Disclaimer: I do not own any characters in this story taken from the anime/manga Naruto. All characters taken from said anime/manga belong to their original creator Masashi Kishimoto.


What you offered straight to me with a smile for the last time

was just so beautiful that I gave way to tears.

Surely that day the two of us touched love.

-Heaven by Ayumi Hamasaki


She was always my brightest student, but never my most promising. She could list off every shinobi principal effortlessly, but when it came to combat she lacked the skill, the spirit, that special something that was essential in this profession; Naruto and Sasuke had it. Naruto had the spirit and the drive, Sasuke had the skill; both had an insane amount of potential, but what did Sakura have? Sure she was smart and she was exceptional at chakra control but back then there was little else to her.

She was always the one I had to keep an eye on when in battle. Always the one I had to be ready to spring to the rescue for. In many ways she was a burden; she was weak and was more interested in winning Sasuke's affection then in doing her job. Perhaps Sasuke's leaving was best for her because after that time was when I noticed a change in Sakura.

Something sparked within her and she obtained that special something that all shinobi need. Maybe that was when this whole thing started. Or maybe it started that day I became the only thing she had left; that fateful day three years ago.

"Damn it Sasuke, I'm not leaving here without you!" Naruto growled fiercely at his old time rival, his best friend. But Sasuke just smirked coldly.

"You still don't get it do you Naruto?" He sighed with a cool shake of his head and a mocking snicker.

"You bastard, stop playing games! Don't you care what Orochimaru plans to do to you? Is revenge worth your own death?" He tried to reason with Sasuke but the boy still just looked so smug, as if this was all a joke.

Sakura was standing beside Naruto, her fists clenched as she gazed at Sasuke, at the boy she had loved. She was covered in blood, both her own and that of others, they all were; infiltrating Orochimaru's hideout had been no easy task. But they had managed; Naruto, Sakura, Sai and Kakashi had fought their way through guards and apprentices, and now here they stood, face to face with their target; Sasuke.

Kabuto stood at his side, as did a young woman with long dark hair and glasses shielding her cold dark eyes. As did a young man with silver hair and a very menacing look about his otherwise handsome and carefree face. No one knew who the two were, but no one really cared, they weren't important. All that mattered was Sasuke, was bringing their old comrade home.

"I can see I'll just have to show you seeing as you're too dimwitted to figure it out." Sasuke chuckled as Naruto growled. "I…" He began slowly as he reached up toward his face. "Am not Sasuke-kun."

Suddenly his voice changed, growing into a deep and evil hiss as his fingers seemed to curl into the skin of his face and rip it away like a mask. What lay beneath was enough to make Sakura gasp as her eyes welled with tears. Naruto's eyes widened in shock and horror, his bright blue irises seeming to fade back to allow a stream of red to fill the space where blue once occupied. He bared his teeth, but they were no longer teeth, they were fangs protruding from his gums, growing past his lower lip into deadly sharp points. Kakashi and Sai just stared on, unblinking, unmoving, two blank slates.

It was Orochimaru, they were too late.

"You look upset Naruto-kun." Orochimaru stated mockingly in that low hiss of a voice of his.

Naruto was shaking all over and growling like an animal as bubbling orange chakra seemed to overflow from his body, a chakra Kakashi knew all too well but could not bring himself to stop, not in this situation, it just didn't seem right to deny him his satisfaction, his revenge. He was quickly losing control and the kyuubi's cloak was covering him.

"You bastard." Naruto spat through gritted teeth. "Damn you. Damn you to hell!" He charged and the battle began.

It was fierce, probably the fiercest any of them had ever witnessed, had ever faced; metal clanged against metal as kunai, swords and throwing stars cut through the air. People moved from one opponent to the other, saving each other from blows with techniques and the sheer guts to get in the way, all except Naruto and Orochimaru who stayed glued to one another. It raged on, how long nobody could say but the strain was beginning to effect both sides as all lost breath and blood moving around the large room.

Then something happened that threw each Konoha ninja briefly off-guard; Naruto missed a step, flying right into Orochimaru and though he landed a powerful blow that surely broke more then a few ribs the cost was far too great. The blade of Orochimaru's sword was sticking out of Naruto's back, covered in his blood.

"Naruto!" Sakura shrieked as she made to move toward him.

The blade had past right through his heart, she had to get to him soon or, even with the assistance of the kyuubi's chakra… but Kabuto jumped in front of her, cutting off Sakura's path and throwing her back into battle. Both Kakashi and Sai were too busy holding off their own opponents and having a hell of a hard time doing so, so they couldn't help either; Naruto was on his own.

Orochimaru scoffed as he pushed Naruto back who gave a blood-choked howl of pain as the blade was withdrawn from his chest. Naruto fell to his knees, clutching his chest which blood poured from as it spurted from his mouth. He was going pale and though he was in pain still he tried to stand. But his knees only gave out sending him back to the ground each time he tried, but still he tried. The kyuubi's cloak had lifted and once again he was just Naruto, but that didn't stop him, that would never stop him.

"Give it up Naruto-kun, you've lost." Orochimaru cooed in a mockingly comforting way as he crouched down in front of Naruto, his voice dripping with triumphant venom. Naruto's eyes blurred as he focused on that pale face, on those icy yellow eyes.

"It's not over 'til it's over." He slurred swaying slightly; he was losing so much blood.

"Trust me Naruto-kun, it's over." Orochimaru snickered as he stood straight and raised his blade for the final blow.

"Naruto!" Sakura shrieked again as the blade came down and once again she rushed forward, sending Kabuto flying out of her path with a powerful strike as she ran toward Naruto. She was too far away, she'd never make it in time but still she ran, feet stomping into the stone ground in a furious effort to make it toward her friend, to the only other boy she ever loved.

And just before the blade made contact with Naruto's neck, Naruto slid to the right, dodging the attack before jumping swiftly to his feet and sending his clawed hand forward. Orochimaru let out a bloodcurdling scream as Naruto's hand tore into his chest. Naruto paused briefly, gritting his teeth before giving a yank and withdrawing his blood-covered hand from Orochimaru's chest.

Sakura stopped in her tracks, jade green eyes going wide in shock at what she saw; clutched in Naruto's bloody fist was Orochimaru's heart, still pulsing as it pumped out the remainder of blood from inside it. Orochimaru fell lifelessly to the ground as Naruto staggered back, dropping the blood-drenched organ to the ground.

