A/N: Spoiler warning: recent manga chapters...

Guilt Complex

"So that's how it went… I heard from Yamato already, but still…" Kakashi sighed as he leaned back. He stared blankly at the pristine white sheet that covered his lower body. His strength was returning, but Tsunade refused to let him off the hospital just yet.

"Yeah…" Her hands folded in her lap, Sakura's gaze was pensive and downcast. "Then they just disappeared like that…"

"Chidori nagashi, eh?" His expression was a mixture of bitterness and sorrow as he ran his fingers through his unruly hair.

She nodded slowly as she recalled the terrifying sight. "It came out of his entire body... But that's not all. You know that according to Yamato taichou, Sasuke-kun was even able to send the chidori through the blade of a sword."

If anything, his face grew even sadder as he sighed dejectedly. "A display of talent and power really befitting the title of Konoha's numberone rookie, isn't it?"

"Kakashi-sensei…" Sakura looked up to his face and saw the regret written all over his countenance. Outwardly he seemed as unruffled as always, but the clenching hands at his side betrayed his inner struggle.

It dawned on her then, what could have induced so much guilt in him. Kakashi was the one who had taught the chidori to Sasuke. It had almost killed Naruto once, and just a few days ago it could have killed them all.

Sakura had always known that her sensei cared about his students no matter what other people might think and say. Sasuke's betrayal must have hurt him, but she hadn't known that it burdened his mind and soul so.

'I told him that chidori was a power given to him to protect those who are important to him… I told him that it wasn't to be used against friends…'

Kakashi chuckled bitterly. His whisper was so soft that Sakura almost didn't hear it. "I should've known better."

'Even with this eye, I failed to see what was going to happen. If you were alive, what would you say to me now, Obito?'

She had never seen him so emotionally vulnerable. The grief in his eye was so raw. In that instant she saw how much guilt he was harboring inside and how it was eating him alive. Her heart went out to him.

"Kakashi-sensei, it was Sasuke-kun's choice."

Sakura offered him a small smile that didn't quite reached her hears eyes as she put an assuring hand on his tensed arm. His black eye widened in surprise, both at the physical contact and the sincerity he found in her words.

"So don't keep blaming yourself." 'Blame me too, because I wasn't strong enough.'

He wondered since when she became so perceptive of his feelings. He was pretty sure that Tsunade didn't know any mind-reading jutsu.

"Everyone makes mistake, even the great Copy Ninja." She smirked as the melancholy on his face dissipated, replaced by a slightly affronted expression. "Really, Kakashi-sensei, how many of us managed to get it right at the first try?"

He fell silent for a while and then nodded. "Aa…"

Glancing at the clock at the far side of the room, she knew that it was time to leave. She rose from her seat beside Kakashi's hospital bed and dusted her clothes. "So just get well soon. Next time you'll help us out too, ok?" She turned around and saluted him. "I'll check on you again tomorrow and I'll bring Naruto with me. He's been asking about you."

She was halfway through the room when she heard him calling her.


She stopped in her track and threw him a glance over her shoulder. "Yeah?"

"Don't keep blaming yourself either." The smile on Kakashi's face was genuine, something that Sakura didn't often see. "Your heart is strong enough."

It was her turn to be surprised. For a moment there, she suspected him of using a mind-reading jutsu on her; thatman knew over a 1000 jutsu after all. Then her gaze softened. She smiled also, and this time it definitely felt less forced than before.

He raised his hand in a parting gesture. "Thanks for coming." 'And for everything else…'

"Don't mention it, Sensei." 'Because I know how much you care about us…'

Kakashi watched her retreating back and Sakura wondered since when he became so perceptive of her heart.

- The End -

A/N: This chapter is inspired by the theme of week 14 ('guilt' is the word) from KakaSaku drabble community at LJ, but again, I went over the word limit.