For commuters who understood the hustle and bustle of the everyday stress of riding public transportation vehicles just to get to their workplaces and schools, only they can truly appreciate a day when they can freely move their arms and not accidentally elbow someone, much less move around into more comfortable positions. Some may even call it a miracle.
Such was the case of junior high school- Hatake Kakashi, as he rode the morning train to school. With his crisp black uniform, white face mask, and infamous scar over his left eye that only added an air of mystery around him, he watched the buildings and houses pass by while casually leaning on his seat, hands in his pocket.
Yes, it was a miracle that there weren't that many passengers on the train today. He considered it a rarity and a sign of greater than good fortune for the day. It's already a good sign if he didn't ride the train and be sandwiched between bodies that tower over him because of his young age, getting the opportunity to sit however was a luxury in itself. Yet when the train pulled over the next station, Kakashi stood from his seat in a heartbeat and escorted an elderly woman to his seat- seeing as how the others were already occupied.
The old woman thanked him kindly and he responded with eyes creasing as he settled to stand by the door and lean on the metal bar. The bulb above blinked in warning as the car's door slowly closed and he whipped his head to the side to another door just in time to see another commuter barely making it just in time before the door closed. Kakashi shook his head at that, as he could practically hear their labored breathing from where he stood. Such occurrences weren't uncommon and he could sympathize since he too has experienced what it was like.
But when the person rose their head, chest still panting heavily as they calm their nerves, he practically felt his heart stop. Wide eyes stared back in wonder at the beautiful woman who leaned by the door facing him. His lips pressed into a thin line behind his mask at her emerald eyes, and he felt himself swallow when she raked her fingers in her pink locks to pin her hair up and expose her slender neck.
She must have felt eyes on her and she indeed caught his.
When she smiled with a cute tilt of her head, Kakashi whipped his head away and turned his back as he reflexively brought his mask up higher to the bridge of his nose. As if it will help cover the redness of his features burning from his neck to the tips of his ears while his heart beat loudly like taiko drums.
Yes, he must be having a good fortune today.
Walking the rest of the way from the station to his school never felt so slow. When the train stopped at his designated station, he took a glimpse back in hopes of seeing the beautiful woman again but alas, she was already gone. It was troubling and admittedly odd- in a strange sort of pleasant way, at how he kept thinking back at that encounter. He wanted, but at the same time didn't want to shake that woman's image out of his head.
She had a really beautiful smile too.
Kakashi sighed dejectedly, willing himself to think that he might never even see her again. He snapped from his stupor when he neared the school gates just in time to see his lifelong friend wave a hand goodbye to the black car with the Uchiha family crest that just sped away.
"Good morning Kakashi!" Obito greeted jovially, running up to him and lock his arm around his head in greeting.
"Yo." He responded lazily, raising a hand in greeting to Obito's older cousin- Itachi.
"Good morning to you too, Kakashi." The older Uchiha greeted with a small smile before turning to his hyperactive cousin. "Since your friend's here, I'll be going on ahead, alright Obito?"
"Yeah sure!" Obito practically shooed him away and Itachi just shook his head. He nodded one more time to Kakashi before making his way inside.
Once he finally got the Uchiha to let go, they walked through the gates at their leisure pace, having plenty of time and using the opportunity to chat- at least Obito did most of the talking- about how their weekend went. For Kakashi's tale, there wasn't much to report since he and his father spent their entire weekend fishing at the lake with the dogs. With Hatake Sakumo's job as a humble resident cop, he made sure to always use the opportunity to spend time with his son. Not that Kakashi's complaining. As overbearing as his father can be with his doting as a single parent, he was still a great father nonetheless.
"By the way, how come your cousin didn't drive you to school today? Does he have a new case or did he finally get himself in prison this time?" Kakashi brought in the topic.
"How'd you know Sasuke didn't drive today?!" Obito gawked at him with genuine surprise.
He shrugged and replied as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. "The car's license plate was different."
