A/N: It's not a KakaSaku--so don't take it the wrong way. It's more like a teacher-student bonding-type-thing. Just something I whipped up at 4:00 in the morning. I'd love to hear what you guys think of this. A lot of last minute adjustments.There will be mistakes-should you find any, please tell me so I can edit it. A warning though; I do think it gets repetitive but if you don't like it, just think of it as putting more emphasis on the theme or something close to that. Thanks and enjoy.
The pink-haired kunoichi did not turn to her head to acknowledge the person besides her. She stood casually with her hands at her sides, one of them holding a newly bloomed daffodil.
"It's good to see you too, Kakashi-sensei."
The older man's eye crinkled lightly as he walked up besides her. He stared into the blurred reflection of the stone and noticed her gaze was not settled in reality. She was reminiscing. A habit, he noted, she developed in the past three years. He closed his book and swiftly placed it back in his pouch.
"What? Not going to read that book of yours?" Her eyes closed slowly before opening them to reveal that she was no longer thinking about the past.
"No. I figured being here with my favorite female student has enough of my attention."
Sakura scoffed lightly. "I was your only female student." She did not miss the cringe during her reference of past tense but she ignored it because to her it really was of the past.
"Aa." He subtly took in how much she's grown and to think they were in the same village for the past three years and he had yet to visit her within those 1095 days. "You've grown a lot."
Despite the short compliment, she knew the subliminal message behind it. It was more than just a compliment but a way of saying sorry. Because she knew how sorry he was for not being there to watch her grow. She always knew that he's always regretted protecting her from the truth she was now aware of.
"It has been three years. A normal person should grow." She responded. When she was met with silent, she continued. "This is the reason why you are late every morning." It wasn't a question. Sakura's eyes gingerly moved to catch a glimpse of her former teacher's face. The mask gave nothing away but she knew better. His unspoken words were enough to decipher what he was feeling.
The man stared at the engraved words, his eye settling on one specific one. Even with the hundreds of names on the stone, he only thought one of them stood out most.
"When I first became a Jounin, I was someone who would throw away a comrade's life for the success of a mission." He spoke quietly. Sakura slowly turned towards him to watch as his eyes relived the ghost of his past. The medic-nin kept quiet as he continued his revelation. It wasn't everyday Kakashi would speak about his past; she took it as an opportunity and a lesson that he was silently teaching her.
"I always followed the rules and regulations because I thought those were what led to a successful mission." The masked man found comfort in his pockets as he released the clenched fist in it. Sakura caught the strained muscles in his upper arm and realized that he was still regretting. She smiled bitterly. It was always about regret.
"It doesn't matter now." Kakashi's eye traveled to look at the pink-haired kunoichi as she spoke. He was surprised to find her face detached and unmoving. He should have guessed her compassion had subdued since the Team broke apart. Her heart broke with it.
"No. It doesn't." He replied as he began to turn around to leave. Whether she had changed for the better or the worse was not something he could decide. All he knew was the fact that the Haruno Sakura he once taught was no longer the Haruno Sakura standing in front of him. Kakashi weaved a hand through his hair. He wished deeply the Haruno Sakura conceived in the three years of absence-no matter how stronger she got or how much more intelligence she's developed- that there was still that twelve year-old girl hidden behind all the hard stares and indifferent face.
Sakura's voice stopped him from taking the second step from departure.
"Because Kakashi-sensei has changed, ne?" And when he turned, he was met with a brilliant smile that lit up her eyes and reminded him too much of a past teammate and that was when he knew he always had too little doubt in her.
Sakura leisurely turned back to the memorial and in a small voice, she repeated, "It shouldn't matter anymore because you've changed. You make mistakes. You have flaws but so does everyone else. It makes you human."
The man's eyes softened when he realized how much her word affected him. Taking one step to stand next to her, he breathed in the gap of strength and power she presented before him. You've really grown, haven't you? Kakashi averted his eyes to take in the name of the person who changed his life by giving him a gift he had found always useful.
