The silver haired 14 year old lay impatiently on the hospital bed. Apparently, they had run out of rooms in his usual area so they had moved him to most aggravating of all places: the hallway. Why anyone would put a big, bulky bed in the middle of a hallway was beyond him. Especially when people kept running around screaming and acting like everything was going wrong and right at the same time. It was chaos. Sleep was impossible and everything was so loud. People were rushing by as though he wasn't even there.

With another rueful sigh, Kakashi turned to the room beside him. They had placed him right across from another ninja and he had not a clue as to what had happened to cause the family such grief. All he knew was that when the mother walked in with a peculiar young child, he had been unable to pry his mind and interest from everything behind the doors. Without a doubt they were an interesting family. He could hardly look away. At first it was shock. He could have sworn that that little baby had pink hair. The child was always wide awake and normally stared straight at him with bubblegum hair and dark eyes that gleamed green. The mother came back every day and left every night crying. Still the baby only stared at him. She may as well have talked to him every day. Their silent communications had become a strange comfort to him.

Before he had been told to leave, the mother had stopped coming and the man had been removed. He knew that day that a new name of a brave soldier had been carved carefully into the memorial stone.

6 years later…

The same silver haired boy sat depressed at a bar early in the night. He had intended to do nothing more than this far into the morning until he saw just a flash of pink go pass the door and curiosity pulled quietly at his mind. Where had he seen that certain shade of pink before? Paying his bill and stumbling from the stool, he managed to find his way outside and in the general direction he had seen the unusual color going. With blurred eyes and sloppy steps, he searched the crowds. He had almost given up hope before he reached the children's park. It was there that he found her.

She was sitting on a bench, holding a small scarecrow doll. At the irony of such a thing, Kakashi found himself letting out a grin. That same grin quickly disappeared when he saw the tears falling steadily down the little girl's face. Concerned, albeit a little unfocused, he leaned down to ask her what was wrong ; it was that precise moment that the world chose to tip. So he ended up flat on his back with the wind knocked unceremoniously from his lungs. He was wholly unwilling to attempt to stand again. Instead he chose to speak to the small girl from his place on the ground.

"Do you mind if I lay here?" He pointed to his uncomfortable resting area on the gravelly, shifting rocks of the playground and looked out of the corner of his eye to see her shaking her head no. "Ok. Now, what would be the matter with you, little girl?" The child had the most peculiar smell. She smelled like candies and fruits and innocence. For a jaded ninja such as himself, it was a long ago memory for anyone to remind him of innocence.

"Well… Mommy says I can't go to the daughter-father dance at the Academy." There was a renewed strength in her sniffles. "Mommy said Daddy is gone and he won't be able to come back. Are you a daddy?" This had obviously been a big issue for the young girl. Too young to realize her loss and too old to be unaffected, this little pink one was in the place where few tread and none heal.

"No. I'm not. But I know many daddies."

"It's ok. I mean, I don't know him. Mommy just gets really sad when she talks about him. He died."

"I lost my daddy too you know."

"I'm sorry. Why do people lose daddies?"

"I don't know. Cause life has to be a real pain I guess." She just looked at him as he realized the depressing state of his night. Why did even children have to remind him that his life sucks and that even their lives suck and everything is doomed to failure? Then the strangest question from the little girl pierced through his brooding questions and spotlighted her innocence once again.

"Can you see go to the dance with me?" A look of true and genuine wonder adorned her eyes. He found himself laughing. If he was honest, it wasn't laughing… It was giggling. A pink haired child had just made him giggle.

"No." The disappointment on her face almost made him change his mind. She had no understanding of how it would look for him to show up with her at the dance. She had absolutely no concern about social etiquettes at all. Children were true wonders.

"I understand. I wouldn't want to go with a big forehead like me either."

"That's not it at all! You are a beautiful little girl. Any daddy would be lucky to have a daughter as kind and lovely as you." He smiled at her and hoped his sincerity showed.

