Disclaimer: Naruto is Kishimoto's. I own nothing.


It's 9AM, I've been up all night. The muses won't leave me alone, so this was typed out. Blech. Lemme sleep, dammit!


It was late. Too late for anyone to be out, but here he was. Working on some wild, half-cocked theory that this was the road his student would take. Working on a prayer and some luck. He really hoped that he was right, becuase if he wasn't, he'd lose Sasuke for good. Kakashi sighed, looking up at the full moon as footsteps sounded behind him; the gait so recognizablely Sasuke's. After spending months with the boy, he just knew.

"You should be in bed, Sasuke. We have a mission tomorrow." He looked at the boy over his shoulder after a minute of silence, not at all sure what he would see there. But there wasn't much to see. Sasuke's head was down, his bangs hiding his eyes as his hands clenched into fists.

"Why...why did it have to be you?" Kakashi shrugged, now turning to face his wayward student.

"Better me then Sakura. You wouldn't have listened to her, or to Naruto." Sasuke clicked his tongue, looking away like a stubborn child. He was, really. Stubborn. He'd stopped being a child when the massacre happened.

"And who says I'll listen to you?" Kakashi's visible eye crinkled in a smile, and he shrugged again.

"No one. Just a hunch." Now Sasuke looked back at his teacher, blinking in surprise. Kakashi had never followed hunches before. So, why now? The question must have showed on his face, becuase the smile fell from Kakashi's face. He walked over to the bench that stood at the side of the path, sitting down and looking back up at the sky as he patted the spot beside him.

"Sit. We have some time before Sakura gets here. I'd like to talk before you leave." Sasuke frowned. Kakashi was putting off a vibe he'd never felt from the one-eyed Jonin before, but he was right. Sakura's chakra was melding with Naruto's somewhere in the resteraunt district, and they'd most likely be there for at least another hour. He could try to get Kakashi off his back, then leave before they even knew he was going. Still, he kept his gaurd up as he sat beside his soon to be ex-teacher. The jonin sighed, looking down at Sasuke.'

"Why? Why do you have to leave?" Sasuke clicked his tongue again. The answer was obvious.

"Power to kill Itachi for what he did to the clan." Kakashi shook his head, lightly whacking Sasuke over the head.

"Wrong. Why?" Glaring at the man as he rubbed the back of his head, Sasuke opened his mouth to speak, only to find no words would come out. He didn't have a decent answer besides power. Hand falling back to his side, the boy stared down at his sandals. Why did he have to leave? He knew the reason, but he just couldn't say it aloud. Kakashi seemed to understand this, for he looked back up at the full moon. Clouds were rolling in, and he could smell rain on the way. If Sasuke was leaving, he'd know soon. After what could have been 15 minutes or an eternity, the boy spoke again.

"So....so he doesn't kill you too." Kakashi looked at his student. To a stranger, the boy would seem pensive, perhaps contemplating what to get his girlfriend; because a boy as handsome as the Uchiha has to have a girl, right? But to Kakashi, the man who'd trained him and helped him through so many injuries, saw the tiny slump in his back as sadness.

"Say again? I didn't catch that." Now the slump left, and Sasuke jumped to his feet. He glared down at Kakashi, anger blazing in his dark eyes.

"SO HE DOESN'T KILL YOU TOO, OKAY!?" Kakashi kept a straight face as Sasuke panted, slightly spent from the sudden outburst. It seemed to have surprised the boy more then it did the man, and Kakashi sighed as he shook his head.

"Sasuke, the concern is touching, but I can handle myself. So can Naruto and Sakura. They're ninja." Sasuke's eyes narrowed, and for a moment, Kakashi feared his Sharingan would activate.

"Not against him. If he comes back, be it for Naruto or for me, you won't stand a chance. None of you will." He looked down at his feet again, fists clenching hard enough to turn all of his knuckles white.

"I can't lose anyone else, Kakashi...I have to go." He turned to leave, but Kakashi caught him by the wrist. The jonin stood, making the boy turn to face him.

"Sasuke, I can't promise you won't lose us someday...but I can promise you that you won't lose us to Itachi. If he comes back, we'll fight him with all that we have, and we'll win. You just have to have a little faith in your sensei, neh?" He smiled down at the boy, and that was the straw that broke the bridge. All the shields that Sasuke had put up around his heart, his emotions, crumbled to the ground with those simple words. His head fell forward to Kakashi's chest, the vest smelling of rust, wet dogs, and old tea. Sakura complained that Kakashi stunk and he needed baths more then his dogs, but at the moment, it was the best smell in the world to Sasuke. The hand running through his hair wasn't helping matters any, either. He was just so tired. Kakashi was a safe person, the jonin would protect him from anything that could ever think to harm him. Surrendering to sleep seemed the easiest option, but the hands tugging at his bag kept him awake for a second longer, and he could hear the mirth in Kakashi's voice.

"If I'd known my vest could put you to sleep, I'd have given you one already, Sasuke." Sasuke sleepily protested as Kakashi slipped his backpack off his shoulders and onto his own much broader ones, but he didn't protest as the jonin gently picked him up in the bridal style. He really was tired, and his head fell to the crook of Kakashi's neck. The jonin turned and started heading for the residential district, and Sasuke frowned when he turned the wrong way.

"'Kashi...wrong way..."

"Hmm?"

"Your place...not mine..." Kakashi smiled, and he did a complete about face. Sasuke had spent a few nights at Kakashi's apartment, but for him to call it home already...

It was a giant step in the right direction.


I'mma going to bed now. I MAY make a series of followups to this. MAYBE. -_- Provided Sasuke doens't end up dead in the manga. Kishi, if you do that, i'mma kill you.