Team Seven

Disclaimer: Never owned 'Naruto', never will…

Team Seven was never meant to be.

But through some act of Kami, or Shinigami…they existed.

Hatake Kakashi was one of those shinobi who craved the darkness. Who craved the death of the battlefield and the adrenaline of life flashing before their eyes. He was one of the shinobi who loved the long assassinations, the stake-outs, the blood and sweat and the work.

Copy nin Kakashi is a great shinobi. He is a flawless killer. But the one thing Kakashi can not be and one thing he will never be…is a teacher. He can be an assassin, a commander, a shinobi. But he can never be a nurturer. He is meant to cut down, not raise up.

Hatake Kakashi was never meant to be a jounin instructor.

One thing he had perfected throughout years in ANBU, was burying himself in a workload. He could disappear. And the only time you could catch him was when he was back in Konoha for a shower and a few hours of sleep.

When Kakashi is injured on a mission, he is bedridden for a week. In that week, three Konoha jounin slated to be instructors are killed. With no jounin with enough experience on call, the Sandaime Hokage makes a choice that will change history.

Sarutobi Asuma, Maito Gai and Hatake Kakashi are chosen as three new jounin instructors. It is because of an unfortunate injury, that Kakashi is pulled from ANBU and into retirement. He fails every one of his teams for the next three years. Until Team Seven.

It is a choice that the Sandaime Hokage doesn't live long enough to regret.

So many years ago, Morino Ibiki had the dubious pleasure of being Uchiha Sasuke's personal psychologist.

At the time, Ibiki was given a choice. And it was his choice alone. All he had to do was mark a little box, scratch red ink over a tiny square and he could prevent Sasuke from being a ninja due to his mental trauma and stress. When given the choice, Ibiki thought for a long time. There were quite a few mentally unstable shinobi in Konoha, each with a unique skill set, him being one of them. It wasn't right to prevent someone from being a ninja like this. So Ibiki thought nothing of it as he left the small box blank and went to deliver his paperwork to the Hokage.

Years later, when the world would be on the brink of war, he would look back and regret his decision.

The Haruno's were wealthy merchants. They had monopolies set up around the elemental nations, laying claim to anything they could profit off.

With money comes power and with power comes respect. Both draw enemies.

Competition in the form of the Gato Corporation comes knocking at the Haruno's door.

In the span of three days, in a series of systematic hits, the Haruno family is killed one by one. Sakura's mother is just a little girl then and the remnants of the family seek refuge in Konoha, where they tell stories to their children about shinobi and their travesties and atrocities and their glory and their fame.

Sakura listens to all of these stories. But the child in her tunes out everything wrong with being a ninja, a killer. She focuses on the glory and the fame and the praise. Her mindset never changes. And then she meets Uchiha Sasuke.

As they say, the rest is history.

Uzumaki Naruto was born be to be ninja.

His father and mother made sure of that.

If it was anyone, it was him that was supposed to be a shinobi. He was born with a demon fox in his belly, the genes of one of the greatest shinobi to ever grace the earth and he developed the determination to succeed. He was supposed to be an amazing shinobi, a killer of unparalleled talent, a protector. But it is because of these benefits, that his growth is stunted. Stunted from his birth. People fear the Kyuubi but fear the Yellow Flash even more. Naruto cannot become powerful. And so all he is left with is his determination.

Uzumaki Naruto becomes a ninja, loud, brash and naieve, pushing past adversity and achieving his goals.

But it isn't the way his father, the Yondaime Hokage, envisioned.

Team Seven was never supposed to exist.

But exist they did.

Like a faulty sword, one with cracks and points of poor craftsmanship, they never were very functional. Deadly but never efficient.

A chronically tardy, porn-reading teacher. An overly obsessed, rabid, loud fan girl. A broody, dark, arrogant prodigy. A depressed, high strung demon container. Throw all these together, a healthy glass of hate, a pinch of apathy and a shot of love…and you have a concoction ready to give anyone a hangover that will last for months.

To say the least, not the makings of a great team. Not at all.

And everyone knew it. They knew it would crash and burn. They knew what happened to teams like this. And they all hoped it wouldn't turn out that way.

The Hokage knew it would be a failure if things didn't come together. He thought that loud blonde kid would be the one to bring it all in. The unmovable will and the unstoppable force that was Uzumaki Naruto. But one person could only handle so much.

Old Sarutobi hoped things would work out under his watchful eye. He didn't factor in the fact that he would be murdered before Naruto even became a chuunin. Nor did he factor in Kakashi's inability to block out the ghosts of his past. And he would have never thought, in all the years of his life, that Naruto could be broken.