From the distance he heard a woman's voice yelling out "Sakura!" in a very frightened tone. The little girl shifted uncomfortably and he realized this was probably the ideal time to leave. No mother would quite be happy to walk up to her daughter in deep conversation with a battle hardened ninja. And no hokage would be quite understanding when he tried to explain that he had been intrigued by her pink hair and complete abandon for rules. He'd only just stood to leave when he felt a small hand pull at his sweats.

"Yes?" All she did was hold up a pretty red scarf. She had a smile on her face and he knew she meant for him to keep it. "For me?" She nodded and he gingerly took it. "Thank you. I'll keep this forever." Folding it carefully, he put it in his pouch. Then little Sakura ran off to her mother and Kakashi simply poofed away home.

He had unfolded the scarf and stared at it. Embroidered in very small black letters in the corner was the name 'Sakura Haruno'. It was warm in his hand and even though it was too thin to really be much use, he couldn't deny that his entire body just felt better for holding it. Without word or extended thought on the subject, he tore off the little girl's name and wrapped the scarf around his neck. Somehow, the memory of his father seemed a lot less scary when he could tie it to the little girl asking him to escort her as her daddy replacement.

6 years later…

Kakashi had surprisingly managed to stay alive. Memories of little pink haired babies and scarves had packed themselves safely into a drawer at home where no one could see. Not even he delved deep enough into those times to retrieve even the good memories. After the war and all that it had caused, the broken man simply did not have a desire to see all the death anymore on the field. With sympathy the Hokage had released him of his ANBU duties with the agreement that he would teach. Which is how he had managed to find himself here, trying profusely to ignore these two boys that would simply not shut up. He had been here for an hour or two, curious about his new students. One was said to have the most unusual pink hair and he couldn't quite remember why that made him bothered so much. Images of red scarves and dark green eyes danced right on the edge of his conscience, threatening to spill over to real memories, just out of his reach.

He was on the verge of giving up on this mystery student's appearance when she walked in. Honestly, she was nothing special aside from that long pink hair and those dark green eyes. She was simply a rather plain looking twelve year old girl. But something about that pink hair intrigued him. So he stayed and observed her. She had an annoying obsession with the Uchiha and deep revulsion for the blond headed Uzimaki. Her voice sqeaked horribly when she tried to sound cute but had volumes more maturity when she didn't think anyone actually cared. And her entire demeanor changed whenever she talked about being a ninja and all that went along with it. She might just be another great warrior if she was truly as interested as she seemed.

And so with no further delays, Kakashi hurriedly walked into the classroom and straight through a trap. The pink haired girl huffed at his incompetence while the other two laughed and Kakashi had to remind himself that they were all 12 and people would wonder if they came up missing.

The first time she impressed him with her ninja skills, Kakashi found he was pleasantly surprised. He watched the two boys that he had given so much credit, seen so much potential in, fail over and over. With a smirk and a nonchalant glance over her shoulder Sakura strode easily up the tree and sat content as a kitten on a high branch. Had he seen then what a greater teacher saw later, he never would have let this student slip from his grasp so quickly. And yet, maybe it was better he did.

Chunin exams…

Something had happened that Sakura wouldn't tell. Kakashi could only look at that shredded pink hair and wonder. She seemed stronger, more sure of herself and for the life of him he couldn't figure out why. Soon it was going to be her turn to fight, and aside from concerned glances to her team mates, she was cool as ice. Again he considered going over there and asking her if there was something she needed to tell him about her sudden hair cut. Again his mind convinced him that she was a big girl and could handle herself. So he sat quietly and watched. It was a decision he would always regret.

When she was paired up against Ino, Kakashi only smiled. He could be confident now. There would be no senseless beating of the poor girl. She may get out of this with only a few bumps, bruises, and a "there will be next time" speech. As the fight began, he was surprised to see the fire burn in her eyes at this blonde who he had never heard of or seen. He had never guessed that Sakura could so determined. And as the fight progressed he found himself surprised at how relentless she was. He may not have trained her well, but somehow she had turned into a decent fighter.