All the color had left his face as the blood continued to flow from his wound and his mouth and with one final dazed look back to Sakura who had once again begun to run toward him, screaming his name over and over again, he collapsed. His eyes stared up at the ceiling briefly, then at Sakura's tragedy stricken face before closing.

And try as she might Sakura could not get those blue irises to open, they'd never open again.

Sakura changed after that day, but that was understandable. She had never known the pain of losing someone close to her, had never experienced the death of someone she cared deeply about. But now she knew what it was like and it had greatly affected her, but it was understandable. Her childhood love and her best friend turned teenage romance, both lost in the same day; shinobi or not it was a lot for someone to deal with.

I knew that, I knew her pain. On the outside she seemed fine and handled it like a professional. But inside I knew she was in pain, I knew she was tortured and constricted by the memory. I was the same way back when I had been in her situation.

She had always been an emotional girl; would cry when someone close to her was hurt or hurting, sometimes even when she was hurt. But at the funerals she did not shed one tear. She had looked like a ghost, like a shell of her former self; numb, emotionless. I was concerned but I didn't say anything; what could I say?

I could have told her it was alright, that they hadn't died in vain but part of me didn't really believe that for what had been accomplished? Orochimaru had been killed, but to lose two precious lives in the process, it didn't seem like a fair trade. I wanted to hold her, to comfort her in some way but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I wish I had.

I couldn't hold her, but when the ceremony ended and I watched her walk away, I followed her. Why? I'm still not even sure. But I did.

The sky was dark that day, grey and as cold as the chilly wind that flew through the air. It was as if the weather of that day was influenced by the gloom weighing down the hearts of the citizens of the village hidden in the leaves. They had lost two great ninja, two great boys, two great men.

Sasuke had betrayed the village, but still so many had saw him as an ally, as a misguided youth, some even blamed themselves for what happened to him. None of them had been able to foresee or prevent his darkened path. None of them had been able to guide him toward the light; they had lost the boy so many years earlier, but they mourned him that day.

Naruto; he was the dropout who became a hero and touched the hearts of hundreds. He was the boy who brought out and inspired the best in people, the boy who so many children at the academy and even other shinobi idolized and respected. He would have been Hokage, there was no doubt in anyone's mind about that and so they mourned him like one.

The ceremony had been beautiful, everyone in Konoha had attended, each carrying two lovely white lilies to symbolize the two precious lives lost. Even Gaara, Kazekage of the village hidden in the sand, ally and friend of Naruto, was there alongside his siblings and a few higher-ups from Suna to mourn the loss of two of Konoha's greatest shinobi.

By the end of the funeral the coffins were covered in beautiful white flowers, barely visible beneath the veil of blossoms. There had been many tears, many hiccupped cries but surprisingly none had come from the young rosette-haired beauty that had known the two boys best. It concerned Kakashi and so when the ceremony ended and the young girl headed off, Kakashi followed after her.

She walked slowly and Kakashi lagged behind. He wanted to approach her, but it would have been too awkward; he didn't know what to say. So he trailed behind her, following her through the streets of the village then onto the training grounds. Where was she going?

Upon further observation Kakashi realized he was standing on the training ground where he had fist tested Team 7 on their teamwork. Sakura headed right over to the small monument Kakashi had shown them that day so many years ago, the one with the names of all those who had fallen in battle carved upon it.

Sakura stopped in front of the monument and reached into the pouch attached to the hip of her black dress and withdrew what looked like a small hammer and knife before falling to her knees. She rose the knife to the stone then rose the hammer and brought it down against the knife's handle and with the first knock of the hammer against the knife it began to rain; lightly at first but the rain slowly built momentum until it was falling from the sky in bucketfuls.

But still Sakura worked, hammering away at the stone with furious effort and Kakashi stood behind and watched. How long they were there he couldn't say, but by the time Sakura had put down the hammer and knife the rain had dulled to a light drizzle once again.

She kneeled there in front of the monument, staring at what she had carved upon it as if by staring long enough she could make none of this real; she could make them come back.

Uzumaki Naruto

Uchiha Sasuke

Kakashi remained silent, unmoving, simply standing there and watching her in silence. She was drenched, he was as well, but neither seemed bothered by it in that moment. They were wet but they were still breathing, still living though it seemed one had died inside that day.

"Shinobi principal of conduct number 25; a shinobi must never show emotion under any circumstance." Sakura suddenly said her voice hollow and husky. Kakashi could hear the strain in it could hear the desire to cry in her voice but the unwillingness to do so.

"Some rules are meant to be broken Sakura." He said softly, his voice kind and understanding. Sakura nodded slightly, as if the very act took tremendous effort as she stared at the names she had carved upon the stone.

"Well… at least one of Naruto's dreams came true…" Sakura mumbled in a hollow tone. Kakashi closed his eyes tightly. "He got his name on this stone." A bitter laugh past her lips.

"No Sakura, Naruto had another wish, another dream that he desired fulfilled." Kakashi said wisely, his eyes opening and his one that lay uncovered directed straight at Sakura. Sakura had turned her head, looking away from the stone toward him with question in her eyes.

Kakashi paused, perhaps this wasn't a good idea, it could just make things worse. But looking at her, seeing how deep in despair and heartache she was, Kakashi just couldn't sit there and do nothing. Maybe it would indeed give her some comfort, if only a little. So pushing his doubts aside, Kakashi reached up and pulled his headband off his sharingan eye and allowed the red iris to peer straight into Sakura's eyes.

Sakura's eyes widened and her body went rigid and before she knew what was happening, she was suddenly blinded by bright light. Instinctively her hand rose to shield her eyes as she staggered back slightly, preparing herself for some sort of attack, but none came.

"Oi Kakashi-sensei-" Sakura's eyes snapped open wide and she spun quickly on her heal to look behind her, eyes wide in shock and disbelief. "You cheated." Naruto accused as he lay flat on his back sprawled out on the grass. Kakashi stood over him, casually reading as usual.

"I'm greatly offended by such an accusation Naruto." He said in a bored tone that gave no indication that he was offended at all. "Anyway, I've told you over and over again to keep your stance strong. If you had listened perhaps you would not have gone down so easily."

Sakura couldn't believe her eyes, she was still in the training grounds but the sky was no longer bleak and grey nor did rain fall down from it. The sky was bright and blue, filled with fluffy white clouds and a sun that shone warm and intense. It was like a completely different day, it was a completely different day, a day lost in the past, Sakura knew that as she gazed upon the young blonde who looked cheated and unhappy as he got to his feet, brushing himself off.

