Previously...

"Boys, I'm going on a mission for awhile okay? I know you'll be fine on your own, but Kakashi will watch over you if you need anything. I, uh, kind of knocked him out so he's in my room sleeping. He should be awake in a few days. Listen very carefully, this is a very dangerous mission, okay? To be honest, I don't knowwhen I"ll be back or even if I'll be back. Tomorrow morning, I want the two of you to march straight to the hospital and get Sakura-chan and Hinata-chan. Then I want you to find Shikamaru and go to the Hokage's office. Gaara, Temari, and Tsunade-sama will explain everything to you guys," Kireina told them.

"What?" Naruto burst out, "You don't know if you'll come back? But you have to! You're our nee-chan!"

Kireina smiled slightly before hugging Naruto.Then she turned to Sasuke, "Sasuke, I'm leaving Mizuno with you guys okay? If you need anything at all, don't hesitate to send her to Itachi or Tanayo, all right? I'm also leaving one of my lions, Hiroshi (Generous), with you guys. He'll act as a bodyguard for you. He should already be outside," Kireina said.

Kireina gave Sasuke a hug then transformed into her Elemental state before disappearing in a flash of silver.


Continued...
2 months later...

Kakashi stared up at the ceiling above Kireina's bed. He had pretty much moved into the Uchiha manor and was currently residing in Kireina's room. The war with Cloud had ended a month ago and Akatsuki was already gone. Kireina's birthday had just passed, so she was 25 now. Kakashi continued to stare at the ceiling. He was turning 26 today and had no one to share it with.

"Kakashi-sensei! Time to wake up!" Naruto called.

Kakashi rolled out of bed unwillingly. After 2 months with no word from Kireina, Kakashi was very worried. When he had woken up 4 days after she left, he had wanted to go after her but had no way of knowing where she was. Sasuke was just as worried as he was but instead of holding it in like Kakashi did, he vented his frustration during training.

Naruto ran into Kireina's room, "KAKASHI-SENSEIII! It's time to wake up!"

"I'm up, I'm up," he grumbled.

He ambled out of the room into the bathroom and a took a quick shower and brushed his teeth then went to the kitchen to help Naruto prepare breakfast. Sasuke was already up and sitting at the kitchen table in stony silence.

"Morning," Kakashi greeted Sasuke. He got a grunt in response.

Within minutes, three plates of hot food were placed on the kitchen table. After a mumbling of "Itadakimasu.", the three shinobi began eating. Their breakfast was interrupted by tapping on the window. Kakashi looked up to see a silver sparrow hovering at the window with a scroll tied to its leg. Kakashi perked up and nearly overturned his chair in his haste to open the window. The sparrow flew off once Kakashi had untied the scroll. Sasuke and Naruto crowded around Kakashi to read what it said.

"Happy Birthday Kashi-kun! I'm sorry I couldn't be here to celebrate it with you. I'll make up for it when I come back. As of now I'm fine, but I don't know when the fighting will end. Take care of Naruto and Sasuke for me okay?" The date on the note said September 14. The sparrow had flown fast and gotten the note to Kakashi by the next day in time for his birthday.

Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief and his eye curved up. She was okay. Sasuke's brooding demeanor cheered up noticeably. Naruto's face eased into his fox grin once again. The three of them sat there, each grinning like fools, when suddenly the heard three sharp knocks on the front door. The three of them exchanged puzzled glances. No one had bothered them in the last month due to the fact that all three had been terrible company. The only ones who bothered visiting were Sakura, Tsunade, and Hinata. Those three never knocked. Kakashi went to get the door with Sasuke and Naruto following him like curious puppies. Kakashi's one visible eye widened.

"Happy Birthday Kakashi!"


Kakashi and the visitor sat in the living room in uncomfortable silence. Sasuke and Naruto walked in with a tray with tea on it. They set it down on the coffee table and gave Kakashi and the visitor each a cup.

"Rin, what are you doing here?" Kakashi finally asked.

"I'm back for good Kakashi. I'm done training," the woman replied.

"Kakashi-sensei," Sasuke interrupted, "Shouldn't you introduce us?"

"Sasuke, Naruto, remember my old teammate I told you about?"

"Yeah."

"This is her."

"Rin, this is my old genin team. Namino Uchiha Sasuke and Namino Uzumaki Naruto," Kakashi introduced.

Rin raised an eyebrow, "You had a genin team?"

Kakashi stared at her, "A lot has changed since you left."

Rin winced at the slightly accusing tone, "Well Kakashi. Your old teammate? Is that all I am to you?"

Kakashi sighed, "You're the one that left, Rin. Not me."

Sasuke and Naruto glanced back and forth between their teacher and his teammate, confused.

"Kakashi-sensei? What do you mean?" Naruto asked.

Kakashi sighed, "Rin and I...we were engaged to be married but on the day of our wedding, Rin left Konoha."

Sasuke stood up tensely, Sharingan flashing bright red, before stalking out of the living room and slamming the door to his room shut. Naruto ran to follow his brother.

Rin looked after Sasuke and Naruto, confused, "What's wrong with them?"

Kakashi frowned, "Sasuke's cousin is my current girlfriend. She took in Sasuke and Naruto and adopted them as her younger brothers not long ago."

Rin whirled around to face Kakashi her eyes wide open and surprised, "What?"

"5 years is a long time, Rin. People change in 5 years."

"But I left to become better for you!"

"You don't get it do you?" Kakashi stood up and walked to the fireplace to touch the pictures of Team 7 and Kireina on the mantle, "You were already enough for me. I didn't need you to be better."

Rin gaped at Kakashi, "I still love you though, Kakashi. I always have."