All had seemed lost when Ino wriggled into Sakura's mind. Nothing could have prepared anyone for what happened next. Sakura's hand had slowly inched up in a signal to give up the fight, nearly ending everything. Yet, before she could officially be considered out, the hand stopped. Sakura's face twisted. Those green eyes refocused. All of the sudden she was back and before anyone knew what to do, both girls were out cold. But everyone knew the truth. Sakura had won. She had beat Ino's only trick. She had become special in that moment. She had a name, a purpose, she became the girl with potential instead of just the girl with a dream.

When Kakashi went to gather up his student, he only smiled. She may be the weakest of his team, but she was his favorite. For reasons like this, for moments like these, she would always be his number one favorite. He had always seen the danger that lurked just under her; the tiger that hid just underneath her kitten façade. Asuma had seen it too. There was no missing the look of surprise and understanding that he had shot Kakashi from across the arena.

Unfortunately, he would later find, his favorite would have to wait. His other two students were begging his attention in the most grievous ways. One was quickly being over taken by a sick man with sick habits and nothing but death and cruelty in his sights. The other was being consumed from the inside out by a power he didn't understand and the inevitable betrayal of his poor friend. With these overwhelming circumstances, he hardly had time to get the girl out of his arms, let alone congratulate her. It had never entered his mind that her life was just as tangled and mangled as theirs. As always there was no help for the Haruno.

It backfired on him when she was nearly killed in the cross fires of Naruto's and Sasuke's death match. Had he been paying more attention the her he would have known that the calm determination had slipped and that she had noticed much more about his team than he had. Had he paid attention to any of them as much as he should he would have seen the wounds and the fissures and may have prevented everything. But even after he saved her from impending doom he didn't listen. He had yet to save her from the shattering of every little piece of her heart.

Sasuke left that night; Sakura looked on helplessly. And though she fought him the best she could -though she begged- she woke up alone on that bench. And Kakashi could only stare at her and wish he had a clue what happened. But beyond 'He left,' he really couldn't get much from her. And surprisingly, no one else could either. Everyone had expected Sakura to fold and break and cry for hours. They expected to hear in detail everything that had happened between her and Sasuke when he left and for her to sit at home and wait on him. One should always expect the unexpected, however: especially when it concerned the Haruno girl.

The day Naruto began his training and ran off was the day her eyes began to turn to cold. That was the day he decided that maybe he should start paying more attention to her. It was also right around the time that Tsunade discovered that Sakura was a rare jewel to behold. Especially when it came to her expertise: chakra control. She was whisked away before he had barely scratched the surface of her pains.

So Kakashi knew and did not know this girl. He understood in the deepest areas who she was but never could see all the things she had become. Something about those pink strands comforted him and though he knew somewhere in him why, there was nothing to ever remind him. Until the fateful day when Tsunade decided it was time for Sakura to kick it up a notch. And that Kakashi should be the one to make sure she knew how. He would finally be a teacher to his most abandoned student. And he was entirely unprepared.

Present day…

Despite all his training and all his personal policies that screamed against it, Kakashi sat in a bar tonight. He had ordered a simple drink, icy and ready to gulp down. It would chase his fear away and make him all warm and fuzzy and it would ruin him in the morning when he had a hangover the size of Konoha. It was also almost an hour later and the drink was now lukewarm and filled to the brink. Apparently he had bought the thing just to stare at it. Every attempt he had to pull the glass to his lips and take a long, soothing sip had ended in a flash of pink and a tinkling laugh stomping its way through his mind. Curse Tsunade and her infallible logic. Curse his mutinous brain and his racing heart. Curse his very, very talented and dangerous student.

He had just repeated the cycle of lifting and dropping his drink when the stool beside him was suddenly not empty anymore. He was going to miss that empty stool. It had been replaced with his own personal hell.