"Hehhh?" the Uchiha wondered as he deflated. He should've already been accustomed to the Hatake considering how long they've been together since kindergarten. "Big bro Sasuke's preoccupied. He said that he has an important friend coming over to town and is helping them move in. They just arrived last Friday and he's been busy since."
Kakashi blinked at his direction, eyebrows partially raised. "Important friend? Your cousin actually has friends?"
"I know! I didn't believe it at first either!" he grinned and laughed teasingly along. "Ah but don't let Itachi hear you. You know how he idolizes his older brother."
"Noted." He nodded.
Shifting his weight from one foot to another, Kakashi sighed boredly as they waited in line for the school assembly to start. All the while other students talked amongst themselves noisily. Some talked what the hoopla was about while the others simply didn't care and chatted about random things. It was even noisier considering that the high school students were gathered along with them.
Kakashi sighed once again as he absentmindedly listened to his classmates literally surrounding him. Obito was too busy talking to Rin with that ever-present blush on his cheeks. It was no secret that the Uchiha has a crush on the brunette- he had for a long time now- and after a period of awkward one-sided rivalry, they made it clear that Kakashi doesn't reciprocate her admiration for him. Nonetheless, Nohara Rin is a kind and interesting enough of a person that they became friends. The only problem for Obito's conquest for love though, was that Rin can be a bit oblivious. It's a bit mean but Kakashi would be lying if he says that watching Obito's sullen moments after a failed attempt of wooing someone (almost) unattainable wasn't amusing.
His thoughts wondered back to the pink haired woman he had seen at the train earlier. Yes, she's the prime example of someone unattainable. Whether he admits that he had been… intrigued by the mere sight of her or not, is the least of his problems. For one, he might never see her again. The chances of that happening were slim to none. And furthermore, he's just a scrawny fourteen-year-old that's gonna enter high school after this semester ends. No matter how many people said that he inherited his father's handsome looks, he doubts someone like her would look twice on someone younger than them.
The gymnasium fell into silence when the teachers and the principal finally went up the stage. Kakashi only listened half-heartedly as they talked about times changing and whatnot. But he did pay close attention once Professor Sarutobi stepped up onto the podium to deliver his farewell speech. He didn't know the old man personally but Sarutobi Hiruzen is a kind and excellent teacher that is loved and respected by virtually all the students and faculty members. So he understood why the school bothered to gather everyone to give him a proper farewell since he announced that he'll be retiring. Asuma made mention that he will be spending the rest of his retirement days back at their province raising his own field or something like that.
Everyone clapped and bowed once he finished his speech.
"Lastly, let me do the honor of introducing you all to Ms. Haruno Sakura. She will be taking my place from now on. She's a good subo-" he stopped when he heard a not-so-subtle cough and Hiruzen righted himself, chuckling. "I mean, she's a good friend and she's like a daughter to me so please treat her well."
The entire gymnasium fell into silence before it erupted into noises of admiration (especially male populace from the high school department) when long legs and a figure wearing modest uniform walked from the stage wing and stand at the center where a microphone stood.
Kakashi felt his breath hitch in his throat.
"Thank you very much, Hiruzen-sensei." Her giggle made butterflies in his stomach flutter. "My name is Haruno Sakura It's a pleasure to meet all of you."
Of course, as it was in a cliché turn of events, Ms. Haruno Sakura turns out to be their new homeroom teacher. And Kakashi, bless his poor heart, just can't take the pressure as his eyes shifted between staring at his desk or at the beautiful woman writing her name on the chalkboard. At least, his classmates were too in awe to notice his strange behavior.
"I'm sure you all know me by now from the assembly but please, let me to introduce myself again." Sakura smiled and gave a short bow. "Everyone, my name is Haruno Sakura. I'll be in charge with all of you for the following semester. As I said before, I'm not here to replace Hiruzen-sensei because I'm sure I can never replace all the memories you have with him, but if you will all allow me, I'd like to make new memories with all of you so I hope we all get along! Aside from being your homeroom teacher, you'll also be seeing me in your history period. I'm pretty lenient as long as you all behave but I won't tolerate any tardiness and misbehavior. If you have any concerns or if you just want to have someone to talk to about something, then feel free to approach me. This is my first time teaching in a proper school so please be patient with me."