"I didn't know you lost someone." He finally spoke, his one eye never leaving the name.
She stood there quietly before bending down and setting the flower at the bottom of the stone. With both knees on the floor, her fingers softly began to trace the names of the ninjas on the stone, carefully outlining every letter yet quickly scanning the names.
"Everyday, Kakashi-sensei." The medic-nin said softly as her fingers slowed when she reached a name before resuming a brisk pace.
Kakashi remained unspoken but his question did not remain unanswered.
"I come here every morning before training starts." She paused slightly before continuing, "I don't know any of these people on here but it affects me just as much because it pushes me to strive harder." She stood up and turned towards her former teacher with a warm smile gracing her face, surprising him in the least bit that she was once solemn a minute ago. "And because I will do anything in my strength and power to prevent any more deaths than necessary.
"I'm not that kunoichi without a dream or a goal anymore. I'm not the same person you once taught."
He smiled; a soft and warm smile with a tinge of bitterness. "I know." I'm sorry I wasn't the one that made you realize that.
Sakura stared back the stone, her eyes roaming over the names memorizing every curve and bump it had. "Kakashi-sensei. You don't have to regret anything."
Her teacher casually lifted his head to acknowledge her voice. She gave no further explanation and he didn't need any. He understood what she meant by that. Sakura was always the smarter one of the three.
"We're a team again. You've done your part, Kakashi-sensei. Now, let us do ours." She spoke softly, more to herself than him.
He wasn't sure what he had exactly done. He knew that he did little to train Sakura and contributed a minimal to help get to where she was now. His attention was always focused on the Uchiha prodigy and even at that he failed to make things right. He thought he had always seen half of himself in Sasuke and the other in Naruto but he was wrong. It wasn't Sasuke.
She turned slightly so he was able to catch a glimpse of her eyes. "I know I wasn't the best kunoichi." Her fingers brushed aside a strand of loosened her that managed to have escape the rubber band holding her hair together. "I wasn't really part of our team." Her voice began to shake after the last sentence.
"Sakura…" He started.
"Kakashi-sensei." She let out a shuttering breath before continuing. "I was always the one to stay back and watch our clients helplessly or the one who had to run and get help while others fought with their lives. I was…I was the never the one protecting."
The medic-nin finally turned around fully and had he not been the person he was; he would have missed the small crinkled of her clothing at the right side of her chest where her heart is.
"I know you tried to protect me but it only made it worse. That day, you told me that everything would be fine."
Kakashi recalled the event and unfortunately the memory came back sharper than necessary.
"But back then, I was your student." She smiled at him and he knew that it was a past memory; nothing more than the past. "I believed everything you told me because I was naïve in that way." Her fingers locked together behind her and she rocked on the heel of her feet. The gesture seemed to be a way of saying that she was okay now.
"Sakura, there is no need to scold yourself for the things I've done." He spoke to her casually, a bit too casually for a topic so serious.
"But that's just it, Kakashi-sensei. It wasn't the things you did. It was the things I didn't do. And I'm not scolding myself because I'm a changed person." She took a step closer. "I'm your subordinate now, your comrade, your equal. I'm no longer your student but that doesn't change the fact that I was once your student."
He nodded and wondered briefly how he had missed how much she had grown. Inwardly, he berated himself for the stupidity.
"I'm the Hokage's pupil. That term doesn't come too often. But before that I was your pupil and that term comes only once in a life time."
She flashed him a smile and he was glad he caught it because he knew it would be awhile before he saw anything like it again.
Obito, you've given me the gift of having a team. "Sakura. Thank you." He mumbled under his mask. The shocked look was fleeting but it was there and it made him smile. He walked a bit closer to her, placing a gloved hand on top of her head. Sakura's eyes shot up to the hand and she rolled her eyes in annoyance.
"No, Kakashi-sensei. Thank you." When he looked down at her, he saw her scowl was gone and was replaced by crescent curved eyes and a smile ready to split her face in half.
He saw his other half in Sakura.