"I see you're already doing something reckless." The unexplainable anger was there again and he still found no way to evade it. "Seriously, do you have to drink before a mission?" She had ordered a milk and immediately started what he was sure was only a slightly hypocritical tirade. She was never this snappy. Where had that adoring student run off too? He really should find her again.

"Well, if you must know, I apparently only bought it to stare at. I haven't drank a single sip. I've tried. I guess my mind committed mutiny." Just like everyone else…

"Why are you even trying to drink anyway?" Her eyes were narrowed and her hand was clenched tightly around her milk, which she had not touched.

"Why did you come to a bar without any intentions of drinking?"

The two stared at the other, neither wanting to answer their questions.

"I'm not happy about this you know."

"I'd have never guessed." He quirked his brow at her. Without another word, he got up and turned to leave. A hand tugging on his sleeve made him falter.

"Kakashi, I'm sorry. I'm nervous about this mission." The cold look in her green eyes was gone, and in its place was fear. He didn't know which he preferred; so, he settled on not liking either. "Can we talk?"

"I'm sorry, Sakura. You know I can't discuss this mission with you in public." At her stricken expression, he continued. "Why don't we go to the training grounds and talk about it?" A concerned eye crinkle is all that told her his face had even changed.

"No. I'll be fine, really." The stony glint in her eyes was back in place and she shut herself off.

Seeing that he was not and would not be getting any where, he left, heading home. By the time his head hit his pillow, Sakura was on her fifth 'whatever he had' and happily glaring at any person who tried to ask her if every thing was ok.

The next morning Kakashi and Sakura met at the edge of town, both dressed and ready to go. It was an altogether tense beginning to what both hoped would be a quick and clean mission. But one knew, and the other guessed, that nothing would be quick or clean about this particular mission. The details were too gruesome and the stakes too high for this to be anything but a blood and gore battle. Both of them had been on missions like this before, and most often together, so neither were new to this situation.

In a small village just on the outside of the Hidden Mist, an increasingly horrific set of murders had accumulated. Having come to distrust their closest help, and not wanting to stray from those that had proven trustworthy over time, the village had asked for Konaha's smallest and quickest army. In turn they received Sakura and Kakashi. They were told to pass through every other village quickly and discreetly, to acquire all knowledge they could of the killings, and to allow for Sakura as bait and have Kakashi save the day. It was the last part that had Sakura shaking in her boots. Not many things ever got Sakura afraid.

She had played bait before. Nearly dying as she lured the enemy out into the open was nothing new. It had never bothered her. But this particular mission, this particular time, she did not understand how it had not already killed her. How could anyone ask her to possibly die this way? They had to have read the files. They had to have known her history. She'd had nightmares and visions and nearly screamed in frustration trying to wiggle her way away from this mission. Tsunade had stood obstinately in front of her with a unyielding refusal to remove her from the mission. She said that Sakura would feel proud to have her revenge and would benefit from facing this fear. Besides, they did not have a better qualified candidate.

"So, Sakura. I heard you got slammed last night." The words came out without a drop of sarcasm, and for that she gave him props. Props he lost as soon as she looked at him to find his eyes smirking at her.

"I have my own reasons." Please don't ask.

"I believe I at least deserve an explanation."

"Shut it, Kakashi." Her head was pounding and she just wanted to stop everything and leave. The last thing she needed was a guilt trip. Didn't he realize the struggles she was having?

"Come on now Sakura. You know as well as I do that its against protocol to get drunk before or during a mission. You're putting my life in danger as well as your life. To have a hangover puts you at a disadvantage to your possible opponent." She knew that miniscule, aggravating smirk in his eyes had not yet realized that it was entirely uninvited.

"I know the risks Kakashi. I'll be fine." She glared at him, daring him to continue.

"Nagging at your team leader about the dangers of drinking and then consequently getting slobbering drunk does not seem like you know the risks or that you're fine. What is it Sakura?" Her glare subsided as she saw that it was no longer a smirk in his eyes, but genuine concern.