The class clapped her welcome and Kakashi clapped along with them- a little too loud though. Still, amidst his racing heart, he still caught on what she said and he can't help but wonder what she meant about her teaching in a 'proper school' for the first time.
"Since it's our first meeting, is there anything you want to ask?" hands shot up immediately in the air, some waving and calling out her name enthusiastically and Sakura chuckled as she picked Genma.
"Ne, how old are you Haruno-sensei?!" the toothpick-chewing student asked brightly, completely oblivious to the horrified expressions he gathered from the rest of the class.
"Idiot! Don't you know you're not supposed to ask a woman her age?!" one of his classmates rebuked and Genma winced after realizing his mistake as he cautiously sunk lower in his seat, avoiding eye-contact with their new teacher.
"W-W-Well I- It's just that-! H-Haruno-sensei looks very, very pretty so I just wondered…" he stammered.
However, instead of scolding him and avoiding the question, Sakura laughed as she chided the class. "Now, now everyone. No need to panic, I'm not gonna go on a murder spree just because you're all curious. Besides, I don't mind, but I doubt you all are gonna believe me anyway. What's the average age of this class?"
"Fourteen and fifteen, ma'am!" Gai supplied.
She hummed, lifting a finger to her smiling lips. "Then our ages aren't too far off. But I'll have to warn you that asking a woman her age comes with a high price. I actually just turned twenty-one this year."
Shouts of disbelief erupted and even Kakashi almost slipped off his seat. No way! Really?! He'll be turning fifteen this year so does that mean they're only five- no, six years apart?! Kakashi shook his head violently to rid himself of those thoughts before they could lead to something else.
"My eldest brother is the same age but he's still in college!"
"I wouldn't be surprised though, Sakura-sensei does look very young!"
"She is the prime example of the springtime of youth!"
"But how come she's working already?!"
"Duh! She's probably accelerated because she's really smart! What other reason could there be?!"
"If the seniors in the high school department knew about her age, then do you think they're gonna hit on her?"
"Don't be stupid! A r-r-relationship between a student and a teacher i-is t-t-taboo!"
Kakashi's thoughts dulled out at that last comment and apparently, he wasn't the only one who heard it as most of the class have their faces painted in red. Sakura clapped her hands for attention and the noise died down in hush tones and embarrassment. Still, Kakashi can't help but think how cute she looked with her own cheeks tinted with the same color as her hair.
"Okay everyone that's enough. My goodness you all have a wild imagination." She laughed and that effectively set up the mood a bit. "It's up to you whether to believe me on that part or not. Just be reminded that just because our ages are close, doesn't mean you guys can disrespect me in the future. I'm still your teacher first and foremost after all. So, any other non-age-related questions?"
Kurenai raised her hand. "Why did Haruno-sensei choose to teach here?"
Sakura let out a fond smile. "Well, teaching wasn't exactly a plan I had in mind. Let's just say that coming here was an opportunity given to me so I just went along and grabbed it."
"Then what did you meant by teaching at a proper school for the first time? What did you do before coming here?" surprisingly, it was Kakashi who asked, and when he realized it coupled with Sakura's smile that directed towards him, he felt as if his heart was about to break free from his rib cage. He fought against an internal battle while he willed himself to act cool and composed. Thankfully, he managed to pull it off and was really grateful that he wore a mask or else he would've given himself away.
"Ahh but didn't I say that there's a high price in asking for my age?" she giggled and Kakashi deflated at how she avoided his question. "That's enough questions for today. Now before the hour ends, I'd like to get to know all of you so I'll be checking attendance."
She made a roll call and his classmates diligently raised their hands whenever their names were called.
