Summary: Pretty much what title says. New character. It all happened in one day, some years back, and a few months later. –Complete–

Disclaimer: I do not own anything with regards to Naruto. I wish I do.

-------

Tsunade had appointed her to be in charge of the emergency case this time. A team of jounins returned to Konoha from a mission with two of its members awfully injured. Kinda like what happened to three of her batch mates when the Fifth Hokage herself arranged a rescue team especially for Sasuke, which was composed mainly of genins rather unfairly. But unlike that one, the jounins' mission today was successful. That's why she knew she had to outdo her best. Everyone inside the Intensive Care Unit of Konoha Hospital was counting on her. And probably, everyone who was outside, too. The team came back victorious. Now, it's all up to her to make their achievement more meaningful.

But of course, Tsunade would not appoint her if the Hokage did not know what this sweet pink-haired kunoichi was capable of. Haruno Sakura was, after all, the top-notcher of Tsunade's very own first batch of medic nins. The day she decided on this path six years ago, she found herself speaking in the presence of the Hokage, crying her heart out. Yes, she was still a crybaby then. And she might not be a good fighter but she was well aware of her knack for Genjutsu. Kakashi-sensei had once pointed out that she had her chakra well-controlled. And now it's about time that she put that good control of her chakra to noble use.

"I want to be your student," simple words coming from a naïve girl but the Hokage knew she meant more than that, as evident from the glint of determination reflected on her moist emerald eyes, which the Hokage met with equal resilience saying, "Now, that's the spirit. Done crying?"

"Hai." Sakura's face lit up upon hearing Tsunade's words of approval though she could not help the blush forming on her pale cheeks as she realized how embarrassed she was with her nonsense bawling and all. But then, who cares? It was a good cry after all.

She met new friends while under Tsunade's guidance. New faces that added to her already colorful life. Like her, they were all aspiring to be like the Fifth in terms of medical skills. But the fight was in no way competitive. They were all excellent in their own way. But Sakura would simply end up being the best every time. And as one could not ignore the fact that she was excellent and beautiful all together, with that cheerful attitude of hers that could lighten up anyone's sullen day, it wouldn't be a surprise if at least one of her male colleagues would be falling for her. But only one lucky soul would triumph in knowing the way to her heart. And his name was Harigae Takeshi.

They had been seatmates during their first year and groupmates a couple of times during apprenticeship missions. On their first day, Takeshi had been wondering why Sakura would rather brood in her seat during break time than chat with her fellow female trainees about—he boringly thought for a while—whatever girls of their age liked to talk about. Then he instinctively frowned at the thought. Why the hell was he wondering about such things? But too bad for him, that very frown caught Sakura's attention, which finally made her acknowledge him with a smile. It was subtle but sweet all the same.

They were seatmates and he just probably couldn't help it. He had been watching her since the last instructor before break time left the classroom. And even though Sakura might have seemed quiet to him, she was well aware of his watchful eyes on her. She mutely thanked her Kakashi-sensei for the lecture he gave them regarding keenness of senses. And that's what differentiated her from the rest of the class. Unlike them, she had been on the field and experienced real battles. They couldn't blame her if she isolated herself from the rest of them. But as she thought about it, she realized that without her knowing it, she was somewhat becoming more and more like—she hesitated for a while—Sasuke-kun? This time, it was her turn to frown.

"I'd rather see your smile," kind words snapped her out of reverie.

"Who are you to talk? You were frowning, too," she shot back rather irritably at her seatmate, who seemed quite handsome with that grin currently plastered on his face. But as soon as the words came out, a soft chuckle escaped her lips.

"Now, you're laughing," he frowned again.

"I'm sorry but this is me," she tried to control her giggles but failed.

"Glad to hear that," His grin became wider as he held out his hand, saying, "Hi, I'm Takeshi."

"My name's Sakura. Nice to meet you."

And at that moment as he watched her sit beside him, he decided that this Sakura girl would definitely make all his school days worth attending. She seemed to have a very interesting story behind her with that really colorful character she portrayed—sometimes really angry, sometimes awfully sad to the point that it's already becoming contagious. But most of the time, extremely cheerful. And her cheerfulness was in no doubt infectious.

And he was right. There really was an interesting story behind her. It seemed like they had come to enjoy each other's company more than they had expected as they could be seen to be always hanging out together ever since that day. He began to learn a few things about her then some. Then eventually, he found out that this amazing girl he was dating now was an ex-teammate of the infamous Uchiha Sasuke, who left Konoha for some selfish ambition, and all other matters pertaining to that.