It was an illusion, Sakura knew that, a well-known sharingan technique usually used against ones enemies, but Kakashi had used it to show her something from the past, something he wanted her to see. It was strange though, for it all felt so real; the warmth of the sun upon her damp body, the caress of the breeze that flew through the air, she could feel it all.

But Sakura didn't care about the warmth of the sun or the comfort of the breeze. She only cared that she was gazing upon the boy whose face haunted so many of her dreams lately. She only cared that she was able to see him one last time when he was happiest, when he was training.

"Well your spirits have certainly been lifted." Kakashi commented to Naruto who was currently beating his fists and feet vigorously at a dummy.

"Well yeah, 'cause before you killed my mood with your cheating," He said bitingly but got no real reaction from Kakashi. "I was in a really good mood, wanna know why?"

"Not really." Kakashi answered dully before turning a page of his book.

"Sakura-chan agreed to have ramen with me tonight." Naruto stated proudly with a particularly hard punch to the dummy, obviously unaffected by Kakashi's indifferent attitude.

"That's nice." Kakashi commented with vague interest. At that point Sakura blushed softly, she remembered that night, that was the night Naruto had kissed her for the first time full on the lips after she had agreed to be his girlfriend.

"Yeah." Naruto smiled proudly. "She's been so sad since Sasuke…" He trailed off there, looking down sadly. "Anyway, I figure it's the perfect opportunity to cheer her up, no one can stay sad when eating ramen and I figure if she gets happy enough maybe she'll agree to be my girlfriend."

"Mm." Kakashi grunted indifferently as he turned another page of his book, his eyes never leaving the pages.

"Hey Kakashi-sensei..." Naruto paused his assault on the dummy and Kakashi gave a grunt of recognition, never looking up from his book. "Do you have a goal, like something you want to do before you die?"

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"To see the Icha Icha Paradise movie." Naruto rolled his eyes.

"Well before I die I want-"

"Yes, yes I know." Kakashi interrupted with a dull sigh. "You want to become Hokage and gain everyone's love and respect."

"Yeah but there's something I want to do even more then that." At this Kakashi looked up. "I want to make Sakura-chan happy. Like she used to be before Sasuke left." There was so much emotion in his voice, so much determination that Kakashi couldn't help but smile slightly through his mask.

"That's a very noble goal Naruto."

"Yeah." Naruto smiled softly and turned back to his dummy to continue his assault upon it.

"She means a lot to you." Kakashi commented in a casual tone as he returned his attention to his book, but there was something else in his tone, some form of admiration.

"Yeah she does." Naruto's soft smile returned and once again his assault upon the dummy ceased. "You know, when I die, I hope Sakura's face can be the last one I see."

"This conversation is getting rather depressing." Kakashi commented in that same old nonchalant tone of his. "Why all this talk about death?"

"I've just been thinking a lot lately."

"You thinking sounds dangerous." Naruto laughed.

"Yeah I know." He paused. "Hey… wait." It was Kakashi's turn to give a slight chuckle before Naruto went back to punching and kicking his dummy.

Sakura stared at the image before her, at the memory of Kakashi and Naruto on that day as if she couldn't see it, as if she were just staring off into nothing. She didn't even seem to realize when the image had faded and she was back to that sad and rainy day.

Sakura said nothing for a long moment just kneeled there in the grass in front of the monument that held the names of her two best friends. It was cold and unresponsive, this stone that honored two great lives, two young lives senselessly cut short. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right.

The two boys she loved, one whom she had blindly followed and pined for, for so many years and the other who had patiently sat back and waited for her to notice him, always more then willing to accept her into his heart and into his arms when she finally looked his way. Both were lost to her.

"Sasuke… Naruto… oh Naruto!"

With a pain filled cry Sakura threw herself at the stone and wrapped her arms around it, letting out her heartache in choked sobs and wails, calling out the names of her two dearest friends, her two lost loves. Lightening struck and thunder shook the sky as the rain picked up again but still Kakashi could hear the tragic cries of Sakura as he watched her cling to that stone.

Rain trickled down his face, mixing with his silent tears as he bowed his head and turned his back, heading away to let Sakura express her pain in privacy. But even as he walked to the edge of the training grounds he could still faintly hear Sakura's heart-felt cries, could still hear the pain and desperation in her voice and it broke his heart.

But he could not comfort her, nothing he could say or do could make it okay and though it killed him inside to just walk away, that was what he did, what he always did.

I couldn't comfort her then, it wasn't in me, I just didn't know how. How could I? How could anyone make something so horrible look better? How was I to show her a brighter side when I couldn't even find it myself? It was pointless for those two to die, tragically pointless. I knew that, she knew that, everyone knew that so how could I justify telling her everything was alright? Still I wish so desperately I had done something, anything, just as I wish now that there was something I could do.

She never smiles anymore, not like she used to; so happy, carefree and lively. When she does smile it's always forced, always sad and though it is suppose to be a gesture of joy I can always see her heart breaking through her pretty jade green eyes. It pains my heart every time, but I'll never tell her that, I won't burden her with it; I won't put more weight upon her already heavy shoulders.

Sometimes I think she's trying to reach out to me when she smiles like that. Sometimes I think it's her way of crying out to someone, to anyone, to me for help and comfort. But I can't help her, I can't comfort her, I don't know how.

"Kakashi!" Kakashi was suddenly snapped from his thoughts by a loud and obviously annoyed voice.

Startled back to reality, Kakashi's one uncovered eye shifted from left to right as if he had just then realized where he was. His eye fell upon a rather peeved looking Tsunade who sat behind her desk, cluttered messily with unfinished and unattended paperwork, glaring at him in a way that mirrored her annoyed tone.

"Are you listening Kakashi?" The question sounded more like an accusation and for a moment Kakashi was flustered under her scrutinizing gaze. But he quickly regained himself, becoming his cool and calm self as he stared dully back at the Hokage. "I'll take that as a no." Tsunade sighed impatiently as she closed her eyes and held her forehead against her palms.

"Forgive me." Kakashi stated in a cool but apologetic tone. "What was it you were saying?"

"I was saying that though your review on your last mission was displeasingly brief and annoyingly vague you've once again done your job and accomplished your mission." Tsunade answered as she opened her eyes, folding her hands on top of her desk before peering back over at him. "Well done, you are dismissed."

"Thank you Hokage-sama." Kakashi bowed and turned to leave.

"Oh, Kakashi." Tsunade called just as he reached the door, still peering at him with that scrutinizing gaze.

