Author's Note: Twisted the plot a little, nothing major. Sakura did not train with Tsunade and she's not as obsessed with Sasuke as she was in the book.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything.

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Do you Remember?
By Violet Karuto
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Do you remember the day you tested us on our endurance?

It was a fine spring day in April on the outskirts of the village.

You had us running miles around the parameter, pushing us to use our chakras to the limit. It was a hard day for me, you see, for endurance was never my forte. But I guess you did see because you told me during my 6th lap to go buy some water for them after they're finished with their 10th. I guess it was your way of telling me to take a break without directly stating the obvious. It was my first glimpse into your mind, I suppose, and learn you're not a man to lay his heart out in the open.

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Do you remember the day when you treated us out for the first time?

It was a dull summer afternoon in June in front of a ramen store.

You had finally given into Naruto's badgering and took us out into "a night on the town" ,as you had said, and ushered us into the closest noodle shop. Naruto was beside himself with glee and Sasuke glared disgustedly at him while I looked on with amusement. You just smiled gently at us, I noted.

For some reason, the owner of the shop, a woman, I remembered clearly, took a fancy into you and started chatting with you. I was not happy then, for reasons too complicated for me to figure out, and I had sulked quietly in a corner and ordered a cup of sake, seeing the people around me doing so. It was not long before you noticed my drunken state and tried to get Sasuke to escort me home. I clung onto you and refused to let you go, hoping to catch your attention long enough to get away from that obaa-san. I admit, I was not as drunk as I led you to believe but you fell for it anyway and brought me home despite that store owner's displeasure.

On the way home, I had a wistful thought that you might do something to me in my supposed unconsciousness. I guess I was influenced by all the romance novels Ino told me about unrequited love and how the guy would do "uncontrollable" things if given the chance. But you didn't take the chance. You just brought me home and covered me with a blanket.

That was the first time I discovered your moral side despite that abhorring book you carry with you all the time.

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Do you remember the time during one of our inconspicuous missions?

It was a sunny afternoon in July, on the streets.

We were told to recover a missing pet frog for a wealthy merchant's son. Naruto was in a rage that day and we were all ill-tempered in the afternoon heat. Looking for an ugly green amphibian under the summer sun was certainly not my cup of tea, but you tried to keep us together by promising to bring us to a bathhouse afterwards. I had noticed how you controlled us like your little pets by offering bribery and treats at the crucial moment to convince our loyalty to you.

I guess it all went downhill from there. We didn't locate the frog and thus failed our mission, though at the time I've wondered how any shinobi could have failed a D class mission. I remembered how the merchant had ridiculed our skills as shinobis for the lost of his son's frog and how I had noticed that insignificant smile on the said son's face. That instant, it seemed as if an epiphany has descended upon me as I worked out the logic behind the riddle.

I realized, with a start, that we had been going at this from the wrong direction. There was no lost frog, there was a frog, mind you, but not a lost one. The kid hid it in purpose!

Yet all came down to the one statement made by that repugnant man towards you that I lost control of myself. Till today, I still have a murky memory of that instant when I let loose my inner demon. I suppose it was the fact that we had looked for that damned frog for 3 hours straight under the blazing sun, or the fact that we were looking for a frog at all, or probably, my little mind added, because that man had the nerve to ridicule you. When I regained my wits, I saw everybody staring at me in amazement, though amusement on your part, and the red chubby face of the merchant in front of me.

He was going to slap me, with his high-held hand and bulging eyes. But he didn't because you were there to stop him. It was that instant when you grabbed his wrist, placed yourself in front of me, and subjected a civilian under your infamous sharigan eye that made me hope that probably I meant more to you in that instant than out of all the times we've been together. And I thought, maybe, just maybe, we were meant to be more than that.

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Do you remember the time after the Chunin Exams?

It was a chilly day in October and we gathered in front of the Hokage office.

But of course when I said we, I meant You, Naruto, and me. Sasuke is…gone and we suffered a huge damage lost on our city and armed force. In desperation, the new Hokage-sama was sparing as many people and sources as possible, breaking up teams, hiring mercenaries, and chalking up help from the retired shin obis. Our team was one of them she broke up.

You, obviously, were very much needed in the reconstruction so was often wisped away on missions and such. Yet Naruto also seemed to have plans on his own as he often went on little adventures with Jiraiya-sama. And then I was left in the background.

