A/N: I wrote this in honor of a good friend who lost her fiancé during the Japan earthquake/tsunami tragedy. What I have come to learn is that time does not heal pain and it doesn't ease the memory of a life so treasured and loved. Time gives us experience, and it helps to make us stronger. Alli-chan, this is for you. I love you, I miss you, and I remember. This is my way of saying that it's okay to still cry for him, it's okay to still be so in love and miss the hell out of him. It's also okay to give your heart to another that will cherish and protect it.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own.

All is Forgiven

Shadows of him danced everywhere her eyes happened to glance. He would be there along the horizon, walking towards her. Or his wavering reflection would stare back at her on the water's surface. The man was everywhere; in her thoughts, her dreams and nightmares. Just beyond her reach, he would be flickering among the shadows at every turn. He was everywhere but here in this world, for he had left her behind. The memory of him has not faded as month after month, and year after year, continue to creep by. She can still remember that playful smile that always pulled at his teasing mouth. Just thinking about his eyes looking at her with that familiar passion drove her insane with loneliness and need.

Glimpses, flashes of the man she loved with the very fierceness of the disaster that took him away constantly flitted across her vision. Hayate Gekko was gone, and there was nothing she could do to bring him back. Knowing he was gone, knowing she could never hear his voice or experience that feeling of his arms around her is what hurt the most. Missing him hurt too, oh how it hurt so badly. The ache was constant, her body numb as she went through the motions of the reality in which she lived.

Another thing that hurt was that she could never avenge his death, a life taken so coldly. This was a hurt that continued spiraling deep down into her very soul, knowing the man that took his life still walked the earth and stole breath with his lungs. She made a promise to herself, a promise to Hayate, that she would take that man's life. Yugao was a kunoichi, a very highly skilled ninja, it wouldn't be difficult for her to find a way to end Baki of Sunagakura. No it wouldn't be a difficult task, what woman wouldn't want to sever the life of a man who killed her lover? Not difficult, but it was impossible, and that was the real problem. Right after her lover's death, Suna was quickly made allies to her own village, allies of Konoha. It wasn't as though she wasn't skilled enough to make Baki's death look accidental, or as though it was an assassination success from another village, but she knew in her heart that she would never be able to carry out that promise. Baki would live, just as Hayate would remain deceased.

Where did that leave her in all this torment? It left her alone and it left her bitter.

So she did what she usually did best, threw herself into training and focused on her ninja abilities and career. Over the years, the time spent on specializing her body as a tool paid off, at lease in the career department. Yugao was considered highly favorable among her colleagues, rising to top ranks within the anbu black-ops, serving as a personal guardian to the Hokage herself. But no matter how far she would rise, regardless of how loyal and proud she was of her country, the only ever constant she lived with was the loneliness.

Live and die by the ninja way. How many times had she considered allowing herself to be killed while in the midst of battle? To many to count, if she were to be honest with herself. And it seemed that with each battle, the temptation grew and grew just to let her enemy end this callous existence she lived through. Honor, it seemed, was the only creed she seemed to live by. Honor is what kept her going day in and day out. When Hayate died, there was a piece of her; a vital piece, that died right along with him.

Even now, after so many years since his untimely death, she still misses him with the same intensity as the day she found out he'd been cut down. After the first year, people stopped asking about how she was coping. In a way, it was a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that more and more people left her alone, the curse was that it seemed as though everyone forgot about him. Time passed by, as it always had, and they forgot.

She would never forget that man, never.

There were a few, she supposed, who truly did understand her pain. Several others were familiar with the heartbreak of losing a loved one so unexpectedly. Kakashi Hatake was one such man; he'd lost so many people in his life. There were times when her eyes caught his sharp gaze and she could still see how haunted he was by the many deaths he'd had to live through. Often times she wondered if people looked at her and saw the same thing. They would talk, now and then. Her and Kakashi. Over the years she had come to learn from him, to learn that not all was lost. He taught her to live by honor because that is what her Hayate would want from her. Kakashi showed her to live and fight as a tribute to their memory, to show no remorse against our enemies. Their deaths will have not be for nothing.

As more and more time passed her by, Yugao could actually see herself possibly falling for a man like Kakashi. The thought scared her to no end. There was only ever Hayate in her life, so she tended to ignore those tendencies.

"You will find peace, Yugao," a steady, calm voice interrupted her train of thought.

"Kakashi," she acknowledged as she rose from her kneeled position to give him space. She was familiar with his routine by now, he was here to honor and pray for the lost souls.

"Take your time, I'm in no hurry."

"I was finished anyway, just…" she paused in thought, "I was just thinking."

He nodded once and took a step closer towards her, "I meant what I said by the way, peace will eventually come to you."

Her dark eyes gazed at him, "I believe I am at peace," she said softly, "but I still miss him."

It appeared as though he grinned, she could never tell if his smiles were real or fake given the mask he always wore over his face. "You always will."

Yes, she realized that he was right. Even when she was old and gray and surrounded by a family she created with another man, perhaps the man standing beside her now, she would miss Hayate. The future was unpredictable, no matter how far advanced technology became, or how intelligent people were, no one truly knew what the future held. Though she wished dearly that her beloved Hayate would have been the man to live out her life with, that wish was severed long ago.

He gave up the fight. He left her behind. But that is alright, all is forgiven.