Blue, blue skies and flowers in full bloom. Endless laughter and innocent smiles. Where had they gone? When had she lost those things? When had she stopped dreaming?

Kakashi looked at the mirror, at the monster with long silver hair and mismatched eyes.

What do you see, the gray eye seemed to say.

I see a woman, strong and brave, the red one answered.

Aye, the gray agreed. But beyond… there is broken, there is frail. There is a weakling.

The red one did not seem to argue.

Chapter 4

There was a stranger in the house. She had the same silver hair its master had, though his was spiky and definitely did not reach past his lower back. She had the same eye, a very dark gray that never quite reached black. She even possessed the same long, yet not too long strides that displayed laziness and hidden power.

And then there was that covered eye and that dark mask and that orange book that peeked out from one of the pouches.

With all that likeness, the only conclusion was that this person definitely wasn't a stranger at all.

Kakashi once again distinguished the unfamiliarity of being away too long. The partially unwelcoming air, the dust-coated furniture, the strange ringing of silence.

A sigh escaped her masked lips before she entered the bathroom and completely stripped off all clothing. She left the water cold to numb unwanted sensations, pretending it washed away the grief and the weakness and the pain until it did for but a moment.

The eyes that looked at her were empty. The smile he had wasn't for her. The touch lacked warmth. The love hardly existed.

Then one day he called her. And she thought her large, anxious eyes caught something important flicker in her father's eyes, something that was never there before.

Do you want to be like me, he said.

Kakashi stared at the ceiling, fragments of the dream still echoing in her mind.

"She said yes, Jiraiya, with as much eagerness as you have with your 'research'."

"Do not think you can convince me with that! You are taking advantage of her innocence!"

"I only seek her protection!"

"You have no such noble wish! You simply seek solace and redemption from a daughter you cannot seem to love! You know I'm right!"

Jiraiya had always argued and she had been there to unintentionally listen many times. Her infant mind could not comprehend the reason for his contempt, even with all the genius that ran through the veins of her little body. She couldn't open her innocent eyes to the wicked reality of her father's intention.

She had sought for an end to her father's disregard. The end was his death.

He couldn't love his daughter. But at least he tried. At least, he really tried.

"Kakashi is actually a girl?" Anko cried, completely surprised yet looking excessively pleased. "I knew it! No wonder he never…"

Drowning out Anko's histrionics, the other shinobi resumed the conversation.

"So you have seen this… other form of Kakashi?" Kurenai laid her gaze on Ibiki.

"I have. Though only from a distant view," he admitted, nodding his head just slight enough.

"How is that possible? Shouldn't medical check-ups have revealed her identity?" Kurenai furrowed her brows in thought. "Unless she had paid them to retain secrecy."

"I doubt it, Kurenai-san. Seriously." Kotetsu quipped.

"Knowing Kakashi-san, he probably did not attend a single one of those check-ups." Izumo laughed at the idea.

"You're right." The other three chorused, amazed at the revelation.

They conversation died at that, having satisfied them for the time being.

Whereas Genma had no such satisfaction at all.

He couldn't forget that night. He couldn't forget the semi-frightened stare when she realized that he was still in the room as Tsunade started to peel off her mask. Of course he had no such luck to witness its complete unveiling. He had been ushered out by a frantic Shizune before Tsunade even realized her careless mistake.

Or maybe Tsunade just didn't care. Her health was more important than someone seeing her face. Either way, he was still too flustered to resist Shizune's persisting exploit of his exit.

He caught a last glimpse of long silver locks and the scarlet eye before the door closed.

It had already been two weeks. He still couldn't forget that night, that mismatched gaze, that vulnerable, trembling body, those very cold hands. He could not forget that woman.

God, he needed a drink.

Do you guys know the HakuXSakura fic The Purest? At least I think that's the title. I can't find it anymore. Is it deleted? If anyone knows, can you please tell me the author? Thank you!

And I'm still deciding on the timeline of this fic. Maybe just after Sasuke went away. And if there will be a pairing, probably KakashiXGenma? I think it's going in that direction. But we'll just see.

This will probably be the last in a while, but I'll try. Thank you for those who reviewed! You inspired me to write this chapter!