I thought the story was a bit lacking, so I went back and added the secret ingredient that spices up any plot - flashbacks! I was also attempting to squeeze a bit more character development in here. Hopefully it works the way I intended, but only you guys can tell. Tell me what you think! If the flashbacks really don't work, I'll take them out right away. ;)

Thanks again for the read, everybody! It really means a lot!

--All characters, exlcuding OC, belong to Masashi Kishimoto!


Chapter 1

"THEIF!"

Kira leapt from rooftop to rooftop without even bothering to look behind her. She knew the two men on her tail. She had watched them all day, mingling around the rice stand, helping customers with purchases, counting change, and all the other petty chores that come with owning a food distribution business. It was at this time of the day – right around dusk, that the two men began to lose energy and pack up their unsold goods. Kira had assumed that they wouldn't bother to hunt down a young, teenage girl when they noticed one of their rice sacks had gone missing, but the hurried footsteps behind her hinted that her assumption was incorrect.

"Get back here, punk!"

Kira gulped when she realized the man's voice seemed a lot closer than before. They were bounding off roofs just as fast as she was, if not faster. They were full grown adults, of course, their legs much longer, their arms much stronger. Kira pulled the rice sack closer to her chest and pushed off the ground harder with her feet. She hadn't eaten in three days – she couldn't let them stop her. Not now.

"I said, GET BACK HERE!"

The voice and the footsteps were so close. They must've been right behind her.

Just a quick glance, She thought to herself, Just to make sure…

She peered over her shoulder, her long, ash-blonde hair whipping at her face in the wind. The two men were only a few feet behind her, close enough so she could see the beads of sweat forming on their furrowed brows. One mistake on her part and she's be at the mercy of their fists. Terrified, she pushed her foot down towards the ground, preparing to push off with all her energy.

Just one mistake.

To Kira's surprised, there was no roof, or any type of solid ground at all for that matter, beneath her toes. She hadn't been paying attention to the direction she was headed, and had run right off the edge of the building. She used that one, airborne moment to pull the sack of rice closer to her chest and reflect on her sheer stupidity before plummeting into the alleyway below.


"You'll never catch me, slowpoke!"

The little blonde haired girl laughed, clutching his brand new forehead protector to her chest. She thought the only reason she wanted it was because it was shiny and new, but now that she held the key to being a true ninja in her hands, she didn't want to let it go. But she was too young to understand. It meant more to him.

"Wow, you're so fast," The 12-year-old chased after her. Had he been running at full speed, he would've gotten the headband back in a second, but he liked to go along with her nonsense. It was so much easier to understand than that of the other girls his age.

The young Kira whipped her head around with the pretense that she was only checking if he was still behind her, but she didn't realize until later that she had really turned around just to see his smile.

Suddenly, a root caught hold of her foot. She fell to the ground, landing softly in the grass, but before she had any time to recover, another body came crashing into her.

"Watch where you're going, Scarecrow!"

"Hey! You're the one who tripped!"

But the words had no hint of bitterness behind them, in fact, the two couldn't seem to stop laughing. He wrestled her with the soft of his hands, then, when that didn't work, reached out to tickle her tummy. Within seconds, they were engaged in an all-out tickle war. Kira giggled hysterically, dropping the forehead protector in the process. But he didn't care anymore. Together, they rolled through the grass, fighting each other and laughing.

Kira had never seen him so happy in days.


"Hey Hikami, how about passin' another beer to me and my pal down here?"

Genma slid several empty glasses out of his way to make room for the new drinks, but was too drunk to realize that he had just shoved all the dirty mugs in front of his companion. The silver-haired Jounin stared at the golden froth at the bottom of the glasses in front of him, trying to find self-restraint.

"No thanks," He tore his eyes from the enticing, golden liquid, "I'm meeting my new students tomorrow – wouldn't want to give them a bad impression."

"What's the matter? You don't want your students to know that their future sensei is a raging alcoholic?" Genma laughed a little too loudly

"Yeah, something like that," Kakashi stood up and dropped some change on the counter as the bartender slid two more beers in front of his elated friend. He sighed, "Are you going to be able to make it home, Genma?"

"I'm not going home tonight," Genma grinned and nodded to a red-haired woman clad in a tight vest and short skirt on the other side of the bar, "I've got a ride."

Kakashi looked from Genma to the red head. He suddenly wished he could stay to watch the drunken ANBU officer attempt to win over a full-grown woman, but then he remembered he had to deal with three headstrong and excessively ambitious teenage delinquents the next morning. He was going to need all the sleep he could get.

"See you around, then."

And without so much as a backward glance, the Copy-nin strode out the door and into the cool evening air.


The girl lay on the grass, staring up at the clouds. The boy sat beside her, tossing his forehead protector up in the air and catching it.

"Do you think I'll be a ninja like you someday?"

He stopped, letting the silver band dangle from his hands. He wasn't expecting that question.

"I think you will."

"Are you just saying that because you're my friend?" She rolled over to face him, "Or do you really really think so?"

"It doesn't matter what I think," He looked down to see her confused expression, "Sensei told me that the best way to make your dream come true is to believe in yourself, to believe that you can do it."