"Shut it, Kakashi." Her voice dripped venom, so he decided to drop the issue. All personal feelings aside, Kakashi knew Sakura. She'd never drank before a mission before. As a medic and a ninja, she knew more than most that the dangers of fighting while impaired, either while drunk or hung over, were more severe than most would ever realize.

At noon they decided to take a break by a small flowing creek. Both were hot and thirsty and neither of their moods had alleviated any. They were deep enough into the woods that Konoha would not be quick to return to. They were only about a day or so from the village they were supposed to stop at first. After a quick stop to restock their canteens and possibly get a quick bite they would continue on their quietly angry and entirely tense walk. At least, that's what would have happened. Kakashi wished very much that's what did happened.

Everything changed while they were filling up their canteens. Nothing had seemed out of the usual, no one had said or done anything to provoke it. But that did not prevent anything. Kakashi very nearly turned around and went home to turn in all his shinobi things and sit quietly at home for the rest of his life and never face his favorite student again.

Sakura had been filling her last container when Kakashi had returned from bladder relief. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and her clothes were rolled and tucked and tied to cover as little as decent while she cooled off. He had just sat to fill his own canteen when it hit him like a truck. It was sweet and tangy and thick like a blanket. It was her smell. And Kakashi was enthralled.

With a name like Sakura, and hair to match, he had expected her to smell flowery. Or light and fluffy and pink. What he didn't expect was a smell that reminded him of strawberry wine and chocolate and tussles in the sheets. She smelled like sweat and candy and fruit with an underlying tang that was all her own. It smelled familiar and completely and totally different all at the same time. Guilt consumed him. He wanted to lean over and lick her just to see if she tasted so good. Since when has a person ever smelled so absolutely, wonderfully, delectably delicious? Wasn't that a sin of some sort? Wasn't it a sin to like the very smell of his 19 year old student?

She seemed blissfully unaware of how amazing she had suddenly become to him. Innocently, she continued her task without so much as a coy smirk or a giggle at how suddenly aware he was of her. His mind had suddenly stopped. Though his hands still filled and his eyes still saw, his mind had quit on him. He was still filling his canteen when a small finger poked him peculiarly close to his eyeball. Had he been anyone else he may have jumped a mile high. Of course he was the Copy-Nin of Konoha. So he only jumped a little.

"Are you ready?" Having his mind thrown back at him made him realize that the canteen he had been filling for nearly ten minutes now was continuously spilling out into the water. He could only hope she had not noticed. A glance at her told him she had, but he knew she'd respect him enough not to pry. He also knew she'd never connect his odd behavior to her. She wasn't conceited enough to recognize a grown man ogling her. Hopefully.

"Yeah, sure. Just filling up with the good stuff." With an eye crinkle and a small salute, he gathered his supplies and headed back out. He may have headed the wrong direction, but he headed out nonetheless. It took him almost a full minute to recognize his mistake.

"Um, Kakashi, I think we're supposed to go this way." She pointed to the opposite direction, a concerned look on her eyes. "You didn't eat anything while you were out there did you? I mean, considering how experienced you are, I wouldn't have expected you to, but you're acting a little strange. I know that sometimes even ninjas make mistakes when they get curious or something catches their eye or-" A finger was placed silently on her mouth as Kakashi walked by and anger burned her face red as he simply said:

"Shut it, Sakura."

"Well, I guess you can just suffer then." With a huff she crossed her arms, intent to stay silent forever.

"No. And that means you'd have to complete the mission alone and lie to everyone Sakura. I don't peg you as the type." He saw her hands fall to her sides and her face fall in shock.

The words 'complete the mission alone' had her staggering and so she didn't press the issue any further. "Jerk."

Ignoring her, but not wanting the conversation to end, lest his mind be free to wander towards fruits and candies, Kakashi asked the only question that seemed to hold any potential. "So, what has you nervous about the mission?"

"I'm not nervous."

"I see. So why did you tell me last night that you were?" He glanced at her and knew this was the wrong thing to do. His heart thumped wildly in his chest at the sight of her eyes downcast and her hands twining. She bit her lip just slightly.

