This was just something that kind of popped in my head. I suppose you could say it is kind of AU, although the majority takes place pre-series and after Kakashi Gaiden. Partially set in Kakashi ANBU era. Though I am a KakaSaku fan, this is more of a friendship/family based fic.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Years of Pink and Silver

Kakashi sighed heavily as he dragged his battered body towards his tiny apartment, watching as the sun slowly rose into the sky. The sixteen-year-old knew he should probably head towards the Hokage Tower and hand in his report with the rest of his team, but, luckily, they had been willing to give him a break.

He jumped lightly over the rooftops, ignoring the way his blood dripped from his shoulder. The white porcelain mask glinted dangerously in the sunlight and the oozing wounds that ran across his body seemed to add to the danger effect. Nimbly leaping to the next rooftop, he knew that there would soon be villagers and civilians out in the streets preparing for the day. As it was, there was already one or two out and about.

As he made his way, Kakashi suddenly heard a small, tiny cry. Without his consent, the ANBU felt himself stop. For a slight moment, he thought he had imagined it, but then it came again, that tiny wail.

A few years before, he would have just moved on, after all, it was not the duty of a Shinobi to do anything other than the mission. But, now Kakashi had learned the true meaning of being a Leaf ninja. It was not only his fellow ninja that were his allies and comrades, but, indeed the entire village. And a Shinobi must look after his comrades. Someone could be in danger…

Cursing his bad luck, Kakashi turned away from his apartment building, which had been finally in his sight and turned to the direction of the cry. He was surprised none of the other villagers did anything about it, but he supposed they were all slumbering, just like he was meant to be. He sighed.

Soon enough, he found the source of the cry and, suffice it to say, the sliver-haired ninja was pretty surprised at what he found. And it took a lot to surprise him, or any ANBU. If front of him was an apartment building, like many of the others in Konoha. The building was squat and square, with a balcony circling the second floor. Unfortunately it seemed the 'balcony' was lacking a railing and, currently, there was a small pink-haired child wailing her lungs out as she clung at the edge.

If Kakashi were to guess her age, he would say she was around two years old. But what was she doing sitting alone on a balcony? I got pulled away from rest because of inattentive parents… The sixteen-year-old grumbled to himself at his bad luck.

Cautiously, he approached the infant, crouching so as not to startle her too much. He landed softly on the balcony, finding the little girl with the odd shade of hair (not that he was one to say something) staring down at the ground below her. When the ANBU looked down, he almost groaned as he found the source of her tears.

Her panicked crying was because she dropped her teddy bear. Momentarily, Kakashi considered leaving, after all there seemed to be no danger here, not really. He thought the better of it though. The pink-haired girl was just an infant, who knows, she may jump after the bear and, well, a fall like that would not be healthy…

So, instead of leaving, Kakashi leapt down and grabbed the soft toy before returning to the balcony. He took a moment to slow down as he stared at the crying girl. Now what should he do? He was never particularly good with kids, especially younger ones. He had always considered them snot-nosed and spoiled. He stared down at the worn face of the teddy bear, wondering for a brief moment before coming to a conclusion. He turned to the girl, who had yet to notice his presence.

"Hey there." He said, trying to make his voice sound soft and soothing. The girl suddenly whipped around her and he was surprised to see she had huge, inquisitive emerald eyes. The bright green orbs were looking up at him in curiosity, and though they held no small amount of sadness as tears ran down her baby cheeks, there was no fear either. None at all. Odd. "Uhhh…" Kakashi hesitated, unsure.

Any passerby must have thought this an extremely strange sight; one trained killer, one pink-haired toddler, and one teddy bear. The ANBU glanced down to the toy in his hands, before looking back at those green eyes. As if his turning his own eyes away caused her to suddenly realize just what he was holding, the child suddenly radiated happiness.

"Teddy!" She squealed, clapping her tiny hands together. "You saved 'im!" Of course, as soon as she discovered her little friend, the girl stood on her wobbly legs and immediately began to toddle towards him. Kakashi blamed his fatigue on his lack of foresight for what happened next.

The child took one step and then another until one small foot missed its destination and she began to tumble off the blasted balcony. Kakashi jumped only a second later, following her. He caught the kid around her waist and realized he would not be able to get his feet under him in time. He pulled her close to his chest, holding her protectively, and turned in midair, forcing his back to take the brunt of the impact.

He thanked Kami that he had only been one story up when they had fallen.