But that fact did not bother him at all. In fact, he never considered dwelling in it. Instead, he focused on his training as medic nin and aside from that, he made sure that Sakura was always happy. Something that the Uchiha failed to do. Actually, it was something that the missing nin had never even thought of doing. He wanted to teach him a lesson for ignoring the kind-hearted Sakura like that. Yeah, right. Like he was capable of doing that. He was Uchiha Sasuke and compared to him, he was nobody.

Sometimes, he would ask himself. Did that Uchiha even know what he was about to lose the night he left Konoha? Because judging from what he had heard from Sakura's friends in the Ninja Academy, it seemed that his Haruno Sakura did love this Uchiha Sasuke with all her heart and for all that he was and was not.

But that, again, did not trouble him for he knew more than anyone that Sakura was happy and content with her life now. With a decent job as Tsunade's junior and earning everyone's trust, friends and lots of them, and a man who would forever be by her side no matter what, she would always openly and honestly tell him that there was nothing more she could ask for. And that assurance had finally led him to his decision that it's about time to plant that long-awaited flag, claiming her as his.

This morning, Takeshi came over to her house to fetch her. It was their regular routine to walk to the hospital together and this day was like any other. Along the way, they would talk about the patients, especially those who just returned from missions, and usually, it was Team Shikamaru that amused them the most for they never ran out of stories to tell.

But this morning, it was Sakura who did the talking the whole time. She was so animated and thrilled with her stories that Takeshi never got the chance to butt in and commence his personal mission for the day. He hated to disrupt her cheeriness since he himself was enjoying the atmosphere emanating from her. He simply loved her when she was like that. And it would be a shame to make her go all serious all of a sudden.

Upon arriving at the hospital, they went straight to where their time cards were and it was not until this time that Sakura realized her companion's unusual quietness.

"Takeshi-kun, is something wrong?" she asked in concern, looking up at his handsome face. But his hazel irises and slight smirk told her that he was fine. All too fine. In fact, he looked happier than ever. And for that, the concern in her eyes turned into childish suspicion, as she muttered in a pout, "Alright, either that or something is terribly wrong with you." And she stuck out her tongue rather cutely at him.

"You always make me laugh," Takeshi began, admiring the angel in front of him who was about to become his wife. "Do I always make you laugh?"

"With all your jokes and pranks that I've been putting up with these past six years, yeah, you do," just for fun, she attempted an arrogant reply but despite that, there still remained a touch of love in her voice.

"Good," he smiled at her, gaining his confidence from that love that her voice had failed to conceal. "Will you do the same for the next hundred years or so?"

"Oh, god. Now, I'm scared…" she was now staring at him and had said those last five words rather absentmindedly. She knew him so well that she decided that this must be another one of his jokes. And so she decided to try to outsmart him this time, "Alright, what's the catch?"

"Here," the smile never left his handsome face as he revealed a small crimson box on his palm and opened it, exposing the little band of gold inside. It looked like he was clutching it the whole time since he left his house but just couldn't get a good opportunity to bring it up. And so he went down on one knee, his eyes filled with adoration, "Will you marry me, Haruno Sakura?"

She was right. His jokes scared her all the time. But once said, they would always end up making her laugh and leaving her in high spirits. But this time, she did not laugh. In fact, she wasn't able to utter any sound for she was speechless. She was simply…happy.

Finally, she was able to blink from her shock when she realized that everyone at the lobby was staring at them. "Stand up, this is really embarrassing," she grabbed him by the arm as she forced him to straighten up. Even though she tried to cover her face in humiliation, she could not hide the smile that was playing on her lips at the moment.

Takeshi obediently got back on his feet with his eyes still focused on her. When he saw the way she smiled, he knew he made the right choice at the right time. But there was no point in being hasty with anything now. No need to rush things. As much as he wanted to hear her answer right at the moment, he wanted to give her the freedom to think it over.

"Just take it," he began, "I want to hear your answer by sunset, my favorite time of the day."

"Oh, Takeshi…" it was all she could mutter. She knew she would never meet another guy like him, so considerate and kind. So she took the little box from him and smiled, "Well then, will you at least put it on my finger?"

"My pleasure," and as he did so, he planted a fervent kiss on her lips while everyone around them, acquaintance or not, cheered in admiration.