Kira looked back at the sky, thinking about what he had said. Scarecrow was always right, even when he didn't make sense. She would always believe him.

The boy stared at her intently, watching what was going through her head. He loved how she was so easy to read – it didn't leave room for any secrets. A cool evening breeze blew through and ruffled her golden hair. The surrounding trees were blocking his view of the sunset, but he was sure if he could see it, it would be no where near as beautiful as her.

It was beginning to get dark, and Scarecrow would have to go home soon. Regardless of their exciting day, the boy couldn't help but notice that she seemed a bit unhappy. She always seemed to grow sad when thinking about the future. He had to cheer her up.

"There is one way to test to see if you really are a ninja," Scarecrow was pleased to see Kira's face light up with interest.

"Really? What is it? Can we try?" She was up in seconds, staring at him with wide eyes.

"I don't know, it's pretty dangerous," He tried to hide a smirk. She was so much fun to toy with.

"Aww, c'mon!" She was practically on her knees, "Please, please, please! Just one try!"

"Alright, alright," He tried to think of something - anything that would test her fighting skills. He may have excelled in ninjitsu, but he had never been quite good at improvisation.

He fished around in his pocket, hoping beyond all hope that something would be in there for him to use. His hand wrapped around a cold, round piece of metal. He pulled it out and dangled it in front of her face.

"All you have to do is try and take this from me."

"A bell?"

"Yeah," He glanced at the bell in his hand, reminding himself to ask his mom how it had ended up in his pocket, then turned back to face the girl, "Think you can do it?"

The girl didn't answer. Instead, she ran straight for him, arms outstretched, hands reaching for the little silver bell.

He grinned.


Somewhere, a door slammed.

Kira awoke with a start, her fists held protectively in front of her face. From the darkened alleyway, she saw a tall, lanky figure emerge from a building and make its way across the street. She sighed, relieved at the fact that she wouldn't have to put up with another fight. The fall had left her unconscious, and had thankfully kept her unconscious as the men gave a few nasty bruises in exchange for the rice. Now she was not only starving, but also exhausted and badly injured.

Kira leaned up against the wall, wincing at what must have been a bruised shoulder-blade. In eight hours, she had to be ready to meet her new team. Tomorrow morning, some Jounin would either accept her as a student, or end her ninja career right there on the spot. The Jounin wouldn't care- hell, he wouldn't even know that all hope for any improvements of her already pathetic life could end with his one little decision.

If she didn't make it past this training, she would be stuck in a life of thievery forever. Kira cringed at the thought of ending every day broken down in a dirty alleyway like this one. She couldn't let that happen – she wouldn't. But she needed energy to do that.

She needed food.

The stranger.

Kira glanced at the front of the tavern. There he was, stretching in the cool evening air. He raised one hand to scratch his already disheveled hair, while using the other to fish for something in his pocket. He was obviously a guy - No female would take a bad hair day and make it worse.

Kira decided she would have to be quick. She didn't want to have to fist fight any full grown men again. This guy had just come out of a bar, so there was a chance he could be intoxicated. Besides, it was getting dark and…

He pulled out a book, flipped to the first page, and held it right up in front of his face.

Bingo.

This guy was just asking for it. Kira brought herself to her feet, flexed her limbs to make sure they were still working, then bolted forward.

The streetlight flickered on just as Kakashi strolled by. He paused for a moment, using the pale phosphorescence to illuminate his favorite page.

"I want you," He hissed into her ear, moving his hands farther down her back.

She pushed herself onto him, moving her face towards his. She parted her lips right beside his ear, then whispered ever so softly-

"LEAVE ME ALONE!"

Kakashi turned to see a young woman, who seemed to be shouting threats at the vacant darkness behind her, running straight at him. He raised an eyebrow.

It was a blonde.

I'm completely sober, thought the soon-to-be-sensei in those precious seconds before the collision, There's no reason why I should be standing here, waiting for an attractive young woman to-

Perhaps it was the uncontrollable influence of male hormones, or maybe the fact that he had just been immersed in his favorite book, but for some reason, Hatake Kakashi, the Great Copy-Nin of Konoha, had put too much thought into those fateful seconds before the crash and failed had failed to dodge the incoming young blonde. He remained completely motionless as her body slammed into his, her golden hair sprawling across his Jounin vest in all directions.

He tried not to think about how coincidently close this situation was to the situation on his favorite page of the book.

Then something brushed by his pocket.

Kira glanced up at the silver-haired man before her, not meeting his eyes.

"Sorry," She gasping, pushing herself away from him while subtly slipping his wallet up her shirt, "That man -he's chasing me!"

Kakashi didn't even have to glance in the direction she was pointing. He knew no one was there.

Kira moved around the stranger instantly, aiming herself for the darkest corner of the street.

"Watch out – he's coming this way!"

And with that, she took off.

Well, at least, she thought she took off.

At first, everything had gone according to plan. His wallet was hers, safely tucked away in a fold of her shirt, and she had a broad expanse of open road ahead of her. The odd thing was- she wasn't moving. She could feel her feet moving, but when she looked down, the ground beneath her remained perfectly still. Come to think of it, her feet weren't touching the ground at all.