"Yes Hokage-sama?" He asked coolly as he turned back around to face her.

"Did you know that today is Sakura's birthday?"

"I hadn't realized." It was a lie, Kakashi had realized said fact around three weeks ago and since then for some reason he could not quite place it had been all he could think about. Perhaps it was because his little Sakura was turning eighteen. 'His little Sakura…' For some reason that flustered him as much as Tsunade's surveying gaze had.

"Yes well it is, her eighteenth you know, her passage into womanhood." Tsunade commented conversationally. Kakashi nodded, still a bit flustered but unidentifiably so. 'His little Sakura...' She was turning eighteen, was becoming a woman. "Ino seems to be hosting a party for her at the local tavern. The girl's been hassling anyone who will listen, and even those who won't, to attend." Tsunade rolled her eyes in that irritated way she had of doing so. "Surely you've heard or has she yet to catch you?"

"I hadn't heard anything." Another lie, Ino had cornered him the other day and made him promise to attend the little get-together.

"Well now you know, I assume you'll be attending." Tsunade's eyebrows rose. "Unless you have previous engagements."

"I did." The lies were pouring from his mouth as saliva did whenever he came across a particularly juicy scene in Icha Icha Paradise that day. "But I suppose I could make an appearance."

"I'm glad. I'm sure it will make Sakura happy to see you there." Tsunade sighed. "Lord knows that girl could use some happiness in her life, however small and brief." Kakashi nodded his agreement.

"Well, that is all, you may go now." Tsunade waved her hand as if to shoo him away. "I hope to see you at the party."

"Yes." Kakashi bowed once again before finally making his exit.

A party for Sakura to celebrate her eighteenth birthday, her passage into womanhood. The thought made Kakashi's hands feel clammy and his throat feel dry. Sakura was his former student, his only one left, a girl very near and dear to him. How could he not attend an event to celebrate such an important point in her life? He wanted to go and he was going to, but still some part of him felt reluctant.

Some part of him wanted to avoid Sakura as much as possible, though another part of him wanted to be there for her… if not constantly then at least then. He was so conflicted and he just didn't know why. It had been like this since that day he had watched her sob in the training grounds. He wanted to be there for her, but some part prevented him from doing so, some part warned him that he couldn't. But why couldn't he? He didn't understand it.

But there was no avoiding it. For just one night he would ignore that side of him that warned him to stay away and he would go to that party, he would celebrate with Sakura and the others. 'It's just one night, what harm could it do?' He thought, a soft sigh escaping his lips as he exited the Hokage building and headed home to get ready for that night.

----------------------------------------------------

"Wow Ino, you really outdid yourself." Hinata commented softly from beside the blonde who was all smiles, her hands proudly on her hips as she stood at the bar counter and surveyed the scene.

The bar was handsomely decorated with pink and white streamers that hung in loops from the ceiling and bouquets of cherry blossoms and babies breath hanging in vases attached to the outside of every booth. The tables were covered with white table clothes and a single white rose rested in a pink vase in the middle of every one. A huge white banner with the words 'Happy Birthday Sakura' hung in a loop from the ceiling, reaching from one wall to the other and hanging handsomely over everyone's head in clear view over the bar. It was a gentle and pretty set up, contemporary but still quite eye-catching and Ino was obviously quite proud of herself, she being the initial decorator.

"Well it is her eighteenth birthday and she'll only get to celebrate it once." Ino stated wisely in a tone as proud as her stance.

"Everything looks so perfect." Tenten sighed dreamily from her other side, looking around her as she sat upon a stool next to Lee whom she was wisely making sure touched nothing but water. They had been dating for the last year and Tenten would be damned if any boyfriend of hers ruined such a wonderful night with his so-called "drunken fist".

"It really does." Hinata nodded in confirmation. She was also sitting at the bar, next to Neji whom was sipping casually on some sake. There had been rumors going around the village about the two Hyuuga cousins, scandalous perhaps but anyone you asked seemed to confirm they'd make a handsome couple. But none of the rumors had been confirmed, though if one watched long enough one could catch Neji brushing Hinata's hand affectionately or Hinata leaning lovingly against him.

"Thank you." Ino said with satisfaction.

"There's only one problem." Shikamaru commented from a table as he watched Chouji scarf down one dumpling after the other, much to the annoyance of Ino who continually scolded him. It was fine and dandy for the boy to be husky, Ino had gotten over that three years ago when they had started going out, but no boyfriend of hers would eat like a pig in her presence.

"Oh?" Ino looked around after snatching a dumpling from a very disappointed looking Chouji. "What's that?"

"Where the hell's the birthday girl?" Shikamaru questioned and as if just then realizing that Sakura was missing, everyone within earshot looked around as if expecting to find her sitting in a corner. But she wasn't there.

"That's a damn good question." Ino frowned deeply, becoming distracted and allowing Chouji to stuff his face while her back was turned. "She should have been here by now."

"She's probably still doing her make-up." Sai commented stoically from his lone table a few feet behind Ino, his eyes upon the table top as he leaned back casually and sipped his drink. "Lord knows the girl needs some." Much to Ino's delight, someone threw a piece of dumpling that hit Sai right off the forehead, but the boy seemed unfazed.

"Well she better get here soon." Tsunade grumbled from her place at the bar, pouring herself another cup of sake from the bottle she had snatched from the tender. "I'm getting antsy and I swear I'll eat the cake without her." Chouji was quick to nod in agreement.

"Tsunade-sama please." Shizune groaned, hiding her face in her hands as she leaned her elbows against the bar-top. "This behavior is very unbecoming of a Hokage."

"I'm off duty." Tsunade scoffed pointedly as she downed her sake and poured herself another cup. "It's a party Shizune, stop being such a kill-joy."

"Not much of a party without a guest-of-honor." Shikamaru yawned and leaned back in his seat, smirking in amusement as Ino snatched yet another dumpling from a disgruntled Chouji. "Told you women were nothing but trouble man." Chouji grumbled unhappily while Ino glared at Shikamaru.

"You just say that because you can't get a girlfriend."

"Don't want one." Shikamaru shrugged and Ino scoffed before slapping Chouji's hand as he tried to reach for another dumpling from the plate in the middle of the table.

"Perhaps someone should go get Sakura-chan." Lee suddenly suggested as he began to rise. "I-" But the harsh glare Tenten shot at him quickly shut him up and caused him to fall back to his stool. Tenten was still very touchy about the whole Lee and Sakura thing. After all, he had confessed undying love and devotion to her in the past.