Kakashi knew it wouldn't work. Not because he didn't want it to, in fact, quite the opposite. He wanted it to work. And that's the reason it never would. To have his best friends last kin, his sensei's son…it was a dream come true for him. But then he saw ghosts. And they came back and spoke to him and haunted him and drove him crazy. And then he knew he would screw it all up. One way or another. A dream that would morph into a nightmare. Like it always did.

Team Seven's growth was stunted from the start.

There was no harmony. There was no teamwork. None of the things Kakashi wanted were there. And none of the things he saw for a few fleeting moments with his sharingan, stuck around long enough to bloom.

And when Kakashi realizes this, down the road when his team is shattered and broken…he cries.

Team Seven was never meant to be.

Sakura thought it would work. After all, being with her beloved Sasuke would cover up the mess she saw in Naruto. Being with Sasuke would make things bearable. Being with Sasuke would ensure that she would survive. Being with Sasuke was a dream come true…

Sasuke didn't care if it would work or not. He hated both of them. Naruto and Sakura. And he mildly respected Kakashi, only because he was in a position to teach him more. That's it. Sasuke never cared for much. At some point…he might've. Down the road, when the remainders of Team Seven discovered the requirements to achieve the mangekyou sharingan…they wondered. At some point, Sasuke must've cared for his teammates…because by the time they split and Team Seven was no more, Sasuke didn't have a best friend he could kill.

Naruto told everyone he wanted it to work. Inside, he wasn't sure if he really did. From the moment his team left him tied to a tree stump, he knew it wasn't going to. The seeds of doubt are planted. They continue to grow, past Kakashi's negligence, past Sakura beating him and past Sasuke punching an electric charged fist through his chest. The seeds of doubt grow. He isn't sure if this is how he wants it to be…

Years later when the rapidly cooling, dead corpse of his now possessed ex teammate slips from his hands, into a bed with a familiar sleeping pink haired kunoichi, Naruto will realize that this is exactly how he wanted it.

When war has subsided and people have died for countless unknown reasons…Kakashi is the last one left.

Team Seven is no more.

He is old for a shinobi. Reaching his sixties. He is tired. He is weary. And he is full of regrets.

Team Seven is dead.

Uchiha Sasuke is lost during the war. He never achieves his dream of killing Itachi, his brother. His lust for power and his lack of mental stability turn him to Orochimaru. Three years after the last "loyal" Uchiha defects and lends himself to Sound's cause, the Snake Sannin has a new body. And its blood red sharingan are a testament to the insanity of a teenage boy.

Haruno Sakura dies a shinobi's death. A traitor's death, but a shinobi's none the less. By Kakashi's own hand. Two years after Uchiha Sasuke defects to Sound, Sakura becomes fed up with the lack of effort to retrieve her "Sasuke-kun." While Naruto is away on his training trip with Jiraiya, Sakura abandons Konoha in its time of need. She flees to Sound, seeking Sasuke.

Kakashi has no heart for traitors. Six years later he feels no guilt when his raikiri strikes through the heart of a woefully unprepared Sakura on some obscure battlefield. He feels enough pity to bury her among the other corpses of Sound nin.

Naruto disappears after the death of Jiraiya. Against the wishes of a quickly dissolved council, Tsunade never has the heart to mark him as a missing nin. It proves to be beneficial. In the span of a decade, Akatsuki is erased from the planet, starting with Uchiha Itachi. Orochimaru is killed during that time, his two stolen sharingan eyes plucked out, leaving only empty sockets.

Uzumaki Naruto leaves his calling card after each kill, a small nine tailed fox burned into the cheek of each victim.

The war ends.

The blonde is never heard from again in the shinobi world.

Team Seven is gone.

Kakashi is old. Kakashi is retired. Kakashi is done. Kakashi is dying.

And as he stares at a picture from long ago, when things were simple, three genin and a jounin, when he could actually smile, he thinks.

They were never meant…

He thinks. And he listens. Kakashi hears the rush of air as the door opens, smells the familiar scent entering his sterile apartment. He stares at his picture.

"I didn't think you'd come…"

The empty chair beside him is filled. He doesn't need to look over to know who it is but he does anyway. To see his face one more time.

And as he lays one eye on the angular face and sharp blue eyes of a man thought dead, he thinks. Some words are spoken, but he is too gone to hear them. He feels a warm hand against his own cold one. It is the last thing he feels before the calming grasp of death.

'He looks so much like his father…'

Team Seven was never meant to be.

But Naruto still cries as he watches his former teacher die alone and full of regret at the age of fifty seven.