refusing to consider the possibility. Her mouth felt dry.

It could not be him. It definitely could not be him.

Tsunade sucked in a subtle breath and commented, "Orochimaru has nothing to do with this."

"How would you know?" Naruto inquired critically, obviously did not accept the answer, even if it came from the Hokage herself.

For a moment Tsunade remained silent then she replied in a low voice, "Orochimaru is dead."

Sakura let out a gasp, sharing her surprise, Naruto whispered in equal disbelieve at the other side of the door, "That... that can't be true."

"But it is true, Naruto. Both Jiraiya and I were sceptical so we both went to see the body. It was Orochimaru, there was no question about that," Tsunade paused before she repeated softly more to convince herself than to convince Naruto, "Orochimaru is dead."

There was silence as the news slowly sank in. Naruto sighed, when he was finally calmed enough to talk again he spoke in an uncharacteristic solemn voice, "I just can't believe..." but he broke off in an equally uncharacteristic manner – Naruto never seemed to have speech problems before – a moment later he attempted again, "I always thought..." before breaking off, again failing miserably in speaking full sentence.

"I know, who would have thought Orochimaru would die like this," was all Tsunade said frankly. It was all she could say.

"You are shaking rather badly, Sakura," commented a deep voice behind her. Sakura jumped, relaxed only when she realized it was none other than Kakashi studying the door intensely. She concentrated so hard on the conversation that she did not notice his arrival.

"Kakashi-sensei..." Sakura greeted with a quick nod, "How long had you been here?"

"Just long enough to hear Orochimaru is dead," he replied grave and sombre before giving Sakura a long inquisitive look. Sakura stared back steadily. Finally Kakashi asked his question, "You know who is inside, right?"

"Naruto and Tsunade."

"I meant the patient," Kakashi interrupted blandly. Sakura shook her head and looked away. Kakashi continued his query, "Is it because you really don't know, or because you don't want to know?"

Sakura opened her mouth but Kakashi had no intention to let her speak. "I think its time for us to go in the room," Kakashi declared and before Sakura could protest, pushed open the door. The two talking occupants instantly turned toward the two new comers in silence. Naruto standing next to the window still looked too shock to talk. Tsunade, standing at the foot of the bed looked at the two expectantly. Kakashi nodded before he walked over and talked to the Hokage.

If she tried, she could probably listen in their conversation, but she tuned their voices out as soon as she noticed the bed behind them. There on the white bed in the white flushed room lied a teenager heavily bandaged. A few strands of his raven hair escaped the grasp of the bandages wrapped around his head and strongly contrasted their surrounding. She recognized him instantly.

In his coma he looked more peaceful than she had ever seen him. Under the morning sun light filtered by the thin curtains he looked ghostly white. He looked older, more mature, his hair grew longer but his chakra felt the same. Sasuke, she had no question. It had to be him.

"He was found unconscious near the border." Sakura jumped again in alarm, for the second time in the day she was caught off guard by her old teacher. Kakashi's right eye caught hers before quickly shifting back to the patient, it was only a moment, but it was enough to ask the unspoken question: "Was it because you really did not know, or because you did not want to know?"

Chapter One Ends

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