AN: This fic takes place during the time after Sakura left Naruto's room and before she knocked on Tsunade's office, asking the Hokage to take her in as a pupil (the end of chapter 236).

One shot by MP

I respect you. I admire you. I even look up to you. How can I not? You've always taken care of me. You protected my pathetic self countless times before, and I'm sure that given the chance, you'll continue doing it.

But why? Why is it that you lied to me? And it's not just once or twice. You've told me so many lies that I lost count of it…

I knew I shouldn't have believed in anything you said at all. You were even late for our first meeting in the academy classroom back then. Shouldn't it have said enough?

You told me your very first lie short after we met. Being the innocent and naïve genins we were, we came on time for the survival training.

But you didn't.

And it wasn't just that time, mind you. The day after that, and still another day after that until we gave up hoping that you'd eventually be on time for our training session. That annoying salute of yours reached my ears two hours after the appointed time if we were lucky, three hours if not.

All you gave us was your lame excuses. Not until recently did I find out the reason why you were always late. Why didn't you just say that you went to visit the memorial? Didn't you trust me? Did you think that I wouldn't understand? Or were you just being your regular self, and that is… a liar?

You told me that I shouldn't worry about the mark on Sasuke-kun's neck. You said that you had taken care of it. You said that Sasuke-kun was okay.

I believed you. And I was very relieved then.

But you didn't tell me the whole truth. Guess it counts as a lie, ne Kakashi-sensei? Sasuke-kun was not in any way okay. The curse still plagued him. With my own eyes I saw the terrible specks reappearing during his fight with Gaara.

I realize now that it would be asking too much to expect you to remove the curse completely, but still… you could've told me the truth instead of giving me false hope.

You fooled me once. Shame on you, Kakashi-sensei…

And then there was that time at the hospital roof. Yes, you did save me. You were the only one who cared enough to try to alleviate my fears and make me wipe away my tears. Didn't I say that you had always taken care of me?

You told me that everything was all right. You said that things would soon go back to the way they used to be.

And I believed you, even when I knew that you had lied to me numerous times before. In my naivety, I thought that we could stay the happy and proud team 7 forever. I refused to see that the only thing that doesn't change is that things change. And so I chose to trust you, to have faith in your words…

It turned out that you were wrong. Nothing was all right. Sasuke-kun walked away from our lives, from my life, and I couldn't stop him.

You lied to me again, for the umpteenth time. Because now things will never go back to the way they used to be. Even if – no… even when someday we manage to bring Sasuke-kun back to Konoha, the team 7 I've come to love will still be no more. All of us would've changed too much and been scarred too deep that we could never go back to being the innocent genins we used to be.

No, things will definitely not be the same anymore.

You fooled me twice. Shame on me, Haruno Sakura…

Kakashi-sensei, you're a liar. But…

"I don't let my comrades die."

The memory of your face when you said those words in the middle of your fight with Zabuza is deeply engraved in my mind. Despite that damned mask that concealed half of your face, I knew you were smiling then. I knew, because your eyes told me so. Those days were long past, but I still remember that particular moment in my life. You had to risk your life in that fight to protect us, but still you took time to ease our worries.

I knew then that you were sincere. That you meant every word you said. That even if it cost you your life, you would stop at nothing to protect us.

Kakashi-sensei, you're a liar. But you kept that one promise.

You found Naruto and brought him back to Konoha. Yes, Sasuke-kun is still gone and Naruto was injured badly, but both are alive nevertheless. And that is all that matters.

You did not let Naruto die, and I am eternally grateful to you. Because I could not imagine how it feels to have the burden of guilt upon someone's death on your shoulder.

I was selfish. I begged Naruto to bring Sasuke-kun back when in fact I could've sent him to his death.

But you saved him, and by doing that, you saved my sanity also.

Seeing Naruto sitting on the hospital bed, covered with bandages from head to toe, I couldn't help but feeling a pang of guilt. His injuries were the result of my selfish request. But never once did he blame me for his predicament. Instead, he clung stubbornly to the promise he made to me and to his ninja way…

So I made up my mind. Next time, I will not ask somebody else to bring Sasuke-kun back. I will go get Sasuke-kun back myself. But for that, I need to get stronger first. I have to, and I will.

Then maybe someday I can say to others what you said to me that day. Maybe someday I will be able to say those words with sincerity and determination that is at the least comparable to what you showed me back then.

I know now, that even if you broke all the other promises you made, you still wouldn't break that one promise. Because that's just the way you are. Because it is your ninja way.

I still have a long way to be able to just touch your level, let alone compare with you in terms of shinobi skills. The day I can say what you said and really mean it is still far off. But for now, at least I can say this…

Kakashi-sensei, I don't want to let my comrades die either…

- The End -