"It's about time," they heard someone pass by. It was Kiba. It turned out he was watching them the whole time and was sneering, "Don't worry, I won't break the news to everyone…yet," and he winked at the smiling Sakura, giving her a two thumbs up sign. Then, he turned to Takeshi, "By the way, please look after Akamaru for me," and he left the hospital in a flash.

"Looks like they just got back from mission," Sakura noted, with her hand, where the ring was, still being held by Takeshi, "And it looks like you've got one hell of a patient to deal with this early in the morning," she continued, talking about that huge pet of Kiba, Akamaru.

"Well, he is adorable," he said as a matter of fact.

As soon as Kiba disappeared from their view, Tsunade entered the hospital lobby and was greeted by everyone present. Immediately, she spotted the two by the time cards, as she seemed to be really looking for Sakura.

"Ohayou gozaimasu!" the two chorused upon seeing the Hokage heading their way.

"Good, you're here already. I don't need to look for you anymore," Tsunade acknowledged rather in a hurry, giving Sakura's face a confused look.

"Sakura-chan, I'll go check on Akamaru now," Takeshi guessed the Hokage had some serious matters to discuss with Sakura so he decided that it's better to leave the two alone for the time being, but not without planting another adoring kiss, this time on her forehead, "I'll see you later," and he turned to Tsunade in respect, "Please, excuse me, Hokage-sama."

"See you around, Takeshi-kun," Tsunade waved at him fondly. She liked the guy very much and had always believed that he and Sakura deserved each other and should end up together. She knew how devoted Takeshi was to Sakura and that her favorite kunoichi had already returned his feelings a long time ago. It looked like Sakura had finally outgrown that heartbreak she had six years ago. So he should not worry too much.

"Sakura-chan, you've moved on," Tsunade heaved a sigh as she studied the blissful expression on her former student's face. She was glad that the girl had chosen this path at an early time of her life for it helped a lot in her development as a person. If only she had made the right decision when she was younger—way younger—then perhaps, she could have been more commendable to others.

"Yes, I have," Sakura smiled quite timidly but proudly. She knew exactly what the Hokage was talking about, "And you've been a big part of it all, thank you."

"No, it was your decision that made me a part of it," the Hokage smiled back, "What about him?" she asked, glancing over to Takeshi's direction as he walked off.

"Yeah, I'm glad I met him," Sakura replied, following the Hokage's gaze.

"Alright, here's what you need to do…" with these words, the topic changed quickly, as the Hokage explained the situation to Sakura. Two jounins were now waiting to be operated in the ICU. She handed the young medic a handful of papers, discussing the details regarding the patients' conditions. And added a few more tips regarding the execution of the operation. Then as a conclusion to this crash course, she asked, "Any question?"

"Just one," Sakura raised her hand even though she was the only one there for the lecture, "Judging from your account, it seems like a job only you can handle. What about you? Aren't you going to help out? You sounded like you were leaving everything to me," she tried to protest but knew it was useless to do so.

"Exactly," Tsunade grinned at her rather ridiculously, "That's what I like about you. You guess things right away."

"That's not funny, Tsunade-sama," it looked like Sakura wasn't in the mood for a joke, "You knew this was a serious case and yet you refuse to participate in the operation."

"My, my, Sakura-chan, don't be too hot-headed, ne?" Tsunade patted her on the shoulder to calm her down, "It's not that I refuse. It's just that I have more serious matters to take care of. Real matters that only me could handle."

"But…"

"Sakura, I didn't know you had that little faith in yourself," the Hokage turned to serious mode once again, "Well, I have faith in you more than you could ever imagine. You can do it, Sakura-chan. We're all counting on you."

"Hai, Hokage-sama," the reply was short but full of determination. And it was all the Hokage needed to hear for assurance.

"Alright, I'll be sending Harigae-san over to assist you later," Tsunade winked at her, hoping to ease whatever anxiety she was feeling, "Then report to my office once you're done with the operation, is that clear?"

"Hai."

-------

Now, she was on her way to the Hokage's office to report the outcome of the emergency case. It was, of course, successful. There was no doubt it would be. She was, after all, Haruno Sakura, Tsunade's first batch of medic nins top-notcher. The second Tsunade, as the people around her liked to joke about as much as they adored her for her talent.

Finally, she found herself in front of the Hokage's door. The operation was a success so the report should be brief and easy. It was a big relief for her now that it was finally over. But that wasn't yet the highlight of her day. Raising her hand to tap a few knocks on the door, she immediately caught sight of the golden ring glittering against the light on her finger. It was simply beautiful. Then she turned her hand a few times, admiring the way the ring was worn on her finger. How it suited her so perfectly. The little thing simply reflected all the love and joy she and Takeshi had shared for the past years.