"No, I'm sure she'll be along soon." Ino sighed as she slid into the seat next to Chouji, munching on the dumpling she had stolen from him as he stared enviously.

"I hope so." Hinata sighed and Neji notably touched her knee gently, causing her to blush slightly.

"Me too." Chouji agreed. "I really want some of that cake.

"Calm down tubby, I think you've had enough." Sai commented.

Chouji suddenly went rigid, his pupils dilating as his eyes became wide and furious. Ino looked horrified and quickly turned to try and comfort her beau while Shikamaru noticeably ducked lower in his seat as if trying to hide under the table. Neji quickly pulled a frightened looking Hinata close as Lee did the same with Tenten. But Tsunade just kept right on drinking and commenting on how good it was to be free of obligations for the night while Shizune pleaded with her to put the bottle down.

"What did you just call me you mellow-toned little bastard?" Chouji suddenly screamed as he shot up from his seat, knocking his table over.

----------------------------------------------------

He was late, unfashionably so, but between constantly changing his mind about going or not it was to be expected. Every five seconds Kakashi would come up with another reason to go or not to go and would either stop or start his journey out his door. Obviously he had finally decided on going as he hurried down the village streets.

Sakura was probably already there so there would be no awkward standing around with colleagues and chatting about pointless topics he would forget about the very next day. He could simply slip in, say a congratulatory greeting to Sakura, perhaps eat some cake, have a drink and then slip out before any damage was done. It would all be fine.

But as Kakashi approached the bridge that would lead him to the other side of the village where the pub was located something caught his eye that he had not been expecting. It was Sakura, leaning over and gazing down at the water below, her elbows propped upon the bridge's railing. She looked deep in thought, and as she usually did when she thought no one was looking, she looked sad, as if on the verge of tears.

She was dressed in what Kakashi could only assume was her casual attire for the night; a red oriental styled dress with white trim and a small collar that was pushed up around the base of her neck and plain white high-healed sandals. The dress was sleeveless and came to just about mid-thigh area and was a bit snug around her bosom and stomach but still very elegant and classy looking. Her hair was done up in a loose bun which small strands of hair fell from to frame her face, the bun held up by two festive red chopsticks. She looked beautiful, she always did, but on that night particularly.

Kakashi stood silently at the edge of the bridge, just watching her, unnoticed by the rosette-haired beauty that stared so intently at the water below the bridge she stood upon. He was reluctant to approach her, that part of him that constantly warned him to stay away now screaming inside his head to turn around and go home. But he couldn't, he couldn't just walk away from her when she looked so sad, not now, not again.

"Hello Sakura." He said casually as he approached her, coming to stand just a foot or so away, still peering at her with that one uncovered eye.

Sakura jumped, obviously startled and spun to face her old sensei, a look of surprise upon her fair face, her red-painted lips parted as if to speak but nothing came out. She did look beautiful that night, he noted, very beautiful, obviously done-up for her party. But she was not at her party and honestly, Kakashi didn't think it seemed like she had any intention of going.

"What are you doing out here all by yourself?" Kakashi asked casually as he came to stand beside her, peering over the railing of the bridge at the water below as if searching for whatever held her attention.

He felt rather awkward beside her, out-of-place; she looked so elegant where as he… well he looked like he usually looked. The only thing different was his lack of a sweater, instead of his usual top he wore a sleeveless fishnet mesh shirt that showed of his strong arms, his usual vest left open over it to reveal his basically bare equally as strong-looking muscular chest. It was a rather hot night and he thought it smart to wear something light. Everything else was the same though, right down to his fingerless gloves.

"Oh, hello Kakashi-sensei." She finally said, looking away from him to peer back down at the water. "I was just… thinking." Her voice was small, timid and sad and it made Kakashi's heart pang painfully in his chest.

"Mm." Kakashi grunted softly as his one good eye shifted to gaze side-ways at her. Once again she was peering into the water as if desperately searching for something in its depths. "I was just headed to your party."

"Oh?" She commented in a tone that showed little interest, as if she weren't even listening to him.

"Yes, but I imagine it won't be much of a party without a birthday girl." Sakura said nothing and Kakashi's eye shifted to look down into the water, though now he was just staring at their reflections.

She was so small compared to him, in height, in frame and even in spirit. She looked like something he could easily wrap inside his arms, but he didn't dare do it, he didn't think it would make a difference. But God did she look beautiful; with her pale face accented by red lip-stick and her hair pulled back to expose her lovely features fully to his eyes and her pretty green eyes glossy with tears… tears? As the water beneath them rippled Kakashi realized that Sakura was crying. Fresh tears slipped from her eyes and down her cheeks, falling off her chin into the water below like little rain drops.

"Sakura…" He said softly as he turned his head to look at her, but she did not look up from the water. It was as if she was watching a scene unfold in its depths, one that made her sad, but all Kakashi could see was their reflection.

"I always pictured this day, ever since I was a little girl." Sakura began softly, her voice strained and choked with forlorn and tears. "I always pictured a big party with all my friends, white and pink streamers with cherry blossoms and babies breath for decorations, a white rose inside a pink vase on every white-clothe-covered tabletop and a huge banner that said 'Happy Birthday Sakura'. I'd have a three layered cake, chocolate with white frosting and decorated with cherry blossoms and on the top would be a stemless white rose surrounded by eighteen white candles, one pink one for good luck sticking out of the middle of the rose. I'd wear this exact same outfit, do my hair and paint my lips just like this and everyone would tell me how beautiful I looked.

"But every time I pictured it…" She continued, her tears falling harder, and her breath catching in her throat. "Sasuke and Naruto were always by my side, and they would both kiss one of my cheeks at the same time and then have a shove-fest while I blew out my candles." She laughed softly through her tears. "But it won't happen, because they won't be there to celebrate with me…" Her voice broke as her eyes clamped shut and her palms came up to push against them. "They'll never be here with me ever again."

Sakura broke and began to sob freely there upon the bridge, her face hidden in her hands and her body trembling with the effort of her cries. It was just like that day, only a veil of night had covered the sky, cloudless and beautiful with not a drop of rain to bear down upon them, just the twinkling stars and the luminous moon. The scene was different, the circumstances were the same; Sakura was crying and Kakashi could not bring himself to comfort her like his heart yearned to do.

"I'm sorry Kakashi-sensei." She suddenly said, wiping vigorously at her eyes to stop her tears as she turned to face him, her head bowed as her fists rubbed her eyes. "I don't mean to pour all of this out on you." She sniffled.

