What if Hanare, kakashi's only true love interest in the series wasn't a spy for the Jomae Village in the Hidden village of keys? What if after Kakashi found her, 13 years previously her village fell into a civil war and forced her family to abandon the village and eventually end up in Konoha. Securing her a life near the one who had saved her and in the process, earn himself a place forever, in her heart...

This takes place about a year and a half before team 7 starts and the anime begins.

It was early morning and the dimly lit Hokage's office did nothing to wake Hanare with mountains of paper work and files reaching the ceiling, no doubt some were older than her 20 years of existence. She wanted to do nothing better than to crawl into one of the padded chairs before the 3rd Hokage's desk and shut her tired eyes. She always did this, wake late every night and regret it every morning. Her older brother, Daisuke, ofcourse was awake ready to hear every detail of this mission. Through her lack of focus she could still rue the fact that she was stuck going on a mission with her big brother like she needed a babysitter. He was only 3 years her senior anyway. Truthfully, she knew both of them were suited for this mission and it was just coincidence that they both had not already been occupied.

"Whatever" she sighed inwardly.

She was soon to be the head of the espionage division of the ANBU Black ops, just a few months till old Yoshi retired and everyone said she had already surpassed his skills. She hadn't decided yet whether she was excited or scared at the possibility.

20 minutes into the third's briefing, *POOF!* The air swirled and amidst the white smoke a tall figure stepped out, Hanare felt her stomach lurch.

"Nice of you to join us Kakashi-kun" the hokage said without looking in his direction.

"Ah, Hokage-sama, I seemed to have lost track of time, my apologies" kakashi muttered, cupping the back of his head with his hand while the other was secured in his left pocket.

"As the briefing is essentially over, I will put the task of informing you of the fine details onto the shoulders of either of your team mates. As it is, it should be a simple A-rank to the land of clouds to retrieve a scroll we believe was stolen from Konoha nearly a decade ago. You all should know each other, by reputation at least. Hanare will be our main player in this; you both are to keep her safe till your return. As there is little intel on the Land of clouds, your espionage skills will be put to the test. Retrieve the scroll and as much information as possible... you are Dismissed!"

Hanare couldn't teleport out of there fast enough. She hit her bed with a thud and proceeded to strangle the stuffing out of her pillow.

"OH MY GOD" was her first intelligent thought. WHY kakashi and WHY now, on a mission with Daisuke of all people that might take months to complete. The Hokage should just have invited the entire village on the mission with the man she was hopelessly in love with for 13 years ! What was she going to do! She was a konoichi but just the thought of kakashi had her heart in a wild flutter, her cheeks warming under her skin and not to mention that feeling in the pants. Some things were just impossible no matter how many years of pain staking training you had to your name.

Her door swinging open snapped her back to reality. Daisuke's head dipped into her room to announce that it was time to leave and had Hanare throwing a kunai at her brother's short, dark locks.

" I'm coming and I told you to knock, idiot!" she shouted.

Hanare hastily crammed some clothes, weapons and other essentials into her standard backpack, stocked up her shuriken pouches and smoothed out her waist long, slightly wavy hair the exact colour as her brother's. If she was going on a mission with kakashi she might as well TRY to look like a girl.

Within moments she was at the village gates and Daisuke, kakashi and herself set out. Daisuke and kakashi were deep into conversation within minutes and Hanare took the opportunity to steel glances at kakashi. He really had changed alot since then. She remembered when she had first met him. She was 7 and had still belonged to the Village of the hidden Key. At first she was scared, being lost outside the village and running into a shinobi of a rival land, even if he seemed so small and dangly, his hair a poofy silver cloud, bigger than his head. He couldn't have been older than 12 and yet he was already a chunin and on a solo mission. He picked her up on his back and was carrying her back home when she rather dramatically burst out crying that she hated her life and that even though she had tonnes of family around, she always felt lonely. Like no one really cared or expected anything from her. She was always the useless, untalented one, that's why she ran away. Kakashi had wiped her tears and given her hope then, a connection that she felt bonded them together by a golden thread that reached to the heavens made of clouds and happiness.

Was this some kind of sign being paired with kakashi after all these years on a mission to the Land of Clouds or was this some universal joke destined to crush her?

By evening they were on the border of the Village of Tea, just a days ferry ride from the Land of Clouds and from there another 2 days trek to the village. Kakashi insisted on stopping for tea and some onigiri as they had been walking all day. Getting a booth at a tea shop, Hanare was disappointed as kakashi took the seat next to Daisuke leaving her across the table with only her pack as company.

"So Kakashi-san, do you really know 1000 jutsu?" she spoke up as soon as she found an opening.

His eye that wasn't covered up looking directly at her made her insides melt under his gaze.

"More or less, I've honestly lost count after all these years" Kakashi answered cooly.

"It's good the GREAT copy ninja Kakashi is on our side then" Hanare added with a small smile.

"Well if I'm not mistaken the GREAT Tigress of Konoha can put up her far share of a fight" he said, his voice slightly challenging.

