Tsunade watches the man before her as he enters through the door with as much vigor as a turtle. A vain is throbbing at her forehead for she had been kept in waiting for the thousandth time. Why ever had she tolerated Kakashi for this long, she does not know.

She decides to spare the lecture and just get on with it, because she knows no matter how many times he is reprimanded, Kakashi will never be on time.

As she explains to him the objective of the mission, it looks as if whatever word comes out of her enters one ear and out the other. But she knows it isn't true, because it was always like this. He is different, had always been.

Kakshi was only five years old when he graduated from the Ninja Academy. Tsunade was there with her teammates during the graduation, and they had been surprised that such a young child was able to graduate so early. Even Orochimaru became oddly attentive when Kakashi's name was called.

At the age of six, Kakashi had been the youngest to ever enter the Chuunin ranks, and he had been looked down on by fellow Chuunins until his very first mission. It was an assassination mission and the Fourth was unwilling to send him but somehow relented.

Tsunade agreed that a child shouldn't be sent on such a dangerous mission.

The day of the mission came and the boy dispatches with his team. Death was waiting for him, that was what everyone thought.

Tsunade wondered if his father, Sakumo, had been worried. He never forbade Kakashi on that mission, he remained silent and only smiled behind his mask when his boy told him about it. Did he trust that his son could handle it, or did he simply did not care? But the White Fang loved his son, she knew that very well so she assumed that it is the former.

Three days passed, the day the team was supposed to return. The Fourth waited at the gate for their arrival, but instead of four people appearing, only one came back. It was Kakashi.

He was bruised, and cut, wounded, but he was alive. He collapsed when he reached the gate and his sensei immediately carried him to the hospital where he was sent to her care.

As Kakashi lay on the hospital bed while Tsunade attended to his injuries, he was silent all the while. When his father and his sensei entered, and Sakumo congratulated him for his accomplishment, he still did not utter a word.

They thought he might have been in shock. After all, it was his first time to see death and killing, and so much of it. After a while, he spoke, probably wanting to voice out his fears and troubles of the ordeal. "I killed someone yesterday."

Tsunade prepared herself to comfort the boy, anticipating the tears that would soon rush out of the boy's eyes. But it never came.

"He screamed. So did everybody else. Even captain did when he was stabbed." The boy paused. Tsunade was sure that he would cry this time. But she was wrong again.

"It was nice. I had a lot of fun." And he smiled, like the innocent boy he was.

She pitied him.

The Fourth's expression contorted with so much emotion. His face clearly told of his regret and anger for dispatching him to a mission far too much for his age, it told of his sorrow, pain, and heartbreak for his student. He wasn't supposed to like killing, hadn't he taught him that? He did not. And he should have.

Sakumo was better at hiding his emotions, all the more because of his mask. But as he looked down at his recovering son, he was bitter. It was displayed on his face, open for his child to see. But Kakashi could not understand why they were looking at him like that. To him they were just making funny faces.

"What's wrong? Father?" The boy was confused, he was pleading for an answer. "Are you mad? Did I not do well?"

The White Fang's fist clenches and he trembles before he approaches the bed with a smile, placing a loving hand atop the unruly silver mop of hair. "I wouldn't have congratulated you if you hadn't." But the two blondes in the room could hear the melancholy in his happy tone.

That boy is long gone. The person standing before her now is a man, not an innocent child. Tsunade knows that killing is not nice for him anymore. She knows that he's understood why they made those funny faces, why his father didn't seem too happy, and why his sensei looked like he wanted to cry.

As he walks out the door to prepare for a new mission, Tsunade still pities the part of Kakashi that is still the boy he once was.

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Any comments? By the way, today is Sunday, February 18th, 2007. So... Happy Chinese New Year!