"It's alright Sakura." He stated stiffly as he patted her shoulder awkwardly, quickly pulling his hand back as she lifted her head and smiled sadly at him.

"I'm sure this wasn't how you pictured spending your night."

"Not exactly." He smiled uncomfortably through his mask and Sakura gave a soft forced-sounding laugh.

"Some birthday." She grumbled bitterly as she swiped the remaining tears off her cheeks.

"I have something for you." Kakashi suddenly said, as if just realizing the fact, causing Sakura to look up at him curiously. "A birthday present."

"Oh Kakashi-sensei, you didn't have to-"

"Yes I did." Kakashi gave a genuine smile that wrinkled his one visible eye. "It's my favorite student's eighteenth birthday, how would it look if I didn't get her a gift?"

"I was never your favorite Sensei." Sakura shook her head and Kakashi rolled his eye.

"Of course you were." He stated almost defensively. "But you're not my student anymore so I see no need for you to continue calling me "sensei"."

"Yes Kakashi-… sama." Sakura corrected awkwardly as if testing the new title on her lips. Kakashi frowned at the formality but said nothing about it. "So, what is this present you got me?"

"Typical woman, always eager for a gift." Sakura frowned unhappily and parted her red lips as if to say something but Kakashi quickly cut her off. "Do you remember that day so many years ago when you Sasuke and Naruto tried to get me to remove my mask." Something saddened in Sakura's eyes at the names of her former teammates, but she seemed to brighten curiously at Kakashi's words.

"Yes, and when we finally did you had another mask beneath it." Sakura frowned slightly.

"Yes well, you three were rather annoying and I wanted to mess with you." Sakura's frown deepened but Kakashi noticed how the corners of her mouth twitched as if tempted to smile. "I know it's not much, but for your birthday I figured I'd grant your childhood wish and show you what lay beneath my mask." Sakura's eyes widened and Kakashi smiled.

"Really?"

"Yes." Kakashi nodded. "But that's for after the party." Sakura pouted deeply and it was such a cute gesture that Kakashi nearly cracked at the sight of it and though his fingers twitched for some kind of contact his mind told him he had no right to desire, he kept his hands casually at his sides.

"Kakashi-sama that's no fair." Sakura whined slightly and Kakashi felt his insides twitch. "You can't get a girls hopes up like that and then shoot her down so suddenly." Kakashi said nothing, only stared at her.

"Showing you after the party will give you more incentive to attend it." He commented wisely, in his usual cool, calm and collected tone.

"If you show me now it will make me happy and in the mood for celebrating." Sakura retaliated quickly in a stubborn tone. Kakashi just couldn't help but smile.

"Well who can argue with that kind of logic?" Kakashi shook his head and sighed. "You were always so smart Sakura, perhaps too much so for your own good, or rather mine." Sakura smiled proudly.

"Thank you Sensei." Kakashi's brow rose. "I mean Kakashi." She giggled softly and Kakashi's heart swelled with joy at finally being able to make her face light up with happiness. "Well c'mon then, take it off." Kakashi's brow rose higher and Sakura blushed. "I mean, take off your mask."

Kakashi nodded, and slowly, as if to build up suspense, his glove covered hand rose to his mask. His fingers curled and tucked inside as slow as his hand had raised and Sakura seemed beside herself with excitement as she watched with wide and wondrous eyes. Fingers gripping the edge of his mask tightly, Kakashi began to pull it down, first revealing a small handsomely pointed nose, a pair of full many lips, a prominent chin and a strong jaw line as he tucked the piece of fabric beneath his chin.

He was a handsome man, perhaps excessively so. With features that were the perfect mixture of strong and soft, giving him a manly but still somehow beautiful and boyish look. He was flawless, not a harelip or nasty scar in sight, just flawless and smooth skin that looked well taken care of. Why anyone would want to hide such handsome features was beyond Sakura and as she gazed up at his face she blushed so deeply she was almost as crimson as her dress. Kakashi smirked proudly at the look of wonder and admiration on her face, seeming to swell with pride at how enchanted she looked with him.

"Why on earth do you wear that mask?" Sakura asked breathlessly as one hand reached up, her soft fingertips gingerly caressing down Kakashi's cheek and along his jaw-line, causing a little color to come to his cheeks.

"It's a fashion-statement." Kakashi shrugged casually. At that Sakura laughed, a full and hearty laugh that sounded long overdue and Kakashi was quick to join in, chuckling happily as he beamed down at her, smiling brightly.

But suddenly Sakura's laughs were caught in her throat and she stared up at Kakashi, her green eyes wide as she peered up at his smiling face. Kakashi's smile faltered and finally fell as he saw the tears well up in Sakura's eyes, her hand falling from his face to dangle limply at her side. Tears slipped from her eyelids and slid down the sides of her face as her head lay tilted so that her eyes could look up into his.

"Sakura…" Kakashi was confused, and quite obviously so, but Sakura offered no explanation, simply stood there and stared at him, silent tears streaming down her face.

"You…" She began but her words were caught in her throat, her hands trembling as they came up, her fingers lacing together as if in prayer as she pushed them against her chest. "You smile… just like Naruto did." She smiled sadly up at a crestfallen Kakashi who watched helplessly as she bowed her head and sobbed into her palms.

This was not how he had seen this going, not at all. He had gotten her to smile, but in the end had only made it worse for her. All he wanted to do was make her smile, but he just couldn't seem to do it right and it was killing Kakashi inside.

'My silly, boy-crazy, stubborn, smart and fierce little Sakura, what can I do to make you smile again?' He thought sadly as he stepped toward her, his arms reaching up and wrapping around her in a secure and comforting hug. Sakura was quick to respond, her arms curling and crunching between them, her hands grabbing fiercely at his vest as she pressed her face against his chest and sobbed against his mesh-covered skin. His grip upon her tightened slightly and his cheek came to rest at the top of her head, body scrunching slightly to accomplish the task.

For a long moment they stood there, nothing but silence, a cool refreshing breeze, and Kakashi's arms strongly secured around her to comfort Sakura. But even with Kakashi holding her so close, comforting her with the closeness of his body, Sakura still cried with so much depression and despair.

His mind screamed at him to let her go, to walk away, but Kakashi wasn't listening, all he could hear was Sakura's cries, all he cared about was comforting her in that moment. One arm withdrew from around her and slowly slid up the side of her body, up her waist, over her arm, across her shoulder and north of her neck, coming to rest on her cheek. His thumb found its way beneath her chin and gently pressed against it, forcing her head to tilt, forcing her to look up at him with those tear-filled jade green eyes.

