No one is born bitter.

No one is born broken.

No one is born hateful.

Circumstances make it so.


They say that time answers all questions and heals all wounds, but time goes by so slowly. And how much time does it take? Time is forever; time is eternal. Eternity is still time and yet timeless. So, how much time? The clock is ticking away the seconds. Seconds become hours. Hours become days. Days become weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia, and eons. And still, certain wounds won't heal, certain questions, elude answers.

I know this desperation… Kakashi thought dazedly as he let his lips be pried open by an eager tongue. Am I going to die? He wondered, gathering his student into his arms and kissing him deeply. Sasuke's eyes stayed stubbornly shut, unlike Kakashi's had been when he'd stolen a kiss from his sensei. Then Kakashi knew it would likely be the last. Sasuke had the confidence of the young of this age- he acted as though this would happen again. Kakashi pulled his lips from the just-turned-teenaged boy's and set them to his ear.

"Do you know what you're getting into?" asked that mellowed voice. Kakashi delighted in the tremor that he could feel under his hands from his words. His tongue laved the boy's earlobe before entrapping it between his incisors. The touch of teeth had the young boy moaning softly, making Kakashi wondered what it was about him and thirteen-year-old boys. Obito, Itachi, Sasuke, and himself when he kissed Minato- they were all thirteen when things started.

Damnit, Kakashi! The phrase was so familiar by now, if he went a week without hearing it, he went into withdrawal. Things had been tense within his team for almost a week now. Sasuke ignored Naruto and Sakura both, while Sakura avoided Naruto's gaze and stole glances at Sasuke. Naruto avoided Sakura at all costs and stole glances at Sasuke as well. Kakashi sighed. This wouldn't do at all.

Kakashi had them all back to semi-normal at the end of the day.

Itachi walked home in relative silence, his eyes to the ground, lost in thought. He could still feel Sasuke's form beneath him squirming; hear his moans and the surprised, breathy whispers that Kakashi was so good at imitating. He wanted it again. Hell, he wanted to jack off to it all over again. Only Kakashi's chuckle- Kakashi's, not Sasuke's- when he'd moaned and rolled over, wrapping an arm around him, had been able to convince him to leave. Itachi sat down for a little while, tilting his head up to look at the sky. Though Sasuke- actually Sasuke, not Kakashi- would be delighted if he returned home early, his father would have more questions for him, and questions were the last thing that Itachi wanted at this point. Unwrapping the lunch that he'd forgotten to eat, he was lost again to his thoughts until a small body put fingertips to the edge of the bench. Itachi's hand shot out and closed around that neck before his body turned to look. He found a frightened looking blonde child at the end of it. He apologized first, before letting go.

"What was it you wanted?" He asked the boy. He already knew the child's name- after all, who didn't? He was the son of the fourth Hokage. He wasn't unkind, but the child still flinched and Itachi sighed. Something maternal-paternal, I mean, no matter how feminine Itachi looks we should never doubt his masculinity in that way- Something paternal in him had him handing over the rice ball in his hand to the young boy. The look on the boy's face wasn't outright greedy, or hungry, it was more like the look of a puppy that knew food was not forthcoming. He'd never seen it on Sasuke, but he'd seen it on his missions, and he was appalled that such poverty and hunger could exist for this boy in his own village of Konoha. He wrapped his arms around the boy, pulling him into his lap and handed him, bit by bit, food from his bento.

Itachi hadn't known that others besides Sasuke could give that look of utter hero worship.

Naruto struggled against Kakashi's grip, screaming at Sasuke. Breaking free- or perhaps Kakashi let him go- his arms wound around Sasuke's waist and held on tightly.

