Kakashi waited by the gate. It was dark. She was setting off soon. The two Hyuugas were escorting her to her selected location.

She was leaving him.

He took a long swig of the bottle. It burned his throat; that was why his eyes leaked tears, he told himself. Bloody horrible rotgut.

She was leaving him.

It wasn't her fault. She was not a shinobi. She wasn't prepared for the life she had to endure as his woman.

He pulled the mask down. Tonight the moon got to see his face.

She had been patient. She had been brave. She had been unwavering in her belief.

But he had to let her go. He had to, because as the Hokage he faced threats to his life everyday, and he could not ask that she did as well. It was unfair to them both.

He wished he believed that as strongly as he claimed he did.

Perhaps that was why the first, second, third and fifth either didn't marry or didn't keep their spouses with them. Kakashi had hoped that he would be more like his Minato-sensei, but evidently that wasn't to be.

She was leaving tonight.

The bottle was flung to the ground. He heard the shatter, and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand.

She had stayed after the first kidnapping. Even after the second. And the time when he was surrounded by an army with only five genin shinobi with him. And then the time rumors of his committed adultery with Sakura.

She had stood by him, never wavering.

She was leaving tonight.

Moron. He had to admit his stupidity to believe she had no breaking point. He had let himself believe that she was unbreakable. That she was infinitely calm, infinitely strong within. Moron. Moron Kakashi.

But when they came in the darkest winter night and took her away, when they raped her repeatedly while she was with child until their daughter was lost to them, when they displayed her naked and battered body before the entire court and let her be jeered and mocked at, when they let her view how many Konoha shinobi died to rescue her for their Hokage's sake...

He was not allowed out of the village. He had to face down the entire council. He did. He charged the castle, met the army head-on before Naruto and Shikamaru directed the ANBU and jounins in to assist him.

She had not cried, merely smiled weakly. "I knew you'd come. I'm sorry for the bother."

She was sorry for the bother. He had wanted to raze the country to the ground.

She was unable to sleep properly for the rest of the season, always waking in terror, always screaming, always shaking and then folding into herself.

And she had not made a scene when he decided on a divorce, late that spring. But later that night she had to be rushed to hospital and purged of the pills she had taken.

He had waited for twenty-seven hours before she was allowed visitors.

And she had said apologetically, "I'm sorry for the bother. I love you. I'll leave next month."

She was leaving tonight, so that she could have a better life.

The carriage was at the gate.

It was leaving the gate.

The gate swung close.

And soon she would no longer be a member of Konoha.

He got off the tree and tugged his mask on.

The carriage stopped. Neji and Hinata hopped off and stepped aside respectfully. Kakashi inclined his head and acknowledged their deference. The two Hyuugas retreated to the shadows, giving their Hokage and his ex-wife some semblance of privacy.

She exited the carriage, her large eyes dark-ringed, her face pale but calm.


"Hey." She smiled weakly again. "You be careful now, alright?"

"Do you... do you hate me?"

She was silent for a long while. Then she spoke haltingly, "I don't. I wish I did. I wish I wished you dead. But I don't."

Kakashi swallowed. "Why not?"

"Because I understand." She leaned in and pulled his mask down until she could see his face. "You look exactly like I imagined you to look."

Before he could speak she stepped closer and kissed him. Her cheeks were dry, her lips soft. She smelled like rainy days and books. He closed his eyes and remembered her beauty on their wedding day.

Then they separated. She tugged his mask back over his face.

She didn't look at him again as she reentered the carriage.

He didn't look at the carriage as it wound its way out of Konoha lands.

She had left.

The moon hung dreaming at its zenith, just a shade away from full.