For a moment everything was still and Kakashi let himself have a moment of relief as he tried to catch his breath, having been winded upon impact. Then came a sudden bout of panic. The girl! He immediately glanced to the child in his arms, checking to make sure she was uninjured. He found her staring back at him,

The next thing he knew she was… giggling? Yep, the kid was giggling. She nearly died and she was giggling. Kakashi decided she was insane… But still… it is kind of… adorable…

"'Gain! 'Gain! Doggie-man fun!" It took the ninja a moment to interpret her baby-talk. Doggie-man? Kakashi sighed to himself but decided to let her use the stupid name, knowing it was probably better that she didn't know his real one. This kid, she's an odd one, that's for sure.

"Sorry, kid, but not today" Kakashi groaned, shifting so he was sitting up, the little girl falling into his lap, still giggling as she clutched her teddy bear tightly. She suddenly seemed to realize that 'Doggie-man' was unfamiliar and hid her face in her teddy shyly. Still, her gaze met his curiously.

"Doggie-man got a booboo?" She questioned, reaching out one pudgy arm to point to his wounded shoulder. Kakashi glanced to his injury, surprised. He had forgotten all about that.

"Uh..." Kakashi reached back with his other hand, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. The pink-haired child abruptly pulled away from her teddy and her expression turned strangely determined. She stared at his wound for a brief moment, as if examining it. Then she took her fingers and placed a light kiss on them before reaching out again. This time, though, she laid her fingers on his wound and then pulled them back.

The ANBU stared down amazed, completely ignoring the sudden twinge of pain in favor of freezing in shock. Never before had he seen such a thing occur. Any other child would have been terrified of him, with his snarling wolf mask and dark clothing. The blood on his shoulder would only have cemented this. And yet, here she was, trying to take care of him. He was pulled out of his thoughts by a small voice.

"There. Doggie all better now." She smiled brightly, looking up at him as if waiting for approval.

"Yeah." Kakashi briefly wondered why his throat was so tight. "Doggie all better now." Then the ANBU surprised himself by laying a gentle hand on top of her head, ruffling her pink locks fondly. This caused the child to glare up at him in annoyance and swat at his hands. Kakashi just let out a single low chuckle, shaking his head in amusement. "C'mon kid, time to get you back to your room." He stated, swiftly standing up, holding the girl in a soft grip.

Automatically, the child, who seemed strangely perceptive for her young age, wrapped a small arm around his neck securely, the other still clasping her teddy bear. She leant her head on his shoulder and Kakashi wondered how she could trust him so easily. Weren't children supposed to be tell these things? Couldn't the little girl see he was dangerous, a deadly assassin who killed to earn his living?

Kakashi decided that perhaps this was not the time for such thoughts and channeled what little chakra he had left to his feet, making the jump to the balcony with trained ease. He landed softly, trying not to wake any of the other occupants in the house. I doubt the girl's parents would be so accepting of an unknown ninja as their daughter is…

Quietly as he could, Kakashi made his way to the open window and crouched down, gently placing the toddler inside what he assumed to be her room. The girl seemed to let go of him with reluctance and she glanced at him with big eyes.

"Doggie go bye bye?" She asked him sincerely, her face so serious that in any other situation he might have graced her with another rare chuckle. As it was, he simply nodded and patted her head once. He then turned without another word and jumped from the window to the next rooftop over, all the time aware of the eyes on his back.

"Sakura! Did you escape from your crib again? Honestly, you know Mommy doesn't like that…"

Sakura, Kakashi thought as he made the next leap, that's certainly fitting.

Kakashi watched curiously as the little pink-haired girl shuffled her way to her home, her head hanging low. Kakashi had been surprised when he had spotted Sakura almost four years after the teddy bear incident. Then again, he supposed it should have come as no shock to him, after all, she lived only a few blocks from him. In all honesty, the ANBU should be surprised that he hadn't run into her again before.

There was only a small chance that the now six-year-old would remember him, should he choose to reveal himself. She had only been two when she had met Kakashi, it would be a miracle if she did recall him. He silently observed as Sakura continued her walk. The ANBU was concealed on a rooftop, having been on patrol (one of the more boring missions of the elite, he had to admit) when he had spotted her.

"Hey Billboard-Brow!" Came a shrill cry, causing Sakura to freeze in her place and turn around with a heartbreakingly sad expression on her young face. Kakashi watched as what seemed to be a gang of her schoolmates walked up to her, their leader looking smug. "Going home to run to Mommy?" The leader said. The ANBU operative's eyes narrowed as he continued to watch the scene. "Does she have a huge, ugly forehead like you? Or is that just you?" The girl's friends laughed with her.