It did take a while for me to realize my predicament, but it was too late; all I can do was adapt and conform to a life without team 7. In the beginning, it wasn't hard to adjust to the absence of Sasuke and Naruto because I was never that close to them. We were good companions, yes, but I didn't have a bond with them like the one between themselves. But it was your shadow in my mind that I was reluctant to dissipate.

You have always been a constant in my life. Bringing bits of joy and happiness every time we communicate. You are the pin that holds my pieces together, fragile as they are, and I wasn't sure I'm prepared to throw away my only support and still have enough confidence to pick up the pieces afterwards. It's emotional suicide, my mind concluded despite the disagreement from the hotheaded conscience in the corner, so I left you alone.

Now I'm not so sure if that was a good idea. On one hand, I've grown more fond of you during your absence as I started to miss you. The waiting was torturous and I receded into a period of depression, did you know? But I never gave up. On the other hand, I guess my stubbornness finally convinced you to look at me, truly look at me.

On the day the bunch of you returned, all bloodied and dirtied, I was reporting in to the Hokage. There had been a timid knock on the door before it opened to reveal the four of you, all supporting each other. In a flurry of movements, I vaguely noticed Tsunade-sama ushering you all to go to the medic nins while my whole attention was set onto you.

You were standing nonchalantly by the doorway, like you had three years ago when we first met, seemingly bored with the whole commotion while idly scratching your mass of silver hair. Then you noticed me and you stopped all your movements as I walked up to you.

Even so many years after, I still remember that moment when we were staring at each other, face to face, almost at the same height. You were much paler than I last remembered, with your sallow face and hunched back. There seemed to be a tired atmosphere around you as I could almost hear each sigh as you breathe. I could feel your jaws dropping behind that infamous mask as you looked at me. You seemed hesitant.

Without pretense, you walked up to me and slowly gathered me into your embrace, holding wonderfully tight, and I could smell the sweat and blood on your body. The tears that have been frozen in time the moment you left flowed freely once again and you responded by pressing yourself against me even tighter. No words were spoken and none was needed. That moment in time spoke of all the grief and torture we've endured and that was enough.

It was the first time I learned that you were the one.

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Do you remember the day you left for your supposed last mission?

It was a rainy November day at the gates.

You promised me that you would resign from ANBU after you completed your last mission to the Sound village. I believed you half-heartedly but you finally convinced me in the end by giving me a thoroughly irresistible kiss.

Your other team members looked at us with sly grins as we hugged each other one last time. I heard the mission was going to be long so I wanted to remember the feeling of being in your arms before seeing you again in 4 months. Apparently, others also have the same thought and I could see many couples and families hugging in solitary groups, scattered around. This was going to be big, I realized, and I hugged you even tighter.

No words can express my loss as I watched you walk into the forest with the rest of them, like soldiers silently going into a battle they know they cannot win. Nevertheless, I didn't turn away. I want to save your last image in my mind, whether if it's your back, walking away, or that God forsaken book you always seem to hold.

And that was the last image anyone has seen of that group of heroic soldiers.

And that was when I learned how important you were to me.

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Now I stand in front of you, like the rest of them. I could hear sobbing and sniffling from the people around me and I know that they're not only crying for their loved ones, but also for a future that they couldn't have together. Yet through all this depressing atmosphere, I can't find myself shedding a tear. My memories of you are still etched so deeply into my mind that it almost seemed unreal to see your name amongst others on that black obsidian.

I placed a bundle of Sakuras on the smooth sandstone and stepped back. I remembered you once telling me how Sakuras were your favorite flowers and now I wondered if you were referring to me. In the end, all that bonds us are these fragile memories of the past that I've been trying so hard to grasp onto. It almost seemed unfair. We've spent so much time finding each other but spent so little together before we're ripped apart once more.

And only for today, I will do my best to gather all the pieces of "time" together before locking them away. You would do that also, won't you? If you were me?

I took another step back and cried.

It is a snowing day of December and we're all gathered before the cenotaph.

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Do you remember, Kakashi?

Because I do.

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Author's Note: Well, my third mellow-y (bordering angst) KakaSaku from me. I think the only Naruto fanfics I can write are Oneshots because they can fully develop characterization without delving too deep into details from the original story, and still have the readers understand because they already have a background on each character.

But I must say, this is the first time I've used chronological structure in my story and I find it difficult considering it's been a long time since I've read Naruto and I don't remember every event that happens in the story. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results. The funny thing is I wrote this story in bits and pieces, meaning that I wrote the beginning part and then the last two sentences at the end. So then I have to think of something to fill in all that space in between.

Love me? Hate me? Want to throw something at me? Just leave a thought on your way out.