Hanare nodded trying to get the blush she knew was on her face under control. Daisuke, who was silent through this exchange continued to stare into the silence until he finally said, "OK, i think it's time to change into our civilian clothes before we go onto the ferry" and with that he stood up and headed to the private rooms to change.

Kakashi couldn't help but peek at her from under his long dark lashes. He vaguely remembered a day in his past, where everything seemed ok, where he met this little girl with a tear stained face and unfathomable brown eyes. His old team was still whole then and he had no idea that in the next year the war would come bringing the losses he had yet to cope with fully. Now, this small but present piece from his past was right in front of him, no longer a little girl, but a skilful konoichi and he had no inkling as to why she stirred so much emotion within him when he was so used to locking it up.

"Refill?" Kakashi offered pouring more tea from the pot into his own cup.

"Oh, yes please" Hanare, who was staring at the table muttered. Their hands brushed briefly as she handed him her empty cup which sent little electric pulses up her arm. She drank the semi-cooled liquid in one gulp and excused herself to go change, mentally kicking herself for her stupidity, not seeing kakashi gaze after her as she went.

On the ferry Hanare sat on the railing of the deck enjoying the ocean air and the fact for the first time in years her mission didn't involve long cloaks and her ANBU tiger mask. Her long midnight hair floated behind her in long tendrils reflecting a tinge of emerald in the sunlight. She had just started to relax when kakashi or rather the person kakashi had transformed into (a guy with auburn hair with a face suspiciously familiar to the 4th hokage's monument complete with shining blue eyes) walked past her and planted himself on one of the folding lounge chairs that lined the deck and ducked behind a suspicious orange book. She spun around and looked out onto the gentle waves hoping kakashi hadn't spotted her.

Not a mere 5 minutes had passed when a man walked up to Hanare, put a hand on her back and very rudely invited her back to his cabin. She was just about to knee him in his crotch and throw him over bored when transformed kakashi strolled up putting himself between Hanare and her soon to be victim.

"What were you just asking my wife?" kakashi said evenly yet loud enough to attract the attention of the entire deck, giving the other man a menacing look while simultaneously slipping his arm around Hanare's waist and pulling her towards him.

The man mumbled something indistinguishable under his breath and hurried away.

Kakashi was warm against her breeze blown skin and she noticed how perfect it felt to be pressed against his side. He smelled intoxicatingly good. Of soap and trees and the subtle sent of his own that mixed everything together perfectly.

Daisuke left his position at the refreshment bar and ushered the pair to the empty section of the deck. Hanare was glad for kakashi's still present arm around her because she felt her knees give out and wondered if kakashi felt her pulse drumming loudly in her veins.

"What the Hell was that?" Daisuke whispered fiercely.

"He was bothering her so I just lent a hand in removing him from your sister's side" kakashi reputed innocently.

Daisuke passed a hand over his face, "You do know this ferry is going to the land of Clouds? That means everyone here will be our potential neighbours, associates, leads. You can't just go around declaring that she's your wife and not expect people to think SHE'S YOUR WIFE. This changes our entire story now." And after a moment of thought he added, "this may work out, if Hana is already married then atleast she would avoid the attention of the men in the village (at this Hanare cocked one eyebrow up and shot her brother a look), we could recon without having to worry about much of an alibi or pairing you up with someone to get information out of them."

"Great plan, that's why you are our strategist" kakashi said all to eargerly, tightening his hold. Hanare felt her cheeks blaze and agreed to the new plan.

"Agreed." Daisuke said and lingered his gaze on the arm wrapped around his little sister. Awkwardly kakashi removed his arm from Hanare's slim waist and excused himself. Daisuke and Hanare watched him walk away as the trolley of refreshments wheeled passed them. One second Hanare was trying to unjumble her knot of emotions and the next she was jumping backwards trying to avoid the food and liquids of the trolley from toppling on her as the boat lurched sideways. She had just enough time to channel chakra to her feet to land on the water, but being caught off guard landed a foot deep into the shifting waves with a definite *splash*. She knelt there in the little puddle feeling 7 yrs old again when kakashi hopped off the deck and landed gracefully next to her.

"Now would be a good time for lightening to strike me down" she thought hopelessly.

Kakashi put an arm around her again and lifted her, jumping up to the edge of the boat she had just fallen off of. He looked sideways at her and said softly, "Something about this feels familiar." as they sailed through the salty air. Hanare felt her heart jump. No one but Daisuke seemed to have noticed and he was doubled over laughing.

"Oh man, that was just like our first mission, sis!" he said between gasps.

"And that is why I said I would never go on a mission with u ever again!" Hanare forced through gritted teeth and shot him a poisonous glare.

"What happened on your first mission?" kakashi asked a twinkle in his eye.

"Well, she just became a genin and on our way back to the village she decided to teach herself how to walk on water, and she had no idea what she was doing and ended up with a EVEN BIGGER SPLASH than that" he grabbed his mid section and the laughter continued. Even kakashi joined in.

Hanare punched Diasuke in the shoulder and stalked off mumbling very unlady like things to herself.