"Sasuke, you can't go. You can't, I won't let you, you can't…" his face buried in the soft material of Sasuke's shirt, into Sasuke's stomach, and Sasuke had a moment of stunned surprise. Then Naruto dragged him down to his level (and that seemed to be happening more and more often lately) and put his mouth to Sasuke's in a fierce kiss. "You won't leave me behind…" Sasuke's eyes were to Kakashi's lone observing eye. It wasn't condemning or approving. There was nothing in those eyes for his and Naruto's relationship. No pity, no pride, even no amusement. Naruto's tongue wiped all else from his mind.

Minato sighed and waited for Obito with the rest of his team.

It was a long wait.

Kakashi thought that he believed in love once. That the power of love could keep someone by your side; keep them with you forever and ever. Kakashi had that kind of naïveté once. Then his father had committed Hara-kiri. After that, Kakashi no longer had the time for futile beliefs and petty dreams that in the end would only drag him down to mediocrity. Kakashi was not mediocre.

"Hey, Sasuke!" Sakura called, and he dropped down to her level.

"What?" he asked of her.

"It was you, with Naruto that one day, wasn't it." Sakura did not flinch when Sasuke glanced up at her. Her arms were crossed; her pink hair framed her face like an un-pretty picture. Sometimes Sasuke thought Sakura could be cute. Then she opened her mouth and her personality grated like Gaara's voice.

"What?" Sasuke asked, walking over to a tree and pulling the kunai out of it. He repeated the process with the rest of the kunai.

"That was you in Naruto's bedroom, fucking him up the ass." Sasuke choked, not having expected her to be so blunt. He struggled for breath, but the expected- Sasuke-kun, are you alright? -didn't come out of her mouth. Instead, she just watched him, waiting for an answer. Finally catching his breath, he answered

"No! Hell no, It wasn't me!" Sakura's hands landed on his shoulders and shoved. Hard. He landed on his ass at the base of a tree, looking up into furious green eyes.

"You can fool Naruto-san with a genjutsu disguise, but not me." Her voice was low, and slow, and angry. "I'm not stupid, Sasuke. I got the highest marks on all the tests, and I know how to tell when someone is lying and that was definitely a lie. He's in love with you, moron. Naruto is in love with you. Subversion is not like him. Hiding, sneaking around- if he wasn't in love with you do you honestly think he'd let anyone fuck him and degrade him the way you do? He thinks you're someone else when you fuck him but you let him think of you anyway and that's the only reason you can do it! Once, I wanted to make you smile. But now…" she put her hands to his shoulders and shook him roughly. "I don't care if you ever smile, as long as Naruto goes back to normal!" Sasuke's back hit against the tree successively with the last five words. "You're not just hurting him, Sasuke, you're hurting yourself. As Kunoichi, it's my job to keep the peace." The bark of the tree was digging into his back and he tried to move away from the tree, but Sakura was much stronger than he'd thought, and his struggles amounted to nothing, as he wasn't willing to hurt her. "But there is no peace because when you make Naruto hide things, he stops being Naruto. So fix it, Sasuke. Fix it, because I want Naruto back. I want our team back. And if you don't fix it…" her knee landed in the ground between his suddenly spread legs and her eyes leveled with his. He'd never thought of Sakura as deadly or dangerous or even intimidating before, but now he did. "If you don't fix it, Sasuke, I'll fix you, you understand?" Sasuke nodded, hoping to placate Sakura's anger. She stood up and walked away from him angrily.

As Sasuke watched her back as she walked away from him, he really did have to wonder why he suddenly felt her as the equal she'd always thought she was.

Kakashi shook his head when Itachi's eyes disconnected from his own. His teammate's musing look was utterly infuriating. The trust that it had required for Kakashi to sit there and let him sift through his memories was monumental, and still, he did not know why he had chosen to submit to the Uchiha. There was no logic behind it, only instinct. But the only way that he would even remotely trust him was to know. Itachi's eyes never wavered, never showed an ounce of emotion.

"You like to look at the Sharingan when you're on top. You haven't been since Obito died." Kakashi looked away from the Uchiha. "You hate Naruto because he's proof that Minato and Kushina had sex, not because he's jinchurrikki." Amusement curved Itachi's lips.