And yes, the operation wasn't yet the highlight of her day. For there was still sunset. Takeshi was considerate and thoughtful enough not to remind her about it during the operation. Besides, it just wasn't proper to bring up such things on such occasions. Takeshi knew that. And that selfless character of his was just one of the many reasons she loved him for. So later at sunset, only a sweet yes would escape her mouth.

Just as her fist was about to land a light knock on the hard wood before her, the door opened up rather hastily and she was greeted by a person she didn't quite expect, who seemed to be as surprised as she was. It was Naruto.

"Naruto, what are you doing scaring the hell out of me?" she yelled at him, recovering from her shock, "And what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be out on a mission?"

"SAKURA-CHAAAAN, I've missed you so much!" he was about to throw his arms around her when her fist landed square on his face.

"What are you talking about? You were gone just for a couple of days and you missed me already?" She muttered in annoyance and proceeded in entering the office, leaving a black-eyed Naruto behind, "Give me a break."

On the second thought, that was the first time in years that Naruto had acted that way towards her. Then again, that particular friend of hers was a guy full of surprises. And now as she entered the room, she couldn't help but notice right away that it was more crowded than usual.

It seemed that the entire jounin force was present. Gai-sensei stood out due to those green tights he wore all the time and nodded at the newcomer in acknowledgement. Kurenai-sensei did the same and so did Asuma-sensei who stood next to the female jounin. This kind of recognition from such personalities had heightened her self-esteem over the years. Earning their trust was an honor.

And as expected, she spotted Kakashi-sensei leaning on a shelf on the left side of the room. It was so easy to locate him, with his head always buried on that perverted book of his. But as soon as he sensed her presence, he glanced sideways at her, giving her a somewhat cautious look, which Sakura didn't quite understand. She had somehow anticipated that his visible eye would simply crinkle into a smile upon seeing her. And it was just so strange of him not to do just that.

But the most unusual thing was that some members of the ANBU were here as well. They were all masked at the moment so she never bothered to figure out who they were, though she probably knew some of them. And so, she continued to glance around, acknowledging familiar faces when suddenly, a pair of ebony orbs deliberately met her emerald ones, as if wanting to be recognized at once.

At that very instant, Sakura felt her feet turn cold as she stood frozen to the ground, refusing to believe what she was seeing at the moment. This had to be a dream. A very untimely and frustratingly beautiful dream. For there stood amidst the pack of ANBU members was Uchiha Sasuke, smiling at her as if he knew something she did not. It was the same smile he had given her the last time he told her that she was annoying.

And those eyes. Those dark mysterious eyes. How she adored those eyes. He had the same look in them even. She could feel his gaze piercing through her soul, as if desperately trying to reach her and pick it up from where they had left off.

And at this sight of him, she instantly felt like crying. But when she thought she was about to melt in his gaze, she heard quick shuffling of feet behind her, waking her up from her trance.

"Sakura-chan, look who's back," Naruto, who had finally recovered from the punch, whispered from behind, "And by the way, that thing I said a while ago about me missing you, those weren't my words. He just asked me to tell you on his behalf."

On his behalf? Those were his words? Sasuke-kun's words?

So he actually missed her after all.

"Ah, Sakura-chan, I trust the operation was a success?" it was Tsunade's voice that finally made her tear her gaze away from Sasuke.

"H-Hai," still dazed, Sakura's reply was a little stuttered.

"Good," the Hokage smiled broadly as she sat back on her huge chair quite satisfied with the results, "Well then, can I hear your report?"

"N-Now?" this time, Sakura could not believe her ears. She would never recite in front of all these people. There's just no way. What's even worse Sasuke was among them.

"Come here," Tsunade motioned for her to come closer.

Even though the Hokage's office was just a small room, Tsunade's desk seemed so far away. And with everybody standing on both sides of the room, leaving some space in the middle right in front of the desk, she felt like doom was waiting for her. She wasn't exactly sure why she was feeling nervous all of a sudden. She had memorized all the necessary details, even jotted down a few notes on scratch. And she was confident that there wouldn't be any question she wouldn't be able to answer, for if there was one person who knew the events of the operation the most, it was her.