Sakura, stand up for yourself! Kakashi was surprised by his thoughts, wondering why he was even worrying. Sakura wasn't in any real danger, yet the twenty-year-old could not help but be angry for the pink-haired girl. Children could be cruel to each other, he knew. Kakashi also knew that he shouldn't interfere, it wasn't a Shinobi's place. So he reluctantly stayed back… but then he noticed the fat tears dropping of her face and the next thing Kakashi knew he appeared in front of her.

He stared at the gang of bullies in front of him and smirked. "Boo!" The girls ran away with frightened screams. Kakashi chuckled; this was the usual response children gave upon seeing him in ANBU uniform but, in this case, the silver-haired man enjoyed it a bit more than he usually would. Now, he turned slowly to face Sakura, wondering what her reaction would be.

Unexpectedly and just as before, she did not react in fear. In fact, this time she reacted with wonder, her eyes holding an unfamiliar awe; one that was with without disgust or revulsion or terror. Just awe. He cocked his head curiously; meeting her green-eyed gaze with his own mismatched eyes. They seemed to be at a stalemate Kakashi noted amusedly, neither sure how to react to the other. Then little Sakura smiled, her bangs falling away from the forehead that seemed to be causing her problems.

"Thank you, ANBU-san!" She said with a mini-bow. Kakashi felt a small pang that she had not called him 'Doggie-man' or simply 'Doggie' even though he knew he should appreciate the improvement. I suppose she doesn't remember me… It was odd to Kakashi that he wished for the child to remember him in the first place. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Sakura, when she had only been a toddler, accepted him far more easily than his own peers…

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, the silver-haired man placed a hand on Sakura's head, just as he had many years ago, and crouched down so he was at eye-level with her. "You're welcome."

The next time Kakashi saw the girl, he had left the ANBU in favor of being a simple jonin. He had had enough of the constant stress that the Black Ops demanded, and retired as one of it's longest living members. So, after giving in his mask and armor in favor of the Leaf hitai-ate and vest, he was officially welcomed back in the village.

He had been casually walking the streets of said village, (yes walking not jumping from roof to roof) one hand in his pocket and the other flipping the pages of the newest edition of Icha Icha, when he had bumped into Sakura. It had been two years since their last meeting and the eight-year-old was now nearing his waist in height, her hair still as pink as ever. And, just as the last two times, she seemed to be in need of his help as she glanced up at him angrily from where she had fallen to the floor.

"Whoops, sorry, didn't see you there." Kakashi said, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly before crouching down and offering her a hand. She took it after a moment's hesitation and he pulled Sakura up so she was standing. He continued to stay in a crouch and smiled at her, though the only way Sakura would be able to tell was by the curve of his eye. The pink-haired girl looked at the ninja before her, wondering why he was so familiar… Then it clicked, after all, eight-year-old Sakura was exceptionally bright; using her mind came easily to her.

"ANBU Dog-san!" She exclaimed, her happiness at making the connection outshining her upset feelings from only a moment before. Kakashi froze in his place, shocked. She recognizes me?

"Uh…" He hesitated.

"I knew it! You're that ninja who scared away the others when they were making fun of me! You have the same hair and everything!" It seemed Sakura overcame her usual shyness in favor of her excitement; the hair that was tied back with the ribbon was coming out of its bounds a bit as she bobbed her head in enthusiasm. "Hey, what happened to your mask, ANBU-san?" She asked, suddenly wide-eyed. Kakashi smiled at her as he overcame his shock at her observation and glanced around with a conspiring look. He lifted a finger to his mouth in the global 'shhh' sign.

"It's a secret." He stated.

"Oh." She looked rather heartbroken at his words. Sakura seemed at a loss for a slight moment, before she suddenly brightened up. "Hey, I have an idea! You can tell secrets to friends, so you should be my friend then you have to tell me!" She stuck out her hand to him. "My name's Sakura, what's your name?"

"My name is Kakashi. It's nice to meet you again, Sakura…" The ninja replied amusedly, accepting her hand and gently shaking it once.

"Now we're friends!" The pink-haired girl smiled brightly, watching as Kakashi pulled his hand back and stood to his full height. Sakura craned her neck to peer at the odd man before her.