"You are a thoroughly twisted individual." Itachi pulls his shirt over his head.

"…Want to be top?"

Sasuke blinked when Naruto pulled out his bento box for the first time. It seems familiar to him, and he looks up at Naruto.

"Where did you get that, baka?" the insult slides off, as Naruto realizes he has less than ten seconds to find a plausible untruth. Sakura sees his momentary hesitation. Sasuke's eyes are glued to the box, and so he misses the two clues that Naruto is lying.

"I found it when I was younger." Naruto says, because he certainly can't tell him the truth- Your brother gave it to me when I was younger the last day I ever saw him. That would bring out the very worst response possible in Sasuke, Naruto knows. Sasuke gave an inarticulate sound in response, and Sakura feels like a crisis has been averted.

Sakura followed the path like a fish swimming in a sea of leaves. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, and tears tracked her pale face. She remembered an old faerie tale her mother told her, about the Kunoichi torn by her heart into two people. She'd never put much stock in the fey story, but now she felt foolish for not having paid more attention. She put a hand to her heart in an attempt to slow the beats. She trembled still. Giving up her love for Sasuke wasn't nearly as hard as going to face him. The good of the team came first, before any personal issues. And if Naruto couldn't function properly, couldn't face Sasuke with his emotions and hated her for prying in, she would change that. Because she was the only one who could, that's why! She would not be pushed aside, like the Kunoichi in her mother's story- she would not be the wild rose that died- her heart would not be contented with corrupted stars- she would change the ending to this story, even at the cost of her love. Sakura put a hand to her heart, and then wiped away the tears from her face, getting ready for the biggest bluff of her life. Seeing Sasuke, she called out to him.

"Hey, Sasuke!"

It was more than once, and it didn't mean a thing. Sometimes once isn't enough. Everyone needs to release stress.

But as Sasuke held the shaking, pleading Naruto in his arms, and looked at the sensei that he had pledged his love to, and saw Sakura leaning against a tree, waiting for his move, he buried his face into Naruto's hair and held on tightly.

"I'll stay, Naruto, I'll stay." He whispered and was amazed to find the words true. Naruto's response lapsed into incoherency, but Sasuke didn't care. Itachi would not make him anything. Itachi would not make him who he was, because, after all, his team had done that already.

Kakashi stared at Obito.

"Well?" he demanded impatiently, but was interrupted by Minato and all thoughts of his question fled his mind. Obito died on their next mission, and his answer died with him. But years later, a student like him asked the question. He got the answer.

Kakashi mused over the answer and found it similar to the question the ANBU asked of him when he completed training and finally joined.

Minato had made him everything he was, and the only cost was everything he could have been, which in the end, wasn't a real price at all.

The question asked of him in the ANBU was this: How does one remove the pain of death in oneself?

Kakashi answered as follows: There are five ways to kill the pain. One can burn the pain away with clarity of thought, One can drown the pain in the blood of one's enemies, One can bury the pain in thoughts of the future, One can let pain float away on a prayer, or One could cage the pain within one's heart and use it as a weapon.

When asked which method he used, he responded: I burn the pain away.

They let him into the ANBU without another word.

A/N: and that is the end of To Kill The Pain. I hope you enjoyed it. I realize I ended out on a much… brighter note than the first few chapters promised and there's no smut in this chapter, but that's how it worked out. I'm starting to realize that this would have really sucked if I had tried to make it a one-shot. No one would have read to the end, XD. I liked it when I had it all together, but as it's own chapter, I just might write a new one instead. Well, it is over now, and I'm going to push 'The Apocrypha' down your throats again. Go read it! I have no reviews for it, come on, people! Here's what I'll do. I'll take requests from the first three people to review any chapter of 'The Apocrypha' and say something about the story chapter or foreword read.

Also, boring? My story was boring, really? Well, sorry I wasted your time, geez.