"Sometimes Kakashi-sempai looks very lonely…"

Someone said that a long time ago. Back then, Genma did not understand what made everybody consider Kakashi lived any more a difficult life than them. They were shinobi, and among many other things a shinobi's life was made of pain.

They all had seen their share of deaths, of lost comrades, of tortured captivity and failed missions. They all had faced pain and Kakashi's was not any more noteworthy than theirs.

And to be frank, Genma believed that Kakashi did not feel pain at all because every time he met that lone gray eye, whether they be on the streets of the village or on battle field, all he saw was a killer's eye, sharp, void, and very cold.

He still remembered during his beginner days on ANBU he saw Kakashi for the first time as their squad's commander, walking in with powerful yet noiseless strides, face stern and absolute, his eye intimidating, unforgiving.

Genma hated him, that masked superior who acted as if he wasn't three years younger than him. Genma hated that all-seeing stare because it always seemed to see through him. He hated that gray hair just because. He hated that guy who always declined invites to get drunk and pick up women, that guy who hardly makes mistakes and when he does always knew how to fix them. He hated that perfect shinobi who never seemed to have weaknesses.

One time though he caught the way Kakashi's eye looked out the window, wistfully, desperately, searching for something--anything-- to cling on to. He did not miss the way his gloved hands clenched for a moment, before painfully and slowly relaxing. It was as if he was protecting himself, from the outside world. But Genma couldn't be sure. How could he tell what the younger teen clung on to, or shielded from? He didn't know him that well. Genma did not know him at all.

And then there was that mission. They were ambushed. His comrades had disappeared and he was alone and then there was pain, then blood, and he collapsed. He was sure he was going to die. He closed his eyes and waited for the end.

But there was a scream, then lots of screams, mixing with what sounded like cries of thousands of birds. Genma opened his eyes to find their silver-haired commander's arm pierced through an enemy's chest. Soaked with blood that did not belong to him, he turned around without his ANBU mask and he saw it and he became afraid.

It glowed a lethal scarlet, the color of blood and death. The Devil's eye.

It was that day that Genma recalled talk of a shunned son who turned out to be more brilliant than his traitorous father, a boy who stepped on fields of war with less than a decade of age. A gray haired prodigious child who became a prized Konoha elite and brought end to many an enemy, whether be of his village or of his own. The shinobi with the name of Copy-Ninja who has won Konoha many battles since his infantile days.

But after looking at those mismatched eyes Genma though he saw something that just might be pain, or loneliness, maybe both. Well, it did not matter what it was, whether it was even real or just another faulty delusion of his injured being. What mattered was that he lived and was still an able body to serve his village, at least that's what he'd been told.

Kakashi resigned after that mission. The squad's new commander was older than them, wasn't as strict, or as scary, or as good as their white-haired ex-commander. Just an average everyday talented ninja like the lot of them, not anyone prodigious or a graduate of ninja school at the age of six.

Since that day he didn't hate Kakashi that much anymore.

Many months later, with tales of the jounin Hatake Kakashi's tardy arrivals, perverted books, fulltime laziness, and overall a contradiction to the Copy-Ninja he knew, of course Genma didn't believe a word of it.

Until one day the silver-haired ex-commander with an orange book and a crinkle-eyed smile greeted him with a 'Yo, Genma. How are you?' and he fainted.

"Sometimes Kakashi-sempai looks very lonely…"

Someone said that a long time ago. Genma still does not think that Kakashi live a more difficult life than any of them. But now he does agree, that sometimes, Kakashi looks lonely, even with that smile. Genma sees it when he passes by the cenotaph early in the mornings or late at night and finds Kakashi standing there. He sees it when he glances and finds the lone eye only pretending to read his book. Kakashi looks lonely when his gaze fixes at the Yondaime's sculpted face.

Genma saw Kakashi very lonely when the black-haired kid walked away, when the blonde went to follow, and the pink-haired girl was left to wait.

Kakashi still grieved for the dead, tried atoning what can't be atoned and what he shouldn't be atoning for in the first place. Kakashi clings on to the mistakes of the battle-hardened child he was, to the people who were affected by those failures. He shields himself from new bonds so people wouldn't be hurt by him, and he wouldn't be hurt back.

Genma saw that the loneliness that he emitted, even if Kakashi didn't mean for it to show.

Genma approached him about it once when they were finally of the same rank as jounin.

"You know, you look really lonely sometimes, they say."

"Oh?"

He got nothing out of it, unsurprisingly. Not that he cared. Not that he was worried.

But Kakashi pushed him away, locking terrible secrets within himself. Genma understands. But prolonged solitude and seclusion are probably a genius' facination, something undecipherable to normal people like Genma.

From a stern ANBU to languid jounin, all these years have passed, Kakashi never truly changed. The changed persona was an ingenious act. A small alteration to his exterior, and he fooled people with it. It made Genma realize how stupid he was not to notice it.

Hatake Kakashi is still that cold, hard killer with unforgiving eyes. He's still that unapproachable superior Genma knew a long time ago. He would like to think that he has stepped past that line that kept people away. He'd like to think that he'd been able to touch the core of that unfriendly heart even for a moment.

He hopes one day Kakashi would actually change. Hopefully, one day, that hardhearted killer would be able to smile a real smile.

--

While I was writing this, I got confused. I didn't know where to take this chapter so it turned out pretty lame. Maybe I'll make little edits later.

Please review! -

Sorry it took so long, by the way.