"I don't see how it's any of your business." Her voice was quiet and her cheeks were red.

"I think it is. If it endangers my life, or the mission, I should know." He gave her a pointed look even as he tried to make his voice more tender.

"This particular mission hit's a little too close to home. It's not like I can't do it. I specialize in recognizing and overcoming mental attacks."

"And so you're nervous because your especially qualified for the job? That's ridiculous, Sakura." An eye crinkle told her he was smiling. That didn't help the anger that flared in her chest. "I may not have been much of a teacher-"

"You're right. You weren't. You didn't teach me anything. I don't believe you've done anything but ignore me as a student." It had burst forth and there had been nothing she could do to stop it. "So why care now?"

"… But you can trust me Sakura. I can't reverse what I've done, but you can trust me." His voice was small and soft and she knew he told the truth. As quickly as it had bubbled up, her anger cooled.

"Ok. But I can't tell you right now." Her eyes had shot to the right of him, staring at the small, tell-tale tip of a sandal between the leaves. "We have a listener." Quick as ever to action, Sakura was already bounding towards the offender. There was no mistaking the way her shoulders had slackened and the color in her face had returned in her relief.

Kakashi followed her to see the blue in the green. Surely the eavesdropper knew that he had been spotted. Why did he linger, unmoving? The foot was placed awkwardly, as if it did not support the weight of a grown ninja on the tree, but simply hung limply above it. Something was wrong here. And why had there been no chakra signal? Did he travel alone? Closing his eyes, Kakashi pushed further into his surroundings with his chakra, searching for the lightest trace of this man who did not belong. No one could completely remove that signature on their own. He could sense the remnants of a jutsu, though he could tell it was old and inactive. Beyond that there was the absence of anything alive. No chakra, no life signal… It could only mean…

Before he could tell Sakura, she had already began to cut down the fallen ninja. He had been strung up by a handmade rope, all limbs tied to a separate branch on the tree.

Apparently some curious forest animal had gnawed through the knots that held this foot up, and so it gave the illusion that he had been lazily standing on the branch. Upon further inspection, they found that he had been thoroughly drenched and stuffed with all the smells of the forest so as to not draw attention to the stench of rotting flesh. His eyes had been gouged out, his stomach removed. This appeared to not be the cause of his death however. The telling signs of a genjutsu were relevant in the panic marks that graced nearly every inch of his body. This was the jutsu that Kakashi had sensed traces of before he had known without doubt that the unfortunate soldier was dead. There was no telling how many of those marks were from his panicked self attack or how many were from hungry forest animals. He appeared to have been up there for a while, a week at least. At some point the forest covering had probably not been enough to mask his smell, but when no one had come by to discover him, even that powerful of a stench would have reached equilibrium and faded. It was helped along by the devouring of his softer flesh.

The empty eye sockets were surrounded in scratches and his nails were broken and bloody. His jaw had popped in what looked like a terrified scream taken too far. Blood stains trickled from his nose, and his wrists had dark swollen bruises from his struggle against the ropes. Apparently the illusion had continued after he had been tied up. Their murderer had struck violently again. The man before him had all the echoing characteristics of the pictures they had been given by Tsunade. It seemed her warnings to watch for any new victims along the way had not been as pointless as it had seemed. It took an arrogant killer to leave his victims lying around to feed their forest friends. How many others had gone unnoticed? How could someone so uncontrolled manage to learn and conquer such a horrific weapon and not succumb to it himself?

