Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Hatake Kakashi was no longer. The man before her was only a scarecrow of that man she had known so long ago and he terrified her beyond all expectations. KakaSaku.
He looked different. Yes different was the most accurate word she could think of, but then different could take on many meanings. Biting her lower lip Sakura looked at a man she hadn't seen in over eight years, a man who she thought died in a tragic accident six years before, and he was different in a different kind of way.
It wasn't the kind of different that any person could point out like "Oh, his hair is longer," or "Oh, his face has most certainly aged." That type of different was obvious, practical, normal. The man in front of her, the man who calmly stared at the Hokage was far from normal; and because he was far from normal his difference was obscure.
But it was there, so much that it chilled her through and through. It could have been the flicker of light in his brown eye, his lazy and slouched posture, but whatever it was it frightened her.
Silently Sakura watched the white haired ninja amble closer towards Tsunade before firmly stopping before the woman's desk. There was a faint smile showing in his eye. Sakura swallowed. His smile scared her, churned her insides, and at that moment she knew with certainty that he was not the sensei she used to know.
Hatake Kakashi was no longer. The man before her was only a scarecrow of that man long ago. How ironic the image was.
Tsunade leaned forward on her hands, green eyes betraying nothing of the emotions beneath her calm facade. Shizune did not do as well as her boss for her eyes were wide awakened by surprise and something else Sakura could not explain. It could have been hope or hate because before Kakashi's disappearance there were rumors of there being something between the two.
She had her doubts eight years ago, but Sakura didn't doubt the rumors now. She watched distractedly as the older woman excused herself from the room leaving only her and Tsunade-sama. Sakura had long forgotten why she was in the room in the first place, the files under her arms having no explanation for her. She couldn't remember with a fog covered mind.
"You're alive." The statement, despite its obviousness, resounded throughout the room before going silent once again. Sakura held her breath as she watched Kakashi's expression become only more pleasant in humor; the difference from before alarmed her.
"I can hardly believe it as well, Hokage-sama." he voiced dully rubbing the back of his neck.
"Your name is on the Memorial Stone," Tsunade continued on as if he hadn't spoken, and Sakura took the chance to really look at her ex-sensei.
His hair was darker than before, more silver and long with the ends touching his face in mockery. The cloths he had worn for the mission were gone replaced with an outfit Naruto once described a bounty hunter he knew wearing; a brown trench coat with short, light fitting pants and white tunic that wrapped around his chest and stomach. The shoes he had though were the same and looked as if he had repaired them many times before.
Ancient Sakura thought as he looked to her. Kakashi was ancient in the sense of history but not of age. He smiled when his eye met her own green ones, and by instinct alone she smiled back unaware of reality. This was all a dream, had to be a dream - it was too surreal. To her he was like a man from an age old folk tale brought to life, in her life, into everyone's life.
Strange Hatake Kakashi was alive, but she felt no joy. Coldness. Only coldness.
"It has been eight years, Hokage-sama." he shrugged casually taking his eye away from hers smiling still. "I don't blame you."
It was all too familiar, and all too unfamiliar.
A clock on the far wall chimed heavily in Sakura's ears and she blinked as the world became alive again. Colors flooded her senses along with the sound of the same ticking clock, and the fear she held before had gone leaving only a dull throb as evidence of its being there. And Tsunade-sama seemed to grown again in stature where before she had appeared to shrink.
She coughed. "The mission was a failure, then?"
"No," he offered casually. "I completed it. Claw Country is safe now or was back then."
Tsunade coughed again and Sakura could feel the fury boiling just beneath the surface of her sensei. For her own self not anger boiled, but curiously with a touch of humor.
"Then. What. Happened?"
Sakura almost visualized Kakashi's smile underneath his mask and to prove her assumption he chuckled tilting his head to the side, a hand in his pocket. "I got sidetracked."
Tsunade quickly turned towards Sakura and motioned for her to leave the room. She nodded not offended by the command; private matters had to be private, and even though she wanted to stay and listen to what Kakashi had to say arguing with Tsunade at a time like this would not have been a wise decision. She wasn't Naruto who was innately foolish enough to stay and argue.
Walking past Kakashi she felt his eye on her and she just before opening the door she stopped and turned. "Tsunade," Sakura voiced feeling Kakashi's eye on her the entire time. "I'm sure Kakashi-sensei only saw a black cat in his path and had to take a detour."
He had a smile in his eye when she mustard the courage to look at him and she laughed as he laughed the two remembering his excuses when she was younger.
"Not just one, Sakura," he began, "there were about five."
She chuckled her skin prickling in caution. He was so calm, so casual, it put her on edge; this wasn't the Kakashi she had known. Beneath the surface another man lived and breathed, another man who had maybe been her sensei once but was no longer.
Sakura only nodded and left glad to be out of the room and Kakashi's presence never knowing how their paths would cross in the future. Never knowing, never dreaming the impact he would have on her soul. Never imagining how she could never live her life without him again.
"Can't believe he's back," Naruto's voice droned over the table as he took his seat. The bar was rather quiet tonight Sakura thought on looking around.