She consulted her thoughts, making sure she still remembered everything she had to say. And so, she began to move forward but her feet wouldn't let her. Now, everyone in the room was staring at her, probably wondering why she fell silent all of a sudden. Her lack of response, thankfully, had signaled Naruto to butt in.

"Sakura-chan, let's go?" he smiled as he looked into her hazy eyes, grabbing her shoulders while giving her a gentle push towards the Hokage's desk.

Sakura was practically dragging her feet as she approached Tsunade. She could feel everyone's gaze following every move she made. Most importantly, she could sense Sasuke's intent look fixed upon her.

Every single part of her was trembling. How could she start her speech without her voice cracking? She was certain that nothing audible would come out once she opened her mouth.

She walked down the aisle formed by three files of jounins to the left and a file of ANBU to the right with Sasuke standing before them nearest to Tsunade's desk. When she noticed that she was already in Tsunade's hearing range, she stopped. But she could swear her choice to stop on that spot was not at all intentional for when she took a glance to her right, she found herself standing right in front of Sasuke, who looked handsome as ever.

It's called women's intuition. And so Tsunade immediately understood the situation very well. She wasn't trying to punish any of them by calling Sakura over. It's just that fate, as they would call it, was probably on a playful mood once again. And she just couldn't help it if the chosen players this time were Sasuke and Sakura. Or maybe add another one—Takeshi.

Her office had been really quiet for the past five minutes or so. And she guessed that by now, Sakura had probably lost her enthusiasm in the report. She looked like she was about to collapse anytime soon. Good thing Naruto chose to remain in position behind his friend. But when the Hokage was about to clear her throat to make the necessary introductions, not that they needed them, Sakura beat her to the last second.

"Allow me to start my report, Hokage-sama," Sakura wasn't looking anywhere but the Hokage. And her voice was filled with poise and conviction. She was so composed and it seemed that nothing could stop her now.

"Hm," Tsunade nodded at her, her lips curving into a smirk, "Very well."

And so Sakura began speaking in a manner they had never heard before. Her tone was sharp, simply showing that she was indeed knowledgeable with whatever it was she was talking about. Even though it was just the Hokage who actually understood every single word she said, to the others she seemed very scholarly and convincing.

Sasuke found himself gaping at her as if it was his first time seeing her. Actually, it really was his first time seeing her after several years. She had grown taller and probably more slender, as evident by the one-piece short fitting dress she was wearing underneath a white coat, which had Konoha badges on the sleeves. He admired how her pale eyelids would periodically conceal those beautiful emerald irises in a blink and the graceful contraction of the muscles on her neck every time she swallowed some saliva to keep her throat from drying up while she spoke. And her choice to keep her hair at that length even added to her chic and smart look. That short hair of hers always reminded him of her courage. And now, as he looked at her, he could only muster two words. Stunningly perfect.

And probably, too perfect for him even. So now as he thought about it, it looked like he really had missed a lot.

Sakura knew she was the center of attention at the moment. And even though she was well aware of the intent gaze coming from a particular person to her right, she tried her best to stay focused and prove that this rather annoying stare would and could never distract her.

Aside from her facial expressions, her gesticulations were helping her a lot in her explanation, as they contributed some visuals in her wordy account. She was at the height of her discussion when suddenly the watchful Hokage leaned forward and grabbed one of her gesturing arms to take a closer look at her hand. Scrutinizing it for a while, the ring on Sakura's finger became more visible for everybody else to see, as it gleamed against the daylight entering the room through the windows behind the Hokage's seat.

"Is this what I think it is?" Tsunade asked the now blushing kunoichi in front of her. There was excitement in her voice as a mischievous grin appeared on her lips once again. Her attentive eyes a while ago now had a suspicious glint in them.

Damn. How she hated the Hokage when she meddled with things she was not supposed to. Then again, she was the Hokage and she's got every right to meddle with things whenever and however she wanted. And anyway, she would be the one to tie the knot for her and Takeshi eventually.

Takeshi… The thought of his name somehow added another ounce of confidence within her. Now that the Hokage had brought it up, she guessed there was no point in keeping it from others anymore. Even though those others included her Sasuke-kun…

There was a short pause before Sakura replied, "…Maybe."

Her answer was followed by a series of whispers from the audience. They were talking about her, that's for sure. Sasuke, however, had no idea what the commotion was all about. So he simply turned his head towards the whispering ANBU members behind him, attempting to eavesdrop since he couldn't join the conversation even though he wanted to so much. For he simply had no idea at all. Damn. He felt like he was being left out. But he did see the gold band that was on Sakura's finger, which Tsunade was currently marveling, and knew it was that thing which started it all.