Kakashi stared at Sakura and Sakura stared at Kakashi, neither spoke nor gave any indication of desiring to do so. They simply stood there and stared at each other, Sakura still clinging so desperately to Kakashi as he locked her in his embrace. But in that moment of silence so much seemed to pass between them; confusion, understanding, question, permission and Kakashi no longer questioned what to do to still Sakura's tears, to comfort her.

He drew down, slowly so as to give her ample time to push him away but she didn't and somehow he knew she wouldn't. His eye stared into hers right until the moment their closeness forced it out of focus and it was forced to close as hers followed suit and after what seemed like ages their lips met in a tender kiss that forced a sigh from Sakura's lips and a pang in Kakashi's heart. Her grip upon his vest tightened and Sakura seemed to push forward against Kakashi and Kakashi against Sakura.

It lasted forever, yet it was over to soon and Sakura felt herself tremble with need as she felt Kakashi slowly withdraw his lips for hers. Her eyes remained closed but she knew he was still close, she could feel his warm breath upon her face, could smell the gentle musk that no cologne could capture; the scent of a real man, the scent of Kakashi.

"Happy birthday Sakura." He whispered and suddenly he was gone, leaving Sakura alone on that bridge.

But she didn't seem to notice his absence for the longest moment; she seemed frozen in time as she stood there in the middle of the bridge. Her eyes were still closed, her hands were still rose as if gripping something and her lips were still slightly puckered and parted. The moment was over, but still Sakura was lost in it, still wrapped up in the warmth and the scent of Kakashi, as if his arms were still wrapped around her and his lips were still against hers. She could still taste him on her lips as her tongue slipped against them.

"I'll kill that skinny little bastard!" A ranting shout broke Sakura violently from her state of bliss and she turned suddenly to see Chouji and Ino approaching the bridge. Chouji was fuming and Ino was obviously trying to calm his anger.

"I know you will baby, you'd break his worthless ass in half." She nodded in agreement as she patted Chouji's back and walked particularly close to him. "But he's not worth your time- oh, Sakura!" Ino smiled brightly and waved to a still slightly dazed Sakura who stared at her questioningly.

"Damn right he aint worth my time." Chouji grumbled as the two stopped in front of Sakura. "Hey Sakura." He greeted hotly, obviously still furious over whatever had happened back at the bar, Sai sure knew how to push buttons. But instead of letting Chouji and Sai duke it out as she normally would have, in desiring to keep her decorations perfect, Ino had decided she and Chouji would go search out Sakura.

"Hey you two." Sakura smiled softly as she looked to Chouji then to Ino, whose smile had faded and was replaced with an annoyed look directed at Sakura who shrunk awkwardly beneath the gaze.

"Where the hell have you been?" Ino demanded furiously. "The party was suppose to start a half an hour ago!"

"I'm sorry Ino; I just got a little sidetracked." Sakura shrugged softly and bowed her head, tearing her gaze away from those questioning eyes of Ino's.

"Yeah well let's just get going before they start to eat your cake without you." Ino sighed. "At least you're in a good mood, you're practically glowing." Ino commented to Sakura before turning her back. Sakura blushed furiously and bowed her head; her fingers coming up to gently caress her painted lips which were only slightly smudged by Kakashi's soft kiss.

"I better get a piece." Chouji grumbled.

"You can have as much as you want babe as long as everyone else gets some before you go back for seconds." Ino comforted and Chouji beamed before leaning in to kiss Ino gratefully.

But Sakura wasn't paying attention to the couple; her mind was lost to… other things. She hadn't imagined what had happened back there; she knew Kakashi had been there and that they had shared a tender kiss; she could still feel where his lips had been against hers.

Perhaps Sakura should have been angry, or offended or even put-off by Kakashi's advance, he was her former sensei after all and was much older then she; the elderly around the village would have a field day with such scandalous information, perhaps just as much as they had had when hearing the rumors of Neji and Hinata. So perhaps Sakura should have been frightened, fearful at the risk of her reputation being tarnished by one little kiss shared with a much older man that had practically helped raise her in a sense.

But Sakura felt none of those things, not shame or agitation or remorse, all she felt was high. It was as if she were walking on a cloud, floating along the village streets behind Chouji and Ino while staring off dreamily into nothing. She felt light and carefree and for the first time in so many years she felt genuinely happy, as if maybe, just maybe her whole world had not come to an end so many years earlier.

"Happy birthday Sakura!" Sakura nearly jumped out of her skin as the shouts of a bar full of people welcomed her into the little tavern. She hadn't even realized she had entered the building; she was so lost in her thoughts about Kakashi. But said thoughts were temporarily pushed from her mind as she looked around her.

All her friends from the village were there, all beaming at her happily and applauding her arrival, even Shikamaru offered a small smile and a dull clap of his hands. The decorations were exactly as Sakura had always pictured they would be, right down to the decorations on the cake. It had been Ino's doing, Sakura knew that, and she found herself hugging the blonde tightly who laughed proudly.

"Yeah, yeah I know, I'm awesome." Ino said slyly with a grin as Sakura pulled away, returning the grin.

"So you finally decided to-hic-show up, huh?" Tsunade commented from her place at the bar, words slurred slightly and broken by drunken hiccups. Poor Shizune looked mortified.

"Women; always have to make an entrance." Shikamaru shook his head while every female in the bar rolled their eyes.

"You look half-decent tonight Ugly." Sai called with vague sincerity and though it did not sound much like a compliment, coming from Sai it was the highest one she'd probably ever get and so she smiled.

"Well let's get this show on the road!" Ino announced as she ushered Sakura to her cake which sat upon the bar counter, waiting for her. "Let's light those candles and get this party started."

"Yeah-eah!" Everyone shouted in unison, though Tsunade was a bit late on the uptake and Shizune was too busy knocking her head off the bar-top.

----------------------------------------------------

'Stupid, stupid, stupid!' Kakashi inwardly scolded himself as he entered his little apartment, heading straight for his bedroom to sit upon his bed, hanging his head in his palms as his elbows rested on his knees. 'What the hell were you thinking?'

"I just wanted to make her smile." He answered aloud as he clamped his one eye shut and grumbled under his breath, angry at himself for his weakness, for his previous actions.

What had he been thinking indeed? Kissing her like that, he had completely taken advantage of her tangled emotions and what was worse, Sakura was his former student, he had practically helped raise her since she was a child.