Kira frowned, baffled by her sudden levitation expertise, then gulped when she realized she wasn't floating.

Kakashi held the collar of her shirt with one hand while keeping Ichi Ichi Paradise at a visible distance with the other. The blonde was surprisingly light, and he watched with obscure delight as her little feet tried to find the pavement. He eyed the prominent, wallet-shaped bulge protruding from the side of the young woman's shirt and sighed.

"Would you mind returning that?"

Kira tried to tug her collar out of his grip, but only ended up choking herself in the process. He lowered her to the ground so she could answer, still keeping his fist locked on the thin fabric.

"I don't know what you're talking about," She hissed, trying to pull away.

Suddenly, Kira felt the cold, sharp edge of a kunai pressing up against the skin on her neck. She shivered.

"You sure about that?" The man replied calmly. His body had shifted position so quickly she hadn't even noticed it. He was obviously not just any ordinary ninja.

Why do I always pick the dangerous ones?

Kira sighed; frustrated that once again she was now at the mercy of her own victim. She shrugged the wallet from her shirt, letting it hit the paved sidewalk with a low thud. The kunai was removed from her neck immediately.

She was free.

Kira glanced at the empty road in front of her as the stranger bent down to pick up his wallet. This was her chance. She had failed in her mission, but this was a failure without injury. This was a sign from the spirits of long past Hokages, begging her to take what might just be her only safe escape. She couldn't let this opportunity pass her by.

But she did.

Kira had heard the phrase 'curiosity killed the cat' so many times before she was sure it had taken a negative toll on her health, but there was something about this man that she just had to know. She had never seen such a powerful, but merciful ninja in Konoha. Why was he letting her go so easily?

Kira turned to face him.

Kakashi grudgingly tucked Ichi Ichi Paradise under his shoulder as he stuffed the wallet back into his pocket. He could feel the woman staring at him, looking at him as if he were some sort of apparition.

He turned to face her, then blinked to make sure what he was seeing was real. His eyes went wide with fear. He could tell by her face that she wasn't a woman, although his misidentification was easily understandable, considering the mature features of her body. The slightly oversized Konoha forehead protector pulling back her bangs indicated that she wasn't an enemy either, or a decent ninja. But at that moment, Kakashi would've given anything for this stranger to be a beautiful, older woman or even a powerful adversary. But, of course, the only instance in his life where he had failed to avoid collision, the world had given him his worst fear to crash into.

She's a…teenager…

Kira took one look at the man standing over her and almost gasped. It was him. Hatake Kakashi. The mysterious copy-nin who had mastered thousands upon thousands of moves. In the dim streetlight, she recognized the Konoha headband resting over his sharingan and that infamous face mask he never removed. Of all the people in the world to steal, she just had to choose him.

For a moment, the two just stared at each other, dumbfounded. Kakashi was trying to comprehend how, in his completely sober state, he had mistaken a girl who had probably just graduated the academy, for a full grown woman, while Kira tried to fathom all the grim consequences that would result from trying to rob a former ANBU officer.

Then, somehow in that prolonged, perplexed silence, Kira's eyes drifted to the empty expanse of road behind the silver-haired copy-nin. This time, she had no second thoughts. She bolted down the street and didn't stop running until she had reached a dark alleyway on the outskirts of town. She sat in silence for hours, listening for footsteps of any sort, until she was sure that Kakashi hadn't followed her. Then, with a sigh of relief, Kira lay her bruised body down on the familiar cold ground and closed her eyes.


A shout echoed across the field, beckoning the little Scarecrow and the future ninja to come back to reality.

"That's my mom," He stood up and suddenly realized how dark it was. He couldn't even see the little blonde that he had been wrestling for hours, but that familiar scent of rosemary tickled his nose – a constant reminder that she was there.

It was so dark that Kira could just make out the faint outline of Scarecrow's funny-looking hair. She couldn't tell if he was happy that she had won, or that he was disappointed that it was time for him to go home, but she knew one thing for sure – the bell was hers. The future was hers.

"Will you be here tomorrow?" She had no reason to mask the hope in her voice.

"No," He looked down at the ground, although there wasn't much to see in the dark, "Sensei wants to take us on our first mission tomorrow – I have to be ready."

She was silent. Even though he couldn't see her face, he knew that treasured smile she had worn all day was beginning to curve in the opposite direction.

The voice called again. As much as he would like to, he couldn't stay for ever. Neither could she.

He turned to leave, then suddenly remembered something, "Kira, do you have a place to sleep tonight?"

"Yeah," She paused to put the bell in her pocket, "I'll just go to the clubhouse."

"But there aren't any blankets in there." He pictured the interior of the small, tacky clubhouse on the outskirts of town that they had built when they were younger. It was merely a wooden box that had served as a headquarters when they played pretend ANBU officers.

"It won't be cold tonight." She smiled, even though she knew he couldn't see it, "You better hurry before your mom gets mad."

"Yeah."

"Yeah."

And with that, she was gone.