"H-Hai!" she flustered, raising her hand up straight. Sakura blinked at her and secretly put her finger over her lips, making the girl blush redder.
"Right here!" he gloated, missing the way she smiled fondly at him.
"Hatake Kakashi?" The silver-haired snapped and raised an almost shaky hand up. "Hatake-kun, are you sick?"
"N-No… it's a sort of... habit…" he answered. It wasn't the first time he was asked regarding his mask.
"Well, I don't really mind, just make sure you I can hear you properly if I ever call you, alright?"
When she sent him another smile, he almost fainted.
Honestly, he didn't know whether his day was completely out of good fortune or not. When class was over, he had to decline Obito's offer to go to the arcade and even though the Uchiha expressed his displeasure, he understood when Kakashi mentioned that his father sent him a text. Instead of heading straight home, he ventured towards another path and stopped by the flower shop on the way.
"Hey there kid, how was school?" Ino greeted and Kakashi just shrugged his shoulders. She snorted at his lack of response. "The usual?"
With a nod, Ino made work on a simple bouquet as he readied his money for payment. He continued walking up the path towards his destination and sure enough, his father was already there in front of the family gravestone.
"There you are Kakashi! Come, come, let's greet your mother." He waved and Kakashi dutifully stood by his side. He placed his flowers onto the slab of stone where a box of shortcake already sat before lighting a stick of incense. With his father, they clapped their hands and bowed in prayer for his dead mother and offered their respects to the late members of the Hatake family.
Hatake Sakumo's wife died tragically due to the stress of childbirth. As much as it pained him, Sakumo never held it against his son and instead raised him with much care a single parent could. Kakashi may have never had the chance to get to know his mother but his father made sure to always tell him stories about the kind of woman she was and how she would have loved him unconditionally. There is always a bond there between parent and child, and even though Kakashi only knew her from his father's stories, he had grown to respect and love his deceased mother nonetheless.
"So how was school, son?" asked his father as he ruffled his hair affectionately making him groan in annoyance to which he just laughed off.
"We uhh…" Kakashi felt his face heating up for the nth time that day. "Sarutobi-sensei retired today and we got a new teacher."
"Oya? Well how were they?"
"She's… she's… she'sreallypretty."
Sakumo's eyes visibly widened at the realization of his son's behavior.
"Son, let's go back. I need to tell your mother that you finally have a crush-!"
Sakura blinked hard and allowed her dagger to fall back on her desk with a dull thud. She laughed at herself silly before plopping her feet up on the coffee table. Old habits die hard. She gushed at her fat, white and orange cat as she snuggled the feline to her chest. The welcome party the faculty gave her was nice enough. The other teachers were kind, albeit a little reluctant at her age and she supposed that she can't blame them. She is, after all, too young to even be considered fresh out of college.
Thankfully, the director of the school was very familiar with her situation and managed to conjure up a well-written story of how that came to be. Considering her situation, it was the best she could get. Among the students she held today, she didn't expect three familiar students to be in her care. The girl- Rin, was her neighbor and they had given her a house-warming gift when she moved in. The other one though, well, she guessed that Obito probably didn't know her based on his lack of reaction and she knew Sasuke probably didn't say a single word to him considering that her reclusive, brooding friend always kept to himself. Well, she'll probably have fun watching his reaction once she pays her respects when she finally visits the Uchiha compound.
As for the last one, just from his hair alone Sakura could already confirm that Kakashi is definitely her former superior's son. She wondered what sort of reaction the black-op's former White Fang would give her once he finds out. She giggled at the thought. It's a pity though, for Kakashi to wear a mask, she bet that he would be as handsome as his father.
"Let's go, Nyanko-sensei."
Once her show was over and her hair was completely dry, Sakura turned off the TV, picked up her cat, and plopped herself down on her comfortable bed. She takes one last glance at the frame at her bedside table showing her and her precious team in her military years before calling it a night and drift off to dream land.