But Sakura wasn't a child anymore, Kakashi had realized that little fact that night when he had spotted her on the bridge and perhaps had unconsciously realized it sooner then that. It was then that Kakashi realized why one part of his mind, the sensible part had been warning him to stay away from her. 'I lover her.'

Kakashi groaned in mortification as he shot up from his bed and began to pace his little bedroom. He loved her, by gods he was in love with his former student. This was too much, this was incredibly bad; he had to stay away from her, had to avoid her at all costs to stop this before it got out of hand. Yes that was what he would do, he would just avoid her, Konoha was a large village, it should be easy enough.

Kakashi would nod with determination before slipping his hands casually into his pockets as he so often did but he froze as his fingers wrapped around something small in his pocket and withdrew it to expose it to his eye. It was a small box, one that contained the second gift Kakashi had planned on giving Sakura, he had forgotten to give it to her.

He frowned deeply and stared at the box intensely as if deep in thought, searching his mind for some sort of solution. With a defeated sigh, obviously having reached a conclusion, Kakashi exited his bedroom, flicking off the light and closing the door rather loudly.

----------------------------------------------------

Slightly wobbly feet carried Sakura over the threshold of the front door of her little apartment, soft giggles leaving her lips the entire way, even as she closed the door behind her and leaned against it for support, head hanging as she tried to silence her giddy little chuckles. The party had been, for lack of a better term, a blast and Sakura was quite happy she had attended.

Her apartment was dark and quiet, but Sakura could still hear the happy chit-chatter of her friends buzzing in her ears. She had had such a good time, talking, laughing and drinking with them (mostly drinking due to the influence of Tsunade). It had been like old times, times that Sakura missed so very much. Though a part of her knew there had been something missing that night, it didn't feel that way.

Sasuke and Naruto hadn't been at the party, but Sakura could have sworn that as she stood over her cake she could feel slight pressure on both cheeks and when she leaned down to blow the candles out she could feel a slight scuffle behind her… like a shove-fest. It was in that moment that Sakura knew that though her two dearest friends were gone from this earth in body, they would always be with her in spirit and in her memories and dreams. It had comforted her; it still comforted her just as much as...

Sakura blushed at the memory of Kakashi's body pressed against hers and his lips molded against her lips and what seemed for the hundredth time that night she reached up to touch her red-painted lips in awe and disbelief. He had kissed her, her stoic, lazy and infuriatingly vague former sensei had pressed his lips to hers and stole her tears away. Sakura still could hardly believe it and was still a bit confused over why it made her feel so… happy.

Sakura sighed contently and headed through her dark apartment, going straight for her bedroom which she shrouded in light as she flicked the switch and stepped inside, closing the door softly behind her. She would shower in the morning; right now she was just too tired.

Reaching up to tug out the red chopsticks that held her hair up from her silky rosette locks, Sakura would shake her head, letting her hair flail loosely around her, coming to rest on her shoulders in a slightly untamed but still somehow pleasant manner.

Slightly unsteady legs brought her over to her vanity and it was there that Sakura paused, her brow wrinkling in curiosity. Upon her vanity was a small green box topped with a handsome little pink bow which beside rested an unsigned note. Her head would tilt to the side inquisitively as she reached down and plucked the note from the vanity, her jade eyes scanning it.

The second part of your gift.

Was all the note said in neat little scribbled handwriting and immediately Sakura knew who the box was from.

"Kakashi." Sakura whispered with a small smile before retrieving the box and pulling off the top, placing it aside to peer inside.

Fingers reached in and pulled out a long fragile silver chain which a small green jade heart trimmed with silver dangled from. It was beautiful, but whether it was the beauty of the pendent or the person it had come from that had taken Sakura's breath away she could not immediately say. She placed the box next to the top and unhooked the necklace, sliding it around her slender neck and reclipping it so that the pendant dangled at her collar.

The dreamy smile never left Sakura's lips as she moved toward her bed and sat upon the edge, her eyes immediately finding the picture that rested on the nightstand next to her lamp. The old picture of team seven, Sakura's smile grew as she picked up the frame from the nightstand and held it close to her, her green eyes scanning the picture affectionately.

"Sasuke." Her fingers slid over the frozen image of Sasuke. "Naruto." It did the same to Naruto. "He's everything I loved about both of you wrapped in one." She mumbled as her finger slid slowly down the stilled image of Kakashi. "What would you say if you could see us now?" Sakura laughed softly. "You'd be so mad Naruto and Sasuke, you'd act like you didn't care but agree to help Naruto sabotage us in any and every way possible." She looked from one to the other as both stared unhappily at each other in the picture over the top of Sakura's head.

"But in the end I think you'd both be happy with just seeing me happy." Sakura concluded softly. "And I hope that's how you feel right now as you watch over me." The images of the young boys in the picture did not respond, but Sakura had never expected them to.

Sakura's eyes trailed along the picture, back to the image of Kakashi frozen in the past and her smile fell to a look of great affection, of love before she leaned down and pressed her lips against the picture, leaving a red print of her lips against the plate of glass over the picture over Kakashi's face.

It would never be okay that Naruto and Sasuke were gone, Sakura knew that. But now she thought that maybe, just maybe in the end she would be okay if there was another man there to comfort and console her like only Sasuke and Naruto's presences ever could. A man like Hatake Kakashi…

-The End-

Or is it?


Otachii: Teehe, my first KakaSaku fanfic, man do I love this couple. x3 It was a sweet and rather sad little story, I hope you all agree and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I tried to keep the characters as in-character as possible, I hope I succeeded if only vaguely. And on the subject of how Naruto killed Orochimaru… I'm not sure if it's very realistic next to the original storyline for Orochimaru to go down seemingly so easily but I thought it seemed kinda cool. And hell, when have I ever cared about keeping things realistic and following the set story-line, I'm a KakaSaku fan for crying out loud! xD

And about what Kakashi did for Sakura in the flashback… I figured that if Itachi could use his sharingan to make Sasuke relive the death of his entire village then Kakashi could allow Sakura to peak in on an old memory of his. Whether that's true or not I can't say… but it was sweet, no?

Oh and by the way, for those of you who are getting all worked up over how abruptly the fic ended without anything being resolved… don't worry, there will be a sequel (and it might be a lemon, gasp!). Though when exactly it will be out I cannot say… whenever I feel like writing it I guess. xP

BETA: Thank you for pointing out my mistake blackmarble.

Review!