"That's right." This time he could not help but chuckle, letting his hand fall to the familiar place on her head.

"So, now you have to tell me!" She said with anticipation and Kakashi raised his visible brow at her. Just as he was about come back with a reply somewhere along the lines of 'do I now?' there was a loud bang from beside him signaling the dreaded arrival of a very familiar someone.

"Haha! I have found you, my rival!" Gai exclaimed, pointing at the other ninja who looked on, bored. Sakura, in the midst of the commotion, hid herself from the green monster, scurrying behind Kakashi and clutching his pant-leg.

"Gai." Kakashi sighed. "Now is not the time." Of course it was right at that moment that Sakura decided to peek out from behind the silver-haired man's leg, checking to see if the green monster was still there.

"Ohoho, and who is this sparkling example of youth?" Gai asked, all shining teeth as he attempted to smile at the poor girl. Sakura let out a rather adorable 'eep' sound and once again firmly hid herself behind Kakashi's leg, whom simply crossed his arms with fake aloofness and stared at Gai calmy, not saying a word to give him an answer. Instead, Kakashi came up with a brilliant distraction plan worthy of any jonin.

"Well, Gai, it seems we haven't had a good competition lately. What d'you say to a quick run around the village?"

"Ah, Kakashi, my eternal rival, I always know I can count on you for a good challenge… though I will be the one to win…" Gai suddenly started into sprint. "It will be a sure victory for me!"

The silver-haired jonin and pink-haired child sighed simultaneously in relief at Gai's deperature and Sakura decided it was safe to come out of hiding.

"You okay there, Sakura-chan?" The girl nodded briefly. "Good, now, I am afraid I have to be going, I have a race to win…" He patter her rosy head once and turned to go.

"Wait! You still have to tell me your secret!" His little companion exclaimed. Kakashi simply turned back and smiled his eye-smile.

"Next time. You should run on home now, your parents will be worried." This time as he was about to leave, a small hand on his sleeve stopped him. He looked down into her green eyes questioningly.

"Are we still gonna be friends, Kakashi-nii-san?" She asked, her innocent question catching the jonin off-guard. Once again, he found himself kneeling so he was at eyelevel.

"Of course." He stated, trying to make his voice sound warm and non-threatening. "And, because we are friends, that means we are going to see each other again, and maybe then I will tell you my secret."

"Do you promise I'll see you 'gain?"

"I promise, Sakura-chan." He ruffled her pink locks, only this time when his hand was placed on her hair, her head was laid firmly on his shoulder as she hugged him fiercely. Kakashi was momentarily shocked, still wondering how she trusted him so easily. When he finally came to his senses, he patted her back somewhat awkwardly with his other hand. Why does she continue to be so accepting? It baffled him…

He would continue to ponder this later, however. For now, he simply smiled at the little girl once more and sped off to catch up to the 'green monster'.

Kakashi ended up keeping his promise, it had taken a while but he had managed to make it happen all the same. In fact, when he finally saw his little friend again, she was not so little anymore. She had now officially reached over waist height and no longer wandered the world shyly. The girl had grown and become a confident, twelve-year-old kunoichi with a sharp mind and a problem crush.

Still, all the changes didn't matter to Kakashi, now called sensei by his pink-haired friend, because when he saw her again, the warm acceptance in her eyes was still present. Not only that, when he had made his 'spectacular entrance', she had greeted him with a familiar smile.

"Took you long enough, sensei." Only the two of them understood the meaning under that. But oh, did Kakashi enjoy seeing the confused looks on her teammates' faces; Sakura was usually the epitome of politeness, after all.

As he got things going with the team, his first genin team to ever pass his infamous bell-test, Kakashi thought that maybe the whole teaching thing was not so bad, even if he was sure his students would send him to an early grave. Yet, he could not help but to think that the brightening in Sasuke's demeanor, Naruto's constant improvement, and Sakura's smiling made it all worthwhile. But perhaps the two annoyed looks and one secretly pleased look he got from his hair ruffling helped in that regard as well.

Yet, even with all this, it would be Sakura who continued to stay Kakashi's side, as friend and comrade, for the years to come.


Anyways, that's it. I hope you all enjoyed it and I apologize if anything was too OOC. I know Sakura seemed less shy as a child than she was depicted in the manga but I blame that on the familiarity she had with Kakashi; I like to think that even though she didn't remember him at the beginning, part of her did recognize everyone's favorite sensei… If that makes sense…

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!