He wasn't alone.
He hung back at the edge of the clearing, a brow raised at the scene as though he was waiting for someone to give him some kind of explanation.
He didn't normally like having this particular location shared with another individual when he was around – although everyone has right to be here anytime they wanted – selfish reasons, but one he had right to use to justify himself. With people around, it always like rubbing in his face to face the fact that he wasn't the only one with the loss– that he wasn't the only one with regrets and laments that will never be fixed. Normally.
But seeing it happen again for the fifth time in the week was almost akin to gaining an unwarranted neighbour. The one you cannot help but dislike for no good reason than the one you have already established in your mind.
But this was a very, very, young neighbour.
He was starting to see a pattern. Punctuality beyond what her age warrants. To be able to arrive at 10 as though getting any late will bring her under the scrutiny of the dead she was visiting. Staying until her tiny legs groan, weak and so fragile that they could shatter if handled wrong– Standing, staring, mourning as her routine goes, until her body clock strikes at 11, signalling her to leave without a delay.
One hour of grievance in silence isn't something unheard of in a place like this; his gaze wandered across at the rows of tombstones standing erect in silence to her left and right, stretching in front and behind, and here, the little rose, among the sea of those dead.
The cemetery. A place where once living return their matter to become part of the earth. The place echoes with bitter grief and the emptiness of heartfelt loss that it should be the last place for a child barely of age five to stand.
Yet here was she, in a dress so striking and hair so pink that it would disgrace any true Shinobi. But she wasn't a Shinobi, nor a Kunoichi, or even close to being a child hailing from a ninja clan. She was, but a civilian.
A child, not even an academy student, in the middle of the graveyard where the smell of death hung like a thick fog in the winter at its coldest. It tells you a sick joke, of the beautiful lie. Life. And in its wake, a reminder of the horrible truth. The permanence of death. A place too cold, too cruel for a child of her age to be in.
But here she was, the only life amongst the dead, wallowing in her loss.
A small part of him – the part which makes him a killing machine – argued that she wouldn't know of true loss, that she, in spite of her age, cannot know – wouldn't know even in her lifetime – of the misery he has seen her feigning for almost a week now.
One, which he noted, was not unlike how he thinks he looks like when he is in her position; empty and shattered.
From the top of the nearest tree, he settled and waited for her to up and leave, as she does inevitably. One hour of silence, of stillness, of waiting for some kind of resolution made within. A breeze really.
With her standing so still that you could confuse her for a humanoid statue without minute observation, it was hard for even a Shinobi of his genius to not give in to the sweet lure of sleep, especially with only a very silent, very still civilian girl around. Usually, he'd have no problem to avoid human interaction or observation altogether with his beloved book at hand that pulls him into a world of its own, but this was one place he couldn't bring in himself to disrespect.
So that's why...
His head jolts upright when he feels the slight shift in the breeze. Pulling in and out of the sleep is easy and harmless when you've got the acute senses of a veteran ninja. Shaking his head off the sleep, he figured the time was up and looked down just in time, as he anticipated, as she jerked a movement from her immobile position, like she was just realizing where she was, who she was and all the obvious.
She collected herself admirably. She always does.
"This time it would be different, I promise..."
Her soft words were hard to miss even from afar, carried by wind gently as though leading the words to whom it were meant to. Very words uttered like a mantra before leaving. He never understood why she expressed them, with as much conviction and desperation as she did, and he quite possibly will never know, but everything about her spoke volumes of age, but just not her age.
He watched, like a hawk would a prey, trying to read through her body language yet again but to no yield. It was frustrating to establish that she never took off from the place like disembodied voices of the souls were calling after her, begging her to remain, like it used to do him. No, she was always calm – excessively calm for a child– and brimming with novel confidence that she'd always lack arriving but always attaining whenever she leaves like a parting gift.
He sighed once her chakra signature, too feeble, faded out of the boundary he had set. Jumping down, he proceeded to pay his own silent visit to those he failed.
It was only during the seventh visit that he willed himself to not pause on his way and proceeded straight past the little girl, ignoring her flinch and the gaze that bored holes on his back, to the graves that often leave him wanting to be dreamless at nights.
Her eyes, he ultimately noted, were not just green, but green, and not blue as he always thought he had seen through the veil of pink. Soon he felt her remove her eyes from his back and resumed her...whatever it was that she does– standing, staring at something and nothing, for straight sixty minutes.
They didn't address the other occupant in the ground– and despite the heavy blanket of tension and gloom that shrouded them, they remained ignored by the other company. Not a single sound leaving them.
She left as soon as one hour got over, however this time she said nothing. No soft messages for the dead.
He didn't know why but it left him feeling a little empty.
It wasn't so hard to ignore her piercing eyes after two and three similar encounters that they had. Same silence, same few minutes of blank observation, and same unspoken questions hanging in the air that he was convinced he was deaf towards.
She didn't say a word yet again when she left and he too didn't move from his place to look at her leaving. Although, this time he felt her turn to look at him one last time before she left.
It made him feel a little less guilty. About what, he didn't know why.
It was during their fifteenth morning of silent prayer that she finally spoke.
"Sakura." She whispered gently, this time, for the first time, words meant for him and not the dead. Or maybe it was for the dead, kind of like a reminder to them, and he was merely forgetting to see underneath the underneath.
Still, he didn't respond and she didn't wait for one.
When she left, it took him a while but he did turn back to the direction where he always saw her leave.
"Why?" He finally asked. His first words to the little girl with eyes so green, hair so pink that sometimes made him wince, and forehead noticeably big but her built so small and frail that it seemed possible that she'd break if one looked at her wrong. It was hard for him to take her seriously with that appearance.
The twentieth day, ten in the morning, the usual, but their first mutual exchange.
"Because I thought you should know." Her reply was cryptic (even to his standards) and required a mind having more smarts than what her biological age (four-five, he noted) should presently provide.
He didn't respond and she didn't elaborate so they left it at that.
When he felt her make a move to leave, he turned and she stopped to look at him. Time seemed to drag before he noticed a twitch at her small lips.
She turned and left without passing a second look back.
He didn't know why but he left his own lips twitch in response.
She was absent the next day.
He didn't know why but that day, he found his eyes wandering, looking back, around, making sure he didn't mistakenly miss her presence.
He told himself he hadn't gotten used to having her around himself.
Sakura never visited the cemetery again.
It was easy to fall back to his old schedule, involving acquiring the entirety of his favourite place for his lonely self, without having to share, something which he always absolutely disliked. Peace and quiet, that was what he wanted. He got it again, except for a suspicion that kept nagging his mind and he found himself wishing he asked her a better question than just why he was told her name.
Because the better question would obviously be, why she always stood in the middle of the graveyard instead of in front of one?
I hope you liked the start. In case you're still wondering who this he is, its Kakashi. That bad eh,?
This story will be told from the perspective of characters surrounding the MC. A different take on time-travel, gen fanfic.
Romance undecided, but hints may be there.
Leave a review if you have any suggestions, opinion and questions for me. Your support is much appreciated.