"So, he proposed?" Tsunade went on, eyeing Sakura mischievously.

What in the world are they talking about! Sasuke was screaming in his thoughts.

"Something like that," Sakura nodded somewhat timidly. Now, she realized admitting it verbally was harder than she had thought. It was really embarrassing even though she knew there was nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, absolutely nothing. But in spite of that, she couldn't help but glance at Sasuke's direction. It was almost automatic. Perhaps, she simply wanted to see his reaction on this. That is, if he even reacted.

But he did. The expression on his face surprised her. Just a few moments ago, he was so cool, calm, and collected. But now, even though his calmness hadn't left him, there was something in his eyes that Sakura hoped was true.

There was a hint of ache in them, as he stared at her longingly. The emotions he was feeling right now were so familiar. He knew these emotions very well. Fear. The pain. The pain of losing someone. Someone important. Someone dear to him. But this time, along with these familiar emotions was something he had never experienced before. Something new.

REGRET.

Yes, that was it. He'd never regretted anything in his life before for he was too damn self-absorbed to care about the possible consequences of his decisions. Regret. The word told him that he could have done something then, which he did not, to prevent this from happening now. But now, it's too late. And he hated the way it stung his heart. Was this how she felt when he left her crying that night six years ago?

"Uh…Tsunade-sama," Sakura's soft but croaky voice woke him up from his remorseful thoughts, "Shall I continue with my report?" she added hesitantly, pulling her hand back from Tsunade's grip.

"Yes," the Hokage sat back again, trying to regain her composure, as if nothing happened, "Please, do."

And so Sakura did. He was surprised at how quickly she had managed to return to her initial equanimity. It was as if the revelation of her engagement to—whoever it was who dared to take her away from him—did not affect her a bit. Like it was something everyone should know by now. Like it did not matter at all if someone dared to object. Like he did not matter anymore…

-------

Long had she waited for this day. The day that he would return, say that he missed her, smile back at her, and most importantly, gaze at her with longing eyes. But now that it had finally happened, it felt so…wrong. So very wrong. As a matter of fact, she was not at all happy. Or maybe she was but something was holding her happiness back.

GUILT.

She felt guilty. About everything.

For a moment there in Tsunade's office, she knew she had been unfaithful to Takeshi. Had betrayed him. The way she tried so hard to fight the urge to wrap her arms around Sasuke in a warm embrace. And gaze at his handsome features, fearing that he might disappear any moment. But even if she was successful in restraining herself, the mere fact that her feeble mind had entertained the idea, it was already shameful.

Also, she was guilty for being weak at heart. Hadn't she told him that she loved him so much? That she would do everything for him? That she would wait for him no matter what? Broken promises. That's what they were now.

And patience. That's what she lacked. That's why she couldn't keep those promises.

But she was lonely. And she told him that as well before he left. She finally understood solitude the moment he stepped out of Konoha. But loneliness was simply out of her character. And that's why maybe, her weak heart couldn't help but seek happiness from someone else.

And just when she was about to take hold of this happiness, he would come without warning, upsetting her emotions once again. Just how dare he…

So now, she stood on the rooftop of Konoha Hospital as she contemplated on this rather complicated matter. Here was the battle that probably started it all. When Sasuke challenged Naruto. It was a selfish challenge. Just so he could gauge how strong he was. And it was the result of this particular encounter that forced him to leave Konoha and seek some devil for more power.

"It's been a while," she heard a familiar deep voice bringing her back to her senses. It was the one she'd been longing to hear the moment she stepped into the Hokage's office. And if her ears were not failing her, it seemed that it came from just right behind her. Just a whisper away. And everything was just like back then. Damn him. He just loved sneaking up on other people's back and muttering a few cryptic words only he knew what they truly meant, "Am I too late?"

To be continued…

-------

A/N: I knew it! It's too long to be a one-shot. So I've decided to split it into two chapters. I'm working on the second one now so don't worry. Though I still can't think of a very good ending. Any ideas?

Btw, Harigae Takeshi was just a random name. And I hope I did well in building up his character. And I also hope I was able to maintain everyone's character.

And pardon me for my grammar and typo errors.

That's why, you SHOULD review! This is my first fic (at least on this Anime) so don't be too harsh, ok?

Thanks a lot for your time and please, keep in touch!