Kakashi turned back to Rin, "But I don't. Not anymore. I did at one point, but then you left. I thought I would never love again. Until I received a genin team. Those kids taught me to never give up, so I didn't. Now I've got Reina."

"Is Reina the girl? Her name means 'Sound of Jewels'. It's interesting."

"Her full name's Namino Kireina. Her parents mixed 'Kireii Hana' together."

"Where is she now?"

"Fighting a war."

"Konoha's at war?"

"No, Suna is. Her ancestry traces back to Konoha but moved to Sunagakure. She was Sand's ANBU captain for the last 13 years before she moved here."

"13 years? How old is this girl?"

"24."

"SHE WAS AN ANBU CAPTAIN AT 11 YEARS OLD!"

"Yup."

"Guess I can't compete with that."

No answer.

"But then again, you can't compete with someone if you're not here now can you?"

"You would like her Rin."

Rin sighed, "How can I like anyone that's stolen my fiancé?"

Kakashi shrugged. A tapping was heard on the window again and when the two of them turned to look, it was the Hokage's bird used to summon all ANBU, jounin, and chuunin to her office. Kakashi nodded to the bird before striding to Sasuke's room and knocking on the door.

"Hokage-sama is summoning us," Kakashi called.

There was silence and then the door opened to reveal a sullen Naruto and an annoyed Sasuke.


Tsunade leaned against the Hokage's desk. The room was crowded with jounin and chuunin. Sakura and Hinata were standing by her side with Shizune. Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro were at the front too. Temari and Kankuro looked as if they hadn't slept in several days. And Gaara...well...Gaara always looked like he hadn't slept for days. Shikamaru grabbed a random chair and pushed it behind Temari who blushed prettily and sat down. Sounds of cooing from the other kunoichi filled the room. Kakashi, Rin, Sasuke, and Naruto entered the room already jammed packed.

Tsunade raised an eyebrow, "Kakashi? Wow, you're not late! Being with Kireina has good effects on you I see."

Kakashi made no motion to acknowledge whether or not he had heard her and instead turned to lean on the wall. The door flew open and something glinted brightly announcing the arrival of Gai and Rock Lee. Neji and Ten Ten followed with annoyed expressions.

Tsunade cleared her throat and stood up straight, "Now that we're all here, we can begin the meeting. First off, we can welcome Rin back from training. She will be reinstated as a jounin and will take Kakashi's place as a jounin teacher. Kakashi will be placed in charge of his old genin team's training as well as the other chuunin in their age group. Second of all, the Kazekage has personally come to request our assistance in their war. Are there any volunteers who are willing to accompany him?"

Kakashi's hand shot in the air. He would do anything as long as he could be with her. Tsunade saw his hand but ignored it and instead let her gaze move on to other jounin who were raising their hands. Gai was chosen along with Genma, Anko, and a few ANBU. Shikamaru also volunteered along with Neji and Lee.

Gaara bowed gracefully to the room, "Thank you all for your helpfulness. We don't know how we will repay you."

"Tsunade-sama," Hinata spoke up, "Maybe some medic nin should go too."

Tsunade nodded, "Good thinking Hinata. Do I have any who would be willing to go?"

Hinata and Sakura both stepped forward.

"Sakura? Hinata? Are you sure? Both of your abilities are extraordinary, but it's different out there."

Sakura spoke up, "Hinata and I work well together. We'll take care of each other."

"I forbid this," Hiashi thundered, "We cannot afford to lose the Hyuuga heiress and I cannot afford to lose another of my loved ones."

Hinata stared at her father at the last statement. Neji moved to the front to stand next to Hinata and bowed.

"Hiashi-sama, I will be sure to watch Hinata-sama and I won't let any harm come to her."

Hyuuga Hiashi sighed and walked to stand in front of Neji.

"My brother would be proud of you Neji. Thank you for taking care of my daughter all of these years."

Tsunade cleared her throat, "All those that were chosen need to be ready by sunset tonight. Kazekage and his siblings need to get back to Sunagakure."

The ninjas filed out of the room while Kakashi lingered behind to speak to Tsunade.

"Tsunade-sama, why did you skip me?" Kakashi wanted to know.

Tsunade sighed, "Kireina specifically asked me not to allow you, Naruto, or Sasuke to go. She doesn't want you there for fear of your feelings getting in the way."

Kakashi nodded in supposed understanding before heading out the door. However, in his mind, a whirlwind of thoughts turned over and over again.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto yelled, "What took you so long?"

Kakashi shrugged, "I had to talk to Tsunade-sama about a few things. Sorry, let's go back now."

Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he started walking in the direction of the Uchiha compound. Naruto scurried along behind him while Sasuke walked placidly, his hands also stuffed in his pockets.

Two days later (Sunagakure)...

Sakura and Hinata hurried around Sunagakure's hospital trying to stretch their chakra reserves as far as they could. They healed only the most injured and saved only those that could be saved. Those that couldn't, they made them as comfortable as possible. They had arrived the day before and had been put to work immediately. Neither of them had seen Kireina yet. The doors of the hospital flew open with a loud bang as Kireina's summoned horse, Akumu, galloped in with three more injured on his back. Yume followed closely behind with three others. Sakura helped the injured off and looked around to find places for them. The hospital had run out of beds so there were injured sprawled all over the floor. Only the most severely injured were given beds. Sakura gave a quick once over to the six that had just come in. All had broken bones and minor wounds, none life-threatening.

"Hinata-chan! Come help me!" Sakura called.

Hinata hurried over to Sakura and helped her lay the injured on whatever free floor space was available. After healing the bones and bandaging their wounds, they were sent out of the hospital again. As cruel as that was, the village couldn't afford to have its ninjas lazing about in the hospital.


-moans- I hate writer's block...