The news of Hatake's return had spread like wildfire since his appearance and there had been mixed emotions on the topic. There were people like Shizune, joyous yet angry. She had married a man by the name of Jiro six years after Kakashi's death supposedly moved on. People like Naruto, hallow and stunned by his revival. People like Sasuke who always remained apathetic. People like Gai, Genma, and Anko who turned up right as Kakashi left the Hokage's chamber and patted him on the back saying with confidence that they knew he hadn't been done in. But there had been none like her as far as she could tell. No one as scared as shit as she, no one who noticed that slight flicker of light in his eye.
Over the past few hours, Sakura came to realize that it was the spark of insanity but an insanity of a different type than anything she'd ever seen. And she couldn't explain it, did not want to think about it. She wanted to feel happy, stunned, or furious but nothing came. It was surreal and terrifying and she didn't know why.
"Hmm," Sasuke replied crossing his arms leaning back against his chair. "Doesn't really matter anyway. Good that he's alive, but it doesn't really affect me. He has been dead."
"You feel nothing, Sasuke-kun?" Sakura asked quietly placing her hand over Naruto's and smiled. "He was our sensei."
"You bastard, Sasuke!" Naruto's voice trembled and Sakura closed her eyes. It was just like Naruto to get over emotional with such an answer; he thought it an injustice to Kakashi's reputation and honor.
Sasuke never batted an eye but calmly assessed Naruto before giving a quiet laugh. "Naruto, calm down. I meant no disrespect, but the man's been dead in my eyes for six years and now suddenly he shows up," he shrugged. "I am not surprised or ecstatic. He's just back."
With that Sasuke stood and walked away.
Sakura gave a grateful look towards Sasuke before turning back towards Naruto. "It's okay not to understand Sasuke-kun; he has his own way of doing things, Naruto-kun."
Sakura glanced once more at the retreating Uchiha's back before shaking her head. Truth be told, if they had been younger Sasuke would not have even offered an explanation. Time sure did miracles.
Naruto cursed a few times before nodding. "Yeah, I know, but that just makes me want to beat his sorry ass even more."
Slapping the back of Naruto's head in good nature reverted the blond shinobi back to his normal self, as normal as could be with the situation at present. "Hey, hey, hey! Sakura-chan, what was that for?"
"To show my love," Sakura said with a smile making Naruto blush.
"You know, Sakura-chan, I do have Hinata..."
Slapping the back of his head again, Sakura replied, "That was to stop being such an idiot."
"Alright. Alright. I get it." There was a long stretch of silence between the two as both watched familiar and unfamiliar shinobi stop by their bar, as they dubbed it, since they were the first ones there for its opening. Inwardly Sakura was glad that Sasuke, in his foresight, secured a table back in the shadows. Sakura didn't want to talk to anyone about Kakashi right now, everyone excluding her genin team.
There had been too many people asking about her reaction to his return since she had been his student at one time. She felt as though it were a private matter between them and felt silly for thinking so. But it wasn't everyday a respected teacher you always looked up to (on important issues) came back from the dead six years after his supposed death. Sakura always admired the copy-ninja, and the topic of his disappearance had always been sacred ground for her for stupid reasons. It was almost as if she wanted to keep a piece of his memory private.
"Sakura-chan," Naruto started draining his glass of sake. Looking at Naruto Sakura's face fell. The hyper-active, number one ninja actually looked somber, quieted. She didn't like the look on him; Naruto was made for laughter and faces of triumph.
Slowly he spun the sake glass in his right hand. "Yes," she prompted.
"I heard you saw Kakashi when he showed up." Sakura nodded at her friend a thought nagging at the back of her mind. Should she tell Naruto of the insanity that she had seen? She wanted to confide in someone and her best friend was a good start, but she didn't want to excite Naruto because he was prone to taking rash actions.
Sakura shook her head. She couldn't tell anyone and take the chance of being wrong, but she was so sure...
"Yes, I was with Tsunade when he came into the room." Sakura dully looked at her friend. "Have you seen him?"
"Yeah," Naruto smirked. "He looks like that..."
"…bounty hunter you once knew." Naruto laughed placing two hands behind his head.
"Can't believe you actually remembered that story, Sakura-chan! I always thought you just pretended to listen."
Sakura giggled her fingers on her lips. "I usually did, but I was extra perceptive on that one."
Naruto nodded, "Yeah, well, you see baa-sama send Kiba, Hinata, and I..." he stopped. "Hey, hey, hey, Sakura-chan! You aren't listening to me!"
Sakura laughed again feeling some weight move off her shoulders. "Sorry," she offered.
"All those times I had to listen to you," he continued and Sakura rolled her eyes.
"Hey! Are you listening to me? Sakura-chan? Sakura-chan?"
"Sorry, didn't hear you," Sakura teased and watched as Naruto exploded into animation. Yes normalcy was good.
A/N: If you disagree with me on something, see a problem, or just plain out don't like something please calmly write about it so that we may talk like adults. I don't mind flames, but I do mind childish, pointless flames that do not have a reason behind them like, "I hate this story because Sakura's hair is pink!"
you for reading,