Kakashi had just finished up taking notes on the body when he turned to ask Sakura what she thought. It did not take much to realize that Sakura was not ok. Something was terribly wrong. Her skin was pale and her lips quivered. Her eyes seemed far off and distant, as if some memory had wrapped itself around her mind and would not let go. Her body shook just slightly, growing more urgent at every passing second. Her forehead had already broken out in a cold sweat as quick, shallow breaths made her chest rise and fall unevenly, her knees beginning to buckle as she promptly began to hyperventilate. With a curse Kakashi ran towards her, catching her just in time enough to break her fall. Her eyes remained far away as he dragged her back to her feet by her shoulders. Her eyelids drooped heavily and he knew it was just a matter of time before she entirely passed out. With an initial check to see if she had possibly picked up on the genjutsu residue that may have clung to her from what was used on the body of the unknown man, he tried to move her in a more manageable position. Seeing that she was clear, he collapsed with her onto the forest floor and worked frantically to calm her down. The tips of her fingers were already going white and the rosy color of her lips was beginning to seep away. Her breathing was slowing already. He knew her blood was all trying to move to her core and he did not see the irony in his medic nin dying of a panic attack.

"Sakura? Sakura! Come on girl, snap out of it. It's just a dead body. We've seen plenty of these. Sakura!" Her eyes had flickered to the back of her head and he could tell she was slipping into unconsciousness. Picking her up like a mother picks up a babe, he cradled her head on his shoulder. "Shhh… Sakura, come on now. It'll be alright. Snap out of it girl. Shhh…" His hand wove through her hair and gently rubbed her scalp in an attempt to soothe her. "Shhh…" Her body wasn't as small as it should have been for this position, and he found her rather difficult to hold without it feeling awkward. Shoulders were too high for hands, hands were too low. Unfortunately, once she had realized he was providing her with an anchor, she clamped her legs and arms around him like a vice. For a girl with the strength to shatter full grown trees this was not at all comfortable. He had to fight for each breath. He remained unaltered in his attempts to help her.

After a short while he felt her heart rate return to normal and her lips no longer looked like they belonged to a ghost. Color seemed to be flooding her body as oxygen returned to all her limbs. Her mouth twitched as she started to come to. With each of her little movements her scent swelled and Kakashi felt the stress of the situation crash onto his shoulders. A small groan of relief escape him as her eyes blinked slowly open and her grip on him loosened. His dark eye dropped closed as he inhaled her sweetness, only made stronger by the panic that had overwhelmed her. He sat against the dead man's tree with her wrapped around his torso and brought his other hand to stroke her back. His cooing had never stopped, but it had lost all thought behind it. His head had began to spin under her intoxicating presence and his relief that she was fine. Fingers that endlessly tangled in pink locks had become alive at how soft and smooth and delicate each strand felt against them. Tears fell silently down her cheeks before she buried her face in his shirt and cried deeply. The hair on his neck had raised as her hiccupping breaths slowly turned to the slow, shaky sighs that ran into his flesh with innocent mind numbing abilities. She relaxed and let her body fall slowly further into his lap. So far gone was he, that it took him a long time to realize she had finally stopped crying and had started moving her hands in a loose hug around his torso. This realization snapped him out of his reverie and he was once again the supportive teacher she probably thought he was at the moment.

"Sakura, tell me what happened." He felt a small movement against his color bone that he recognized to be her head shaking a very furious no. Weak fingers that only moments before had been white and limp clenched the fabric at the back of his shirt. "I believe this falls under jeopardizing our lives and the mission. And scaring me half to death. Tell me." A more hesitant no this time. Only the situation made him pull out his next card. It was the lowest of all low blows.

"I'll have to take you home Sakura… If you're going to react like this at just a victim, I can't imagine you'll do any better against the real deal." She held her breath and Kakashi knew he had won. "It's ok. I won't tell anyone." Even before the words left his lips he knew that he would keep his promise.

His collar bone felt abandoned as her head pulled back. It was all he could do not to gasp as he looked into the eyes he had missed for so long. Instead of icy emeralds that had possessed his loving student recently, he was looking into the passionate, afraid and emotional absolutely beautiful green eyes of the Sakura he knew. Her hands dragged forward from his back and this time there was no holding his sharp intake of breath. She didn't notice as she wrapped her arms around her stomach and looked away, biting her lip absently.

"Why do daddy's have to die?"