Wow. I'm at school, and I'm typing on a school computer. eewww…

Edit: Revised and better... Kind of.

The world of shinobi is a cruel world of stolen childhoods. It makes quick work of the weak and spares only a precious few. Most are not so lucky, and the members of Team Seven are no exception.

Naruto has been alone (orphanmonsterlonely) for his whole life; even after all he's done for Konoha (and Kakashi and twenty kage bunshin can't fit it all on their hands and toes), the villagers still mutter and avoid him.

(And glare and snicker and shun and hate and fear), and still they only see that beast – that monster.

He should have had a mother and a father to take care of him (not just to buy him ramen) and to love him and hold him (and maybe there wouldn't be that sense of loss and sorrow in his face).

But he didn't, and he has known grief and loneliness, and so he is the Uzumaki Naruto that Kakashi knows.

Sasuke should have been the attractive younger brother to the prodigy Itachi (niisantrainwithmeniisanhelpmeniisanshurikenpracticeniisanniisanniisan), and he should have spent his childhood trying to become Itachi's rival.

He should have been the girl-magnet of the Uchiha clan (even though Kakashi has seen the size of Itachi's former fanclub, Sasuke's is even larger).

But none of that has happened ("Okaasan! Otousan! No, niisan, don't –") and Sasuke has become a self-appointed avenger.

And Kakashi thinks that Sasuke shouldn't have to spend his childhood (because he's still a kid, dammit) trying to kill his only remaining family (who, no doubt, had no childhood of his own of which to speak).

But that is the path that he has chosen for himself, and no matter how much he

denies it, Uchiha Sasuke is part of the team.

Sakura, Kakashi muses, may not have had a tragic past, but perhaps she has the most hope out of all of them. After all, he reflects, it takes quite a bit of optimism to hide away the hurt caused by Sasuke's repeated rejections and then to keep asking and hoping.

Even after the rest of Sasuke's formidably-sized fanclub has given up on him, Sakura alone still stands by him and defends him because she loves him.

(Loves him loves him loves him loves him and she misses him so much and wishes he would come back).

Speaking of Sasuke, Kakashi deosn't think that young girls' childhoods and friendships should be tossed away for the sake of pursuing a boy who will never return their affections. Sakura has learned this; now she is dedicating herself to becoming stronger for her teammate (not crush, though she still loves him).

Either way, Uchiha Sasuke is the point around which Haruno Sakura's world has been built.

Kakashi himself has been deprived of the childhood that perhaps he should have had. His father diedhangedhimselfcommittedsuicidelefthimalone because the village thought he should have abandoned his teammates (leftthemtodiehecouldntwouldnt) and so he died.

Kakashi spent his childhood being alone (because his father left him, so maybe he was meant to be alone) and blocking others out.

(Especially teammates because teammates diedledtoyourdownfallabandonedyouwhenyoumostneededthem).

And now that he is old (with tired eyes which have seen horrors that no child should ever see), he watches over his team and makes sure that they don't go the way that he did.

(And a voice whispers in his ear, "You failed them. They are exactly like you." And he doesn't reply because he knows it's true.)

But Naruto and Sakura, at least, still need their teammates, and so he will continue to guide them until they no longer need him (but the voice hisses, "They don't need you. Naruto has Jiraiya and Sakura has Tsunade. You only ever focused on Sasuke!").

And that is true as well. ("I'm a terrible teacher, aren't I?)

They are all broken and aching tired (and want to die – "OhGodpleasepleasepleaseletmediewhycantIdieletmedieplease") but they are forced to go on, and they must live with their mistakes.

And they are scattered (Naruto is with Jiraiya, and Sakura is with Tsunade, and Sasuke is who knows where, and Kakashi is alone) and longing for each other and old times when Kakashi could be ambushed by an eraser and Sakura could be beaten by a genjutsu of Sasuke and Sasuke could smile and Naruto's eyes showed only happiness and mischief, but their childhoods are past and gone and will not come back.

And despite all, Haruno Sakura, Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke, and Hatake Kakashi are still Team Seven. And it is enough.

- - -

I love writing angst. It's just so fun.